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Highway 30: A Sprawl Generator

December 25, 2012

RE:  Highway 30:  A Sprawl Generator

From  CJAD News/12/15/2012:


Some unhappy with new Highway 30

Truckers and traffic planners are expressing their happiness with Highway 30 that’s scheduled to open today. The new $1.5-billion beltway on the South…

Some unhappy with new Highway 30

Posted By: Shuyee Lee · 12/15/2012 6:00:00 AM

Truckers and traffic planners are expressing their happiness with Highway 30 that’s scheduled to open today. The new $1.5-billion beltway on the South Shore is supposed to ease traffic on Highway 20 and especially the 40.

But some environmentalists are not convinced this is a good thing.

“In our opinion, this is a traffic generator,” said Avrom Shtern, spokesman for the environmental lobby group Green Coalition. He said it’s naive to think this will help divert traffic, especially truck traffic, away from other congested bridges and autoroutes and that a new highway means new traffic.

“Montreal is still the truck traffic generator, of about 70 to 75% of the regional commerce,” Shtern told CJAD 800 News.

“In terms of diverting traffic around Montreal, what this does is downgrade the Montreal economy and it also encourages more urban sprawl.”

Shtern said reserved bus lanes are just a band-aid solution and would prefer more improvements to rail transit, including CP traffic and finally getting the Train de l’Ouest up and running.

“We don’t need more highways,” Shtern said.

“The issue at hand is that the government has unlimited funds for highways but when it comes to mass transit, when it comes to rail, the answer is no.””

Photo: CJAD 800 news archive



At the  November 2012 AMT meeting, the suburban rail authority Chief said that the date of completion of the Train de l’Ouest engineering and modeling study had not changed.  December 2012 is the target date.  There is a push by the new AMT head to go slower on the file and improve rail service incrementally with new passing sidings, ramped up signalling, increased frequencies and possible electrification from Lucien L’Allier Station to Lachine or possibly Dorval.  A “Great Leap Forward” along the line is not probable.  The closure of Lachine IMS, (container terminal), and its planned transfer to St. Luc Yard in CSL, will lesson the complexity of crossovers if and when the AMT becomes serious re Train de l’Ouest.  I asked the AMT point blank when QC, (all political parties & AMT), will start approaching the people west of Decarie seriously?  Their first priority is the Blue Metro line eastward extension to Anjou.  I added that busses just don’t cut it and they do not change the transportation dynamic.

Dreaming in Technicolor: Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC is “… confident CP will eventually make use of …” the Les Cèdres site as an Intermodal Container Terminal.

December 23, 2012

From:  Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette, Wed. Dec. 19, 2012:

HIGHWAY 30: CP losing intermodal market to CSX

VAUDREUIL-SOULANGES — Canadian Pacific hasn’t officially killed plans for a 311-hectare intermodal terminal on the St. Lazare/Les Cèdres border, but CEO Hunter Harrison’s comments earlier this month have placed it on life support.

Meanwhile, the opening of Highway 30 between Vaudreuil-Dorion and Chateauguay puts Florida-based CSX in a position to bite off a chunk of CP’s traffic with its Valleyfield intermodal terminal and direct connections to the 20 and the 40.

HIGHWAY 30: Politicians and promoters gather to celebrate

The region’s first real snowstorm of the season greeted Monday’s official inauguration of the Highway 30 corridor connecting Montreal and the Montérégie region. Less than 48 hours before, the 42-kilometre stretch was opened to the public after being under construction for two and a half years.


Politicians and promoters gather to celebrate Highway 30

Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities of Canada Denis Lebel, Minister responsible for the Montérégie region Marie Malavoy and Quebec Minister of Transport and Municipal Affairs Sylvain Gaudreault perform the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony at Monday’s official inauguration of Highway 30. (Gazette, Meghan Low)


The region’s first real snowstorm of the season greeted Monday’s official inauguration of the Highway 30 corridor connecting Montreal and the Montérégie region. Less than 48 hours before, the 42-kilometre stretch was opened to the public after being under construction for two and a half years.

Representing the federal government was Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities of Canada Denis Lebel, who handed full credit to the province.
“It’s a provincial matter, provincial jurisdiction, they decided it’s an important issue for them, they prioritized it, we were a partner of this true building Canada plan,” Lebel said.

When the Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette asked Lebel how much Quebeckers know about the support the federal government gave Highway 30, he responded,”That’s our job to to tell Quebec’s population how we work with the infrastructure plan when we are launching a new one. That’s your job and ours to tell [Quebeckers] that Canada invested over $700 million in this project and now that’s very well done and we are proud of it.”

Denis Léonard, CEO of La Nouvelle Autoroute 30 s.e.n.c, said thousands of vehicles went through the toll this weekend. Any lineups were due to the fact the concept of tolls is new to many on both sides of the collection windows.

“People [paying with credit cards] have to understand that they need to use the automated credit card line. They all go to the toll booths with the operators, which is fine because my operators were so happy, there was a nice exchange between people, but there is an automatic system if they want more fluid traffic.”
Léonard says his staff was enthusiastic on the first weekend.

“Everybody was excited to see the first drivers coming through and the people were excited to pass and say hello, wave, everyone was happy to have this opening.”
Highway 30 certainly provides commuters with another route to choose from, but some local politicians such as Vaudreuil-Dorion Guy Pilon contend that without the arrival of new industries along the 30, it won’t have much of an effect on the local economy.

Robert Sauvé, prefect for Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC, says the MRC is working on an integrated sustainable development plan for the region to present to the government. Sauvé is optimistic that the province will get on board and support new development along the highway.

“Our chances are excellent when people understand the returns and the services this will bring for both agriculture producers and businesses, I think it will be win-win.”

As for his take on Canadian Pacific’s plans for the intermodel terminus in Les Cèdres, Sauvé has no worries.

“I think this file will develop, the news from last week did not specify that the project in Les Cèdres is over, CP is currently restructuring, they didn’t say it was over.”
As for a backup plan, Sauvé told the Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette there isn’t one. He’s confident CP will eventually make use of the land.
Les Cèdres mayor Géraldine Quesnel was another happy politician at the inauguration.

“[Highway 30] will allow us to develop our industrial land quickly. Our residential development has been expanding greatly over the past four years. As an example, 250 [homes have been] constructed since 2010. We even have people working on the South Shore who bought here two years ago in anticipation of the 30.”


Highway 30 changes everything

Lineups at the toll plaza sometimes topped 10 minutes Saturday, the first full day of operations on the new Highway 30. While some just wanted to try it, most of the traffic was be


VAUDREUIL-DORION — It took me an hour’s drive on the new Highway 30 to realize it changes everything.

The new link opened at 1 p.m. this past Saturday and by the end of the first day, 15,000 vehicles had passed through the toll plaza at $1.50 a pop for cars and light trucks, $1.15 an axle for any vehicle towing a trailer.

Whether you’re being rushed to hospital in Valleyfield or Chateauguay, commuting to a job or headed to a cottage in the Townships, a boat on Lake Champlain or a ski weekend in Vermont or the Adirondacks, Highway 30 will save you time. I estimate 15 minutes to Valleyfield and 20 minutes to Chateauguay, but if you’re stuck on the Monsignor Langlois, Mercier or Champlain, the rush-hour savings could be huge.

I started out in Hudson at around 3 p.m. Saturday and headed for Vaudreuil on the 40. I got off at the first exit past the weigh scales, leading to the Flying J and the top of blvd. de la Gare. The first difference you’ll notice is that the sign at that exit now reads ‘Sorel-Tracy.’ and it’s no longer the 540, but the 30. This is where it officially begins.

Three kilometres further along, you come to the 30-20 split. The right hand lanes take you to Highway 20, where you’ll have the choice of heading east into Dorion or west toward Ontario. The 30 takes you to the left and there’s plenty of warning of the toll ahead.

Even if you somehow get turned around, there’s still another exit before the toll that takes you to Highway 344 along the Soulanges Canal. The signs give you plenty of notice.
Then the new 30 passes under the canal before emerging at the toll plaza. I wasn’t prepared for the wall of traffic, the first toll-booth traffic jam I’ve seen since René Lévesque’s government got rid of the tolls 30 years ago.

Once you’ve paid, you cross the St. Lawrence via a low-level bridge just downstream of Hydro-Quebec’s venerable des Cèdres power dam before you reach the intersection with Highway 530 to Valleyfield, seven kilometres to the west.

The 30 continues south through farmland before starting its 150-foot climb over the St. Lawrence Seaway’s Beauharnois Ship Canal and turning east toward Chateauguay and a choice of highways to the Townships, the U.S. and the South Shore bridges as far as Sorel-Tracy.

Heading back in the dark, I found the signage much more confusing. I can foresee problems for drivers that don’t know the 20 and 40 both lead to Montreal. But Quebec has never mastered the concept of ensuring signs make sense for non-francophones, so I don’t suppose it really matters. (For the record, Maine, Vermont, New York, Ontario and New Brunswick all acknowledge that unilingual francophones might be using their highways.)

Vaudreuil-Dorion mayor Guy Pilon predicts the immediate impact of the 30 on his city will be more traffic on Harwood Blvd, Quebec’s last remaining example of a major highway becoming an urban boulevard.

After decades of stalling, the former Liberal government promised to turn Highway 20 into a controlled-access highway from Ste. Anne de Bellevue to the Vaudreuil-Dorion city limits to the south. It would include a bypass between the bridge between Pincourt and Vaudreuil-Dorion and where Highway 342 splits with the 20.

But who knows where that project is with the new PQ government, especially in a riding that has voted Liberal for generations? In the meantime, Harwood becomes a serious chokepoint for through traffic that doesn’t know there’s an alternative.

Canadian Pacific Railway and the future of St. Luc Yard and the Les Cèdres Intermodal project:

December 23, 2012

Canadian Pacific Railway and the future of St. Luc Yard and the Les Cèdres Intermodal project as published in the Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette,  Wed., Dec. 19, 2012:


Highway 30 CP losing intermodal market to CSX

CSX train loaded with Maersk containers crosses Valleyfield’s Larocque Bridge. With Highway 30 added to daily service between northeastern U.S. seaports and a new intermodal terminal in Valleyfield, CSX/Maersk are poised to take business from CP and the Port of Montreal.
(Frank Jolin photo)


VAUDREUIL-SOULANGES — Canadian Pacific hasn’t officially killed plans for a 311-hectare intermodal terminal on the St. Lazare/Les Cèdres border, but CEO Hunter Harrison’s comments earlier this month have placed it on life support.

Meanwhile, the opening of Highway 30 between Vaudreuil-Dorion and Chateauguay puts Florida-based CSX in a position to bite off a chunk of CP’s traffic with its Valleyfield intermodal terminal and direct connections to the 20 and the 40.

Construction began this spring on CSX’s $12 million intermodal terminal in Valleyfield’s industrial park, the U.S. carrier’s first Canadian yard. When it opens next year, the terminal is expected to generate 436 jobs and move 47 trucks per hour from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Most of the traffic will consist of containers moving between Montreal and northeastern U.S. ports like Philadelphia.

Media speculation about CP’s Les Cèdres project has run rampant in the wake of Harrison’s comments during a Dec. 4 investor call, but nervous CP spokespeople are confirming nothing. Industry analysts expect CP to divest itself of non-core assets.

The former CN CEO, headhunted from retirement by Pershing Capital head Bill Ackman to make CP profitable, never mentioned the 330-hectare Les Cèdres intermodal terminal. Instead, his comments focussed on plans to consolidate CP’s Montreal operations. CP now operates facilities in Lachine and Cote St. Luc.

“Looks like CP will use St. Luc for its intermodal facility at least for the foreseeable future and sell the former Summerlea Golf Course in Lachine,” said Green Coalition transportation critic Avrom Shtern. Since both CP and CN operate automobile shipment depots near Blue Bonnets, Shtern thinks it would make sense if CP kept that open as well.

“It’s all about cutting costs. It’s their land, they don’t have to buy it or wait for environmental impact studies,” Shtern added.

Officially, neither the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC nor the CLD are closing the book on CP’s Les Cèdres project, the cornerstone of an industrial policy to turn Vaudreuil-Soulanges into an inland port. Talks were continuing last week between the CLD and CP.

However, there’s already some question as to whether CP will be allowed to sit on the 136 hectares of farmland dezoned expressly for the intermodal project. The MRC rezoned the land from farmland to industrial to clear the way for hearings before Quebec’s farmland protection commission. There’s concern that if CP doesn’t proceed, the Union des producteurs agricoles could demand a new hearing to revert the zoning back to agricultural.

Ironically, CP was one of the big lobbyists for Highway 30, since it would allow them to move their intermodal operations off Montreal’s traffic-clogged arteries and close the Lachine terminal, source of complaints from nearby residents. The Lachine IMS serves mainly Chinese and other Asian marine container shipments originating from the Port of Vancouver, domestic containers like those belonging to Canadian Tire and the traffic from U.S. east coast ports. That traffic, plus the CPR roll-on/roll-off conventional truck trailer service now situated at St. Luc yard, was supposed to be transferred to Les Cèdres.

CP favoured the Cèdres location because it already owned 175 hectares of land dating back to WWII. CP was also an intervenor in the hearings where Quebec’s farmland protection commission agreed to dezone the additional 136 hectares for the terminal. CP argued that the advent of Highway 30 would allow them to move truck traffic to and from the proposed inland port.

Even before Ackman seized control of CP, the railway was stalling on its earlier commitment, citing the need for further environmental studies. However that excuse evaporated this past July, when the new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act came into force. “As a result, there is no longer a requirement to complete the environmental assessment of this project,” read the Canadian Transportation Agency ruling.

No additional trains for AMT Lakeshore Train until 2014 at the latest as published in Your Local Journal, Nov. 29, 2012

December 23, 2012

No additional trains for AMT Lakeshore Train until 2014 at the latest as published in Your Local Journal, Nov. 29, 2012, P.3:

See Railway Age article about AMT delay in Comments section:

Delay seen for AMT service addition



Canadian Pacific Railway Slashes and Burns/Saint Luc Yard will absorb Lachine’s Intermodal Terminal

December 6, 2012

Railways were once considered as nation builders and unifying forces.  They were creations of government by way of parliamentary charters.  Some like the Canadian Pacific Railway were the forerunners of the now widespread practice and form of Public Private Partnerships. They were feudal-like entities unto themselves with special powers like being able to police themselves.

Railways are considered essential services and utilities in certain circumstances.  They are so vital to the Canadian economy that the Federal government  felt obliged to legislate CPR’s locked out workers several month ago.

However,  in terms of transport policy, railways are treated at the bottom of the barrel.  North America has been living a fly/drive bubble for the last 70 years or so.  Recreational boating and Ski-Doo trails quite often gets more attention from public authorities than railways do. Disinvestment and indifference are the mainstays of railway public policy.

The following article outlines general aspects of CPR’s plan:
“Improving the railway’s operations will include cutting the company’s workforce by nearly a quarter over the next four years and effectively putting a “For Sale” sign on major parts of its network, CEO Hunter Harrison said in an exclusive interview”  (
In the words of CPR Chief Hunter Harrison:
“Now let me move to an area that people ask me all the time a lot. What’s different about this model? What’s going to be different about CP moving forward from other railroads? One of the most significant things that we’re undertaking, we have undertook through the guidance of this operating team, which has been doing a wonderful job, is we have already closed 4 hump yards in our system in the first 5 months. Now think about, those of you who followed railroads for a while, think about the last time you heard of a hump yard being closed. You haven’t heard of many. Think about the last time you heard of 4 being closed within a 5-month period of time. It just doesn’t happen. And I get a lot of questions, probably more questions about this than anything else, why close the humps and what does it do for you? Well, number one, humps are effectively assembly lines. And those of you that don’t understand or appreciate rail operations in a certain level of detail when you hear about a hump yard, a hump yard is simply an assembly line where we shove calls over a hill or let them go down a hump where they’re uncoupled, flow freely through gravity and they’re retarded by electric or pneumatic retarders and go through automatic switches in the classification tracks.And to justify that you haven’t a lot of volume. The best analogy I can give you maybe is that if Henry Ford was going to build 10 or 15 Model Ts a day, he would have never had an assembly line. But when you get up to 300 or 400 cars a day, an assembly line was necessary. These yards are — were, and by the way they are at Alyth, which is our Calgary yard, which is really kind of boxed in where we have very little opportunity for growth there, with Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Bensenville, which are our hump yard in the states, there in Chicago, are the 4 that have been closed.And there’s a number that people will debate a little bit, but somewhere in the neighborhood of you have volume of 1,400 to 1,500 cars a day to justify a hump. And we were down with all our humps in the neighborhood of 700 ,800 cars, 900 cars a day or less, and that’s with some of the cars being humped more than once.

So this hump yard rationalization gives us a great deal of opportunity to save a lot of cost, to expedite the movement of cars and reduce the dwell time, the tension time, if you will, through the hump yards. I think you’re going to hear some numbers tomorrow. I mean, don’t take mine, take theirs, but somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million to $50 million in what I would call direct cost and much, much more in indirect cost as a result of the closing of those yards.

Now let me give you another — some gravy to that story that people don’t take into account. If we looked at our Montréal operation, which I think you will see maybe an aerial photograph of tomorrow, which was really a hump yard style operation without a hump, which might have been the worst of all worlds. If you look at that operation there, we had a freight yard operation. And by the way, in a hump yard, you at least have to have 3 yards, individual groups of yards, where in a flat yard you could have 1 or at the most 2. But within that huge complex and about 60% of that track capacity today is not being utilized there. We have, I guess, 6 work centers. We have the freight operation, we have 2 separate auto compounds, we have what we call our expressway service, which is the only actual trailer on flatcar service that we have, and we have our Intermodal business.

Now that footprint, in the future what we will try to do is to take the auto compounds, the expressway, the Intermodal and all consolidate them in 1 yard in this 1 footprint, which will allow us to take one of the yards in the Montréal market that has a value of somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million or $50 million and to convert that, monetize that into free cash flow and every yard that we’re looking at in that regard has that potential. So the whole hump yard rationalization is an exciting part of this exercise.

One of the things we learned through that, which I had learned many times, is effectively what we did. And if you go back and look at those yards, they’re mostly 1950s and ’60s vetted yards. So obviously, we’ve outgrown the technology there. We — our book of business is extremely different than it was then. At that time, if you look back, and I hate to be able to remember it, but it was pretty Intermodal effectively. We were still moving grain and 40-foot boxcars. And about 85%-plus of a typical railroads business need to be classified or sorted in what we refer to as blocks or classifications. Today, that’s changed. If you look at CP today, with our book of business, we have about, including Intermodal as unit train operation, about 72%, 73% of our business does not need sorting or classifications. So once again, not the need for hump yards. So what we did was we took people that were very good switchmen that could read a list, and even go back and date myself even further, people that are really into technology and SAP. We didn’t have SAP then, we had a piece of chalk and we wrote on the side of the car where it went. But we turned those people into kind of robots with pushing buttons, and we decided to not to push the buttons anymore. We found out that we have to go through a lot of retraining with our people.

Now the other significant operating issue that I would bring up to you is that we are further doing, siding extensions. This year, we have — we’re completing, I think, our eighth siding with the length of 11 to 12,000 feet, which is going to give us the opportunity to further be more productive with our train sizes. Those have already increased both weight and length in the first 5 months about 10% round numbers. But these additional citings — and we’re taking a little bit of a different approach there. We’re taking citings that what we call obsolete because they’re not long enough to accommodate the size of trains today. And rather than let them sit in the ground and rust, we’re picking up those surplus sidings, putting them together to make one large productive citing, which effectively says that the only thing that’s capitalized in, in that exercise is just the labor to move the sidings.”


  In its latest budget the Quebec government had a tax goodie/loophole for the two planned intermodal container facilities, (CPR & CSX), in the Montreal area.  Looks like CPR will use St. Luc Yard in Cote Saint Luc for its intermodal facility at least for the foreseeable future and sell Lachine Intermodal Services Terminal, (IMS).   This land once constituted the former Summerlea Golf Course  in Dixie, Lachine: “In the fall of 1962 the members bid adieu to Lachine, bringing closure to the first era of the club’s history…”  (See:  The course remained open under the Meadowbrook, (name of the golf couse operator that also operates the former CPR Wenthworth Golf Course under the same name), banner into the early ca 1970s and then was converted into the CPR’s IMS facility.
CPR will also consolidate its two automobile compound operations and place them in one area of St. Luc Yard probably near Cavendish as there is more land available in that location.  The current car facility near Meadowbrook Golf Course is on leased land belonging to land promoter Groupe Pacific which is also the owner of the golf course.  The golf course was once bigger and had extended where the current auto compound is situated.  No doubt there will be pressure to build on that land although ideally the green could be reestablished.
It is the intent of current CPR management to take repair of rolling stock in-house.  This probably means more work at the St. Luc Diesel Shop and remnant Roundhouse.

Specific questions arise:

1. Can Lachine IMS Terminal, (estimated worth between $40-$50 million), be land- swapped for Meadowbrook, thereby conserving Meadowbrook as green?

2.  In a related matter, will the automobile compound, west of Meadowbrook become a residential neighbourhood right in an active railway facility or can it become part of a greater Meadowbrook Regional Park? railway proximity and related health issues such as noise, vibration and security come into play.
3.What are the future plans for the Les Cèdres Intermodal project?  Is it in deep freeze?  Will the 330 hectares of dezoned farmland be sold off?4. Regarding  the December 05, 2012 CPR Investor Day slides 36 and 37,
which of the two Auto Compound areas in Montreal – St. Luc Yard will be transferred and where? (See:  Will the Auto Compound near Meadowbrook Golf Course be moved?orb. Will the one near Cavendish/former Blue Bonnets  Raceway be transferred?

c. Will the Intermodal Facility be placed where the former hump classification tracks are, (green circle/eastern part of St. Luc Yard, slide 36)?

d. When will CP begin reworking St. Luc Yard?

Wholesale Asset Stripping of the CPR was announced with great fanfare to the Temples of Wall Street and Bay Street on Tuesday, December 04 and Wednesday, December 05, 2012 . Canada is less for it today.  Shame on most of our political leaders for abandoning our nation building railway policy and allowing CN and CP to be taken over by gamblers, sharks, asset strippers, banksters and US controllers.  To date we have lost strategic lines like  the shortcut to the West, the Ottawa Valley Railway, on the Alter of the Bean Counters.
No doubt the operating parts of railways should make a profit.  But why are roads not measured on a profit and loss basis?  Should not the rail infrastructure be treated similarly?
This is a tragedy of immense proportions that is all but ignored and pushed to the back pages of the corporate media and the margins of general discussion.  Not only are railways extremely efficient, but they are less polluting than automobiles, trucks or planes and take up less of an an ecological footprint than other mass transport modes.


The AMT, Train de l’Ouest and Western Montreal

November 24, 2012

The AMT and the Quebec government must realize that transit is of vital importance everywhere and that we are behind the eight ball:

“The Train de l’Ouest coalition is a group of citizens and elected officials pushing for more West Island commuter trains. Avrom Shtern, a member of the coalition, said he wants to make sure the AMT gets the work done quickly.

“It isn’t only people living east of Decarie that are important, but also the people living west of Decarie, all the way to Vaudreuil, and even beyond,” says Shtern.”


AMT to improve West Island train commute

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | 1:59 PM ET

CBC News

Why has the AMT delayed the introduction of more departures along the Lakeshore Line?

November 13, 2012

AMT improvements to Lakeshore line put back to 2014. Why the delay?

Subject:   AMT backtracks on additional West Island trains Six new departures cannot be added to Vaudreuil-Hudson until improvements to tracks are completed in 2014: spokesperson,  By Andy Riga, GAZETTE TRANSPORTATION REPORTER November 12, 2012 []

The delay has to do with the fact that CPR has not as yet reinstalled track 1, (3rd track to the south), between Vendome & Montreal West, although preparatory work has begun.  A new base of crushed stone ballast has been set down.   There is also a need for a few passing sidings/signals not as yet installed between Lachine and St. Annes.  Another issue that will become clearer in December, once CPR announces is its long term plans, is about the future of the Lachine IMS Terminal which impacts the flow of train traffic.  Reading between the tea leaves, it seems as if “ratioanlization” and consolodation of CP assets will occur and IMS, (Intermodal  Services/domestic and pacific marine containers),  will be fitted into CP’s St Luc Yard in the area of the former Hump Yard near Cavendish.

While biking along Mackle and the perimeter  of St. Luc Yard on Saturday I took CP Chief Hunter Harrison’s words into consideration:

“We took a place like Montréal where we have an intermodal facility, we have an expressway operation, we have a freight operation and we have 2 auto compounds that are all separate entities operationally. Well, I wish you could see Montréal today, some of the changes have been made by the operating team. The yard is 60% or 70% clear, and what that affords us opportunity-wise, just as an example of what you can do with the footprint, is to give us enough space to consolidate all of those operations together. And at the same time, one of those areas that we would vacate real estate-wise has a tremendous value associated with it of millions of dollars.”


E. Hunter Harrison – Chief Executive Officer, President, Director and Member of Safety, Operations & Environment Committee

The western part of the yard from the steam plant/Diesel Shop/Round House remnant heading west to Meadowbrook and the original automobile compound is active. The second automobile compound near Blue Bonnets is also active and full up. The western part of Sortin near Meadowbrook is used as a truck/rail transfer point for covered hoppers carrying plastic pellets.  The eastern part of Sortin is the new AMT yard/facility.  However, the former hump yard near Cavendish, (eastern part of the yard), is eerily empty.  It is still lighted though.

Conclusions/Educated Guesses:

1. Possibility that IMS  be shifted to eastern part of St. Luc Yard and Lachine IMS sold off similar to CN’s Tucot to Taschereau Yard shift.

2.  Increase and ramp up of oil/ethanol trains from West/Midwest to Port of Albany, NY and NB/Irving.

3. Eventual increase in European bound Port of Montreal container trains although there is a current lull because of economic crisis in Europe.

4.  Les Cedres project probably in deep freeze especially after closure of Ottawa Valley Railway shortcut to W Canada.

These issues will impact where passing tracks are needed.  Last Friday while traveling west on Highway 20, I witnessed train congestion on the CP line where two trains were attempting to enter St. Luc yard.  One was an oil train, a recent addition to CPR’s business.

CPR will announce its long term (contraction/asset stripping), plans in Dec 2012.

AMT is also behind the eight ball in terms of access to Lucien L’Allier Station during construction of two adjacent buildings, acquisition of existing railways rights-of-way, ROWs, and electrification plans at least on the Westmount Subdivision  given that the AMT is desperately testing the dual mode locomotives on CPR.  CN does not want them until they get the OK form the the federal safety board.

Three chiefs in a year, (read political appointments), does not speak well.  Former VIA Rail Paul Coté head was a good man  but was not the right political colours for the PQ government.

Thoughts On Electrification Of Railways…

October 27, 2012

Thoughts On Electrification Of Railways…

As for an energy crisis… It will come soon enough…

And regarding electrification of rail lines… It goes back a long time. In 1929 it was proposed by a Federal Blue Ribbon Panel to electrify all of the major RR lines in Montreal as well as the construction of a Union Station. Both never materialized. Many electrified main lines in NA were decommissioned in the 1980s and 1990s from the former Milwaukee Road and BC Rail out West to Conrail out east. Government policy has been anti-rail for the most part at least since post WWII if not earlier with the decommissioning of the toll road concept over 100 years ago starting in about 1916, (the zenith for RRs), and the nationalization/public funding of roads and highways.

In a 1982 mimeographed model RR publication that my good friend Andrew Dawson had given me it states: “CP Rail Electrification Study”

“In 1980, CP rail consumed just over 200 million gallons of diesel fuel at a cost of $145 million. Estimates for 1981 are in excess of $200 million to cover the costs of 215 million gallons. As recently as 1972, this same amount of fuel would have cost $32 million. This works out to a 525% increase in nine years. In response, CP Rail is studying to electrify the steepest parts of its main line through the Rockies.

Currently, CP Rail is working in areas of fuel conservation and capacity by double-tracking grade revisions at three locations in the Rockies, two of which are completed. These improvements are expected to save 3 1/2 million gallons of diesel fuel per year. A fourth area is also under consideration in the Rogers Pass involving 20 miles of new track, almost half in tunnels, expected to save another 3 million gallons in fuel.

CP Rail’s Vice-President of Operations and Maintenance, Charles Pike, told a meeting of the Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation that the cost of converting from diesel power to electrical would probably necessitate some government funding. He added that “Conservation can only go so far. We expect that shortages will eventually reach a point where someone will have to have his fuel supplies cut.””

(From: Division Alouette Québec, The Northeastern Region of the National Model Railroad Association, N.M.R.A. Headquarters, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Volume 5, No. 1, 1982, P. 16)

Has there been any progress since then re electrification? NO. In fact, the current management of both CN and CP are hostile to the idea. And like in the 1970s and 1980s, government is far from making a commitment to railways, (passenger or freight), let alone system-wide electrification of major rail trunk lines. Pathetic but real…

Montreal Tramways: More Wheel Spinning

October 17, 2012

Regarding Montreal’s delay of Tramway construction  and the press conference yesterday, (Oct. 16, 2012), at Place d’Youville in Old Montreal, []:  There is not a shred of vision in Montreal area politics  or Quebec City.  They are so timid, (Montreal politicians),  and Quebec is only interested in toxic narrow minded policies that will chase away the remaining best and the brightest …

Here are some issues to consider re Light Rail Transit, (LRT), and Streetcars/Tramways, (street running  LRT):


Tramways were once operated by private concerns.  It became very apparent that this method was unsustainable once government nationalized its roads and highways.   Ironically, tramway companies once owned and maintained and snow cleared the roads for cars, trucks, wagons, horses, bicycles and pedestrians.  There was also pressure from “Detroit” and motorists to eliminate the tramways as they were considered a nuisance by drivers and competition by the car companies.   In the 1950s, it was considered  avant-garde to eliminate streetcars.  Toronto’s old rolling stock lasted into the 1970s as it inherited fleets from other NA cities.  By then, the new environmental/transit activist movement arose and the the first Energy Crisis was upon us…  Hence, Toronto’s streetcars in-spite of Mayor Rob Ford and the PCs who are anti LRT  pro more expensive subway throughout the agglomeration even in sparser/less congested areas.

Reasons why we should restore tramways to our streetscape:
Tramways revitalize/revive communities. They encourage TOD, (Transit Oriented Development).  Prosperity is more possible.

Surface rail transit is not buried and hidden from public view.  It is easier to access and does not play second fiddle to the automobile.

It enhances the streetscape.  It make it more liveable for pedestrians and encourages street level entrances to commerce.

It creates a sense of permanence to the neighbourhood that a bus can never do

Operating costs are pricier for busses. More operators are required to carry the same passenger loads. Motorists also tend to be more attracted to trains than they are to busses.

Surface running LRT/Streetcar, including the rolling stock can cost between $10-$60 million/mile.  Montreal and QC always seem to favour the chromium plated versions and also are very particular to the “Ministry of Bombardier”.

Calgary’s highly successful LRT system is a case in point:

According to City of Calgary data that has been adjusted to 2009 dollars, it costs $304,930 to operate one LRT vehicle. The operating costs for a conventional bus is $359,470. That number rises to $503,250 per vehicle for a BRT system.
(See, Hurontario / Main Street Master Plan Report | Costs | Part 3P. 542, 11.2 Operating Costs,

The capital investment for LRT is eventually recovered from lower costs, greater passenger loads and higher property evaluations.

Capital cost:  Calgary built  its  LRT at about $24 million/mile.  This includes rolling stock and infrastructure.  Calgary’s and San Diego’s systems are super-successful. Calgary’s daily ridership is at 300,000.  San Diego’s system fair-box  pays for most of its operating costs.

The chromium plated version that Montreal wants at $60 million/mile could be whittled down.  In March the Province said it would not pay for that plan. Build the tramway network according to the terms and conditions of the very affordable Calgary LRT which cost about $24 million/mile or the  San Diego Trolley $US31.3 million/mile or St Loius MetroLink at $US20.8/mile.

No where is the need more evident as along Montreal’s  Autoroute 40 corridor where 3/4 of  West Islanders live:

As proposed  by the GREEN COALITION – The 440/Doney Spur/Anse-à-l’Orme

“The Charest government announcement (election promise) to build an urban boulevard on the 440 Autoroute servitude offers opportunities for the Green Coalition

The Green Coalition insists that the plans for the urban boulevard must include:

Vision for the Doney Spur Light Rail System

–          A Reserved Corridor must be established for a future Light Rail System on the same 440A ROW (right-of-way) as the new urban boulevard. This reserved corridor must provide sufficient Lateral and Vertical clearance for LRT as part of the proposed Doney Spur service fully integrated to the Métro. The Doney Spur Light Rail Service or Tram-Train was first proposed by the Green Coalition in 1989 to serve as an essential rapid transit link or surface metro between the heart of West Island and the downtown core. Substantial portions of the original rail-bed of the old spur line between Bois-Franc station in Saint-Laurent and Stillview Avenue in Pointe-Claire still exist. Note: This important transit right-of-way runs parallel and just south of the congested Autoroute 40 for a significant distance.

–          Lateral and Vertical clearance must also be set aside on the Interchange at A40.

–          The government must purchase and “railbank” all available parts of the Doney Spur ROW to prevent further encroachments.”
–        The success of the STM’s  470 Express bus proves that there is a market for this rail transit corridor.

Energy Options:  Most streetcar systems are powered by overhead wires/lines/supply/conductors.  Some view this as aesthetically displeasing and unsightly.  Several options exist:  Partially battery operated with strategically placed recharging stations and some overhead and a wireless partially buried, (flush with the ground), conduit system.  These are more costly.  The conduit systems existed in NYC on 6th Ave and in Washington, DC.  There is still some inoperable conduit in DC.  Conduits are more apt to breakdown in wet climates like Montreal.  They are shock-poof/arching proof.

Locations to film:  Sherbrooke St. W. near Montreal West Station and the Elmhurst Bus Terminal is an option since former catenary/line poles are still there from the streetcar era. Last year of operation to Westminster Ave., (1953), Elmhurst, (1956).
Grand Boulevard and Somerled is also an interesting intersection.  Streetcar tracks are still visible.

Possible Financing Options:

Public Private Partnerships, [PPPs]/Private Contributions

Detroit:  A group of private businesses and philanthropic organizations have proposed  to spend $84 million US out of the $137 million US price tag.  The rest would be publicly financed.  This would be a true PPP where private interests spend and contribute money as opposed to failed PPPs, esp, in the the UK, the founding country of capitalism, whereby it was used to place projects and services off-budget with no savings to the public till in the long run:

“”LaHood: Feds to donate millions to Detroit’s streetcar project
if ‘community can get its act together'”
By Gus Burns |
on October 15, 2012 at 4:36 PM
updated October 15, 2012 at 6:03 PM


Infrastructure Bank/Low Interest/Zero Interest Loans or Guarantees

LA, California

“”U.S. Department of Transportation Approves $545.9 Million Loan
to Advance Public Transit in Los Angeles”
Monday, October 1, 2012


Special Development Taxes as are being considered for the TTC and Metrolinx in Ontario

“”Will province drag its feet on regional transit taxes?”
Published on Friday October 05, 2012
Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter


Sexy Transport Modes:
In transit circles, monorails are not taken seriously.  They use the German term “gadgetbahn”   Promoters  want to make a quick buck.  It is awfully expensive compared to suburban rail or light rail or even more expensive elevated SkyTrain technology.  Two systems in the US had extreme problems.  The one in Las Vegas went broke and the expansion of the monorail in Seattle was cancelled because it was going to cost $1 billion/mile. Outrageous!

Certain people love to marvel at such technology like monorail or Maglev but for the most part these types of systems should be restricted to amusement parks and possibly airport circulators if that.

It would make much more sense to reuse or enhance existing rail lines like the Doney Spur, Lasalle Loop and the CP Westmount line for multiple unit or eventually electric multiple unit trains similar to the Two Mountains line.  They are lighter and swifter than Diesel-Electric locomotive trains push/pull trains and they also offer regenerative power which makes them more energy efficient.  GO/Metrolinx has been buying up strategic railway corridors in the Toronto area.  Montreal and QC should be doing that.  Alas, we are are behind on the curve ball on this issue.

Meadowbrook and its streams

August 24, 2011

Meadowbrook and its streams:

At one time the Little Saint Pierre River System was a much stronger, more forceful and vibrant watercourse in the Meadowbrook area as it carved out hills and valleys on its way to the St. Lawrence River.  People would raft, fish and swim in its waters.  There was a natural pool of water late into the 1950s in back of the western side of the Cote Saint Luc Shopping Centre.  Previously, horse stables, (the Red Barn), had occupied the area into the early1950s.  The commercial centre together with Steinberg’s Supermarket was built in 1956.  (See: Steinberg’s, Cote St-Luc Shopping Center, Montreal 1956

The policy of the City of Montreal and surrounding island suburbs was to cap and bury the streams.  By the late 1800s many of Montreal’s water courses were turned into open sewers and carried disease.   Leveling of  subdivided land also allowed for more construction to take place.  In 1938, Cote Saint Luc sought $100,000 in damages from the City of Montreal as a result of a Montreal built drainage sewer.  The pluvial collector had been built between 1914-1915 and spilled a mix of raw sewage and run-off into the Little St. Pierre River System and the Cote St. Luc Watershed.  The streams’ water quality was severely diminished thereby depreciating property values.  (See, The Montreal Gazette – Oct 12, 1938, P.10/,1506897&dq=cote+saint+luc&hl=en)  By 1961, most of the streams in Cote Saint Luc were buried as well.

The following link leads you to a map which includes 4 of the five Little St. Pierre River courses that flowed through Cote Saint Luc.

 Streams Map/1959 Ville de Montréal/City of Montreal Planning Dept. Les ruisseaux et fossés

The map was published in 1959 just before the capping of most of the inner suburban streams.   Small daylighted segments of the NDG stream which runs from Patricia, Ave./Chester Ave. and a smaller tributary which is a little bit south of the Meadowbrook Clubhouse still exist to this day.  They are still very much polluted.  The smaller tributary once connected to the watercourse that ran a little bit south of Wavell Ave. along the St. Luc Branch railway line near the Cote Saint Luc Shopping Centre.

“1916” is indicated on the horizontal faces of a few concrete culverts along
Canadian Pacific Railway’s St. Luc Branch Subdivision line which was double tracked that year.  This was one year or so before the creation of  CPR’s Recreation Club now called Meadowbrook.

For some distance, the NDG-Chester branch runs parallel and converges with CSL’s Southern Branch of the Little St. Pierre R., (Merton Rd. & Baily Rd. & Westover Rd.), and heads towards Toe Blake Park, underneath its pump house and onto the golf course.  It is noteworthy that the Chester Ave. area was  formerly part of Cote Saint Luc.  Cote Saint Luc once encompassed parts of northern NDG and Hampstead.

In the 1970s and 1980s the City of Montreal operated a snow melting facility at the corner of Robert Burns St. and Westover Rd. near the former Continental Nursery and the Hydro Quebec Power Lines.  It was linked to the NDG Chester Branch of the Little Saint Pierre R.

A little to the west, streets with the names of Cranbrook and Sunnybrooke remind us of the NDG and Southern Branch streams that wended their way to Toe Blake Park , onto Meadowbrook,  Sortin Yard and the St Jacques Escarpment where they merged with the St. Pierre River Collector.

An underground storm water retention basin was constructed in Gilbert Layton Park, (Cote Saint Luc Rd., Coronation Ave. and Chester Ave.), in the late 1970s, (1978-1979), to mitigate flash flooding in the northwestern sector of NDG.  The park was named after the late NDP and Official Federal Opposition Leader Jack Layton’s grandfather.  Gilbert Layton was a Member of the Quebec Legislative Assembly from 1936-1939 for the Union Nationale Party.  He resigned because of Quebec’s stance against conscription during World War II.

The flash flood of July 14, 1987 overwhelmed the basin and sent water flowing into NDG and Cote Saint Luc basements and blocked all three railway underpasses in Cote Saint Luc.  Meadowbrook was flooded as well.  A smaller 2005 flood also overwhelmed Cote Saint Luc’s pumping stations located at the Cavendish, Cote Saint Luc Rd. and Westminster Underpasses.  Subsequently,  Cote Saint Luc upgraded its pumping facilities.

The Northern Branch flowed through what is now the former Blue Bonnets lands, Cote Saint Luc City Hall/Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library complex and Cavendish Mall.  It headed towards the former Wagar High School playing fields along Mackle Rd. and then followed a path past of what is currently Yitzak Rabin Park, (Westminster Ave.).  It then swerved towards Guelph Rd.  Before heading onto Meadowbrook, a treatment plant at what is now the Cote Saint Luc Tennis Club, (8215 Guelph Road/between Wentworth and Blossom), improved its water quality.

It then  flowed underneath the CPR main which was then called the Winchester Subdivision onto the railway’s Sortin Yard.  The railway line was later renamed  the Vaudreuil Subdivision.  This line  serves  Montreal West Station to the east  and the West Island or Lakeshore to the west.  Once the watercourse was capped, its dried out culvert was referred to as the “Love Tunnel” in local Montreal West/Western CSL lore.  Young couples would make out there.

In 1958, as the steam locomotive era was drawing to a close,  two CPR  locomotive tenders were recycled as cisterns for irrigation purposes.

Not shown on the map is the fifth stream which ran parallel to Mackle Rd. through  the St. Luc Railway Yard and into a small pond or lagoon which still exists in the wooded area of Meadowbrook.  It is bounded by the Automobile Compound in St. Luc Yard , Blossom Ave. and Mackle Rd. in CSL.  The Automobile Compound was once a part of a greater Meadowbrook, (Wentworth/CPR Recreation Club).

For further information please consult:

Andrew Emond’s UNDERMONTREAL blog at

Andrew has also posted an extensive and well written series of articles that were written by The Gazette‘s Marian Scott and published on Saturday, April 18, 2009:  Our island’s lost rivers, P.B1; ‘Drainer’ explores the world of water under our feet, P.B3;  Water, water everywhere, P.B3: This CSI tracks a polluted creek, P.B4