This is the Transport 2000 Canada Hotline for 2 March 2001, David Leibold reporting.
CN will concentrate on its cross-border tunnel between Sarnia and Port Huron. CP is allowed to run up to 14 trains each week through CN's tunnel.
In the few transportation-related items, the Auditor General expressed concerns about the deal that created Nav Canada, which put the nation's air traffic control system into private ownership.
The report noted that Transport Canada valued the air traffic control assets at $2.4 billion. The federal government received only $1.5 billion for these. Pension liabilities and high transfer costs were also noted, as was the lack of proper financial assessment of the deal.
The Auditor General did give the federal government credit for its handling of the Confederation road bridge project. The report noted there were adequate safeguards involving the contracting and commercial risks for the highway link with Prince Edward Island.
Auditor General's website: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/.
Acela will soon be a brand to reckon with. The daily Acela express service between Washington and Boston leaves Washington early for a noon hour arrival in Boston with an afternoon departure from there for a late evening arrival in Washington. In March the second of 20 sets will be in service. But Acela is more. Current Northeast Direct and Empire services will become known as Acela Regional and they will extend from Washington to Boston as well as New York to Buffalo. Acela Commuter will be the new brand for the Clocker services between Philadelphia and New York. Acela express will take over from the Metroliner. It will be the Acela brand all the way.
The Express service features the new high speed trains built by Bombardier. These have First and Business Class. In First -- as on VIA 1 -- food is served on china at the seat. Passengers will have access to the First Class lounges in the main cities. Business Class passengers have access to an express cafe. The one way fare in business is USD$143 for NYC-Washington and USD$120 NYC-Boston. These are competitive with air shuttle fares.
Watching the Acela arrive in Boston's South Station recently at noon, I was struck by its light-weight look and sleek businees-like shape up front, and with arrays of high tech equipment visible behind the doors at the coach ends. The train was a half hour late and snow covered testifying to a travel day in which there had been flight delays due to severe storms. The coaches are tightly sealed at the vestiblues when the train is in action but were open in the station. Top speeds of around 150 mph are planned. Interior decor, lighting, window size and seating looked highly inviting especially when compared to the Amfleet coaches of the nearby Lakeshore Limited which to be fair was leaving for Chicago with a handsome Viewliner in the consist. The Acela Regional Service -- Business and Coach class -- uses remodelled equipment including a newly redone Cafe Car. The business class has wide seats and extra legroom. The Acela Commuter is coach only and passengers can buy a monthly pass.
We will see something of Acela Express kind of quality equipment when the recently purchased Nightstar stock goes into service with VIA.
More information about the Acela services and recent news can be found at acela.com.
An unlikely chain of events led to disaster. The driver of a Land Rover and trailer first failed to maintain control then drove off highway M62. The road vehicle stopped on the tracks where the driver could not move it off. Then the passenger train hit the vehicle, and derailed into an oncoming freight train.
A crash on the same line in October 2000 killed four at Hatfield after a derailment there. 31 died in another UK rail crash in 1999.
The American Public Transit Association also contributed an opinion article in Railway Age entitled "Commentary Of The Month: Taking The Rail Transit Case To Congress", to promote the growing support of rail transit modes in America.
Railway Age's website is http://www.railwayage.com/.
The province's Transportation Minister said, "A modern transportation network is vital to continued prosperity in Ontario". Yet this network will exclude passenger transportation options. The province also cancelled transit operational support, leaving that task to city governments.
The Minister's statement follows years of work by MP David Pratt who has pushed for a train stop in Barrhaven, southwest of Ottawa Station along the Ottawa-Toronto route. The stop location would likely be next to the new bus transitway station recently opened on Fallowfield Road.
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities lodged complaints with the CTA weeks ago, shortly after the deal to purchase the Nightstar cars was announced. VIA currently has no accessible sleepers, and Transport 2000 believes the new cars are an improvement on present rolling stock.
Transport 2000 Canada will continue to watch this matter closely, and make statements and actions as appropriate.
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