Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Canada to Issue RFP for Rail Project

July 8, 2021

Canadian authorities said this week that they will be issue a request for proposals for new train service in the Toronto-Quebec City Corridor.

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said the move is part of an effort to create VIA Rail Canada high frequency rail service.

He called the plan the largest transportation infrastructure project seen by Canada in decades.

The request for proposals for the procurement process is expected to be issued this fall.

The proposals must address how the new service would include shorter travel times and faster trains that would reduce average trip times between Toronto and Ottawa by up to 90 minutes.

Other requirements include more reliable on-time arrival performance up to 95 percent from a current average of 67 percent.

There are expected to be more direct routes with improved connectivity between cities and to other modes of transportation; and new services to communities, such as Peterborough, Trois-Rivieres and Laval, and new stations in targeted locations including near Jean Lesage Airport.

VIA Issues New Timetable

January 13, 2021

VIA Rail Canada released a new timetable issued this week that includes some service cuts.

The intercity rail operator is running six daily Montreal-Toronto round trips and between one and three round trips daily on other routes in Quebec City-Windsor corridors.

The Montreal-Halifax Ocean remains suspended as does cross-border service via Amtrak.

The Canadian remains suspended between Toronto and Winnipeg, and is operating one day a week between Winnipeg and Vancouver.

Service between Jasper and Prince Rupert is operating once a week while service between Winnipeg and Churchill is operating twice weekly.

VIA is describing its current service offerings, which began effective Jan. 12, as temporary and subject to change without advance notice.

Rocky Mountaineer Delays Season Until July 1

April 1, 2020

Luxury train excursion operator Rocky Mountaineer is delaying the opening of its 2020 season until July 1.

The excursion service operates between Vancouver, British Columbia, and the Canadian Rockies. Ordinarily trains would being operating on April 13.

The company said the delay was due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Passengers who have already purchased tickets will receive a future travel credit for 110 percent of the value paid, which can be applied to a new departure in the 2020, 2021 or 2022 travel seasons.

“With the Canadian borders closed to international travelers until June 30 and other global travel mandates, it has become impossible for us to operate while these restrictions are in place,” said Steve Sammut, president and chief executive officer in a statement.

The company said it has waived all fees associated with changing travel dates.

VIA Working to Finish Restoring Service

March 6, 2020

VIA Rail Canada is expected to have nearly all of its passenger trains rolling again by Sunday.

The carrier suspended most service and laid off 1,000 employees in the wake of blockades on Canadian railroads.

The blockades were led by protestors of a plan to build a natural gas pipeline across First Nation land in northern British Columbia.

The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation have opposed construction of the pipeline and most of the blockades were staged in support of their opposition.

The Toronto-Montreal VIA route will resume full service on Saturday while full service on the Toronto-Ottawa route will resume on Sunday.

The Canadian between Toronto and Vancouver resumed service on Wednesday.

Prince-Rupert – Prince-George – Jasper service remains suspended and VIA said it is working with host railroad Canadian National on a resumption timeline, VIA said.

All other VIA Rail routes are back to full service.

In a news release, VIA said it began canceling service on Feb. 13 and laid off employees starting on Feb. 19. VIA said it expects to recall the majority of those laid off.

VIA Restoring Service Disrupted by Blockades

March 3, 2020

A tentative deal has been reached to end the blockades of Canadian rail lines by protesters opposed to construction of a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia.

However, some indigenous groups said they will continue to seek to block rail lines despite the pact.

The blockades have halted freight and passenger traffic on routes of Canadian National and Canadian Pacific and at one point disrupted Amtrak service into Canada.

News reports indicate that the deal will allow construction of the pipeline to continue but will address future land-rights disputes.

The pipeline is being built across land of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations group, whose ancesteral tribal leaders objected to the constructkion.

Other indigenous groups soon joined in the protests.

Leaders of the Wet’suwet’en said they would review the deal, a process expected to take two weeks.

CN has begun recalling some of its 450 laid off workers and VIA Rail Canada expects to restore this week most service that had been suspended.

VIA had canceled 940 trains through late last week.

The expected timetable for service restoration includes Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto on, March 3; Senneterre-Jonquiere, Quebec, on Wednesday, March 4; the westbound Canadian on, March 4; and the eastbound Canadian on, March 6.

Funding Committed to Rebuilding ex-VIA Route

September 14, 2019

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has said that it will spend $35 million to repair a rail line once used by VIA Rail Canada’s Montreal-Gaspe train.

That service, once named the Chaleur, has been suspended since August 2013 although portions of the route has been suspended in December 2011.

Defects in several bridges that cross the Grande Rivere near Pabos Mills, Quebec, and a trestle between Perce and Gaspe led to the service suspension.

The government of Quebec in 2017 agreed to spend $73 million to rebuild the track as far as Port Daniel-Gascons.

The federal funding will be used to rebuild 10 segments on 79 miles from Port Daniel to Gaspe.

The funding will be taken from the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.

VIA said it would resume service over the route once the tracks are rebuilt and passenger operations can be safely undertaken.

The repairs are expected to take more than a year. The line in question was once the National branch of Canadian National.

VIA Reports Higher Ridership, Revenue in 2018

May 9, 2019

Ridership of VIA Rail Canada trains last year rose by 8 percent to 4.7 million, the carrier said this week.

Revenue was CA$392 in 2018, an increase of 7.4 percent over 2017.

The bulk of VIA ridership was concentrated in the corridor between Windsor, Ontario; and Quebec City, Quebec, where VIA carried 4.5 million passengers.

Last year marked the fourth consecutive year of ridership increases at VIA.

In a statement, VIA CEA Yves Desjardins-Siciliano said the results were a good way to mark the passenger carrier’s 40th anniversary.

“In all areas of the business, employees are working hard to attract more passengers, making them feel welcome and well-treated,” he said. “Thanks in large part to their efforts, the number of passenger miles traveled on VIA Rail has increased by 23 percent since 2014.”

Total 2018 operating expenses were CA$665 million, an increase of CA$34 million compared with 2017 expenses. VIA officials attributed that to additional expenses associated with added capacity.

Yves Desjardins-Siciliano said the rise in revenue combined with efficient cost management and economies of scale have helped the company reduce the cost of mobility on Canadian taxpayers by 15 percent (subsidy per passenger mile, excluding pension past service cost).

Mayors Want VIA Service Restored

February 9, 2019

Mayors in British Columbia are seeking to prod the province to restore funding for rail passenger service to Vancouver Island.

The 13 mayors made an appeal to the BC premier seeking a return of the VIA Rail Canada service, which until 2011 used the former Esquimalt & Nanaimo.

The service, which used rail diesel cars, was suspended because of poor track conditions and high financial losses.

The rail route is owned by the Island Corridor Foundation, a partnership between First Nations and local governments.

“The E&N — along with the addition of rapid bus lanes on Highway 1 — will provide significant environmental benefits including a reduction in [greenhouse gases] and will relieve regional gridlock,” the 13 mayors say in letters to Premier John Horgan and Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said.

“We call on you to commit to both in this February’s budget,” the letters say. “This region needs your leadership and we are here as mayors to support you and stand with you as you make these important investments in our region.”

Washington Eyes Canadian Fund for High-Speed Route

January 8, 2018

A new $35 billion Canadian infrastructure bank might be used to help develop a high-speed ground transportation route between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The fund was established to develop economic growth within Canada by using public funds to attract private investment for major infrastructure projects, such as bridges, transit systems and rail lines, as well as cross-border projects.

Washington state governor Jay Inslee wants to study the possibility of using the bank, saying that,“The CIB, once fully operational, could provide a potential key source to finance major infrastructure projects such as the UHSGT project.”

A report issued by Washington state said the HSR project could satisfy the CIB’s financial and commercial requirements, such as generating revenue.

The proposed line could extend southward to Portland, Oregon, and feature trains traveling at speeds of up to 250 mph.

The estimated cost of the line is between $24 billion and $42 billion. The technology used could be high-speed rail, magnetic-levitation rail or a hyperloop.

Canada Adopts Legislation to Streamline Customs Procedures for Travel to the U.S.

December 21, 2017

Canada has adopted legislation that will streamline customs inspections for those traveling by rail between that country and the United States.

The legislation allows the Canadian government to designate preclearance areas and perimeters, while giving U.S. agents the authority to conduct preclearance screening.

The new law would be a companion to the Promoting Travel, Commerce and National Security Act that the U.S. Congress adopted in 2016.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) had sponsored the law in the U.S.

“With this legislation now in place, Canada and the United States— and especially Vermont — are poised to reap the rewards of improved border security and better economic growth,” Leahy said in a news release. “I look forward to continuing my work and partnership with the Canadian government to make expanded preclearance a reality.”