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Live from Council: Guelph transit terminal “at risk”

By shost at 7:24 pm on Monday, August 30, 2010

Live from Guelph city council meeting comes this report given by City staff, noting that the transit terminal is at risk to not be completed by the march 2011 deadline. *greements with GEXR, VIA and CN are not yet in place , but staff is confident agreements will be signed in time.

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No desire for this Waterloo streetcar

By shost at 11:15 am on Thursday, August 12, 2010

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/no-desire-for-this-waterloo-streetcar/article1656693/

“commendable in general, there’s little to recommend this plan in particular. Light rail transit makes great sense for large urban centres with dense commuter traffic travelling to a downtown employment core or other significant destination. This is not the case in Waterloo Region, which lacks a recognizable downtown and has a population of just 500,000. As it stands now, the train would run from a shopping mall in Waterloo to a shopping mall in Kitchener. Most area jobs are distributed throughout the suburbs, and few commuters use existing bus services. Building a train track will not change this reality.”

Oh really? Edmonton, Population 730,000, has light rail. Calgary, population, 1,000,000 has light rail. These systems were built 25 years ago when the cities were much smaller. Can you fault Waterloo region for thinking ahead? Places to Grow requires urban intensification and Light Rail will enable this to occur. Again, think of this as an investment in the future.

From Monday’s Globe and Mail

Waterloo Region in southwestern Ontario is widely known for its vibrant high-tech sector, universities and think tanks. The Queen took a day trip to the area for a tour of Research in Motion, manufacturer of the BlackBerry, during her Canadian visit. Stephen Hawking was recently in residence at Waterloo’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

This week it was Michael Ignatieff’s turn to drop by. In an effort to court local favour, the federal Liberal Leader threw his support behind the region’s $800-million light rail transit commuter proposal. “I am a passionate believer in light rail,” he said, promising to “make this happen.” For an area with such a reputation for intelligence and education, however, the region’s train plan is a surprisingly poor idea. And an issue of national significance.

While Mr. Ignatieff’s passion may be commendable in general, there’s little to recommend this plan in particular. Light rail transit makes great sense for large urban centres with dense commuter traffic travelling to a downtown employment core or other significant destination. This is not the case in Waterloo Region, which lacks a recognizable downtown and has a population of just 500,000. As it stands now, the train would run from a shopping mall in Waterloo to a shopping mall in Kitchener. Most area jobs are distributed throughout the suburbs, and few commuters use existing bus services. Building a train track will not change this reality.

Waterloo Region’s light rail transit proposal may not make any practical sense; however, it holds considerable attraction for municipal politicians. And while the area’s four MPs are all Conservative, some won by rather slim margins in the last election. Hence Mr. Ignatieff’s enthusiasm for local trains.

The regional government’s plan requires that capital costs be shared fully between the province and Ottawa. Both have spoken in favour of the project, but Ontario recently offered just $300-million, due to budgetary concerns. This suggests the project will only survive with massive support from Ottawa. An announcement is expected shortly.

Given equivalent fiscal constraints at the federal level, the inappropriateness of Waterloo Region’s $800-million rail project assumes national importance. That money would be better applied to other, more pressing transportation needs”

Like what? Another 100 KM double lane divided highway into Northern Ontario (Think Highway 400 to Sudbury, Highway 11 through to North Bay which is presently being twinned through canadian shield at an estimated cost of $1b, annually)

Light Rail is cheap by comparison, on a per person basis.

- Steve

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Dispute between VIA and GEXR stalls improvements

By shost at 11:08 am on Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quoted from the article:

“An ongoing dispute between VIA Rail Canada and Goderich-Exeter Railway (GEXR) over track usage fees has stalled long-sought infrastructure improvements that could see increased passenger service through St. Marys and Stratford”

..Currently, the number of trains passing through Stratford-St. Marys is not enough to meet demand during peak times, he adds.

“It’s frustrating,” says the mayor. “We’ve advocated for this, VIA agrees with us and they’re at the implementation stage, and we’re stalled.”

Full article here:

http://www.stratfordgazette.com/news/article/91340

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VIA 86/87 changes (Toronto commuter train)

By shost at 9:53 am on Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trains 86 and 87 will operate modified summer schedules to accommodate ongoing work programs

 TORONTO, Aug. 10 /CNW Telbec/ – VIA Rail Canada wishes to advise travellers that due to ongoing work programs along the rail line between London and Kitchener, certain VIA trains travelling between Toronto and Sarnia, and between London and Toronto, will operate using modified temporary schedules. Effective Monday, August 16, Train 86 travelling from London to Toronto and Train 87 travelling from Toronto to Sarnia will operate with earlier departure times.

Train 86 will depart London at 04:45, arriving at Kitchener at 06:23, Guelph at 06:58, and terminating in Toronto at 08:20.

Train 87 will depart Toronto at 17:40, arriving at Guelph at 18:49, Kitchener at 19:18, London at 21:08, and terminating in Sarnia at 22:19.

VIA anticipates that travel times on these routes will be improved once the track work has been completed. At that time, VIA will re-evaluate and adjust its timetables.

GOKW note:  The translated  reason for the schedule change is poor condition of GEXR track, temporary slow orders on many portions of the line are causing the delay.

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