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2007 10 15
Connect The Dots: Toronto To Montreal By High-Speed Train
CN's "Turbo." What goes around comes around.

The new Board of Directors at Via Rail decided to look back fifty years in the history of rail travel in Canada and ask the question, "What are we doing to build a high-speed link between Toronto and Montreal?" Why look back you ask? Well, a lot of people don't remember that Canadians once led the world—sort of—in fast trains. Remember the "Turbo?" In the sixties it actually plied the rails between Canada's then two greatest cities at an average speed of between 160 to 200 k. Here is what the Wikipedia says about the train:
Canada placed some early hopes with the United Aircraft Turbo train, in the 1960s, which was a true HST. The train sets achieved speeds as high as 200 km/h in regular service, but for most of its service life (marred with lengthy interruptions to address design problems and having to cope with the track poor quality), it ran at a more realistic 160 km/h. The Turbo Train featured the latest technology advances such as passive coach tilting, Talgo attachment for rigid coach articulation and gas turbine power.
So, in the typical Canadian fashion of blowing technological leads (remember the Avro Arrow and its Orenda engine), we stopped investing in our passenger rail system and poured billions into aviation infrastructure. The result is our world-leading national airline—excuse the snark.

Liberal leader Dion thinks improved trains are one part of the solution towards sustainability. We agree and so apparently does the board of Via. Does that mean anything will actually happen? Well, have you read the book, "Why Mexicans Don't Drink Molsons?" According to the book's author, Andrea Mandel-Campbell:
Canada has all the makings of a global leader, yet it has opted to become a global laggard, preferring to fritter away its jackpot of rich resources rather than build viable multinationals that are ultimately the country’s best defence in a globalized world.
If we continue our comfortable status quo, the answer is no. Global warming is the variable that might change our laggardly habits. Anyone care to wager on the outcome?

[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 10/15 at 01:58 PM

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