David Thomas, Contributing Editor

David Thomas, Contributing Editor

David Thomas is a reporter who has covered government and society since graduating from Ottawa’s Carleton University with degrees in political science and journalism. He has written for National Geographic, Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, The Gazette, and The Canadian Press news agency from postings in Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, and London, England. “Railroading has been a personal fascination since a childhood timed fortunately enough to witness the golden years of steam on the late-to-dieselize Canadian National and Canadian Pacific,” he says.

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 12:43

VIA High Frequency Rail: Details emerge

VIA Rail is coyly dripping details of its desired route for dedicated “High Frequency Rail” (HFR) service linking Quebec City, Montreal and Toronto as it seeks to build political support for the C$6 billion scheme that requires approval of its single shareholder, the government of Canada.

Prospects for VIA Rail’s dedicated central Canada corridor appear to be on the move as the publicly owned passenger train operator submits its business case, and an accomplished rail executive is named to prepare the government’s promised infrastructure bank.

One of Keith Creel’s first acts upon becoming Canadian Pacific CEO in February was a call to his counterpart at the union representing the railway’s train and engine (T&E) crews. It was time, CP’s top brass hat told the Teamsters senior rail boss, to restore respect and fairness to the railroad’s treatment of its engineers and conductors.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 13:46

Canada coal phase-out a ho-hum for CN, CP

The phase-out of coal for electricity generation announced by Canada’s greenish Liberal government Nov. 21 will have no impact on the country’s Class I railways. That’s because nearly all of CN and Canadian Pacific steam coal haulage originates and terminates within the U.S.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 12:38

Three years ago today...

Three years ago today, the people of Lac-Mégantic could never have imagined this.

Three years ago, in the early hours of July 13, a runaway oil train exploded in the then-idyllic lakeside town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.

Canada’s chief financial watchdog praised VIA Rail’s internal management April 3 but slammed successive national governments for failing to support the state-owned passenger railway with strategic planning and capital investment.

Wednesday, 04 May 2016 14:28

National Dream redux

From the April 2016 issue of Railway Age: From the era of fur-trading voyageurs, the St. Lawrence River Valley between the Great Lakes and Montreal has been Canada’s economic aorta. Solitary canoes gave way to steamships, railways, airplanes and freeways, and the vital artery is now clogged within a smear of yellow smog, often thick enough to taste.

In a curious role reversal, Canada’s former Minister of Transport, now opposition politician Lisa Raitt, has revealed that the Canadian government quietly paid C$75 million toward compensation for victims of the 2013 oil trains disaster that killed 47 in the Quebec resort town of Lac-Mégantic.

A string of still-shiny, graffiti-free tank cars rests incongruously amid white apple blossoms with Oregon’s glaciered volcano shimmering in the distance.

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