Memo to self: Don’t ever pick a fight with Andrew Coyne.
Coyne has unleashed a tremendous walloping on HSR supporters. I presume his objection is rational and specific to the Edmonton Calgary corridor and not against all high speed rail. Since he also goes off on the much more populous Quebec City-Windsor corridor, it’s hard to know for sure.
For one of such absolute certitude, Mr. Coyne certainly throws around a lot of numbers and a lot of derisive words. There may be something to his argument, but his extravagant use of hyperbole makes us wonder and note:
- impervious to reality
Let’s see. It’s 179 miles between Edmonton and Calgary. The Edmonton metropolitan area has a population of just over 1 million. Calgary is a little bigger at 1.6 million. Coyen cites the proposed costs of construction.
The Alberta report, for example, put the cost of linking Calgary and Edmonton—at 300 km, barely a quarter the journey from Quebec City to Windsor—at anywhere from $3 billion, for a humble 125-miles-per-hour diesel upgrade, to $20 billion, for the 300 mph, magnetic levitation special.
$3 billion seems awfully high for what we now call “high performance rail.” Perhaps this includes buying land, but that just doesn’t fit. I do not believe that part of Alberta is especially mountainous, but I could be wrong. If there are tunnels, that brings the price up.
The absolute desperation of the argument put forward against the rail proposals tells me there is something else at work It’s a good read if you really need to be brought down a peg or two.