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Calgary Regional Rail Transit

darwink

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There is no economic case to spend money to do mainline standards rather than true high-speed. The extra investment pays for itself, and for more and more of what would have needed to be tax payer supported for the main line standard.

That is the problem, and why things haven't happened yet: incremental investments in rail service between Calgary and Edmonton for passenger rail do not make sense. It is an all or nothing affair that even pro rail people get wrong.

Like how the author say that there isn't enough traffic between Calgary and Edmonton to justify HSR.

As for being able to avoid road investments, perhaps delay would be a better framing - which still does save money. And it remains to be seen how much traffic would be diverted by rail. Even with high speed, past estimates were a 3% mode share iirc.
 

JasperTF

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There is no economic case to spend money to do mainline standards rather than true high-speed. The extra investment pays for itself, and for more and more of what would have needed to be tax payer supported for the main line standard.

That is the problem, and why things haven't happened yet: incremental investments in rail service between Calgary and Edmonton for passenger rail do not make sense. It is an all or nothing affair that even pro rail people get wrong.

Like how the author say that there isn't enough traffic between Calgary and Edmonton to justify HSR.

As for being able to avoid road investments, perhaps delay would be a better framing - which still does save money. And it remains to be seen how much traffic would be diverted by rail. Even with high speed, past estimates were a 3% mode share iirc.
Upgrades to the existing CP Right of Way would cost less than $5 million per km, while a greenfield high speed rail line would cost more than $40 million per km. According to the Van Horne Institute, high speed rail would only get 4x the ridership of higher speed rail, so 8x the cost for likely 4x the ridership. Then there is the fact that the only profitable high speed lines in the world connect population centers totaling at least 50 million people, the population of the whole of Canada is only 37.59 million (less than the population of the state of California).
High speed rail in Alberta is a pipe dream, but regional rail is easily achievable.
 

darwink

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so gotta go back to one of the 70s or 80s studies. iirc just a pure twinning at current standards accomplished only being able to bypass freight, not anywhere close to euro main line speed. The study envisioned replacing the CPR freight with a mixed freight passenger 2 track environment with high speed (relative to freight) crossovers.

The old service was also unreliable because when it was operating faster than freight, it had a great propensity to hit/be hit by vehicles at level crossings, so you have certain level crossings you’d want to eliminate, and some you’d have to upgrade or close. Unfortunately closing crossings on the CPR alignment condemns way more farm land than the greenfield alignment iirc an AAMDC study from about a decade ago.

To get to Euro mainline speed you need to do almost all of the works necessary for the Jet Train alternative which was in the 2000s Van Horne Study.

For population, always gotta look at real world ground conditions rather than modelling of typical city pairs. Put Calgary and Edmonton in the USA mid west and the highway between would barely generate enough traffic between the to justify an interstate. But Calgary and Edmonton generate much more traffic between the two. IIRC at committee maybe 6 years ago the province estimated it to be comparable of cities 2-4 times of Calgary and Edmonton’s sizes if you used standard traffic modelling assumptions. Could grab it later but don’t have the inclination to do it right now.

In the end, the economics have a sweet spot where passenger demand goes up a lot, the capital costs don’t increase nearly as fast, and the extra utility generated can mean either you can run way more trains with way more passengers (high speed commuter trains anyone?) or still serve more passengers than a lower speed alternative, and in both cases make a profit as a self standing project.
 
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CBBarnett

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There is no economic case to spend money to do mainline standards rather than true high-speed. The extra investment pays for itself, and for more and more of what would have needed to be tax payer supported for the main line standard.

That is the problem, and why things haven't happened yet: incremental investments in rail service between Calgary and Edmonton for passenger rail do not make sense. It is an all or nothing affair that even pro rail people get wrong.

Like how the author say that there isn't enough traffic between Calgary and Edmonton to justify HSR.

As for being able to avoid road investments, perhaps delay would be a better framing - which still does save money. And it remains to be seen how much traffic would be diverted by rail. Even with high speed, past estimates were a 3% mode share iirc.
Are there any estimates out there for what the capital cost would be for another lane on the QEII the whole way? I would imagine it would get a bit tricky as there are so many overpasses and interchanges that might need to be renovated or replaced along the corridor to fit the additional width.
 

darwink

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I see where you are going, and unfortunately HSR is highly unlikely to divert enough traffic to reduce volumes enough to cap the QEII alone. It buys you a delay (with the U-shaped demand curve of congestion, diverting 3% can reduce congestion a lot, and the QEII today is no where near congested (we are spoiled in Alberta with what we consider busy!) - traffic still goes at design speed almost all of the time). A lot of QEII costs for going to 3 lanes are absorbed as lifecycle costs and safety improvements for interchanges and bridges with little marginal cost to allow for 3 lanes. If projects announced recently are any guide, the province is still able to contract grading and paving of a lane kilometre for about $7.5 million on bare ground - so $3 billion give or take.

HSR induces use, somewhat reduces air traffic, and ends up with a 3% modal share with services every hour. Could try to find a higher volume break even point on the demand curve with much higher frequency to up that modal share, but I bet you end up with mostly induced traffic due to much lower prices rather than much extra mode switching.

It would be nice if it was an either or, but this is improv style--yes, and!
 

darwink

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Ministry of Transportation, Rob Penny, Deputy Minister
December 3, 2013
Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future [Link]
Some of the characteristics of the corridor. Calgary and Edmonton are complementary cities. We have corporate offices located in Calgary and regulators located in Edmonton. The corridor itself has the highest trip generation in North American city pairs, about three to four times the Toronto-Montreal trip generation rate. Although the population of the Calgary-Edmonton corridor is around 2 and a half million – remember this is 2006, so they haven’t been updated, okay? – travel in the corridor is equivalent to a population of 8 million to 10 million people.
 

people.talking

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Toronto based start-up TransPos inked a deal with the Alberta government to study the feasibility of a hyper loop between Calgary and Edmonton. It's exciting to see tech development such as this is Alberta but I don't know if I ever see anything materializing out of it. However the government does seem open to the idea of a hyper-loop.

BetaKit Link

CBC Link
 

Mountain Man

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An above ground hyperloop in our climate still makes no sense to me, having a 300km vacuum tube that deals with 70 degree temperature swings just doesn't seem feasible.
 

darwink

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An above ground hyperloop in our climate still makes no sense to me, having a 300km vacuum tube that deals with 70 degree temperature swings just doesn't seem feasible.
It is an interesting engineering problem for sure. As with high speed rail, once you have the government onside for ROW acquisition, the name of the game is controlling the capital costs.
 
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darwink

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According to TransPod the tube is immune to weather but I'm skeptical, i'm sure issues will arise when its -40º outside.
The service levels being immune to weather is different than the infrastructure being immune to weather definitely.
 

Mountain Man

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According to TransPod the tube is immune to weather but I'm skeptical, i'm sure issues will arise when its -40º outside.
It's the massive amount of expansion and contraction in a 300km air tight tube that I'm curious about. Expansion joints in a near vacuum are not at all straight forward or cheap. This would probably be a cheaper build if we buried it lol.
 

JasperTF

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Hyperloop/Transpod​

In layman's terms what is Hyperloop/Transpod? It is an object travelling at high speed in a vacuum. Why a vacuum? A vacuum has little to no air, air creates resistance (aerodynamic drag), if there is no air there is no drag and objects can travel at much high speeds. Think of space travel.

However when it comes to passengers, we need air to breathe, so for passengers Hyperloop/Transpod becomes a pressurized vehicle travelling in a vacuum tube.
What is an object that operates with an interior pressure greater than the exterior? An aeroplane.
What is an object that operates with an interior pressure less than the exterior? A submarine.
What is the fastest form of propulsion? Electro-magnetic.
So an aeroplane propelled by mag-lev, inside a submarine.

As temperatures get colder, all metals and materials become more brittle and susceptible to fracturing. Over the past winter both CP and CN have been operating their trains at slow speeds to prevent breaking rails, causing the grain backlog. Ski hills will shutdown chair lifts below -20degC, to prevent cables snapping.

Also the temperature expansion coefficient of steel pipes per degree change of temperature is a constant 14x10-6 m/mdegC. The distance between Calgary and Edmonton is approx. 300km, the temperature variation over 1 year can go from +35 in summer to -40 in winter, a 75 degC temperature change. Over the course of a year in Alberta, an exposed carbon steel pipe from Calgary to Edmonton will expand/contract 135 meters.

All materials expand and contract with temperature changes:
Fiberglass would expand/contract 230m over 300km.
PVC would expand/contract 675m over 300km.
CPVC would expand/contract 855m over 300km.

The temperature in the Prairies gets below -40degC in the winter. The frost level in Alberta is considered to be 3.0m, all water utilities are buried below 3m in the ground to prevent freezing.
To work effectively in Alberta, Hyperloop/Transpod would have to be underground. Also with a speed of 1000kph it would have to be dead straight, which can easily be achieved with tunnelling.
So will Transpod cost CAD6billion between Calgary and Edmonton?

A simple train tunnel costs CAD20million per km, Crossrail is costing more. A Transpod tunnel would also need to be sealed in order to maintain a vacuum, and this does not include the mag-lev propulsion technology or the construction of the terminals and pods.
For a quick relevant example, Tokyo to Nagoya mag-lev. The direct route is 286km with the majority in a tunnel, it is currently estimated at JPY5.1Trillion or CAD 60 Billion.

Travelling in Hyperloop/Transpod
A typical person can handle 5g vertical and 20g horizontal for less than 10 seconds, in these situations the typical person is heavily restrained in the seat. Comfortable acceleration, where the unrestrained typical person does not fall over, is less than 1m/s/s or 0.1g.
  • Passenger aircraft acceleration is 1.5m/s/s
  • Supercar acceleration is approx. 40m/s/s
Hyperloop/Transpod is being sold as a cross between an passenger aircraft and a passenger train, the typical person is able to wander the cabin unrestrained, which means vertical and horizontal acceleration must be 1m/s/s or less. With a top speed of 1000km/h, acceleration/decceleration of the capsule will take approx. 4.5 mins and cover a distance of approx. 36km, the remaining 223km between Calgary and Edmonton will take approx. 14 mins. Additional stops would add 15 mins depending on re-pressurizing and de-pressurizing rates. In order to be able to wander the cabin any gradient change would need to be less than 0.1%, and the curve radius greater than 50km.

Result
Hyperloop/Transpod is a fantastic idea and a great use of technology, but it will be a massive white elephant for Alberta. The combined population of Tokyo and Nagoya is 47 million, the best place for this technology in North America is in the North East Corridor between Washington DC and New York.
 

darwink

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All that’s needed is enough demand to cover the capital cost. It doesn’t mean it has to be proven at the highest demand city pairs first. A two tube system won’t have nearly enough capacity to use on a high demand route. Good to prove it on a mid demand route where the capital cost is more limited.
 

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