52

Idea alert


 

La Presse confirms Michael Ignatieff’s intention to pursue high-speed rail.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff will reportedly promise the building of a high-speed train as part of the Liberal Party’s election platform.

The train would be built along the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, and would have many economic spin-offs for Quebec and Ontario, according to a report in Monday’s La Presse. A high-speed train for the corridor has been studied several times and estimated to cost $20 billion, so the timing of the project would have to depend on government finances at both the federal and provincial levels, the report adds.


 

Idea alert

  1. To cross posts, I wonder how likely this sort of "idea" is to draw the kinds of people who have not voted in the last few elections back to the polls?

    • I wonder how well it goes over as a main campaign plank anywhere outside Toronto and Montreal. Or beyond a ten-block radius from their respective downtown train stations, really.

    • I wonder how well it goes over as a main campaign plank anywhere outside Toronto and Montreal.

      Or beyond a ten-block radius from their respective downtown train stations, really.

    • I wonder how well it goes over as a main campaign plank outside Toronto and Montreal.

      Or beyond a ten-block radius from their respective downtown train stations, really.

      • I think the audience is a bit larger than that (though i take your broader point). There are, after all, just a few people living along the route between Windsor and Quebec City who don't live in Toronto or Montreal. "A few" being "somewhere just north of the population of British Columbia".

  2. A high-speed train for the corridor has been studied several times and estimated to cost $20 billion, so the timing of the project would have to depend on government finances at both the federal and provincial levels

    Translation: Construction would begin in 2015 at the very earliest, assuming that deficit reduction goes according to plan.

    • Perhaps that is when he realistically expects the Libs to win an election…??

    • P3 CR, P3. Broaden your horizons…get on board while you can.

    • My thoughts exactly. I agree with the idea of high-speed rail in Canada, but put this next to Ignatieff's pledge of eliminating the deficit without raising taxes, and something doesn't add up.

      • As opposed to Harper's much more realistic – and far less criticized – pledge of eliminating the deficit without raising taxes or cutting spending.

        • Heck, I'm still stuck on Harper's pledge to never, ever run a deficit.

    • 2015, when it will cost even more than $20 billion…

  3. Dear Porter Airlines:

    You thought this was a good country in which to start a business, because you would not be undercut by a competitor supported by your own taxes? Yeah, well, sorry about that.

    • Please. Porter relies on a heavily subsidized air travel infrastructure, while using hundreds of acres of prime real estate next to the downtown of the largest city in Canada. How much capital do you think it tied up there?

      • Is Porter not paying for the use of the Island Airport? Well now, there's a scandal.

        Did passengers refuse en masse to pay the airport improvement fees and NAV-Can fees and air travel security premiums, and did they travel anyways? Wow, scandal number two…

        • Wow. Do the 1 million or so passengers that pass through that airport every year pay for the opportunity cost of maintaining and operating that airport? I sort of doubt it. Yes, they paid a fee. Doesn’t mean it was unsubsidized. Who built the airport? Here’s a hint: it wasn’t Porter.

          If we’re using that measure, once the high speed line is built, it will be able to cover any operating and maintenance expenses through revenues.

          • I'm sure those million or so would be eager to cough up a few bucks each for a bridge

            The airport should be charging Porter as much as it feels it can get, before the airline decides not to use it. Who was using that airport before Porter came along? Here's a hint: it wasn't any major commercial airline service.

          • air canada?

            further controversy erupted in 2006, when Air Canada Jazz lost access to terminal space at the airport. Jazz had been leasing terminal space month-to-month from City Centre Aviation Limited (CCAL), a private company that was taken over by REGCO Holdings (owners of Porter Airlines). On January 31, 2006 CCAL issued Jazz with a 30-day termination notice.[37] Two days later, on February 2, the new Porter Airlines venture was announced.[38] Jazz contacted the TPA on February 3 to find other space. However the TPA did not have any space for Jazz to use[39] and on February 15, 2006, Jazz announced a 'temporary' suspension of flights for the month of March.[37] This subsequently became permanent.

            In the September 17, 2009 La Presse newspaper, Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu was quoted as saying that the term of exclusivity for Porter at the TCCA ends in 2010 and that Air Canada is considering a return to the airport in 2010, if acceptable terms can be arranged.[40][41] Later in September, Jazz chief executive officer Joseph Randell reiterated the comments stating that they intended to restore service as early as April 2010.[42]

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_City_Centre_

      • That real estate is owned by the Toronto Port Authority, formerly run by one Lisa Raitt.

      • That real estate is owned by the Toronto Port Authority, a federal agency, formerly run by one Lisa Raitt.

    • Train travel per passenger contributes significantly less environmental pollution than air travel.

  4. All airlines will be broke in a few years. Time to face reality.

  5. Well, infrastructure is one area where it might be logical to finance through deficits. I’m sympathetic to Coyne’s outlook on this one, but ultimately I think high speed rail makes sense (at least Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal). I think having being able to go for a day-trip to Montreal from TO (or vice versa) would be great for the country, and great for business.

    • If it's so great, those same-day travelers will no doubt be delighted to pay full price for the cost of hauling them there.

      (crickets chirping)

      Dear children:

      You thought your parents wouldn't be so dumb as to saddle you with insane levels of indebtedness so they could enjoy some sexy new infrastructure they couldn't afford? Yeah, well, sorry about that.

      • Just as soon as we toll everyone using the 401, right?

        • By all means. Intercity superhighways SHOULD have tolls. And/Or have taxes on gasoline — oh wait…

          • Sounds good. I’ll pay a train tax when I use the line. It doesn’t matter whether the tax covers the cost of the infrastructure, right? Just as with our enormous highway infrastructure?

      • Beyond that, as part of the Action! Plan we’re paying people to re-sod their lawns. A high speed line is something our children will enjoy as well.

    • I think having being able to go for a day-trip to Montreal from TO (or vice versa) would be great for the country

      A long, long time ago, I once had an argument with a co-worker who thought it would be great for the country if everyone was able to live anywhere they wanted, the better for population mobility, interregional relations, etc. Not simply free to live and work anywhere it was feasible for them personally, subject to their means and employment, mind you; entitled to be fully subsidized, such that the necessities of life ought to cost no more at your own personal, isolated slice of heaven far up north than in the suburbs.

      That's what this line of thought reminds me of – airy aspirational navel-gazing, averse to thinking through the long-term consequences.

    • I think having being able to go for a day-trip to Montreal from TO (or vice versa) would be great for the country

      A long, long time ago, I once had an argument with a co-worker who thought it would be great for the country if everyone was able to live anywhere they wanted, the better for population mobility, interregional relations, etc. Not simply free to live and work anywhere it was feasible for them personally, subject to their means and employment, mind you; entitled to be fully subsidized, such that the necessities of life ought to cost no more at your own personal, isolated slice of heaven far up north than in the suburbs. I mean, that's the government's job, right, to fully enable personal fulfillment?

      That's what this line of thought reminds me of – airy aspirational navel-gazing, averse to thinking through the long-term consequences.

    • I think having being able to go for a day-trip to Montreal from TO (or vice versa) would be great for the country

      A long, long time ago, I once had an argument with a co-worker who thought it would be great for the country if everyone was able to live anywhere they wanted, the better for population mobility, interregional relations, etc. Not simply free to live and work anywhere it was feasible for them personally, subject to their means and employment, mind you; entitled to be fully subsidized, such that the necessities of life ought to cost no more at your own personal, isolated slice of heaven far up north than in the suburbs. I mean, that's the government's job, right, to solely enable personal fulfillment?

      That's what this line of thought reminds me of – airy aspirational navel-gazing, averse to thinking through the long-term consequences.

    • I think having being able to go for a day-trip to Montreal from TO (or vice versa) would be great for the country

      A long, long time ago, I once had an argument with a co-worker who thought it would be great for the country if everyone was able to live anywhere they wanted, the better for population mobility, interregional relations, etc. Not simply free to live and work anywhere it was feasible for them personally, subject to their means and employment, mind you; entitled to be fully subsidized, such that the necessities of life ought to cost not a penny more at your own personal, isolated slice of heaven far up north than in the suburbs. I mean, that's the government's job, right, to solely enable personal fulfillment?

      That's what this line of thought reminds me of – airy aspirational navel-gazing, averse to thinking through the long-term consequences.

    • I'd like to go on day trips to Montreal and Toronto via train, too. I live in Edmonton. Is there some way that can be arranged?

      • Invite a few million of your friends to move to Edmonton?

      • You're right. Edmonton shouldn't be allowed to have an LRT, either, since I can't use it to travel from Bangkok to Maui.

        • Yeesh, you're strict, A (not P or C)! I was hoping they'd just extend the high-speed rail all the way out here instead of not doing that AND taking away the LRT, but if you say that's how it must be, then I'll go break the news to the mayor.

  6. I'd like to see rail transit in Ottawa-Gatineau, and a train station in downtown again, before any of this white elephant nonsense.

  7. As somebody that loves trains and prefers ground-based forms of transport I am shooting myself in the foot here, but ah well.

    Firstly, it is worth looking at the American experience. The economies of scale for high-speed rail in the US are really only justified along the NY-DC corridor. There might be some outside chance of a Chicago-NY link. It is not at all clear to me that a Toronto-Montreal line passes muster. Even less so for a Windsor-Montreal one.

    Secondly, true, infrastructure is worthwhile if it has some kind of economic payoff. However, it is a different story altogether when that same infrastructure program is likely to incur sustained losses. From Windsor to London is a whole lot of nothing, followed by more nothing till you hit the GTA. After Oshawa there is nothing till maybe Kingston, then a lot of nothing till Ottawa, and some more nothing till Montreal.

    Thirdly, it ignores how our economy is integrated. Canada has many provincial economies that are integrated more with their American neighbours than with other Canadian provinces. It would make a lot more sense to construct better transport links between surrounding cities and the GTA (or Montreal). Something like a GO train is going to have far better economic results. If you want to get to Montreal really fast, take a plane.

    • If it is truly to be high speed, don't you need a whole lot of nothing between stops?

    • 1) You'd have to be crazy or stupid to use America as an example for high speed rail, given that they have actively been tearing up their rail infrastructure for decades. I suppose we should model our cities on Detroit, as well. After all, why look for inspiration in places that have actually, you know, implemented high speed rail? To be fair, California is planning high speed rail along a corridor that is about 1000 km long and is home to 20 or so million people. What other corridor sounds vaguely similar to that?

      2) So, except for all the cities, the whole Windsor-Quebec corridor is empty. Got it.

  8. This reminds me of the 'Fast Cats' attempt of Glenn Clark, to forge a reputation alongside W.A.C. Bennett as a great infrastructure builder in British Columbia.

    That went well – for the aluminum recycling business.

    It would be interesting to see a credible business case on the idea. The corridor doesn't seem to have the population numbers necessary to make it credible, but it would be interesting to see.

  9. Take the estimated cost and quadruple it, and you'll start to get close to a realistic price tag.

    I also look forward to Iggy's next complaint on the need for more fiscal restraint from the government.

  10. Why does Michael Ignatieff keep campaigning on what he's going to do in 10-years time? He needs to state what he'll do his first 100 days in office, or something like that. These far-fetched "big ideas" for the future simply don't have pull with Canadians (especially outside of the corridor).

  11. Japanese politicians have long used high speed rail as a carrot to win votes. As a result, there are many bullet train routes all over the country that do nothing but siphon money out of taxpayers pockets and drag the country deeper in debt.

    On thing going for Igantieff's plan. it won't lose him many seats on the prairies or in BC.

  12. Japanese politicians have long used high speed rail as a carrot to win votes. As a result, there are many bullet train routes all over the country that do nothing by siphon money out of taxpayers pockets and drag teh country deeper in debt.

    On thing going for Igantieff's plan. it won't lose him many seats on the prairies or in BC.

  13. Japanese politicians have long used high speed rail as a carrot to win votes. As a result, there are many bullet train routes all over the country that do nothing but siphon money out of taxpayers pockets and drag the country deeper in debt.

    One thing going for Igantieff's plan. it won't lose him many seats on the prairies or in BC.

  14. Perhaps this story about Bombardier and the new high speed trains it will build for China can help put things into perspective.

    • Seeing everyone but Canada getting updated infrastructure, especially the cream of the crop from Canadian firms that get so much support from us here at home, upsets me. I think we can do better and put this Canadian know-how to work for Canadians. I'd like to see something out of these billions we're spending that's actually going to make a lasting contribution to our productivity. Widening a highway in the middle of nowhere or paying someone to build a deck on their cottage seems like such a waste in the long-run.

    • Seeing everyone but Canada getting updated infrastructure, especially the cream of the crop from Canadian firms that get so much support from us here at home. I think we can do better and put this Canadian know-how to work for Canadians. I'd like to see something out of these billions we're spending that's actually going to make a lasting contribution to our productivity. Widening a highway in the middle of nowhere or paying someone to build a deck on their cottage seems like such a waste in the long-run.

Sign in to comment.