Monday, April 1, 2024

VIA Returns to the Kingston & Pembroke!

At first, when I heard about VIA planning to build its High Speed Rail (HSR) intercity line through Sharbot Lake, I didn't think much about it. Of course, the municipal government and local citizenry applauded, believing they would be a stop on the new line. The HFR scheme would seem to fit nicely with the government’s promised public-private infrastructure bank for which VIA has long been courting the highly-valued public pension funds that would comprise the core of the infrastructure investment bank.
Since then, VIA has changed the name of the project to High Frequency Rail (HFR) meaning less speed though perhaps more stops. That made more sense to me. Perhaps Sharbot Lakers had reason to celebrate. But I still thought there was not a chance in Hull that either the HSR or HFR was going to stop. In fact, VIA was already using the station code 'SFA' to refer to Sharbot Lake.

Stop the presses. Cue the humility. My loss of face was about to be Sharbot Lake's gain. Just recently, I've become aware of off-the-record information showing that not only is VIA planning to make Kingston a network hub in the HFR network, but that instead of running Ottawa trains through Brockville and Smiths Falls, that they are planning a new KPR line. Wait, KPR line? (Sharbot Lakers - start inflating the balloons - and check out the proposed KPR logo above!)

That's right, KPR = Kingston & Pembroke Rail! The line, begun by over-enthusiastic investors 150 years ago, later subsumed into the CP system, was about to have its moment in the noonday sun, far eclipsing its former role. VIA is in the preliminary early planning stages to relay track all the way north from Kingston on the former CP (Kingston & Pembroke) trackage to Sharbot Lake, connecting with the main Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto HFR line there! I'll say that again, there! This is an absolute boon for the people of Sharbot Lake, not to mention other about-to-boom former K&P communities like Murvale, Harrowsmith and Godfrey. Government funding will likely flow from the public-private infrastructure bank. You can say that again. Oh, never mind...

This map was initially released in 2017 by VIA, garnering a lot of attention at the time. But look closely! The Brockville-Ottawa line has been removed in the 2024 version, with the KPR line showing. Brockville to Ottawa is just a whole lotta white! This is eye-opening and intriguing.

VIA spokesperson Avril d'Poisson was recently interviewed on various social media outlets and Avril was the first to confirm the KPR plan. All track from the original K&P route would be relayed, she said. Much of the line is still in use as a recreational trail, and always was, since its inception a century-and-a-half ago, meandering. When asked about the numerous curves and grades on the former CP line, d'Poisson noted wryly that that would give prospective passengers more time to take in the scenic beauty of the line. What could be more recreational than that? Get to know that tree beside you, she joked. Check out the many picturesque lakes, scenic creeks and beautiful bogs. Count the turtles on the log, she said, coming out of her shell during the media scrum. The well-meaning spokesman also suggested that passengers might have time to drop a line on their journey (it was unclear whether this meant an online message to friends or family, or actual line side fishing experiences). 

Nothing succeeds like success, and Sharbot Lakers must've gotten wind of the KPR project. They are already spending their time outdoors now that springtime weather has arrived. Amazingly, crowds are seen gathering at the Railway Park along the former right-of-way, peering into the distance to be the first one in town to have the bragging rights of spotting the headlights of the approaching track laying equipment and calling out with zest, "Here she comes! Yonder comes the train!"
A note of caution, Sharbot Lakers. This is not the first time you may have had one put over on you - after all, you have a CN caboose painted CP! That aside, all that needs to be done now is the construction of a new station, and laying of new track and installation of new signals, and voila! The new line through Sharbot Lake will look much as it did in this period photo (below). Only the hemlines, the tree growth, and the name on the sign outside the Doctor's office have changed. Sharbot Lake doesn't even have the internet yet!
Word of this has not leaked to other online communities such as Glenvale, Verona and Parham, so please do not tell anyone you might know in the area. Beer-swigging street festivals, combustible bullrush-burning and even festive fish-fries will likely be quickly organized once word gets out. It will bring joy to the people. A word of caution - due to today's highly-polarized political climate, there are a fears of civil unrest when communities on the existing line get wind of this impending change. Imagine the displeasure along the current Brockville-Ottawa VIA line when it becomes obvious that VIA and its fortunes are no longer smiling on those online communities. Transport boosters and public transit advocates are also expected to trumpet the dawn of KPR and the extravagant economic eldorado that awaits. 

You heard it here first. 

Running extra...

ONT 254/255 arrived in Cochrane on March 1. The third of three new cars, ONT 253 arrived on March 21, already pre-tagged on both sides before ever taking on their first lading:

Photos posted to social media by Lloyd Leonard (above) and James Lalande (below):


Steven Manders said...

We already have something faster than a high speed train, and it needs no subsidy, level crossing, or land expropriation. It is called an airplane. It can whisk those very impatient people from Montreal to Toronto in an hour, plus ground time. It is already in operation. No $10 billion subsidy to duplicate an already operating system.

Eric said...

Mine was a VIArtual HSR. No pollution. Airliners? They reportedly pollute 100X more than a bus or train. Not environmentally friendly. Will VIA HFR be electric? Who knows.

Thanks for your comment,