It’s a fast train

Elizabeth May on our Green, glorious, incredibly fast future:

“When we really make history is when we get to Parliament, and we are able to change transportation policy in this country to ensure we have access to modern, high-speed trains,” she said in Kamloops.

“If we had access to Canadian-made Bombardier trains that people do in China and Spain and other advanced countries … the trip from coast to coast would be 18 hours instead of five days.”

You won’t find a bigger fan of high-speed rail than me. It’s the tops—the bees’ knees. A true high-speed line between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal would put the airlines out of business in two weeks, and we’d all wonder why the hell we hadn’t done it years earlier. And the Greens, to their great credit, are avid proponents such ideas.

But an 18-hour trip from Vancouver to Halifax? Well, It’s ambitious, I’ll give them that. May’s vision, assuming it followed the same route she’s taking on her whistlestop tour, would necessitate a coast-to-coast average speed of 353 km/h—a world record, and not just by a little. The current A-to-B speed record for conventional high-speed rail, according to the Railway Gazette‘s 2007 survey, is 279.3 km/h over a distance of 167.6 km. Vancouver to Halifax, on VIA Rail’s current route, is 6,531 km. I’m all for thinking big, but maybe we should start out in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal and see how it goes.

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