Monday, October 15, 2007

High speed rail

With VIA Rail's new funding came renewed calls for high speed rail in the Windsor to Quebec corridor, and in-particular, between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. It would not be cheap, at upwards of $11 billion for TGV style service, but reports going as far back as 1991 say that such a service would make a profit. That's right, a profit!

But alas, many suspect the usual suspects killed the proposal. And they, the airline industry, appear to be at it again. Governments don't subsidize airports, they say, so why should they subsidize train stations and railway lines?

But, if you believe Transport 2000, then there is no way that any government will let Pearson or Trudeau or YVR close. Essentially, any investment made is guaranteed. Based on that, which amounts to a type of subsidy, why shouldn't the government subsidize high speed rail?

The airline industry has all the signs of an industry without a working business plan. Like telecommunications and the recording industry, they lobby, complain, sue and use hostile takeovers to ensure that there is no competition. Maybe that's why I'm more willing to spend five hours on a bus than a single hour in the air.

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