I just came across a rather … well, odd article on CBC.ca. It’s a blueprint for 2018. Apparently, the Calgary City council thinks that there should be a bullet train from here to Fort McMurray.
Someone’s been sniffing oil fumes too much, methinks.
Yes, this is me, the Train Stalker, saying that a high-speed train in Alberta is insane. Completely. Why, you ask?
- Who is going to pay the $3-4 billion to build a dedicated grade-separated, high-speed rail network? Don’t look to either CP or CN.
- Similarly, who runs it? If it’s VIA, expect the service to have constant problems, since budgets to run high-speed are much higher than regular trains, and VIA‘s got enough budgetary problems as it is.
- Do we honestly think there would be enough use of the trains to make them even remotely cost-effective? WestJet is pretty darn cheap, y’know…
- The provincial government was looking to shore up the existing lines up north to help move heavy equipment by train. CN passed on the work (they own the lines) after realising the cost to build up the service wasn’t worth the revenue. Take that as a subtle hint for new lines.
- It hits -40 in many places, with a lot of snow. I don’t know of many (read: any) high-speed lines that regularly go through such conditions. Hokkaido in Japan is the nearest, and even that’s not as severe.
Politically, it strikes me as odd that anyone would stand up behind this as a good idea, since it’ll likely be a government that owns it, and it would probably become a white elephant. Very cool, and I’d ride it just for the sake of riding it — but governments have been voted out of office for stuff like this.
All of that said, it’s totally the green option. Run the train often enough, and you have less cars (less automobile pollution) and less planes (less aviation pollution). It’s also a nicer way to travel long distances. And Canada’s full of that distance thing.
Mind you, the bullet train wasn’t the only “odd” thing in that report:
- Building a ring road in Calgary. Um… aren’t we doing that already?
- Where is the mention of expanding Calgary Transit? For the love of Pete, people — why are you trying to link together cities when we can’t even sort ourselves out?
- A covered skywalk or monorail between the Telus Convention Centre and the Stampede facilities. What, the C-Train isn’t good enough for you already? (See previous note about public transit.)
- An international aerospace hub. If there was a way to eloquently describe my blank stare at this one, I would. But I’m simply not that good a writer.
I offer one thought to the people who came up with this: Let’s blueprint something for success, please? Around my office, we ask people to set SMART goals. It’s an acronym, with the “R” standing for “realistic”. Which these blueprints really seem to be missing.
If you want success, you needn’t look further than our own front door. We have three overloaded hospitals, our transit system is not keeping pace with the need, ambulances are running short on availability regularly, and if you haven’t thought about our water supply availability, you might want to consider that soon, too.