Comment 119596

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2016 at 03:20:37 in reply to Comment 119594

For example, one problem/issue is that any signaling system that greatly reduces headway on the national railway system is also running a foul of most of the safety training and procedures that engineers operating trains on mainline railways in Canada (including GO Transit operators) must follow. The problem really amounts to the safety procedures and rules being written for a system with the pace of a freight and or long distance passenger rail system, while needing a commuter rail operation with a rapid transit, operating pace. The 2 do not work together at all!

I think the rules are about to be changed within 10 years thanks to Trudeau et cetra. Let's consider that they had a waiver for the Ottawa O-Train (a $21M diesel LRT run as a 5-station trial on an existing mainline).

But now we're witnessing 2 orders of magnitude of spending (>$20billion) in the combination of $13.5bn GO RER (funded), the $5.5bn Montreal mainline light metro proposal (funded by Caisse and a little of Fed/Quebec pitch-in, apparently very close to being funded), and the $4.3bn VIA HFR EMU proposal (study now funded by feds, likely completed late this year or by next year).

All of which will require rule changes with $20bn+ of standardized 25kV mainline catenary spanning Aldershot-Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal and lot of spurs (Toronto GO RER, Montreal Caisse light metro), with most of these proposals entertaining non-FRA trainsets (GO RER isn't the only party...). Not to even mention the freight bypass may become a reality, freeing 100% of Kitchener rail to 100% passenger use and electrification to Kitchener-Waterloo by 2024 (...That is defacto the 407 Freight Bypass with the CN-side requirements satisfied -- and admittedly a fairly aggressive date to build the 407 Freight Bypass, IMHO...but CN is already 100% onboard [tweet2, tweet3]...and the feds appear to have their wallet ready).

On top of this, the Kitcheern electrified GO train route is likely also the same route the Ontario high speed rail study currently in progress, will likely run over. It will be interesting to see what congruencers comes up with GO trains and high speed trains, and whether. The proposal is coming out October 2016. Given the infrastructure-happy politics going on occuring, we might end up seeing high speed rail within our lifetime. One possible outcome within twenty years, I see, is something Acela Express style -- "lite" 200-240kph league rather than Japan/France 300kph league -- defacto high speed GO trains as a merger of GO electrification and high speed trains, into a "lite" high speed train that serves both commuter and intercity needs.

Not all of these may pan out, but even if half of all of the above happens in the next 20 years -- this is a massive electrification of Canadian rail infrastructure requiring seismic Transport Canada changes. Which, obviously, is going to have to include the train's own structural strength & modern signalling systems.

Seismically, the large number of mainline electrified train initiatives, means this is going to heave Transport Canada towards operating rule changes for CBTC-equipped corridors.

In fact, Transport Canada has already confirmed flexibility towards non-FRA trainsets:

Transport Canada has recently indicated that they may be more flexible with the FRA structural strength requirements, which might open opportunities for GO to study a broader range of European and Asian EMUs and DMUs. Specifically, they stated their intent to require new GO vehicles to either:

  • Meet FRA structure strength and crash worthiness for passenger cars, or
  • Maintain temporal separation from freight and heavy rail passenger traffic, or
  • Operate under some form of Positive Train Control (PTC) signalling system[/quote]

PTC also shortens headways in some countries already (e.g. Paris RER and their 3-minute headways) and CBTC also is capable of standing in as a (supposedly) superior version of positive train control, since it's a true moving-block signalling system. Also, according to RER Business Case, they are going to end daytime freight traffic on the Metrolinx-owned tracks from the tracks that has overhead catenary, and for the small sections (e.g. western part of Lakeshore West) that need occasional freight traffic, the freight locomotives are to be required to be equipped with CBTC (Appendix

From what I'm aware of from reading the docs (below) EMUs will be only coming to the Bramalea/Aurora/Unionville lines initially, and not to Lakeshore East/West (which will be electric locomotive driven initially). So they only need to focus on the Transport Canada waiver for those lines (as well as ferry to the railyards, e.g. Whitby).

So the deployment of new operating rules could be done incrementally, possibly as an overlay on traditional blocks -- e.g. If CBTC is operating, operating rules may give permission to allow multiple trains to occupy the same block. This is already permitted with railyard rules where you see 2 or 3 trains creep slowly only meters apart at Mimico in the late morning, while they're deadheading into Willobrook. I would imagine that CBTC would allow the trains to follow each other faster within the same traditional block. I imagine traditional blocks will continue to exist for a long time as a fallback. A CBTC failure could automatically cause all trains to brake unless they were able to fallback to a traditional block system and the train was the only one in a series of otherwise clear blocks (e.g. only train). There are probably a lot of complex nuances to solve, before Transport Canada lets all of this happen, and I imagine it has to happen incrementally, one track in one corridor at a time (probably beginning with the electrified version of UPX which is already equipped with PTC, although as far as I know, it is only active at the station end to prevent the train crashing into the end of the line).

I also have an UrbanToronto thread on PTC/CBTC signalling coming to the electrified version of GO's network, as it's a fascinating matter to watch coming to Canada's railroads in the light of the multiple electrification developments happening (including other than GO RER).

126 jobs are being created in Ontario for the CBTC signalling system, thanks to an Ontario $12M grant and $80M investment. Other companies including Bombardier are biting too as well.

It would seem that a seismic move at Transport Canada is occuring between now and 2025(ish), but the above indication of flexibility is a huge indication towards this direction. It might happen slowly, a few fully-grade-separated lines at a time.

Hours and hours of reading, probably over a half thousand pages on Metrolinx's newest 2016 plan documents for RER:

Given the huge order of magnitude of funding on electrified rail initiatives ($20-$30bn, of which $13.5bn is funded and $5.5bn apparently close to being funded) all possibly simultaneously depending on new Transport Canada rules -- you can bet Transport Canada is working on eventual new operating rules for this new era.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-06-27 04:27:38

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