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Canadian Railroads > Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?


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Date: 02/08/19 00:59
Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

With the operational headaches that we've recently seen of railroading over Kicking Horse Pass, could the line over Crowsnest Pass and the Windermere Subdivision, with upgrades (more CTC and more sidings) , efficiently handle the traffic that now runs via Banff and Lake Louise?  Is there any significant on-line business between that cement plant on the eastern edge of Banff National Park and Golden?  

Calgary would no longer be on a direct transcontinental mainline, but so what?  Railroads aren't concerned much about direct routes anymore.   How many trains per day run between Calgary and Golden?  How many per day between Lethbridge and Golden?    



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/19 02:03 by CA_Sou_MA_Agent.



Date: 02/08/19 05:32
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: Lackawanna484

CP stepped up twice to build tunnels in key locations.

Perhaps a new tunnel under the Spiral Tunnels is in the future.

Posted from Android



Date: 02/08/19 08:17
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: KickingHorse

CA_Sou_MA_Agent Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>  Is there any
> significant on-line business between that cement
> plant on the eastern edge of Banff National Park
> and Golden?  
>

Zero.

Being a civil engineer, I have imagined a number of different 'fixes'. I am certain CP has considered making the Crow the mainline more than a few times in the past and obviously rejected it. It is a significant increase in mileage and bypasses Calgary which is a significant traffic generator by itself. The additional mileage would severely impact CP's ability to compete with CN for the Edmonton-Vancouver traffic.

The only way to significantly reduce the grade without major tunneling would be to go from Wapta Lake along the slope of Mt Ogden (way above the lower tunnel)  and up the Yoho River valley to Takakkaw Falls, loop there and return down the valley to the Kicking Horse. In Yoho National Park that ain't happening. A new tunnel(s) would seem to be the only option available but the steepest part of the current grade is from the Mt Stephen snowshed to Field - 2.4%. You can get a couple of miles east from Field along the flat valley floor but that's the best you could do for a 'West portal'. Field elevation is 4,121'. Lake Louise (village) is 5,200'. A straight line tunnel between those points would be 11 miles! It would have a grade around 1.85%. 

Note: Mt Macdonald tunnel under Rogers Pass is 9.1 miles. It was built 1984-1988 and I believe the cost was ~500 million. 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/19 08:54 by KickingHorse.



Date: 02/08/19 09:20
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: sarailfan

I've seen mentioned (Nicholas Morants Canadian Pacific maybe?) that Wapta Lake is over 600 feet deep which precludes tunneling under the Pass.

Posted from Android

Darren Boes
Lethbridge, AB
Southern Alberta Railfan



Date: 02/08/19 10:42
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: KickingHorse

A tunnel from an west portal a little east of Field to an east portal just west of the Lake Louise station would pass under Cathedral Mtn, Narao Peak and Mt St Piran well to the south of Wapta Lake. Water would still be a problem; the predominant rock formations around here are limestone. I don't think you could have an east portal any further west than LL.

The killer factor would be cost. And to make it worthwhile to improve efficiency, it would have to be a twin bore. At 11 miles, electrification has to come into consideration as well.



Date: 02/08/19 11:54
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

KickingHorse Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It is a significant increase in mileage . . . 


I guess it depends on where it's measured from.  I haven't compared the mileages on the two routes, but if you started the calculations from, say, Swift Current or from the junction near Medicine Hat, I would wager it wouldn't be something that outrageous.  And, as I said, railroads aren't that concerned about direct routes these days.  NS abandoned their direct route from Portsmouth, OH to Cincinnati because of a bridge issue and trains now take a circuitous route between those two places.   

. . .  and bypasses Calgary which is a significant traffic generator by itself. The additional mileage would severely impact CP's ability to compete with CN for the Edmonton-Vancouver traffic.

The traffic to and from Swift Current and points east probably wouldn't be effected that much.  The scenario you describe with Calgary is more or less what CN is dealing with now as they try to compete for Calgary-Vancouver traffic.  Yes, tunnels would be too expensive and I wasn't considering them as part of this mental exercise!  



Date: 02/08/19 13:06
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: KickingHorse

In just mileage terms the difference between Medicine Hat and Golden via the Crowsnest versus the Kicking Horse is not that significant. But far more trains would still have to go through Calgary than you think. I don't think the Vancouver-Toronto (100/101) or the Vancouver-Montreal (112/113) pairs of intermodal trains could bypass Calgary. Calgary Intermodal at Shepard is a very significant intermodal yard. SE Calgary is also home to a lot of western Canada distribution centers like Canadian Tire. Perhaps the Vanouver-Chicago (198/199) pair could bypass Calgary. Potash certainly could along with any grain trains from east of the Hat.

To turn the Crow line into the main would require significant upgrades - 4 long subdivisions would require CTC along with new and extended sidings. The Macleod-Aldersyde sub, Calgary-Lethbridge, would also require significant upgrade. The costs wouldn't be that much less than a tunnel.

You can't really compare CP Edmonton-Vancouver to CN Calgary-Vancouver. The CN trafic to/from Calgary is mostly intermodal (to/from both east and west) and dry manifest. CN does get traffic online (grain) as well as spurs to some petrochemical plants (Joffre / Ram River) that keep that line viable. The CP traffic to/from Edmonton is mostly petrochemical and new multi-billion dollar plants on the drawing boards are all in the Edmonton area. If CN's petropuck idea takes off, CP is going to want in on that action too.
 



Date: 02/09/19 03:34
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: JPB

Maybe a dumb question but are there any runaway timer circuits with runaway track on CP's Kicking Horse Pass, a la Southern's Saluda grade (nowmothballed, IIRC)?

Excerpt from Wikipedia Saluda Grade article:

"...Because of accidents involving downgrade runaway trains in the late 1880s, the then Southern Railway built two runaway safety spur tracks. These were originally manned junctions, which were always switched to a 60-foot (18 m) pile of earth, which could stop downgrade runaway trains. Only upon hearing a whistle signal from the downgrade train would the signalman manning the spur junction throw the switch to keep the train on the main line. In later years, CTC signaling was installed along with automated switches and timer circuits for the one surviving runaway safety track at the bottom of the grade at Melrose. Trains running downgrade were required to maintain 8 miles per hour (13 km/h) when approaching the runaway track switch. This would allow a timer circuit to determine if a train was under control, in which case the switch from the runaway track at Melrose would be aligned to the mainline. But for speed greater than 8 miles per hour (13 km/h) the switch would remain aligned for the runaway track. Saluda Grade was one of the few grades in the country where uphill trains could travel faster than their downhill counterparts. Most uphill trains had to double or triple the grade, splitting the train into sections to be taken up the grade to Saluda one at a time and reassembled there for the rest of the trip to Asheville...."



Date: 02/09/19 10:59
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: KickingHorse

JPB Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Maybe a dumb question but are there any runaway
> timer circuits with runaway track on CP's Kicking
> Horse Pass, a la Southern's Saluda grade
> (nowmothballed, IIRC)?
>

There was on the original grade (4.5%). The spiral tunnels were built 1908-09. The original grade was constructed in 1884. 

wiki-
Seen as a temporary solution, this grade was twice the percentage normally allowed for a downhill track. The first construction train to go down the pass ran away off the hill to land in the Kicking Horse River, killing three.[4] The CPR soon added three safety switches (runaways) on the way down to protect against runaway trains. The switches led to short spurs with a sharp reverse upgrade and they were kept in the uphill position until the operator was satisfied that the train descending the grade towards him was not out of control. Speed was restricted to 8 miles per hour (13 km/h) for passenger trains and 6 miles per hour (9.7 km/h) for freight, and elaborate brake testing was required of trains prior to descending the hill. Nevertheless, disasters occurred with dismaying frequency.



Date: 02/09/19 13:48
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: greasemonkey

KickingHorse Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> A straight line tunnel
> between those points would be 11 miles! It would
> have a grade around 1.85%. 


I'm just curious, why would it have to be a straight line tunnel?  Could they not build a twin bore helix at a low gradient and with multiple loops to get down lower in the valley?  

Incidentally, I'm all for electrification from Lake Louise all the way to Revelstoke.

Brian



Date: 02/09/19 14:20
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: KickingHorse

greasemonkey Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm just curious, why would it have to be a
> straight line tunnel?  

It wouldn't but with a straight line it is easy to measure distance on Google maps. It could have a moderate curve within the tunnel. I could have measured a shorter straight line but I wanted it to be under a 2% grade. The shorter it got the grade increased to the point it wouldn't be worth it.

>Could they not build a
> twin bore helix at a low gradient and with
> multiple loops to get down lower in the valley?
>  

Not only is the grade a problem so are the tight curves; they both affect train speed. Even a single-bore helix with broad enough curves and small enough grade to allow for a >20 mph speed would be enormously more expensive than a straight line tunnel and probably more even than a straight twin bore tunnel. A helix is great for an HO layout but impractical in real life especially inside a mountain that is already there.

> Incidentally, I'm all for electrification from
> Lake Louise all the way to Revelstoke.
>
> Brian

Parks Canada would bow to the eco-warriors and not allow CP to expand their footprint in LL enough to build the necessary trackwork and facilities to remove the diesel locos and exchange them with electrics. Electrification would have to start in Calgary. Stage 1 would be all of the Laggan and the Mountain sub down to Golden. Stage 2 would be the rest of the Mtn sub to Revelstoke. Stage 3 to Kamloops and so on until Vancouver. 



Date: 02/09/19 15:52
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: PHall

Having the electrification start and stop at crew change points would probably be the most efficient way of doing it.



Date: 02/09/19 19:57
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: eminence_grise

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Having the electrification start and stop at crew
> change points would probably be the most efficient
> way of doing it.

CP gave electrification serious consideration in the 1970's from the Crowsnest Pass to Roberts Bank. 

A variety of different catenary supports and catenary were erected beside the right of way near Flat Creek BC.

ASEA, a Swedish locomotive builder and heavy equipment manufacturer gave CP managers extensive tours of the heavy haul Swedish electrifications.

However, CP chose to build a second tunnel under Rogers Pass and various capacity improvements.

 



Date: 02/10/19 18:57
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: Northern

Should Canadian Pacific considered using their original conceived right-of-way over Yellowhead Pass as recommended by Sandford Fleming instead of Kicking Horse Pass?  How would CP's network be that different today; they still could have a line through Calgary from the east, then shift to the northwest, over Yellowhead and down the North Thompson, Thompson and Fraser Rivers to Vancouver.  True, it would be longer to Calgary, but it would miss the Big Hill and all of the long tunnels.  They could have also built their line over Crowsnest Pass for access to the U.S. Pacific Northwest via Daniel Corbin's Spokane International Railway.



Date: 02/11/19 04:34
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: Lackawanna484

Van Horne's Road notes that there was a huge political imperative to keep the CP close to the U.S. border, and blocking GN incursions.

Posted from Android



Date: 02/11/19 15:39
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: KickingHorse

Northern Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Should Canadian Pacific considered using their
> original conceived right-of-way over Yellowhead
> Pass as recommended by Sandford Fleming instead of
> Kicking Horse Pass?  

Too far. The only way to accomplish that would be to double track all of CN's line from Edmonton to Kamloops. CP would have to put the money up and then get only trackage rights on a CN operated line. CP would also have to upgrade the Red Deer and Leduc subs and come up with a better way to connect to CN's mainline (currently in NE Edmonton). I'm fairly certain putting money into the Crowsnest/Windermere line would be much cheaper.

I think the real impetus to get any major project under way would be financing from the federal government. And what would get the politicians onside - hi-speed passenger trains!

It's still a long way into the future but the first transcontinental hi-speed passenger train will probably be on the current route of the 'Canadian' which is of course on CN. There is however, a lot of noise from folks who want a hi-speed commuter train between Calgary and Banff. CP wants nothing to do with it and mostly just ignores them. "Come up with the money to double track the 82 miles and then maybe we'll talk".

There have been studies done on the feasibility of hi-speed passenger service between Edmonton and Calgary but they come to the conclusion that it would have to a dedicated line on its own, using neither the CP or CN lines.

So, how to get the feds to pay for the improvement? One possibility would be to sell or give tackage rights to them on the Laggan sub so VIA or a private operator could run passenger trains between Calgary and Lake Louise. The only online industries are the 3 rock plants in Exshaw and the 2 gas plants near Cochrane. They could still be serviced by Locals out of Calgary but all the mainline trains would be gone to a new route.

One way to still keep Calgary on the mainline but still have a new route across the divide would be to have the mainline turn north at Calgary and go up the Red Deer sub to Red Deer. Then buy and upgrade CN's spur to Rocky Mountain House. Then new construction from Rocky Mtn House along the North Saskatchewan River to Saskatchewan Crossing in Banff National Park. Then up the Howse River to Howse Pass, over the Divide and down the Blaeberry River to rejoin the mainline just west of Golden. A rough estimate - using that routing would add about 100 or so miles. Howse Pass was also considered for the initial route.

The Laggan and Mtn subs from Lake Louise to Golden would eventually be abandoned. The Spiral Tunnels would just be a Historical Site.

Kicking Horse Pass - 5,339 ft
Howse Pass - 5,049 ft

 



Date: 02/11/19 15:50
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: goneon66

why not just split heavy/long trains into 2 sections between revelstoke and calgary during severe cold and increase hpt as necessary.  cheaper than even thinking about another route..........

66



Date: 02/12/19 05:55
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: Lackawanna484

goneon66 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> why not just split heavy/long trains into 2
> sections between revelstoke and calgary during
> severe cold and increase hpt as necessary. 
> cheaper than even thinking about another
> route..........
>
> 66

Great suggestion, but the PSR people won't like it.

Posted from Android



Date: 02/12/19 08:06
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: KickingHorse

Lackawanna484 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Great suggestion, but the PSR people won't like
> it.

Nor the bean counters. Operating ratio might be the most important stat for RRs reporting to the financial industry. Using 2 crews and sets of power to move 1 train doesn't do that stat any good.

It's all moot anyway. This is Canada and if the government has to be involved then only one thing is for certain - it will get studied and studied and studied and studied and ....... then some judge will rule that they didn't take into account somebody's hurt feelings and the whole thing gets kiboshed after 500 million dollars worth of studies.

 



Date: 02/12/19 08:09
Re: Could CP Get By Without The Line Over Kicking Horse Pass?
Author: thehighwayman

KickingHorse Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Lackawanna484 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> >
> > Great suggestion, but the PSR people won't like
> > it.
>
> Nor the bean counters. Operating ratio might be
> the most important stat for RRs reporting to the
> financial industry. Using 2 crews and sets of
> power to move 1 train doesn't do that stat any
> good.
>
> It's all moot anyway. This is Canada and if the
> government has to be involved then only one thing
> is for certain - it will get studied and studied
> and studied and studied and ....... then some
> judge will rule that they didn't take into account
> somebody's hurt feelings and the whole thing gets
> kiboshed after 500 million dollars worth of
> studies.
>

That is an accurate assessment!

 

Will MacKenzie
Dundas, ON



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