Posts Tagged ‘Canadian National’

VIA Looks Toward Murky Future

June 2, 2021

VIA Rail Canada released this image of a new Charger locomotive that it recently received.

VIA Rail Canada officials during gave an overview of where things stand with the passenger carrier last week during an online presentation that showed how damaging the COVID-19 pandemic has been.

CEO Cynthia Garneau said VIA also suffered setbacks in early 2020 when First Nation groups and their supporters blockaded tracks used by VIA.

More than 1,000 trains were canceled in February 2020 due to the blockades.

More cancellations followed in the spring as the pandemic took root. Combined this led to ridership falling 77.1 percent even as expenses declined by 21.2 percent.

Garneau said VIA received Ca$135 million (US$112 million) in additional funding to cover the revenue shortfall.

VIA officials said no date has been set for the return of the Ocean service to the Maritime provinces because non-essential travel between provinces continues to be banned.

When the train does return it is expected to have consists of heritage and Renaissance fleet equipment.

Economy class passengers will ride in former Canadian coaches, while Renaissance sleeping, dining and service cars might be augmented with some Chateau-class stainless steel sleepers.

Service to Gaspe, Quebec, remains in limbo but VIA said trains will resume operations once the track is able again to host passenger service.

The Toronto-Vancouver Canadian is now operating once a week and VIA management expects to “fully resume the Canadian when conditions allow it.”

However, the planned  “fleet modernization” of 71 heritage cars used on the Canadian won’t be completed until 2024.

VIA officials said they are studying fleet replacement for the Canadian and other regional trains, but gave no indication as to when that might occur.

In the meantime, VIA will be taking delivery of new equipment being built by Siemens, but that equipment will be used only in corridor service between Quebec City and Windsor via Montreal and Toronto.

The new equipment will be tested later this year and is expected to begin revenue service in 2022.

Although VIA continues to work toward establishing passenger-only routes between Quebec City and Montreal, and between Ottawa and Toronto, it has no timeline for when that project will be realized.

The plan calls for building tracks on abandoned Canadian Pacific right of way that is now a trail in some places. VIA trains could continue to use Canadian National track in Toronto and Montreal.

No funding has been secured for the project and its cost remains undetermined.

In an unrelated move, VIA said this week that ridership and revenue in the first quarter of 2021 were down 80.2 percent and 80.9 percent respectively when compared with the same period in 2020.

Operating expenses were down by 34.1 percent. In a statement, Garneau said VIA “continued to deliver our public service when circumstances allowed it, and to work on and adjust our resumption plan to ensure that we are ready to welcome all our passengers back once the situation improves.

She said VIA remains committed to resuming all routes across the country “once conditions permit us to do so.”

New Venture Cars Tested in Illinois

April 15, 2021

Amtrak made test runs this week of three Siemens Venture coaches pulled by Charger locomotives between Edgewood and Kinmundy, Illinois, on Canadian National tracks.

The test trains evaluated the ability of the new equipment to shunt electric current between rails on CN’s former Illinois Central mainline.

Scheduled Amtrak operations on the CN line between Chicago and New Orleans are required by the host railroad to have a minimum of 30 axles.

Studies conducted by CN, Amtrak, and the Federal Railroad Administration have yet to conclude what track, wheel, or rolling stock issues might cause an interruption of a shunt, which is necessary to activiate signals and highway warning devices.

The test train had three Viewliner II baggage cars, but those were reported to be excluded from the tests, which were to use various locomotive and passenger car combinations.

CONO Sked Changed for Track Work

February 9, 2021

Track work being performed by Canadian National will result in Amtrak’s City of New Orleans operating later on certain days between Feb. 9 and March 12.

On Wednesdays and Fridays,Train 58 will operate as Train 1158 and depart New Orleans at 2:45 p.m, 60 minutes later than normal and operate on a later schedule at all stations from New Orleans to Jackson, Mississippi.

Train 1158 will hold at Jackson until 7:14 p.m., 90 minutes later than normal and operate on a later schedule at all stations between Jackson and Chicago.

Train 58 will operate normally on Sundays during this period of time.

CN Track Work to Disrupt Illinois Service

January 13, 2021

Track work being conducted by host railroad Canadian National will result in the cancellation of Amtrak’s northbound Saluki and southbound Illini between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois, on Jan. 15.

In a service advisory Amtrak said no alternative transportation is being provided to any of the stations on the affected day.

Instead, it recommended that passengers choose an alternative date for travel.

The advisory said passengers traveling to or from Champaign or Carbondale would be able to use Amtrak Thruway buses or vans as an alternative.

Those services link Carbondale with St. Louis and Champaign with Normal, Illinois, where passengers would be able to transfer to another Amtrak train.

However, the advisory said travel times via those options will be longer than the normal Amtrak service.

Although service suspensions in the Chicago-Carbondale corridor due to CN track work have occurred before, Amtrak usually provided bus transportation to accommodate displayed passengers.

Buttigieg Had Experience With Transportation Issues as a Mayor

December 18, 2020

Although U.S Secretary of Transportation nominee Pete Buttigieg has never worked in the transportation field, he has experience with transportation issues from his time as a mid-size city mayor.

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg was mayor of South Bend, Indiana, between 2012 and 2019, The city of 100,000, is served by major freight rail lines of Canadian National and Norfolk Southern, and is a stop for Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.

South Bend is the eastern terminus of the South Shore commuter line to and from Chicago and has an airport served by several airlines.

A report on the Trains magazine website said Buttigieg as mayor supported a project to add 16.9 miles of double track to the South Shore Line between Gary and Michigan City in Indiana.

That work is part of a $460 million project that includes four new bridges, nine new station platforms and the addition of more than 1,300 parking spaces at four stations.

The South Shore has been awarded a $50.6 million Capital Investment Grant from the Federal Transit Administration for the project.

During his time as mayor, Buttigieg also sought federal funding to extend the South Shore Line from South Bend International Airport to the city’s downtown.

The Trains article said the most controversial rail issue Buttigieg faced as a mayor was the revocation by the Federal Railroad Administration in 2017 of the city’s “quiet zone” on CN and NS because it failed to install median barriers at 11 grade crossings.

Various railroad trade organizations on Wednesday issued statements on Wednesday that were generally supportive of Buttigieg’s nomination, which required U.S. Senate approval.

His resume include having served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve where he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. In the Navy Buttigieg rose to the rank of lieutenant.

He is a South Bend native who graduated from Harvard University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

Buttigieg also has severed as a a consultant at McKinsey & Company in Chicago.

SB Illini to Run 30 Minutes Later Due to CN Track Work

October 30, 2020

Canadian National track work will result in temporary schedule changes for Amtrak’s Chicago to Carbondale, Illini, between Nov. 2 and 20.

Train 393 during that period will depart Chicago at 4:35 p.m., 30 minutes later than normally scheduled, on Monday through Friday.

Train arrival times will be 30 minutes later than scheduled at all stations to Carbondale.

The normal schedule will be in effect on Saturdays and Sundays.

Track Work Affects CONO Schedules

September 3, 2020

Track work being performed by host railroad Canadian National will affect the operations of Amtrak’s City of New Orleans through Sept. 7.

The northbound CONO will depart New Orleans at 4 p.m., which is 2 hours and 15 minutes later than its normal schedule, and operate as Train No. 1058.

No. 1058 will operate on this later schedule from New Orleans to Jackson, Mississippi, where it will be held until 8:34 p.m.

Upon departing Jackson, No. 1058 will be operating 2 hours, 40 minutes later than scheduled and hold to that schedule at all stations to Chicago.

The southbound CONO will depart Chicago at 7:20 p.m. Sept. 6-7 and operate 45 minutes earlier at all scheduled stations to New Orleans, operating as No. 1059.

Broken Rail Blamed in VIA Derailment

August 15, 2020

A December 2019 derailment of a VIA Rail Canada train in Manitoba was caused by a broken rail investigators have concluded.

A fracture caused a 34½-inch gap that led to the derailment that resulted in injuries five people.

The Transportation Safety Board said the fracture occurred at a joint bar where a section of rail had been replaced in March 2019.

The rail had down signs of fatigue fractures for some time.

An October inspection by a track car had shown flaws below the level requiring immediate action.

Truck-mounted track inspection equipment failed to note defects during a passage in November.

The fracture is believed to have occurred when an empty Canadian National crude-oil unit train passed over the rail three hours before the VIA No. 692 operating between Winnipeg and Churchill, Manitoba at 6:45 a.m. west of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

The two VIA locomotives overturned and baggage car left the rails.

Two crew members in the locomotive, a passenger crew member, and two passengers were injured in the derailment.

CN has since changed its track maintenance procedures regarding maintenance in the vicinity of a rail joint.

Significant Delays Occur on VIA Trains

July 24, 2020

The remote service of VIA Rail Canada to Northern Quebec has experienced major service disruptions this week.

Nos. 601 and 603 that were to depart on Friday (July 24) from Montreal to Jonquiere and Senneterre were to have their departure delayed by nine hours.

All subsequent stops have also been delayed by nine hours meaning that the arrival in Jonquiere will be at 2:10 a.m. and in Senneterre at 4:40 a.m.

On Sunday (July 26), No. 606 will depart Sennterre at 10 p.m., with all stops 13 hours, 15 minutes later than usual, and No. 602 will depart Jonquiere at 12:30 a.m., with all subsequent stops 13 hours, 20 minutes later than usual.

VIA said the delays are “due to operational constraints . . . concerning the reduced speed of trains running during the day” imposed by host railroad Canadian National.

Last week the same trains were cancelled because of “operational constraints related to weather forecasts.”

Track Work to Affect SB CONO Schedule

May 22, 2020

Track work by host railroad Canadian National has resulted in temporary schedule changes for Amtrak’s southbound City of New Orleans.

On May 22 and 26 Train No. 59 will depart Jackson, Mississippi, at 12:50 p.m, 90, minutes later than normal and operate on this later schedule at all intermediate stops of Hazlehurst, Brookhaven, McComb and Hammond to New Orleans.

The service advisory did not say if the arrival time in New Orleans will be affected.