Improving inter urban passenger rail in ontario swea regional passenger transportation summit
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Improving Inter-Urban Passenger Rail in Ontario SWEA Regional Passenger Transportation Summit. Peter Miasek Transport Action Ontario November 14, 2013 www.transport-action.ca/ontario. Symbolism vs. Reality.

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Improving Inter-Urban Passenger Rail in Ontario SWEA Regional Passenger Transportation Summit

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Improving Inter-Urban Passenger Rail in OntarioSWEA Regional Passenger Transportation Summit

Peter Miasek

Transport Action Ontario

November 14, 2013

www.transport-action.ca/ontario


Symbolism vs. Reality

  • National Railway Day, Nov 7 - declared in 2010 to commemorate driving of the last spike for the CPR in 1885

  • New $10 bill – shows the Canadian that links the country

  • Reality – Minister Raitt statement on National Railway Day: “New economic opportunities still require rail to link Canadian goods to waiting markets”. Silent on Passenger Rail!!

  • Reality on the ground – Derailments, cuts to VIA, branch line abandonments


Citizen Advocacy for Improved Passenger Rail

  • Transport Action

    • Nation-wide NGO advocating for sustainable transportation since 1976

    • 5 regional affiliates, including Transport Action Ontario

    • Strong technical strength. Website, reports, newsletters

  • Local NGO’s

    • e.g. RAIL (Lambton Co.), SaveVIA (St Mary’s), NEORN (N. Ontario)

    • Awareness-building, petitions, chair-ins, municipal resolutions

    • Meetings with elected officials and VIA. Pilot project idea

  • Citizen advocacy can be powerful if messages are realistic and consistent

  • “Citizen’s Guide to Sustainable Transportation Advocacy”

    • On Transport Action Ontario website


Recent Examples of Rail Advocacy by Transport Action

  • Presentation to Standing Committee on General Government, Queen’s Park.

    • “Increasing the Provincial Role in Intercity Passenger Rail and Bus Transportation” April 10, 2013

  • Development of Practical Short-Term Visions:

    • “A Wedding Band of Confederation: Restoring Rail Passenger Service to Ontario’s North Shore and Across Canada” June 3, 2013

    • “Revitalizing New Brunswick’s Rail Sector” November 6, 2013


Summary of “Increasing Provincial Role in Passenger Rail and Bus Transportation”

  • VIA cutbacks in 2012 just the latest of a long trend

  • Bus service has also deteriorated.

  • Numerous factors are increasing the need for more rail:

    • Urban area congestion

    • Corporate travel preferences

    • USA rail investment

    • Cost of auto ownership

    • Aging demographics

    • Environmental

  • “National Dream Renewed” campaign – 13 town hall meetings across Ontario and Maritimes in 2012 – 2013.


Ontario Passenger Rail Network in 1962


Ontario Passenger Rail Network in 2012


Summary of “Increasing Provincial Role in Passenger Rail and Bus Transportation” (cont’d)

  • What the province can do:

    • Formal agreement with federal government on intercity passenger rail cooperation

    • Create a planning agency to coordinate and support intercity public transportation in Northern Ontario (Metrolinx “North”)

    • Declare a provincial interest in all upcoming rail line abandonments

    • Promote operational cooperation between VIA and GO Transit


Summary of “Restoring Rail Passenger Service to Ontario’s North Shore and Across Canada”

  • Funding provided by Bruce Hyer, MP Thunder Bay – Superior North and Transport Action

  • Prepared by Greg Gormick, noted Canadian rail transportation consultant and writer

  • North Shore challenges and solutions:

    • National Rail Passenger Policy

    • Adequate and stable funding for VIA

    • VIA track access on freight lines

    • Long Haul cost-recovery

    • Northern Ontario Service Review – includes using refurbished Budd RDC’s (Transport Canada to resolve alleged CN safety concerns).

    • VIA Rail Canada Act. Model from Amtrak approach


Budd Rail Diesel Car (RDC)


Summary of “Revitalizing New Brunswick’s Rail Sector”

  • Funding from five New Brunswick cities and one economic agency, under coordination of Transport Action.

  • Prepared by Greg Gormick.

  • Timing for revitalization is good due to new Federal Minister (2013), new VIA President (2014), in-depth audit of VIA (underway)

  • Report recommends actions on several issues, including VIA’s halving of the frequency of the Ocean passenger service in 2012


Summary of “Revitalizing New Brunswick’s Rail Sector” (cont’d)

  • Recommended actions in response to VIA cutbacks of 2012:

    • Municipal resolutions and direct approach to Minister Raitt

    • Interim service using available Budd RDCs. Resolve alleged safety concerns by CN

    • Scope connecting bus service

    • Investigate transferring ownership of VIA stations to municipalities

    • VIA to form a consultation committee

    • Investigation by Auditor General as part of 5-year VIA audit

    • Encourage FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities)


Potential Short-Term Steps to Improving Passenger Rail in Southwestern Ontario

  • Establish regional working group ideally with VIA participation.

  • Citizen awareness and activism

  • Obtain provincial and federal support in principle

  • Develop feasible concept plan (2-5 year horizon) that people can rally around:

    • Network – Rail and Connecting Bus

    • Equipment (Budd RDC per 2009 VIA proposal?)

    • Station ownership

    • Service level

  • Develop Business Plan for 2 year pilot program:

    • Operations

    • Marketing – major public awareness program

    • Costs, fares, funding (multi government)

  • Implement pilot and draw conclusions for further work


Longer Term Ideas and Needs

  • Emulate similar US corridors

    • Toronto-Kitchener-London 195 km, 4.2 Million Population

    • San Francisco–Oakland-Sacramento 145 km, 3.6 Million Population

  • Improved passenger comfort (Siemens Railjet Video)

  • Improved corridor safety

    • Petroleum movements

    • Crossings upgrade

  • Airport Links


Amtrak Capital Corridor vs. VIA North Main Line


THANK YOU!


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