Where do freight trains belong?Sometimes an idea isn't very well received, but when you feel very strongly about it, you cannot let it die.
On one of the online message boards I post on, one might see a thread of conversation where I asked two fundamental questions:
- Is it wise to route non-stop freight trains through built up areas and downtowns, or is it better to send them through dedicated transportation corridors?
- Is building a second or third track for passenger trains enough to prevent delays and facilitate expansion?
- We won't have to widen railway rights-of-ways to four or more tracks in order to run effective passenger rail service. This would create less of a physical barrier and prevent a "wrong side of the tracks" effect. This can be clearly seen in the Summerhill neighbourhood of Toronto, where the CP rail corridor effectively isolates the community from the next neighbourhood to the south.
- Freight trains would be able to take the most efficient route between the large train yards in Toronto and Vaughan and destinations in southwestern Ontario and the USA. This would save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly for CN Rail. Currently, their trains must travel west to Georgetown, south to Burlington, then west again towards Windsor or Niagara Falls. Using the 407 corridor would offer a beeline to Burlington.
- Freight trains would be able to move at their own speed, which is often very different than the speed of passenger rail. CN has often argued that the speed of VIA Rail trains on the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto route requires them to set aside a block of track-space equivalent to 3 freight trains. This would ease their burden on scheduling freight around passenger trains.
- The vast majority of freight trains wouldn't have to travel through the downtown areas of Brampton, Georgetown and Milton. This could help revitalize these growth centres and shift some of the development from sprawl to intensification. Removing the freight trains from downtown Toronto was caused by increasing value of the land the yards sat upon, but the result has been an improved urban environment. If this could be achieved in Toronto, why cant it be achieved in Brampton, Georgetown or Milton?