March 14th, 2023

Canada, and the Canadian tourism industry, NEEDS a high-speed rail network, ASAP

With its sprawling landscape, rich culture, and stunning natural beauty, Canada is a popular destination for tourists from around the world. However, getting from one place to another can often be a challenge, especially for those who want to experience all that our amazing country has to offer. While air travel and highways are currently the most common modes of transportation in Canada, they each offer their benefits and necessities, a high-speed rail network is also an integral component of a modern transportation ecosystem, and offers several benefits.

Despite the common belief that Canada doesn’t have the population for high-speed rail, we are actually very well-suited to rail, with our landscape, the sprawl and our population. Unfortunately, unlike many other countries in the world, rail wasn’t the direction our leadership chose many decades ago. Instead, they opted to pour billions of dollars into air travel and highways, each of which requires billions every year to maintain, and neither of which has seen any kind of marked expansion or enhancement. And now, in the 21st century, Canada is facing a transportation crisis, as we struggle to sustain a usable, efficient and affordable air travel network. Whether it’s because of cost, access or discomfort, travellers frequently resort to driving long distances to visit family and friends or to see new places, which burns huge amounts of fossil fuel, takes up an incredible amount of our leisure time, and severely limits how much of our own country we each have the opportunity, time and money to access. And on top of that, we also have limited bus services in many regions of the country.

Overall, high-speed rail is faster and more convenient than air travel or highways. With speeds of up to 575 km/h (and new technologies being developed ever year), high-speed trains can get tourists from one city to another in incredibly short periods of time, in a lot more comfort, more affordably, and allows them to see more of the country. In comparison, air travel can be time-consuming and stressful, with long lines at the airport, security checks, tight seating and flight delays and cancellations. And while highways offer greater flexibility, they can also be congested and time-consuming, especially during peak travel seasons. Plus, with our vast sprawl, driving consumes a great deal of time to get between major centres.

High-speed rail also has the potential to be more environmentally friendly than air travel or highways. Trains are powered by electricity, which can be generated from renewable sources such as hydro, wind, and solar power, and overall has a greater capacity than airplanes, and is an obvious car pool winner. In contrast, air travel and highways are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change and environmental degradation. By choosing high-speed rail, tourists can reduce their carbon footprint and help to protect the natural beauty of Canada. Plus, they’d be able to visit more cities and provinces much quicker and more easily.

High-speed rail is also more cost-effective than air travel or highways over the long term. For air travel, the major costs include continuous aircraft acquisition and maintenance, huge amounts of fuel, labour costs with vast workforces, expensive and intricate infrastructure, complex technology and regulatory compliances. For high-speed rail, the major costs include the construction and maintenance of tracks, trains, and infrastructure, such as stations and maintenance facilities. The cost of energy, including electricity for the trains is also a significant expense, as well as labour costs for train crews and support staff. Don’t get me wrong, a high-speed rail network is not cheap to build or maintain, and compared to air travel, high-speed rail networks generally require a higher upfront investment in infrastructure and technology. But unlike airlines and highways, they have the potential to be more cost-effective over the long term, especially in areas with high population densities. Whereas airlines only get more expensive to maintain with age, and highways of course are a continuous expense with no profit potential. They are both absolutely necessary though, but we need to be smarter and more proactive, and begin intertwining a high-speed rail network into our national transportation strategy.

Also, the cost of building a high-speed rail network can be offset by the savings in fuel, reduced road maintenance and a more strategic approach to the myriad of airlines expenses, such as focusing on airports in major cities and international ports, and using high-speed rail to connect everything in-between. There’s also the opportunity to share costs with our downstairs neighbour and expand our international tourism potential. Additionally, high-speed rail offers more affordable ticket prices for tourists, making it possible for more people to experience all that Canada has to offer, and we would certainly see a huge boost in inter-provincial tourism from Canadians as well as international travellers. Aka, more people would spend more money in more places. It’s hard to say when the day may come when Canada will finally correct its path towards a more sustainable mode of mass transportation across this expansive and diverse land we call home, but in the meantime, Pathfinder365 is helping travellers explore our incredible country by road, with useful tools like Road Trip Mode. Stay tuned!

Dream, Plan, Explore…your next adventure begins on Pathfinder

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