Trucks on Trains – Humanize the Highway

Heading back to town from Guelph Tuesday evening on the 401 I passed the wreckage of what looked like a bad accident involving a truck or two and at least one car bent to an almost un-recognizable shape. In the miles long westbound traffic back up there must have been, what looked like at any rate, a thousand trucks. Big trucks, semi’s, with long van type trailers.

The 401, from Toronto west to Windsor has become a nightmare highway, where a car driver knows that in any accident a truck may well be involved, and the abundance of built in safety features in a car, belts, bags, and more, won’t help much.

Expressway on Rails

Ironically, the Canadian Pacific Railway operates a once per day each way train between Milton (Toronto) and Montreal called ‘Expressway’ carrying 100 or more truck trailers. It goes through Toronto about 7.30pm. and gets to Montreal about 6am. Moreover, there are significant fuel savings benefiting the environment.

The train used to continue to Windsor, but was cut back a couple of years ago. Varying fuel oil prices, state of the economy, and truck drivers willing to work for less in a poor economy all squeezed profit to the point CPR truncated the route.

Two Solitudes

So we have two solitudes – the province who own the nightmare and need to spend a fortune of taxpayers money to upgrade it, and CPR who have an excellent solution – it has the track capacity, but sans profit, will not expand service.


Use the Rails, Ease the Nightmare.

So why not bring these solitudes together – how about the province helping CPR, perhaps an incentive of $/trailer CP carry. Perhaps the province tolls trucks on the highway to make back some of the money. It has the potential to be a ‘win’ all around – less trucks on 401, less carnage, no expansion of highway, less taxpayer’s dollars.

Railways in Canada are a federal matter, and proposals such as this need their involvement too. So messrs Trudeau, Wynne, and Creel (CPR president & CEO), sit down, please, and find some ways to make this work, ease the 401 nightmare!

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