Posts Tagged ‘The Canadian’

VIA Extends Long-Distance Suspensions to Nov. 1

May 8, 2020

The suspension of the Canadian and Ocean of VIA Rail Canada has been extended through Nov. 1.

In a news release, VIA said sleeper class service on its Winnipeg-Churchill, Manitoba, trains has also been suspended through the same date.

“While there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to when both domestic and international travel will resume, VIA Rail will continue to assess how it can support the recommendations of the public health authorities in their response to the pandemic and in preparation for the progressive service recovery,” the company said in the news release.

VIA said that during the service suspension it will accelerate an inspection and modernization program for its heritage passenger equipment that began in 2018.

The carrier said it will contact passengers who held reservations for travel on the affected trains about reimbursing their fare.

Passengers holding tickets during the suspension period also are encouraged to contact VIA by email at service@viarail.ca

VIA can be reached by phone at 888-VIA-RAIL(888-842-7245).

VIA CEO Cynthia Garneau said the carrier will continue to assess and identify which measures to implement in order to get back on track as soon and as safely as possible.

Garneau said the equipment overhaul program will enable VIA to progressively bring back its long-distance trains to full capacity for the 2021 peak season.

VIA has reduced the number of seats available on trains that are still operating as a way to promote social distancing.

Mechanical Breakdown Delays Canadian by a Day

December 24, 2019

There is late and there is really late. So how about really, really late?

Passengers aboard VIA Rail Canada’s westbound Canadian experienced the latter on Monday when their train arrived in Vancouver more than a day after it was supposed to arrive.

VIA No. 1 departed Toronto on Dec. 18 but became stranded near Capreol, Ontario, due to mechanical issues with the train’s locomotives.

Trains magazine reported that the only suitable replacement motive power was back in Toronto.

The 135 passengers were put on a bus and taken to Sudbury to spend the night at a hotel.

In a statement, VIA said two overheated bearings caused the malfunction of the locomotives.

The eastbound Canadian that was to depart Vancouver for Toronto on Monday was instead moved back to a Tuesday departure (Dec. 24) to allow time to service the equipment.

At one point the westbound Canadian was operating 41 hours late but was able to cut that down to 32 hours by the time it left Jasper, Alberta, due to schedule padding.

Onboard VIA staff that had scheduled to board at Winnipeg were instead put aboard at Hornepayne, Ontario.

Strike at CN Helped Canadian’s Timekeeping

November 27, 2019

A recent strike by the Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference against Canadian National proved to be a good thing for timekeeping of VIA Rail Canada’s Canadian.

An analysis by Trains magazine found that the Canadian that departed Toronto on Nov. 24 spent 14 hours and 15 minutes waiting for its scheduled departure times at stations in western Ontario and Manitoba.

That was because during the strike CN rerouted some of its trains through the United States, thus removing some of the freight train delays that Nos. 1 and 2 often incur.

Trains said that on one day the Canadian waited at the crew change point of Hornepayne, Ontario, for three-and-a-half hours until its scheduled departure time. Other waiting times ranged from 15 to 30 minutes.

The Canadian has 65 intermediate stops between Toronto and Vancouver and is allowed to depart ahead of schedule if there are no passengers set to board.

That led to the Canadian leaving Foleyet, Ontario, nearly two hours early on Sunday evening.

The analysis said that CN and VIA agreed in April 2019 to lengthen the running time of the Canadian to ensure that passengers on the westbound train would be able to see the Rocky Mountains in daylight.

The magazine said its review of every departure since the longer schedule went into effect found that has overall been successful.

No. 1 has consistently arrived in Vancouver earlier than its 8 a.m. scheduled arrival time, sometimes arriving early by as much as two to four hours.

VIA does not allow passengers to disembark in Vancouver before 6:30 a.m. and offers a continental breakfast to Sleeper Plus and Prestige class passengers.

Early arriving passengers are permitted to stay aboard as late as 8 a.m.

VIA has also reduced the frequency of operations of the Canadian to twice weekly between Toronto and Vancouver and once a week between Vancouver and Edmonton, Alberta.

CN and the Teamsters on Wednesday announced a tentative contract agreement that ended the strike.

However, it may be as many as eight weeks before the ratification vote is completed.

VIA to Stop Taking Cash on Some Trains

October 16, 2019

VIA Rail Canada will stop accept cash and only take regular and prepaid credit cards and VIA Rail gift cards will be accepted to pay for food and beverage purchased aboard its Halifax-Montreal Ocean and all Toronto-Quebec corridor trains effective Oct. 29.

The carrier also plans to end cash purchases on trains serving remote regions between Montreal and Senneterre, Quebec, Jonquiere, Quebec, and the Sudbury-White River, Ontario, triweekly Rail Diesel Cars.

For the time being cash will still be accepted aboard the Toronto-Vancouver Canadian, and the Winnipeg-Churchill and Jasper-Prince George-Prince Rupert trains.

“In response to a long-standing customer request, VIA is introducing an electronic payment terminal (that will) optimize frontline operations while streamlining our back-end food management systems,” VIA spokeswoman Marie-Anna Murat told Trains magazine.

“Eliminating cash will make VIA’s onboard transactions more efficient, allowing our employees to spend more time serving passengers; this change reflects the transportation industry trend towards cashless transactions.”

Murat said VIA employees will be flexible in the weeks following the launch.

Report Says Canadian to Remain Bi-Weekly in 2020

October 9, 2019

VIA Rail Canada’s flagship long-distance passenger train, The Canadian, will operate next summer with just two round trips per week the length of its route, Trains magazine reported this week.

The Canadian had previously run three times a week during the peak travel season between Vancouver and Toronto.

The plan to operate just twice weekly in summer 2020 is in contradiction to earlier VIA statements.

Trains noted that last May during VIA’s annual meeting, executives said that the carrier “fully intends” to resume tri-weekly operation between Vancouver and Toronto between May and October in 2020.

But now a VIA spokesperson has indicated that has changed.

“We subsequently consulted with our key stakeholders, including the infrastructure owner, and decided to maintain the current schedule in order to offer a reliable service and the best customer experience possible,” said VIA spokeswoman Marie-Anna Murat.

This year VIA is operating twice weekly between Vancouver and Toronto and one a week between Vancouver and Edmonton.

VIA said this arrangement was due to a track capacity expansion project being undertaken by host railroad Canadian National. The two-year program will cost $7.4 billion.

Trains said a review of the Canadian’s on-time performance found that the trains continue to encounter significant delays between Edmonton and Jasper, and west of Winnipeg.

The Vancouver-Edmonton trains will operate for the final time this week but resume next spring.

VIA Changes Dome Operations

May 30, 2019

A VIA Rail Canada Panorama Dome sits in Jasper, Alberta, on the eastbound Canadian in May 2014.

VIA Rail Canada has changed the operation of dome cars on its signature train, The Canadian.

Trains magazine reported that the single-level, full-length Panorama dome cars are operating between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Edmonton, Alberta.

VIA has two of the Panorama cars and they operate eastbound on Train No. 2 on Friday and Train No. 4 on Tuesday.

The cars return on Train No. 1 on Wednesday and No. 3 on Friday.

The Panorama cars had originally been billed as operating between Vancouver and Toronto, but that proved to be short lived with the last Panorama leaving Toronto on May 22.

The Canadian will operate for the summer with four short dome cars, which included a Park series dome-observation car.

Two of the domes serve beverages and snacks. A third dome has meals and beverages for purchased by coach passengers. That dome is positioned behind the coaches.

Trains said when a Panorama dome operates on Nos. 1 or 2, that will give the consist of those trains five domes.

Nos.  3 and 4 operate only between Vancouver and Edmonton with a shorter consist that includes one less Skyline dome.