OTTAWA — Via Rail’s business case for a multibillion-dollar high-frequency-rail project between Toronto and Quebec City would receive a boost if it ditched the stretch from Montreal to Quebec City, internal federal documents say.The document, labelled “secret,” was obtained by The Canadian Press under access-to-information law.The memo’s release comes as Via looks for financial support to build dedicated rail lines that will increase the frequency of trips, cut travel times and ensure its trains will no longer have to work around freight schedules on borrowed tracks.An assessment conducted for Transport Canada warned the inclusion of the Montreal-Quebec City section of the proposed rail service would eat into the plan’s profitability, according to a briefing document prepared earlier this year for Canada’s deputy minister of finance, Paul Rochon.The study, delivered last fall by the firm EY, recommended the Quebec route undergo further review “given its high capital costs and poor performance on an operational basis,” the federal document said.A key to the project’s eventual realization is finding a way to make the plan attractive to private-sector investors, whose support would build on public dollars.The document explained how Via put forward an optimistic business argument for the high-frequency proposal.“Via predicts that the project will recover the capital costs and generate a net surplus along Via’s (Toronto-Quebec City) network due to a substantial increase in ridership and revenues,” said the January briefing note to Rochon.It estimated the capital costs of the project to total $4.4 billion, a tally that includes $1.14 billion for the leg between Montreal and Quebec City. Via might seek private investment to pull it off — and will need to show potential investors that they’ll make their money back and then some.Asked about the contents of the briefing note, a spokeswoman for Via said in an email that the studies cited in the memo seem to refer to the original high-frequency proposal that it submitted to the government in 2016.Marie-Anna Murat added that the research was not conducted on behalf of Via.Covering billions of dollars’ worth of construction costs and turning a profit besides would be a significant financial turnaround for Via, which is a Crown corporation.For example, Via’s 2018 annual report said its Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto service lost nearly $93 million after moving, on average, about 49,000 passengers a week.The Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa service ran a deficit of nearly $24 million last year after an average of about 17,000 people rode its trains along that route each week.Extensive academic research has shown high-frequency and high-speed rail lines around the world rarely, if ever, recover their capital and operating costs, said Matti Siemiatycki, a transportation-policy expert at the University of Toronto.“If you look at the annual reports for Via, all of those lines are losing money and are heavily subsidized … These are huge numbers to make up,” Siemiatycki said in an interview.“In general, that is a highly optimistic business case.”He added that Via is in a “tough spot” and he credited the Crown corporation for trying to find a way to make the project work.Siemiatycki said there are likely good arguments to be made for the project on environmental or social-connectivity grounds, but framing it as a good revenue-generating opportunity is harder.“It will be interesting to see if they can find investors to come to the table who are really going to risk their own private capital on what seems like a fairly high-risk proposal,” he said. The federal briefing document also cited a separate, earlier analysis that found the high-frequency project could reduce Via’s dependency on government funding in the corridor, especially if only the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal portion were completed.In recent months, efforts have been made to make the high-frequency project more enticing for private investors.A few weeks ago, the government announced it would give Via $71 million in federal cash to help make a better business case for the proposal. Some of the funding will come from a financing agency known as the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which provides public money as a way to attract funding from private sources.The money from Ottawa will support planning work to ensure Via trains would be able to seamlessly move between any new dedicated tracks and local transit systems in Montreal and Toronto.At the time, Pierre Lavallee, chief executive of the infrastructure bank, insisted the project had attracted “strong interest” from private investors.Murat said the joint project between Via and the Canada Infrastructure Bank is being created “to further explore the possibility of high-frequency rail in the Quebec City-Toronto corridor.”Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press
It was a busy Hillhead for Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology last month, with the company debuting a new scalper, cone crusher and automation and control telematics system at the show.The company used the Hillhead quarry as a backdrop to launch its QE342 screener/scalper, a “heavy duty [machine] … with class leading open scalping area enabling it to deliver enormous rates of production”, Sandvik said.Built for the hardest wearing materials, the QE342 has a wear resistant steel apron feeder, large stockpiling capability, two-speed tracking and over-wide conveyors that maximise delivery.It has a crusher-style chassis designed specifically to accommodate the engine power packs and comes equipped with a CAT C4.4 96 kW engine (EU Stage IV, Stage V and Tier 4 Final emission compliant options). The engine can operate at a speed of 1,800 rpm, providing lower fuel consumption and reduced noise compared with its predecessor, the QE341. The QE342 also comes with hybrid drive and electric plug in options.“The QE342’s wear resistant rigid hopper is compatible for two-way or three-way split configurations, as well as having the ability to interchange side conveyors thereby demonstrating the ultimate flexibility of the unit,” Sandvik said.The screen-box jack up facility allows easier access to the bottom deck for maintenance and screen media changes, while the hydraulic fluid change interval has been extended from 2,000 hours to 4,000 hours, providing a plus-50% saving as well as delivering environmental benefits.An electrical control system has features to improve both the operational effectiveness and machine safety. This includes a key switch, mode selector switch (set-up, operation and tracking) and one global plant button to commence sequential automatic start-up and automatic shut-down of the plant while in operating mode.“With a wide choice of screen media available, the QE342 can be configured to match specific requirements and is able to cope with a huge range of different, and difficult, materials and applications,” Sandvik said. “These include construction waste, landfill mining, quarry overburden, mine dumps, and scalping before a crusher or screening aggregates after a crusher.”Two in oneThe Sandvik stand also hosted a new mobile cone crusher at the show – the QH332 DDHS (pictured) – combining crushing and screening in one system.“The brand new … QH332 DDHS (double deck hanging screen) is a tracked, self-contained cone crusher with an on board diesel engine. It is based on the world leading QH331, with this new cone crushing solution also providing the functionality of a double or single deck (utilising the top deck as a breaker deck) hanging screen in a fully detachable and standalone form,” Sandvik said.“Able to be detached/attached without the use of additional lifting equipment, the QH332 DDHS thus delivers multi-functionality as a one-, two- or three-way split screener as well as a highly productive and efficient cone crusher.”The machine is able to produce two screened products and recirculate the oversize back into the feed conveyor, which, itself, can be hydraulically rotated through 90o for stockpiling up to three products on the floor, according to Sandvik.The CH430 cone crusher is at the heart of the QH332 DDHS and is equipped with a hydroset system that provides closed-side setting adjustment and a heavy duty I Beam chassis.“The automatic setting regulation system not only optimises production, it also keeps track of liner wear, making it easy to plan liner changes and minimise interruptions in production,” Sandvik said.The CH430 cone has a choice of six concaves and three eccentric bushes providing a range of throws from 16 mm to 36 mm.As the standalone double deck hanging screen is completely detachable, operators can use the QH322 in open or closed circuit, with the machine able to be set up in less than 30 minutes, Sandvik said.Going digitalBoth of these new machines can benefit from the use of the My Fleet telematics system, which was also launched at the Hillhead show last month.Developed initially for the premium (Q) range of crushers – expected in the September quarter – this digital solution has been designed to “help operators get the very best out of their investment”, Sandvik said. A launch for the company’s mobile screen and scalper range could occur soon after.The monitoring, control and data collection tool, provided via the cloud, is designed to eliminate guesswork and provide the data needed for informed business decisions, according to Sandvik.“My Fleet has been purpose developed to help our customers know exactly how equipment is being utilised. Through the collection and accurate monitoring of a wide array of parameters, this facilitates accurate production forecasting, ensuring that the most efficient use is obtained from equipment, thereby maximising return on investment,” the company said.In addition to the ability to forecast production, this can also help customers plan their service and maintenance schedules.There will be two packages available for My Fleet customers, with the option to take one of the packages or alternatively, opt out of the system. These consist of:Freemium – a basic package aimed at providing machine location and utilisationPremium – provides a wide array of parameters for a more in-depth analysis and monitoring of the equipment.
The first two teams in World Championship semifinals are Sweden and Denmark. Sweden beat Croatia 29:25 (14:12) and took two points for the “Bestof Four”. Croatia will miss first semifinal at some big event after WC 2007 in Germany. Denmark won over Argentina 31:24 and Poland in the battle for Olympic qualification places beat Serbia 27:26 (10:11) with Karol Bielecki goal eleven seconds to the end of the match.Standings GROUP 2:Denmark 8Sweden 6Poland 4Croatia 3Argentina 2Serbia 1 ← Previous Story WC 2011 MR (Round 1): “Danes one step to the Semifinals” Next Story → OG 2012 qualification: One more team for Europe and Pan America