Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Canada train rant

We travelled north on the RM from Vancouver, initially to Kamloops. At times we had to use sidings on the single track to allow other trains, mostly freight trains, to pass. But on the other side of the bank of the Fraser and then Thompson River I could see train tracks and trains using them, I wondered why trains in one direction did not use that track and trains in the other direction use the track we were using.

Calgary train control screwed up once, allowing our train into a section when it should not have been. The train had to be reversed back to the nearest siding. It was really interesting when we started forward again as slack had to be taken up by every coupler at each end of the carriages. The banging and jolting went right through the train. Takes me back and what fun!

Eventually I asked about the other train line. I was told it was owned by a different train company. Our train line was first built with a mix of private and government investment, completed in 1885 and it had a thirty year guarantee of no competition. It made mega dollars for investors. Once the thirty year period elapsed, another train line was built, mostly on the the other side of the river. The first train had the best route. The second train had the second best route. The third best route was taken by a road and it ain't such a good route for trucks.

Our train was using Canadian Pacific tracks, with one of the major shareholders of the company being Warren Buffet.

On the other side of the river was the Canadian National track, with its major shareholder being Bill Gates. From Kamloops to Jasper, we used CN tracks.

In Australia, while many of our trains are operated by private companies, the tracks, trains and infrastructure are generally owned by governments.

So we are sitting in a siding being delayed by a train coming the other way on a single track or at times another train was delayed by us.

On the other side of the river, and at times the track was on our side too, exactly the same thing is happening.
Is that not the most absurd thing?  Privatisation taken to the extreme, except it has always been like that in Canada.   





11 comments:

  1. All sounds a bit weird...but I guess it works with delays....hope those delays were not too long!

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    1. One was Margaret, but that was when we travelling when then there was not track on the opposite side of the river.

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  2. I guess we are going to have to get more and more accustomed to the perils of privatisation. At least it made for a more 'interesting' trip, right?!?!

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    1. Yep Red. Welcome to the new world. You are right. I got a blog post out of it.

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  3. It's like that in America also. There's some government funding for Amtrak,the only passenger train service but they keep cutting it and Amtrak passenger trains run on the west coast mostly empty anyway.

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    1. Strayer, I'm afraid no one ever looks to the US for a good example of public working public transport. It is a bit chicken and egg. No one will use if it is not there but how much should it be subsidised. China is testing trains running at over 300mph. There is no reason why such trains could not be a successful alternative linking large cities in the US.

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  4. Oh dear. Red's comment has got my mind going down tracks I really don't wan't to think about. At all.

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  5. Echoing EC. I hope our government doesn't get wind of this and start selling off our railways. Once that happens, what is left to sell? Why have a government at all when they control so little of the country's utilities and facilities?

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    1. River, that would be absolutely the worst. While the gov owns things, good a bad operators will come and go but we still have some power.

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  6. What can I say, I really like train travel and with the scenery in Canada it would be amazing.
    Merle.......

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