Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Alphabetti Railway(etti)

Posted in Canada, Commuter, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 27 June 2011

Following on from the start of the A-Train in Denton comes word that OCTranspo, the public transport operator in Ottawa, plan to spend $60m upgrading their local commuter rail service, the O-Train. Although there is a long term proposal to build a second line to turn it into a network, this plan is intended to allow greater capacity and improved timekeeping on the existing route. At present, the route is single track for virtually its entire length, with a single passing loop at Carleton. Even though the route is just 5 miles long, having just a single passing point still limits he service, and would cause serious disruption in the event of a train failure. So the news that two more passing points will be added, in addition to upgrading the signalling, is welcome. This will also allow more trains to run on the route at the same time, so OCTranspo are looking at purchasing 6 new trains to improve the frequency of the service.

Of course, simply improving the existing route does little to help people in areas it doesn’t reach, which is why the city has plans for a new LRT line running east-west (the present O-Train is a north-south route) that will go through the new Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel, and which is intended to replace existing BRT routes along the central Transitway with a new electrified LRT service that will create new transit hubs along the route – there will be an interchange with the existing O-Train planned at Bayview, another with the city’s railway station at Train, while the remainder will serve as nodes connecting with bus routes to other areas. That’s not the end of it however; in addition to the East-West line, there are tentative plans (with a $200,000 study in progress to determine whether it is viable) to extend the existing O-Train to serve the communities of Riverside South and Leitrim, which would use a route that was initially planned for a major expansion of O-Train that was eventually cancelled in 2006. Given that Ottawa’s Transitway BRT already uses largely segregated rights of way for its BRT routes (which are already in situ), the cost of building is that much reduced, as there is no mass closure of roads to install the infrastructure (beyond building the downtown tunnel, a source of some debate in the city). Nevertheless, Ottawa has ambitions to move out of the shadow of Toronto, and sees building a commuter rail network as part of the wider plan to do so.

One final point – North America now has two separate vowel titled rail systems. Looking beyond the New York Subway (which has an A-Train and an E-Train), who will be next to inaugurate an letter based network?

“Ottawa O-Train extension proposed”
“Ottawa O-Train expansion plan approved”

An O-Train unit approaches Bayview station - the expansion of the commuter rail service in Canada's capital seems to be continuing apace

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