Posts Tagged ‘VIA Rail Canada’

Amtrak Service Suspensions Linger

December 26, 2022

Amtrak appeared to be slowly returning to normal today after several days of service cancellations of Midwest corridor trains and Eastern long-distance trains due to a winter storm.

As of 6:30 a.m. this morning the Amtrak website did not show any new cancellations for today beyond two that had already been announced.

However, the eastbound Capitol Limited that had been scheduled to resume service on Sunday was cancelled due to mechanical issues Amtrak announced on its Twitter feed.

The westbound Capitol Limited did leave Washington on Sunday afternoon as scheduled but was operating more than an hour late.

The westbound Cardinal was operating more than two hours late. No. 51 last ran on Dec. 20.

A handful of Midwest Corridor trains will not operate today (Dec. 26). These include the Missouri River Runner between St. Louis and Kansas City, and Lincoln Service Nos. 301 and 306 between Chicago and St. Louis.

Amtrak cited “manpower issues” for cancelling today Wolverine Service No. 353 from Pontiac, Michigan, to Chicago with alternative transportation being provided.

The passenger carrier cited the same reasons for cancelling Wolverine Service Nos. 354 and 355 between Chicago and Battle Creek, Michigan, on Sunday night.

The Lake Shore Limited between Chicago and New York/Boston was slated to resume operation today after not operating since late last week. However, the Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle/Portland remains cancelled.

Amtrak was not the only rail passenger carrier to cancel trains during the Christmas weekend.

VIA Rail Canada cancelled all of its trains in the Toronto-Ottawa, and Toronto-Montreal corridors on Christmas Day. VIA extended those cancellations into Dec. 26 although it attributed the latest round of service suspensions to the “ongoing impact of the CN train derailment which occurred on Dec. 24.”

The derailment occurred in Grafton, Ontario, shortly after 11 a.m. on Dec. 24 and blocked all tracks. The VIA cancellations affected 25 corridor trains.

Earlier, VIA cited the winter storm for prompting the cancellation of 24 corridor trains on Dec. 24. The Toronto Star reported that on the night of Dec. 23 some VIA trains were delayed up to 14 hours and nine trains were stranded overnight.

The storm brought subzero temperatures and, in some areas, heavy snow. VIA reported that some delays were due to power outages and downed trees.

The Canadian passenger carrier said passengers affected by those delays will receive a full refund and a travel credit.

Canada’s Transport Minister, Omar Alghabra had taken to Twitter to describe the VIA situation as “unacceptable and we are in contact with them to resolve all issues safely and efficiently.”

VIA Creates Subsidiary to Oversee Development of High-Speed Rail Corridor

December 22, 2022

VIA Rail Canada has created a subsidiary to oversee development of high-speed intercity rail service in the Toronto-Quebec City corridor.

The subsidiary is named VIA HFR and will act as a project office. the HRF denote “high rail frequency.”

Three founding members of the VIA HFR board were name including Robert Prichard, who will serve as chairman; Marie-José Nadeau, vice chair; and Robert Fonberg.

In a news release, VIA said the board will lead the search for the company’s CEO, as well as recruitment of the other directors to complete the seven-member board.

VIA Ridership Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

December 5, 2022

VIA Rail Canada said last week that its operations remain slightly below what they were before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian passenger carrier said on Nov. 30 that “operations returned to levels that are slightly below those operated before the pandemic, which is a significant increase compared to the corresponding quarter of 2021.”

VIA said capacity has risen 52 percent in terms of train-miles, and by 77.6 percent in terms of seat-miles.

During the third quarter of this year VIA handled 1,080 million passengers. That compares with 535,300 during the same period in 2021.

VIA said it recently took delivery of 32 new trainsets built by Siemens Mobility that will be used in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor.

In an unrelated announcement, VIA said it has contracted with CGI to provide managed services for the passenger carrier’s new reservation system that is plans to launch in 2023.

CGI earlier worked with VIA to develop a cloud-based reservation system.

In a news release, VIA said CGI will manage business applications of the new reservation system.

VIA Extends Fuel Saving Pilot Program

November 29, 2022

VIA Rail Canada recently announced that it will extend a pilot program using artificial intelligence to reduce fuel consumption.

The program has been in a trial period over the past six months and as produced potential fuel savings of up to 15 percent.

It is a collaboration with Transport Canada and Innovative Solutions Canada Testing. The trial program used simulators. In the next phase the application will be tested in actual train operations.

The software monitors driving behavior between stations to seek improvements that will allow for reduced fuel use. It takes into account such factors as equipment use, season, and schedule, to recommend train-handling behavior without impacting travel time.

VIA to Rebuild Toronto, Montreal Maintenance Centers

November 19, 2022

VIA Rail Canada has awarded two contracts for the rebuilding of its Toronto and Montréal maintenance facilities.

Buttcon Limited of Concord, Ontario, will rebuild the Toronto Maintenance Center while Pomerleau Incorporated of Montréal will rebuild the Montréal Maintenance Center.

VIA said funding for the projects is in place and work will begin next spring.

The rebuilding of the maintenance facilities is being undertaken to make them better equipped to service 32 new trainsets being built for VIA by Siemens Mobility.

The Siemens cars, which began arriving at VIA in September, will ultimately replace existing rail cars now used in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor.

The first Siemens-built trainset began revenue service this month. Additional new equipment will be placed in service next year.

Approaching Bayview Junction

November 2, 2022

VIA Rail Canada FP7A No. 6550 is westbound with a corridor train approaching Bayview Junction, Ontario, on Aug. 6, 1988. The unit was built for the Canadian Pacific in April 1953. It would later operate for the Nebkota Railway in Nebraska.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Transport Canada Eyes New Entity to Operate Proposed High-Frequency Corridor Trains

November 2, 2022

Transport Canada has decided to create a new government entity to operate high frequency rail service in the corridor linking Toronto with Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City.

The move would effectively remove VIA Rail Canada from taking part in the project, which involves constructing an electrified passenger route.

Railway Age reported that the new government agency would oversee creation of the corridor and oversee its operations, which would be conducted by a yet-to-be-identified private development partner.

The report said the new agency would be a subsidiary of VIA, but operate independently and report director to Transport Canada.

The private operator would be expected to assume operation of VIA’s existing services that now use tracks owned by VIA and Canadian National.

The Railway Age report noted that if the plan is implemented, VIA would be relegated to operating low frequency regional and national services.

The author of the Railway Age report, David Thomas, asserted that eventually VIA would collapse from the financial strain of providing those services and public ownership of passenger rail would end.

The report, which was labeled as commentary, said the death of VIA would mean that private operators, such as the Rocky Mountaineer, could take over those trains.

VIA Using Buffer Cars With Heritage Equipment

October 28, 2022

VIA Rail Canada plans to use buffer cars on trains with heritage cars that are more than 60 years of age.

The move is a safety measure that was recommended by a consultant.

The cars in question have head-end power and many were built by Budd and other American car manufacturers.

Trains magazine reported on its website that there have been isolated incidents in recent years in which structural defects have been found in the heritage cars as they were being rebuilt. Many of those involved the car’s center sill.

The equipment in question includes coaches, sleepers, diners and dome cars. Much of it operates between Toronto and Vancouver on the Canadian although some of these cars are assigned to the Winnipeg-Churchill route, and to northern Quebec remote-service trains.

Trains reported that some heritage equipment operates in the Quebec-Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Windsor corridor and is assigned to the Montreal-Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ocean.

The buffer cars will be attached to the rear of trains carrying heritage equipment.

VIA indicated in a statement that the buffer cars are being assigned to provide protection in the event of rear-end collisions.

Trains noted that VIA has a shortage of passenger cars although it has begun taking delivery of new Venture cars built by Siemens Mobility.

The buffer cars will be unoccupied cars and include empty LRC coaches and baggage cars.

The Trains report can be read at

Additional information reported by Trains can be read at

Amtrak Says CP Will Allow Passenger Expansion

October 26, 2022

Amtrak said in a brief filed with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that Canadian Pacific has agreed to back the passenger carrier’s efforts to expand service in several locations, including Michigan.

The brief was the final filing by Amtrak in the proposed merger of CP and Kansas City Southern.

CP has agree to allow Amtrak to institute new service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, that would connect at the latter with trains of VIA Rail Canada. The service would use a tunnel under the Detroit River that is owned by CP.

No details about that proposed service have been released nor is there a timeline for its implementation.

Amtrak’s current Wolverine Service between Chicago and Detroit continues northward to suburban Pontiac. One or more of those trains would have to be diverted to Windsor.

The existing Detroit Amtrak station is not located on the route into Windsor.

Amtrak’ s brief described CP as a “reliable partner in working with Amtrak to provide safe, efficient and effective passenger-rail services.”

The brief said CP also agreed to allow Amtrak to add other additional or new services including:

• Expansion on the CP-owned portion of the Hiawatha Service route between Chicago and Milwaukee;

• Between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, on lines owned by CP; 

• Between New Orleans (IC Junction) and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on a KCS line.

CP also has agreed to participate in a study with Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and various governmental agencies of implementing new service between Dallas and Meridian, Mississippi.

Report Urges Restoration of VIA Train

September 30, 2022

A recent report concluded there is a “critical need” for VIA Rail Canada to provide commuter train service in the Kingston-Toronto corridor of Ontario.

The report was based on a survey of residents of the counties of Northumberland and Hastings, and the cities of Quinte West, Belleville and Kingston.

The report called for restoring VIA train 651, which was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ridership of that train could exceed pre-pandemic levels if it is restored, the report said.

Commuter ridership is expected to not only return to pre-pandemic levels but is expected to increase significantly from previous years.

“Our report confirms that 96 percent of pre-COVID users would return to this service, with 31 percent of all survey respondents identifying as new users eager to access this service. The data suggests that if VIA Train 651 returns, ridership levels will be stronger than pre-pandemic use,” said Bob Sanderson, Northumberland County Councilor and Chair of the Economic Development, Planning and Tourism Committee.

“The labor force in Eastern Ontario is stronger than pre-pandemic levels and our population is growing at a faster rate than the rest of the province. Our workforce needs this rail service as an alternative to costly vehicle use and residents want to make a responsible choice when it comes to the environment.”