Posted 08 December 2009 - 09:16 AM
We can't forget the new Ethanol Plant being built at the old 3M facility in Havelock, and the news that the line is to be upgraded out to Havelock. The more I research this, the more hopeful I see. In fact, I think that CP is realising that a total dependence on freight for their bread and butter is like putting all your eggs in one basket. This may be a move on the part of CP to correct some mistakes they made almost 40 years ago to abandon the line and alsopassenger service. If they rebuild their northern route from TO to Ottawa it will piss off the tree huggers and flower children who use the railbed for a personal walking trail, but this is their tough luck to which I can only suggest they "suck it up and grow up".
If the passenger service is run out to Havelock it will carry a lot of extra traffic drawn from Campbellford, Hastings, Marmora and all the rural areas in between because we are a huge retirement area, and a lot of senior people are afraid to drive in Toronto, but would gladly take the train down to Union Station and then a taxi to medical appt's or to the theatre, museums etc. The "experts" who did the surveys 20 years ago who shut down the passenger service, really ought to begin living in the present and actually spend time in the communities affected getting to learn the demographics. I have lived here for 15 years, and seen a huge shift, all those people who have retired here have likely pushed our median age up to 55.
I know even some stodgy old farmers who love attending the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, who drive to the Lakeshore and then take the GO train into the fair grounds because they no longer want to drive and pay to park and fight traffic on unfamiliar roads in heavy traffic. No doubt they would just as soon drive to Havelock and park and ride.
The "heritage steam railway" bit is also worth considering, but whether it would pay is the question. If the one now in Uxbridge had a connection and permission to use the revamped Havelock Sub, then they could extend their "trackage" by offering to run excursions and "Fair Specials" or other gimmicky trips, esp if the old Lakefield run was reintroduced. In this day of hard times, a day spent tootling around the countryside on a steam excursion train with a $75.00 "family pass" is a cheap back yard vacation for a family with lots of excitement for the kids and for dad too. Perhaps the temporarily mothballed CPR steam loco Empress could be stationed in PTBO or their TO yard and used up and down the line?
CP needs to get off their duff and get creative and innovative and be willing to try new things. The stuck inthe mud "freight or die" mindset is going to kill them, the lack of diversification is already hurting them as they lost a big chunk of their coal revenue to CN from one customer, with nothing to replace it. Sheesh, throw a half dozen coaches behind a loco, type up a schedule, throw up a few trackside wind shelters and run the damn thing...see if anyone rides it, simple. If you make a few bucks, great at least you keep employees working instead of paying them to stay home a twiddle their thumbs, if you lose a bit, well you're losing money anyhow.
The restoration of a direct Ottawa-Toronto route via Tweed Peterborough would draw way more passenger traffic than might be imagined if they are using 1964 population demographics (the last year CP ran passenger service along that Sub). CP and the Gov't need to open their eyes.