Comment 113560

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 20, 2015 at 11:01:01 in reply to Comment 113559

Excellent consideration.

Trains traditionally must be designed to FRA specs (Federal Railroad Administration), which Transport Canada borrows heavily off. Most European electric trains aren't designed to FRA specs. However, on the subject of EMUs, I did read in one Metrolinx PDF that Transport Canada was willing to consider letting GO Transit run light European style trains rather than heavy trains, under certain conditions such as:

  • Time separation with freight (like O-Train); or
  • Grade separations (overpasses and underpasses instead of level crossings); or
  • Positive Train Control (trains will automatically brake before danger).

Metrolinx has been slowly and surely steadily working on all the above elements. They bought the core network and are adding grade separations, and some EAs mention Positive Train Control systems. At some point, the GO network would be a bona-fide surface subway almost completely separate from the Canadian railroad network (except for through VIA trains and the nighttime freight train with running rights). At this stage, the network is safe enough to permit light trains -- like those Stadler KISS electric trains not currently allowed to run on Canadian railroads. Incidentally, Stadler KISS is the model of the electric train teased at West Harbour / Stoney Creek GO.

This will be much easier on trackage that is owned by Metrolinx (and planned for electrification). It would be much, much harder to get Transport Canada approval for EMUs between Burlington and Hamilton, but it wasn't a "AND" for all the three of the above bullets; and things like full grade separations & positive train control might eventually be able to satisfy Transport Canada in allowing EMUs to run the "rest of the way" to Hamilton. We can only speculate at this time.

Transport Canada cuts would certainly factor into all of this. RER approval would be a rather big ask that by mere inquiry alone, would literally demand the Federal Government to increase Transport Canada funding to service such a "big ask" from Metrolinx. GTHA is literally a quarter of Canada right there. We have an election this October and some of the governments are more/less rail friendly than others.

My expectations are locomotive-driven bilevels would run on Lakeshore lines, as EMU acceleration is not as necessary with the large stop spacings currently on the Lakeshore lines. However, for the infill station density of SmartTrack (simply an enhanced/merged/densified GO RER Kitchener/Stoufville), the use of EMUs would be useful. GO still has lots of bilevels on order, and while all of them will be used up during GO expansions, we'll still need EMUs too. But possibly not on all routes.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-08-20 11:24:57

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