Thursday, October 18, 2018

Stittsville is not part of regional rail plan after all

Well, it seems we weren’t the only ones who were wondering what Mayoral candidate Clive Doucet had in mind when he outlined his regional rail transit plan, which seemed to indicate that Stittsville would be served by the old CP Carleton Place Subdivision.

Stittsville Central took a look at the same map we did and wondered whether Mr. Doucet indeed intends to connect the exploding western suburb via the old CP line, which is now part of the Trans Canada Trail.

It turns out, that the old CP line between Bells Corners and Stittsville will remain a trail. In response to Stittsville Central’s question, Mr. Doucet’s campaign has suggested that Stittsville be served via a connection to Kinburn via the Renfrew Spur rail line.

This also seems to solve a similar geographical issue in the city’s east end, where Vars and Navan are connected via a non-existent rail line.

Getting back to Stittsville, I have to say that I don’t see the logic to suggesting Stittsville will be served by a connection in Kinburn. Any quick look at a map of Ottawa’s west end will know that Kinburn is by no means a neighbour to Stittsville, since it is closer to Carp. That begs the question why the Doucet campaign would link Stittsville with Kinburn. Of course, it’s politically convenient to suggest to Stittsville residents that they will be first in line to be connected to a regional rail system, but a connection via Kinburn makes little sense, since it’s not exactly located between Stittsville and downtown Ottawa, which would make the most sense to a commuter.

If anyone is expecting passenger rail to return to Stittsville via the old Carleton Place Sub, think again. Plans to connect the suburb do not include this old rail line, pictured in 1972 when it hosted CP Rail's Canadian.

In a radio interview this week, Mr. Doucet also backed off some of his planning for regional rail connections in Gatineau. His map shows connections as far away as Chelsea, which would require a rail line be re-established on the old CP Maniwaki Sub. Mr. Doucet said the regional system will go as far as Place du Portage in downtown Hull. Since I now work in downtown Hull, I can say that the terminus will be much more likely be Terraces de la Chaudière, which is not the same as Place du Portage.

This is about as far as Clive Doucet's regional rail will go, according to his latest comments. The brown buildings on the left are realistically the end point of his Quebec connection.

This is all academic, of course. I would be shocked if Mr. Doucet was all that close to incumbent Jim Watson.

Still, I have to give Mr. Doucet for being the first politician to champion regional rail. It was nice while it lasted.


AJ said...

Looks like your prediction was correct and Clive Doucet did not get anywhere near as close as the distant 2nd place that he ended up. I was encouraged by his transportation plan with the rail, but that's really about it in his campaign and I wonder if that was the same for most other voters (not that I am really interested in Watson's plan, but I digress).
But looking at the map, I also am curious as to how he intended to link Kinburn with Stittsville. For me, one of the most obvious things would be to lay a rail line into the CTC before the development envelopes a possible line which could be linked with the existing line through north Kanata. This actually could serve Stittsville as being a hub with the CTC lots as very accessible parking for both Stittsville/Kanata residents as well as outside residents in Arnprior, CP, Renfrew, etc. (which would have a real cutting effect on congestion). From there, service could be expanded into Sttitsville, and/or hopefully to points west. Not to say a hub in Kinburn wouldn't be of use, but not realistic when lumped in with Stittsville.

But then at this point (with Watson in for 4 more years) we will probably never really know what heavy rail would be like in this city.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately CN has released their 3 year plan and they are applying to abandon a substantial amount of rail in eastern Ontario. Leads me to believe they may pull out entirely from Ottawa. Looks like the last remaining track on the Beachburg sub, the Walkley spur line, trackage through Vankleek Hill, and some parts of the Alexandria sub as well. Hope it’s not the case but was wondering if anyone had further insight into their plans for the area

Michael said...

Hi guys. Thanks for your comments. Robert, I don't think anyone is surprised that CN will pull out of Ottawa. The writing has been on the wall for years. Many people speculated that CN bought the old Ottawa Central just for the scrap value of the Beachburg Sub line between Nepean Junction and Pembroke. I don't think CN pulling out is a bad thing at all. It opens the door for a short line operator to come in and better serve local industry with a more focused carload approach to business, which CN had no interest in doing. Customers like Nylene Canada in Arnprior absolutely have to have rail service, due to the nature of the caprolactum they have delivered. This product cannot be trucked. Nylene also owns the rails on the old Renfrew Sub and the city owns the actual land. At the very least, something will endure here. There are also a number of customers on the Alexandria Sub that will continue to require rail service. Whether it's a scaled back version of the old Ottawa Central or something new, I can't imagine.

AJ said...

I would be sure interested to see the numbers on that line. I suspect if run properly it would be profitable (no one is getting rich, but it could work). Definitely one of those things that makes you wish you had that $60 million dollar ticket from last weeks Lottomax lol

Unknown said...

It turns out that Nylene is served by the Arnprior & Nepean Railway (ANR) which was a shortline created by BASF back when CN abandoned the Renfrew Spur to allow freight service to continue to their plant. The plant, and the ANR are now owned by Nylene. Under the "Arnprior-Nepean Railway Company Inc. Act, 1992" the shortline isn't permitted to operate as a common carrier (i.e. they can't operate freight trains) because all operations were contracted out to CN (and eventually the OCR, and then CN again).

Given this arrangement, it's entirely possible that the ANR will purchase whatever's left of the Beachburg subdivision (and possibly Walkley Yard?) and continue to contract service out to CN which would allow service to the Nylene plant to continue.

This wouldn't help for any of CN's other customers, but perhaps another shortline will pop up to carry on that service, or the ANR could "expand" their operations by contracting more service out to CN. It'll be interesting to see what happens.