Of all the stupid announcements that are never going to happen, Omar Alghabra made it the other day. It might just be the purview of federal transportation ministers, but to make it on one of those stop-and-go-slow VIA trains to Montreal, was just adding insult. Alghabra told passengers over the train’s public address system that the government would twin most of the tracks between Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto so that passenger trains would no longer be delayed because freight has the right-of-way. And you wonder how many transport ministers have made the same bullshit announcement, how many times?
All the minister proved is that there is another federal election in the wind.
And, can you imagine, minister Alghabra told the long-suffering train users that the trains would only be able to reach top speeds of 200 km/hr. While Asia, Europe, and soon the United States, are dealing with high-speed networks capable of more than 300 km/h, our idiots in Ottawa are settling for speeds provided by diesel engines. Talk of electrifying the lines were left for the later news conference in Trois Rivieres. (It was not clear if the line was to be 90 per cent electric or the trains to be 90 per cent electric.)
When VIA Rail was asked for its take on the announcement, all we got was a new top speed. VIA tells us that the minister exaggerated, the top speed is only 177 km/h. (Co-incidently, the top speed of most diesel engines.)
It reminds me of the old Turbo trains used by VIA to travel back and forth from Montreal and Toronto from 1968 to 1982. While theoretically capable of almost 200 km/h, these trains had a favourite speed of: stopped. It was a delightful way to travel between the two cities, if you were in no hurry.
I remember catching the Turbo for some reason one time when I was due at a luncheon in Montreal. The timetable said the train was due to arrive in Montreal at 11 am. I took a chance. I lost. The train actually left Union Station in Toronto on time. It went out to Guildwood in the east end of the metropolitan area, picked up some more passengers, and then backed up all the way to Toronto’s CN Tower. I remember sitting there fuming until about 10:30 am. There was no rush, at that point.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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