Ottawa light rail vote 20 to 0, Les compagnies ferroviaires privées

J. Goss and Associates provides communications services (pro bono) to Transport Action. This week the watchdog group reports on light rail in Ottawa, Hamilton and Windsor, Société du Havre de Montréal, Bonaventure Autoroute demolition project and Canadian Wheat Board and short line railways in its Transport Action Canada, Hotline 1124, July 22, 2011.

Make a tax deductible donation to Transport Action Canada.

Ottawa's rail vote a lesson for us, Winnipeg Free Press

"Something strange happened in Ottawa last week. On Thursday afternoon, the council voted 20-0 in favour of expanding the city's long-debated light-rail system. ... But it wasn't just the mayor and the councillors on board. From the chamber of commerce to the University of Ottawa, the National Arts Centre, even the head of a citizens' group pushing transit plans, the voices were many in favour of the plan to tunnel under downtown Ottawa and build a light-rail system," Mia Rabson reported for the Winnipeg Free Press.

"Any time a major initiative gets approved there should be reason to celebrate. Bureaucracy, "not-in-my-backyard" syndrome and partisan politics trump progress far more often than they should," the Winnipeg Free Press reported on July 18. 

Ottawa Light Rail, "Politically important to go ahead,"  David Jeanes says

"Despite the sense of relief that greeted staff's ability to shoehorn the current massive project into the $2.1-billion budget, the figure is still an estimate, as Watson himself has acknowledged. It is not inconceivable, says Transport Action Canada president David Jeanes, for the bids to come in at more than the city budgeted," Mohammed Adam wrote for the Ottawa Citizen.

"It is politically important to go ahead with this project, but that can only happen if you stay within the $2.1-billion budget," Jeanes said. "But the bidders may say, 'We can't do it for that.' The bidders might suggest changes," the Ottawa Citizen reported on July 15. 

For an excellent overview listen to Transport Action Canada president David Jeanes' July 8 CBC radio interview.

Full speed ahead for Ottawa's LRT plan

"Ottawa City Hall can afford $2.1 billion for a new 12.5-km light rail system, not a dollar more, so don’t expect the purse strings to loosen. “We want to make sure our bidders understand our financial restraints and understand what our expectations are as a council and as a community,” Mayor Jim Watson said Thursday after council unanimously voted in favour of the new LRT design," Jon Willing wrote for the Ottawa Sun.

"Fifteen public delegates largely supported the revised LRT plan, but some offered some advice to council on the city’s largest capital project in its history. Watch out for the steep grades going under the Rideau Canal and make sure there are decent bus links to Lansdowne Park, warned David Jeanes of Transport Action Canada," the Ottawa Sun reported on July 14, 2011.

"Jeanes is worried the brakes on the trains will quickly deteriorate because of the grades, but rail director John Jensen said staff don’t expect any extra wear and tear on the vehicles," the Ottawa Sun reported.

Plus question pour la Ville de tergiverser

« Assez perdu de temps. La Ville d'Ottawa ne doit plus tergiverser sur l'avenir de son train léger. Maintenant qu'elle a un plan "bien conçu" et "financièrement responsable" entre les mains, elle doit foncer et livrer la marchandise, disent des représentants des secteurs commerciaux et institutionnels au centre-ville »  François Pierre Dufault a écrit pour Le Droit le 15 juillet 2011.

« De l'avis de David Jeanes, le président du groupe Transport Action, la Ville fait un pas dans la bonne direction avec la première phase de son train léger. Mais elle doit penser à encore plus long terme. "La croissance se fait à l'échelle de la ville et pas seulement au centre-ville. Il faudra aussi penser à un train de banlieue en plus d'un train léger", a-t-il projeté.  »  Le Droit a rapporté.

Société du Havre de Montréal, Jacques Côté Transport 2000

"Last year, Transport 2000 Quebec spokesperson Jacques Côté urged acceptance of the controversial project at public hearings held by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal. What Côté did not tell the meeting on Jan. 13, 2010, was that he was the founding president and CEO of the SHM from 2002-2007. Côté returned to the SHM as interim president and CEO in February 2010, just weeks after endorsing the Bonaventure scheme on behalf of the transit lobby," Marian Scott reported for the Montreal Gazette on July 20, 2011.

"Transport 2000 Quebec is a well-respected advocacy group founded in 1977 to
represent public-transportation users. Normand Parisien, director of Transport 2000, denied any conflict of interest," the Gazette reported.

Bonaventure demolition: Rerouting of buses is the issue

"The Bonaventure Autoroute demolition project (replacing it with two ordinary city streets north of the Lachine Canal) wasn't even controversial until it came down to the rerouting of South Shore buses into the downtown transit terminal. The Société du Havre de Montréal (SHM) wanted to create a parallel, shorter, dedicated non-stop bus route on Dalhousie St., but the people involved in a nearby loft conversion didn't like the idea of a busway outside the building's windows," writes Transport Action Canada VP East Justin Bur, who was also a board member of Transport 2000 Quebec at the time.

"Transport 2000 Quebec recognized that it was a temporary solution for the period of time until light rail replaces the buses, but that this temporary situation was going to last for at least 10 years or so waiting for the Champlain Bridge to be rebuilt. (This is a situation with peak bus volume almost as bad as downtown Ottawa. Ridership over the Champlain/Bonaventure corridor is greater than the metro's yellow line to Longueuil.)

 "As the Gazette reports, the city has since decided on a compromise, using Dalhousie St. for downtown-bound buses and sending the outbound traffic onto the new street replacing the autoroute.

"As for Jacques Côté's multiple hats, it is my opinion that he used his  position on the T2000 Qc board for no purposes other than advancing the cause of better public transportation, and in particular in supporting projects which were quite defensible on their own merits. I am not aware of any mechanism by which he would receive personal gain from the projects of the SHM," Justin Bur writes.

Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains presents Lawren Harris, Sept 17-18

CAPT is pleased to announce that the Algoma Group of Seven Train Event is back on track for 2011. This year it will take place on the week end of September 17th and 18th.  Every year this event gets better and better! Once again there is a one or two day option. The Train Event brings together the rare pleasure of passenger train travel through Canada’s great northern forests, lakes and rivers with the study of those Group of Seven artists whose paintings are known around the world. 2011 is the 93rd Anniversary of the Group’s painting from a boxcar and cabins along the Algoma Central Railway. This year the featured artist is Lawren Harris. For info, 705 949 2301 ext 4236

Buy the Canadian Geographic Magazine !

The Canadian Geographic Magazine, July/August 2011 feature is Rail Revival: A new golden age for Canada's Railways.. The writer, Monte Paulsen, stops at various points across Canada, examining both freight and passenger rail, talking with people, looking at both the past and the future," writes Transport Action's Catherine Verrall.

"The 22 pages are enlivened with many photos by Tobin Grimshaw. An inset is headed Green Trains Coming. It tells how Canada's class 1  freight railways have cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20% since 1990 and still improving and how electrification could work for passenger trains. The text, with a few pictures, is available at Of course, buying the magazine rewards them for their concern and also gives you the free map Canada's Steel roads, which includes Canada's freight railway Transcontinental Reach as far as the Gulf of Mexico,"  writes Transport Action's Catherine Verrall.

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina deep sixes light rail, Raise the Hammer

"... City Manager Chris Murray and Mayor Bob Bratina have signalled a move away from pursuing LRT in favour of prioritizing all-day GO service. Murray has told senior staff to do only the LRT work required by the province, which gave $3 million to the city to study and plan the project," Emma Reilly wrote for the Hamilton Spectator.

“When you put together the fact that resources are being shifted to GO, and public statements by the mayor and the city manager, I can only assume they’re trying to kill LRT with a lack of resources,” said Nicholas Kevlahan, a former member of the citizens’ advisory committee who resigned over Murray’s email. ...  Bratina has recently made comments in the media that he doesn’t believe there’s a large appetite for LRT in the community, which has prompted a wave of responses and online dialogue," the Hamilton Spectator reported on July 20.

10 km l'autoroute 5, 162 millions de dollars,  Amis du train à vapeur

« Conserver le train à vapeur, la meilleure option Plusieurs facteurs militent pour le maintien de ce train touristique. Et je dis bien: "train touristique". Trop souvent, on nous donne l'impression qu'il s'agit simplement de subventionner une petite compagnie locale plutôt que de reconnaître qu'il s'agit d'aider ce qui est devenu un des joyaux de la Couronne touristique québécoise, voire canadienne » John Trent a écrit pour Le Droit le 19.

« Viennent ensuite les questions d'argent. On a déjà investi jusqu'à 6 millions de dollars dans la réfection de la voie ferrée depuis deux ans. On ne veut pas que ce montant soit perdu; il resterait d'ailleurs 600000 $ dans ce fonds. En plus, la CCFO (Compagnie de chemin de fer de l'Outaouais, propriétaire de la voie ferrée) peut toujours réclamer sa part du fonds d'aide du Québec pour les sinistrés du récent déluge.  Ces derniers jours, on prolonge de 10 km l'autoroute 5 en direction de Wakefield, au coût de 162 millions de dollars. Le contournement de la route 105 sur une distance d'un kilomètre, dans le secteur de Wakefield, coûterait 20 millions de dollars. Notre voie ferrée de 30 kilomètres - et qui pourrait devenir la voie d'avenir - n'en demande pas tant »  John Trent a écrit pour Le Droit le 19 juillet.  L'auteur est coprésident de l'organisme Amis du train à vapeur.

Wheat Board death would hurt short line railways, Churchill

"Make no mistake. The stakes in this game of political football are huge. If the single desk goes, what will become of producer car loading sites? Producer cars - which allow farmers to deliver their grain directly to the CWB and bypass the grain companies' elevators and inland terminals - save farmers on average $1,200 per hopper car. If producer cars go, what happens to the branchlines the producer car loading sites are located on? What happens to the shortline railroads that use the branchlines? What becomes the rural communities on branchlines served by shortline railroads? Yet the Harper government has done nothing to justify its decision to remove the single desk - other than wrap itself in the flag of "marketing freedom,'' Bruce Johnstone wrote for the Regina Leader-Post on  July 9, 2011.

Les compagnies ferroviaires privées s'inquiètent de la fin du monopole de la CCB

« Les compagnies de chemin de fer privées craignent que l'abolition prochaine du monopole de la Commission canadienne du blé (CCB) n'affecte leurs activités. Elle pourrait même remettre en cause leur existence. Cette réforme pourrait en effet leur faire perdre une grande partie de leur clientèle »  Radio Canada a rapporté (d'après un reportage de Julie-Anne Lapointe) le mardi 19 juillet 2011.

LRT regulatory changes sparks confusion

"The city of Ottawa's plans to self-regulate its new light rail transit system is causing confusion among some groups. … Changing the way rail service in the area is regulated could prove not only costly but also create complications down the road, said David Jeanes, president of Transport Action Canada," CBC News reported on July 19, 2011.

"OC Transpo's O-Train, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and Via Rail are all federally regulated, allowing for trains to easily flow over the provincial borders. "Track sharing is a very popular way of bringing down the transit system costs in Europe and the U.S.," said Jeanes. "That track sharing between a commuter railway and a transit system can only be done if you have one regulatory agency and that would have to be the federal one," CBC News reported.

Windsor Star,  Streetcars aren't relics in 22 U.S. cities

"Given the resurgence in streetcar systems across the U.S., and their immense popularity in Europe, it would be an act of wilful blindness not to at least examine the possibilities,"  Gord Henderson wrote for the Windsor Star.

"If streetcars are relics, why are at least 22 American cities, from Charlotte, N.C., to Atlanta. Ga., working on plans for streetcar lines?
Why would progressive cities like San Francisco and Portland be expanding their streetcar networks?" the Windsor Star reported.

"What do we here in Windsor know about streetcars that the rest of the world, apart from the loose cannon mayor of Toronto, has failed to grasp? Portland's streetcar line attracted $2.3 billion worth of development in less than five years. Little wonder the Tucsons and Baltimores are salivating as they rush to get on board," Gord Henderson wrote for the Windsor Star on July 16, 2011.

China's Golden Passage a rail mess

The new high-speed rail between Beijing and Shanghai was supposed to kick off a titanic battle with improved jetliners for passengers on China's most lucrative and popular travel route. … The trains have been hogging the headlines following multiple delays and malfunctions just weeks after opening on June 30. Major delays on July 10 were blamed on power cuts caused by thunderstorms, " the Singapore Straits Times, reported on July 21.


July 30, Maxville, Ontario, North Glengarry Prescott & Russell Transport Board excursions from Ottawa and Montreal to the Highland Games 

20 et 21 août, À Charny,  Festirail, Revit, en collaboration avec le groupe TRAQ