Category Archives for "Interurban Rail and Bus"

Jul 10

‘Problematic and tragic’: Canadians react to Greyhound decision to cut, reduce routes

By admin | British Columbia , Interurban Rail and Bus , Latest National News , National News , Prairies , Topics

Greyhound Canada’s announcement that it will eliminate or reduce passenger and freight routes in Western Canada was met with disappointment on Monday, with lawmakers and activists warning that it will leave the country’s most marginalized communities no choice but to opt for dangerous forms of travel.

Continue reading here.

Oct 02

Would you want to ride in a 70-year old bus or in a 70-year old plane?

By admin | Document Types , Interurban Rail and Bus , Latest National News , National News , Newsletters , Topics

Would you want to ride in a 70-year old bus or in a 70-year old plane?
What we've been up to!
Would you want to ride in a 70-year old bus or in a 70-year old plane?

By Justin Prest & Tim Hayman

So why should VIA be stuck with 70-year-old trains?

Canada is the only G7 nation that has not seen significant capital funding in intercity passenger rail in a generation. Since 2000, Via has only received a total of $1.6 billion (2017 dollars) for capital investments. In comparison, the United Kingdom spends more than that on passenger rail capital projects each year... ( Click here for The Ottawa Citizen's story from May 2017 ) The last time VIA was able to buy new, purpose-built equipment was in the early 1980s.
 
Transport Action Canada is fighting to bring home that point to the federal government. The current government talks big on the environment and climate change, as well as infrastructure investment and public transportation, however when it comes to intercity passenger rail, so far we've seen no action. The above photo is one of VIA's HEP-2 rail cars, which were originally built in 1947. Today, they are used on many of VIA's fastest and busiest trains in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor. We find this completely unacceptable. Other than the United States, no other G7 country runs rolling stock even nearly as old. Even in the US, the oldest equipment on their busiest, fastest corridors is 30 years younger than VIA's HEP-2 cars!. Canadians expect and deserve better. Not only are these antique train cars old, they are less reliable, have ever increasing maintenance costs, and a drastically reduced ride quality when compared to more modern train cars. Most importantly, their remaining useful life-expectancy is rapidly running out. The LRC cars that make up the majority of VIA's Corridor fleet are younger, but passing 35 years old they're also on their last legs.
 
Even VIA's newest equipment, the Renaissance cars purchased second-hand from the UK, is in trouble. These cars were not built to operate in Canadian conditions, and they have become unreliable and costly to maintain. Their life expectancy is also running out, which poses a major threat to the future of VIA's long distance services in Atlantic Canada.
 
Transport Action Canada is embarking on a mission to send this message to Ottawa. We're chugging along, but we need help.
 
Help us send this message to Ottawa. We'll make sure it arrives on-time for next year's budget considerations.
Transport Action Prairie has a new Vice-President!

Meet Steffen Knippel

Steffen Knippel, VP Transport Action Prairie
Steffen Knippel is a professional consultant with experience representing international, national and indigenous clients in rail transportation, resource development, traditional knowledge, and claim settlement planning. He emphasizes both the social and economic dimensions of projects, including the transportation concerns of First Nation and other clients living in remote areas of northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. He is also a member of the International Association for Impact Assessment and the National Farmers Union.
Formerly a rail economist with the National Transportation Agency of Canada, Steffen gained further experience internationally during the 1990s as a rail costing consultant on commercialization projects in Myanmar, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
Steffen considers his involvement in creating northern Manitoba's Keewatin Railway Company, one of the first indigenous-owned railways in Canada, a career highlight.
Steffen can be reached by email at Steffen.Knippel@transportaction.ca

REMINDER: TRANSPORT ACTION CANADA NEEDS YOU!

Re: JMG-1 Locomotive

In our last e-Newsletter, we sent out this plea for help. Many of you responded, but we still need you. If you have not yet donated, please consider doing so now. If you have, please share our plea with your family, friends, colleagues, even people you meet on the street. We NEED you.

Last week, we sent out a distress message, asking members and supporters to help TAC avoid disaster. Transport Action Canada is the owner of a JMG-1 locomotive, from the Québec Central Railway. We accepted this donation on behalf of Le Groupe TRAQ and in order to donate it to a railway museum south of Québec City.

Unfortunately, there have been difficulties making the transfer to the museum and the locomotive has been stored on a MTQ (Québec's Ministry of Transportation) lot while we waited for critical rail infrastructure needed to move the locomotive was repaired. Unfortunately, late this spring, the locomotive was the site of an act of criminal vandalism and theft. Thieves broke into the lot and attempted to steal copper and other metal pieces off of the locomotive. Due of this theft and vandalism, there was a waste spill from the locomotive that contaminated the soil surrounding it. Transport Action Canada was responsible for the spill and was helped by Le Groupe TRAQ in managing the cleanup. We are very thankful for their help, however we are now in a dire situation, owing over $30,000 for the cleanup costs.

This is why we desperately need your help.

Can you donate $20, $50, $100, or even more to help us pay this debt and keep us from closing up shop?

STAY CONNECTED:
Nov 06

Gaspésie Railway Reps to meet with Minister of Transport

By admin | Interurban Rail and Bus , Latest National News , National News

According to Radio Gaspésie, representatives of the Gaspésie Railway, the MNAs for Bonaventure and for Gaspé will soon meet the Minister of Transport (Québec) to convince him to fund the return of the (passenger) train to their line. The track has to be upgraded to passenger train standards according to VIA Rail which has stated it will restart the “Chaleur” train if the track is upgraded.

The Member of National Assembly for Gaspé, Gaétan Lelièvre will argue that the need of LM Wind Power to ship wind power components (blades) to the USA by rail and the shipping needs of two new, un-named rail freight customers would justify the expense in economic terms. The MNA says these are major factors favouring the investment.

Adapted by Harry Gow

Nov 06

Hopes run high for New Brunswick’s RuralLynx

By admin | Atlantic , Interurban Rail and Bus , Latest Regional News

“Could be a model for all of Canada” – TAA

taa-rurallynx

Supported by Transport Action Atlantic, the Southwest New Brunswick Transit Authority presented the case for RuralLynx to provincial transportation minister Bill Fraser on October 27th. Although there’s nothing official yet, chair Stan Choptiany (second from left) is optimistic that funding will be found to bring public transit to Charlotte County in 2017. Also in the photo (l. to r.) are Laurie Parris, executive director of the Charlotte County Multicultural Association; Minister Fraser; TAA president Ted Bartlett; St. Stephen town councillor Ghislaine Wheaton; and TAA board member Michael Perry.

RuralLynx may soon be a reality in New Brunswick’s Charlotte County, bringing renewed mobility to the people of small towns and rural communities and connecting them with the public services they need in Saint John.  The Southwest New Brunswick Transit Authority Inc. pitched its business plan to provincial Transportation Minister Bill Fraser and senior officials on October 27th.  While the minister’s response was positive, there has been no firm commitment of the necessary financial support that would enable the bus service to finally hit the road next year.

Yet Stan Choptiany, the former mayor of Saint Andrews who chairs the authority’s board, has a positive feeling that it’s all going to fall into place.  The project, strongly supported from the start by Transport Action Atlantic, has found favour with both the MLA and MP for the area, and is well positioned to receive a portion of its necessary funding from United Way.

TAA emphasizes that the amount of money needed from the provincial coffers is miniscule in comparison to the overall budget of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, and is an investment that will ultimately result in significant overall savings to government.  A follow-up message to Minister Fraser urged him to take a “leap of faith” to support an imaginative proposal that could be a model for all of Canada.

Nov 04

State of play regarding Lac-Mégantic’s quest for justice and for safety of oil transported by rail

By admin | Interurban Rail and Bus , Latest National News , National News

PIAC article on state of play regarding Lac-Mégantic’s quest for justice and for safety of oil transported by rail.

Bruce Campbell, PIAC* Board member

It has been more than three years since the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, which killed 47 people; left 27 children orphaned; spilled six million litres of crude oil, poisoning the land and waterways; destroyed the town centre; and traumatized a community – trauma that continues to afflict its residents. Combining lives lost, environmental damage and physical destruction the July 6, 2013 Lac–Mégantic rail disaster is – outside of wartime – without precedent in modern Canadian history.

Have the lessons from this disaster been learned? Has it led to fundamental improvements in the rail safety system? A number of policy changes have been put in place since the tragedy including: the rule allowing single operator freight trains has been removed; rules regarding train securement have been made more precise; crude oil has been designated a dangerous good requiring an emergency response plan; a stronger crash resistant tank car has been introduced and will be phased in over 10 years. Nevertheless, massive oil trains continue to run on increasingly overstressed and under-maintained tracks, through urban areas, sometimes at excessive speeds. Main track derailments of trains carrying dangerous goods have increased.

The CPC-1232 tank cars (a slightly improved version of the old legacy DOT-111s), which currently carry virtually all crude oil, continue to puncture and their contents explode – most recently in May, 2016 in Mosier, Oregon, where a disaster was narrowly averted. These unsafe cars will be allowed to carry their dangerous cargo until 2025, when their stronger replacements (DOT-117) are fully in place.

Rail oversight measures essential to a safe regulatory system – notably frequent on-site inspections – remain inadequate. Without them, companies are still “regulating themselves”, compromising safety when it conflicts with costs. An impediment to a robust rail safety system is the “cozy” relationship between Transport Canada and the powerful rail industry. Far too often, the industry is able to shape regulations to its own benefit while compromising the public interest. The industry can block or delay new regulations, and remove or dilute existing regulations that adversely affect its costs.

The 2016 budget allocated $48 million per year for three years to “strengthen oversight and enforcement, and to enhance prevention and response capabilities, related to rail safety…”; but results so far are far from what is needed.

Here are a few measures that would substantially improve safety of rail transport of crude oil:

  • Combine Safety Management Systems (SMS) with robust on-site inspections
  • Substantially increase the Transport Canada’s rail regulatory resources and independence, reducing the potential of regulatory capture by industry.
  • Accelerate the timetable for phase-out of CPC-1232 tank cars.
  • Remove volatile components from oil (including bitumen) before loading
  • Address worker fatigue problems
  • Address speed and alternative route problems
  • Enhance the ability of TSB to enforce recommendations

The people of Mégantic paid a terrible price for failures of a dysfunctional regulatory system. The government must admit its responsibility and commit now to building forthwith a rail bypass around the town, which they are demanding. Fundamental reforms are needed to persuade skeptical public that that lessons of Lac-Mégantic have been learned.

*Public Interest Advocacy Centre

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