Canada’s passenger rail crisis and HSR v HPR  

Back in 1977, VIA Rail was established to take the passenger rail business off the CPR’s and the (then) CNR’s hands to allow them to concentrate on what they were doing best – and profitably – that was adapting Canada’s aging rail infrastructure to provide a profitable and sustainable freight service. Branch lines were either torn up or sold off to short line operators. 

Not that a sustainable freight service was a slam-dunk without the millstone of passenger trains around their necks – they still had to…

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Railways and climate change, especially in Canada  

We have all heard that the “Industrial Age” precipitated our climate change woes. And we all know that the Industrial Age began with the invention of stationary and later “locomotive” boilers to produce steam that would drive machinery and enable cars to be drawn along rails for easier transportation. 

In fact, the steam locomotive was the marvel and the defining economic icon of the 19th century. 

Steam locomotion ended almost abruptly in the mid-20th century when diesel-electric and electric power ended…

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The Future of Canadian Rail - 2014  

It is true that as a railway history researcher, one's focus tends to be on the past.
On the other hand, I have often been asked at railway history presentations what I think the future of railways is.
Broad question. In Canada? Passenger, or freight - or both? Yes and yes.

My answer? I have tried to be 'guardedly optimistic'. I speak of re-invention, the economic imperative, the vital contribution to Canada's economy, low population density, our environmental future, deregulation, technical innovation…Read more

The Sociology of Model Railroading 

In the January-February 2006 (Train 14 Track 4) Issue of the Canadian Railway Modeller there was a website review of a controversial article by this title to be found under .

(CRM review p. 8: "Model railroaders like to build things and run trains - most of us don't spend a lot of time philosophizing about the hobby. But John Bruce does. He has written a very long critique of things like train shows; prototype modellers' meets; model railroad clubs; the…

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Prototypical model railways - a key to the survival of the hobby? 

The future of the model railway hobby is definitely on everyone's mind and a very frequent topic of discussion - as we look around, grey hair certainly predominates among the practitioners of our passion. Most clubs are struggling with declining memberships, and hobby stores hedge their bets with model planes, boats and games.

Many reasons have been advanced for this state of affairs - the disappearance of railways from our daily lives as the principal means of travel - the competition of the wonders of…

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It's All About the Memories 

It came to me a short while ago, when the son of a model railroader I had known years ago (and who had passed on well before he should have done) offered me his father's three-rail Hornby-Dublo goods train set in mint condition "free to a good home". I jumped at the offer, not only in his memory, but also because Hornby and then Hornby-Dublo were the electric trains I grew up with many, many years ago. (For my railway-mania story, see About My Railway Interest.)

On reflection, methinks it is all about the…

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