Need for speed


NDP MP Brian Masse wants the government to get aboard the high-speed bandwagon.

Masse sent a letter to federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel and launched a “Need for Speed” campaign calling on the government to join with the private sector and ensure highspeed rail investments become reality.

It should include investments to run a high-speed service through Windsor to Chicago, he said. “Significant upgrades to Canada’s rail capacity are long overdue and impacting our ability to compete in the global economy,” said Masse in his letter to Lebel. He noted this country remains the only G8 country which has no high-speed rail networks.


Need for speed

  1. If there was ever a country that needed high-speed rail, it’s us.  And Russia of course.

    He’s wrong about the G8 though.  The US doesn’t have high-speed rail, although they are doing the usual talking about it.

    • There is actually, technically, a high speed train connection between Boston and Washington, but the trains share a rail line with conventional trains, and the tracks haven’t been upgraded, so most of the time they’re traveling at less than 50% of their top speed.

      • Even at it’s top speed, it isn’t a high-speed train.

        ‘the Acela shares its tracks with conventional rail, and thus is limited to an average speed of 68 mph (109 km/h) for the entire distance with brief segments up to 150 mph (240 km/h)’

        574.8kmph would be high speed….this is the French one, and it’s record has now been broken.


        • Depends upon how you define “high speed rail” I suppose. 

          The U.S. Department of Transportation defines it as 201km/h or faster (125mph+) and the European Union defines it as 200km/h for a train on an upgraded track, and 250km/h for a new track.  So, running on old tracks the Boston-Washington example would count in the U.S. and the E.U as “high speed rail” if it were running at it’s top speed consistently (which is beside the point, since it isn’t, but still).

          You’re not going to see a 500 km/h train in use in a “real world” context for a long while though!!!  I believe that the vast majority of the commercial conventional “high speed rail” services in the world top out at around 300 km/h, and even the Maglev trains top out at around 400 km/h in “real-world” use (“real world” testing conditions I should say. I don’t believe there’s a Maglev train in actual operation outside of a test track anywhere). 

          In all of Europe today, I believe there are only two lines that get over 300 km/h.  Almost all are in the 200-300 km/h range.  Even in Japan they only just got to 320 km/h with their new bullet trains, introduced in March of 2011, and tests with trains capable of running at 360 km/h showed that actually running the trains at 360 km/h wasn’t feasible given the wear and tear on equipment, and the breaking distances required.  Wikipedia says there are plans for a Maglev train from Tokyo to Nagoya that would run at 366 km/h, but those are plans for 2025.

          I think any real world use of trains going beyond 400 km/h is at least 10-15 years away.

          • so everyone defines it as something that suits what they have, not as actual high-speed

            Yes, it’s crazy to base the definition of high speed passenger rail on passenger trains that actually exist, as opposed to defining it based on things that may exist at some point in the future.  Damn you linear nature of time!!!!

            Japan hit 581km/h in 2003


            Yes.  With an experimental train, and no paying passengers, on an experimental test track.  That’s essentially meaningless to public transit in 2011.  People have made cars that can do 1,200 km/h.  That doesn’t mean you’ll be driving one any time soon.  We can build planes that can do Mach 3 too, but it doesn’t mean we’re ready to put 100 passengers on one and fly it from London to New York.

            If you won’t consider it “high speed rail” until today’s bleeding edge experimental vehicles are hauling passengers, then fair enough.  My only point was that you’re going to have to wait until around at least the 2030s until you get your “high speed rail” in that case, ’cause no one’s going to be willing to put actual passengers on one of those 500+ km/h trains for at least a couple more decades.

            I also don’t think that cost is the only thing holding us back from 500 km/h trains.  I’m pretty sure the vision of a train full of people flying off a track at 500 km/h probably has something to do with why we’re not rushing it.

          • @Lord_Kitcheners_Own

            I don’t understand the problem here.  We don’t base future transportation on what was available years ago.

            This is simply ill-disguised Luddism.

            PS…as to ‘flying off the track’

            Irish scientist, Dr. Dionysius Lardner (1793 – 1859) didn’t believe that trains could contribute much in speedy transport. He wrote: “Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers ‘ would die of asphyxia’ [suffocation].” Today, trains reach speeds of 500 km/h.

          • I believe she was talking about kmph’s, which is, I’m sure, something completely different.

            My only problem with the high speed band wagon idea is that a train from Detroit-Toronto-Montreal could only feasibly serve these three cities and looking at the differences between the towns, I don’t see how that would be in any use; one’s a hick blue collar town, one is full of ethnic workers… I mean canadian citizens, and one is a crumbling house of separatists. The biggest users of that service would be illegal gun traders.

  2. How about we build some damn intra-city rail transity first?

    • Well that’s up to the city….and you know we won’t do that anymore than we’ll build high-speed rail.

  3. I saw “high-speed bandwagon” and was disappointed it wasn’t about better broadband infrastructure, which has a much higher chance of actually being built and used.

    • Brian Tobin promoted it years ago…we still don’t have it.

      • Looks like we’re stuck with heritage destination tourism. 
        With the right marketing, I’m sure it will bring in the big bucks.

        • Oh we’re ‘heritage’ alright…waaaaay behind the times.

  4. Is there a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago yet?  Seems to me the Americans should build such a link before we talk about connecting southern Ontario to Chicago on our dime.  Or at least do something together as a partnership, if having a link to Chicago is important.

    Some places that maybe we should consider that aren’t often talked about:

    Lethbridge – Calgary – Red Deer – Edmonton – (Ft McMurray?).

    (Kamloops?) – Vancouver – Seattle – Portland (obviously after the Americans build a Pacific NW line or in partnership).

    Toronto – Hamilton – Buffalo – Rochester – Syracuse – Albany – NYC?

    Montreal – Albany – NYC?

    Ottawa – Montreal – Quebec City – Edmonston- Mirimichi – Moncton – Halifax (for my convenience, of course). :)

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