Toronto-Montreal vs Seville-Madrid Passenger Rail Lines ComparisonAfter a recent visit to Portugal and Spain, and a lot of reflection, I am even more committed to advocate for a modern passenger rail system in Canada.
Currently VIA Rail has a $6 billion dollar plan to have a rail corridor from Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal on a largely abandoned rail corridor. High Speed Rail Canada has exposed the major flaws in the plan in previous articles.
I do believe it is good to give a factual example of comparing the Seville to Madrid High Speed Line with the current and future proposed VIA Rail line Toronto to Montreal.
The population of Toronto is 2,731,571 (source: Statistics Canada). The wider Greater Toronto Area (GTA) population was 6,417,516 at the time of the most recent (2016) census.
The population of Montreal is 1,704,694. The population of the wider Montreal metropolitan area is 4,098,927 (2016 data).
Madrid has almost 3.2 million inhabitants and a metropolitan area population of approximately 6.5 million.
Seville has a population of 703,021 inhabitants and a metropolitan population of about 1.5 million.
Fastest direct trips booked two weeks in advance
VIA Rail - Toronto - Montreal- (distance 541km approx)
Train 62 - lv 920 arrive 1420
Duration - 5hrs.
Cost -$101.70 (includes 13%hst),
Speed - 160 km/h maximum speed
2017 VIA Rail overall rail ridership - 4.39 million
Renfe - Madrid to Seville- (distance 534km approx)
AVE 02120 lv 1200 arrive 1432
Duration - 2hrs 32min
Cost- $62.00 (taxes included),
Speed - 300 km/h. maximum speed
2017 Renfe overall ridership - 474.4 million
The federal government has given the okay for VIA Rail Canada to replace their aging fleet of trains at a cost of approximately $1.5 billion.
VIA Rail states, without supporting data, that there will be a reduction of up to 25% trip time between Toronto and Montreal. (Source VIA Rail website). Even though the train will still travel at the same slow top speed of 160km/h. ( Source: 2016 VIA Rail annual meeting question and answer ) and will now stop at Tweed, Peterborough, Sharbot Lake and Ottawa. ( Source: VIA Rail HFR map).
Add in the fact that VIA (if they adapt the required technology) will share the Montreal Mount Royal Tunnel with the Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM) trains. The REM trains, according to their website could be running every 2.5 minutes. This fact puts more doubts on VIA Rail announced reduction in trip times.
It is highly unlikely that VIA Rail can achieve their stated trip time reductions. As stated in a previous High Speed Rail Canada article after the $6 billion has been spent on new trains and rail infrastructure the travel time at best would be 4hrs between the two cities if a 20% reduction would be achieved.
My trips on the RENFE AVE high speed and AVANT medium distances high speed rail lines in Spain were amazing and more articles on the subject will come.
There is no reason that Ontario/Quebec cannot have high speed lines like the AVE and AVANT trains in Spain.
We do face significant challenges in Canada.
1.The current VIA Rail President does not support high speed rail..
2.Lack of education about high speed trains has resulted in the majority of the Canadian public and politicians not understanding the benefits of high speed rail and the fact it is the norm in many parts of the world.
3.Due to our seriously neglected and outdated national passenger rail system, VIA Rail, we are in a cultural vacuum. This has resulted in decision makers and some passenger rail advocates recommending outdated solutions based on our past rail history instead of focusing on modern solutions from other countries. These countries have had efficient, effective and modern passenger rail systems in place for decades.
High Speed Rail Canada will continue to educate Canadians on the benefits of high speed rail to help address the challenges mentioned above. Feel free to browse our website or contact us at http://highspeedrail.ca
Founder High Speed Rail Canada
For a PDF version of the article click HERE.