Posts Tagged ‘The Canadian’

The Way it Used to Be

April 15, 2021

VIA Rail Canada announced this week that its flag ship long distance train the Canadian, will resume operating next month between Toronto and Vancouver.

The proud Canadian has been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic and then returned to run only between Vancouver and Winnipeg.

The news that the Canadian will again trek across Canada, though, came with some caveats. There will be no access to lounges and dome cars so scenes such as the one above of the two Canadians passing east of Hornepayne, Ontario, in May 2014.

There will be sleeping car service and passengers will be given reservations to eat breakfast and dinner in the dining car. But lunch will be served in your room.

Furthermore Nos. 1 and 2 will operate just one a week. In short, it won’t be the same experience that people from all over the world come to experience.

But at least it will be have some semblance of transcontinental service and the scenery hasn’t change.

Maybe some day the Canadian will once again be the Canadian.

VIA to Run Canadian Across Canada Again

April 15, 2021

VIA Rail Canada will reinstate the Canadian between Toronto and Vancouver on May 17 with one roundtrip per week.

The train has been operating only between Vancouver and Winnipeg for the past several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first westbound trip from Toronto will depart on May 23.

The Canadian will offer coach and sleeping car accommodations in roomettes and bedrooms. However, no berths will be sold and Prestige Class remains suspended through Sept. 15.

Due to health regulations there will be no access to such common areas as lounge cars and domes.

Sleeping car passenger will be able to make reservations for breakfast and dinner in the diner, but lunch will be served in passenger rooms. Coach passengers will be offered food and beverages from a cart.

VIA said the Montreal-Halifax Ocean continues to be suspended indefinitely. Service between Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and Jasper will operate weekly without the Touring Class Panorama dome.

Sleepers remain suspended on Winnipeg-Churchill, Manitoba, trains through Sept. 15.

Passengers who had booked trips on trains that have been canceled will receive refunds without financial penalty.

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.

VIA Report Says Canadian Not Sustainable

November 27, 2020

VIA Rail Canada said recently it doesn’t expect to operate a third Toronto-Vancouver roundtrip of the Canadian.

The intercity rail operator said that although it expects to continue operating its flagship long-distance train, its current business model is “no longer sustainable.”

Those conclusions were shared in a summary for the passenger carrier’s 2020-24 corporate plan, which is posted on the VIA website.

The document said the finances of the Canadian’s model have been hindered “predominantly due to host railroad actions.”

That has created a service incapable of serving short-distance travelers and the tourism market.

The Canadian has suffered from poor on-time performance with some delays stretching up to 43 hours. In 2019 the Canadian’s on-time performance was 55.9%.

In recent years the scheduled running time of Nos. 1 and 2 has been lengthened by 10 hours. Revenue growth has stalled while operating costs have risen.

VIA said it will explore options to revitalize the Canadian and other services in Western Canada but did not say what that might involve.

The Canadian last operated three times a week in 2019. It has been suspended for much of this year due to the CVOID-19 pandemic.

VIA also said a tri-weekly Canadian needs five train sets but it lacks enough equipment to create a fifth set because some equipment has been diverted to the Ocean, which operates between Montreal and Halifax.

Modernization of VIA’s heritage fleet has been scaled back due to “unexpected issues.”

Some of the heritage fleet is more than 70 years old and needs to be replaced.

VIA also said it continues to work toward creating its own dedicated right-of-way for portions of its Toronto-Montreal-Quebec City corridor.

It also plans to address the need to ensure access to Toronto Union Station and Montreal Central Station, where 46 percent of its passengers begin or end their trips.

That will require access agreements with host railroads that “feature best practices regarding punctuality and capacity management.”

The report said that in 2019, only 67.3percent of VIA’s corridor trains were on time.

VIA said its base funding level need to increase from $146.8 million to $300 million, with “extended funding” of $550 million, or $110 million per year, to address a current funding gap and allow for long-term planning throughout the five-year period of the plan.

Limited Return of Canadian Set for Dec. 11

October 22, 2020

VIA Rail Canada will return its Canadian to service on Dec. 11 on a weekly basis between Vancouver and Winnipeg.

The train normally operates between Vancouver and Toronto but was suspended on March 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news release, VIA said trains will depart Vancouver on Fridays and Winnipeg on Mondays.

Although VIA did not say when service would resume east of Winnipeg to Toronto, the VIA statement said the passenger carrier will do that “as quickly as possible.”

Still suspended is the Ocean, an overnight train that operates between Montreal and Halifax.

VIA said sleeper plus and economy class service will be offered and a reservation system will control access to the dining car.

A Park class dome-lounge-observation car will not be assigned to the train.

In an unrelated announcement, VIA said passengers will be able to travel aboard its trains without wearing a facial mask if they provide a certificate showing they are medically exempt from wearing one.

The announcement said the certificate, which must be accompanied by a government-issued photo ID, must indicate the passenger’s name and specify that the individual has a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask.

The certificate must be provided by a healthcare provider on official letterhead with the provider’s license and contact information.

The policy is similar to one imposed by Transport Canada for airline passengers. That policy states that children under age 2 are exempt from the mask requirement.

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.