Posts Tagged ‘VIA’s Canadian’

VIA Suspends Trains, Reduces Service Levels

March 17, 2020

VIA Rail Canada has also announced that it has suspended its Canadian, Ocean and long distance eastern and western routes until March 27 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian intercity rail passenger carrier has also reduced service in its corridor linking Windsor, Ontario, and Quebec City by 50 percent.

Onboard meal service has been modified to conform to social distancing guidelines.

Aditional workers are being added to conduct sanitization procedures, which may result in trip delays and late departures.

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.

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 Still Seeking Quebec-Windsor Increased Service

June 2, 2019

VIA Rail Canada is studying creating passenger-only route in the Quebec-Windsor, Ontario, but its new CEO has not committed to seeing the project through.

Cynthia Garneau said at the annual VIA public meeting that the carrier has created a committee to review the prospect of making parts of the corridor passenger only.

Garneau said VIA hopes to enter into what she termed “a new phase” before the end of the year.

One element of that “new phase” could be additional trains on existing Canadian National tracks now used by VIA in the corridor.

“This project is complex and ambitious and we continue to work with Transport Canada to capture its scope, to mitigate the risks,” she said. “The feedback we’ve been getting is encouraging. It will be using existing infrastructure, as you know, and existing rights-of-way all the way from Quebec City to Toronto.”

VIA’s former CEO, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, has called for higher service frequency in the corridor.

During the meeting, VIA executives said that revenue was up 7.4 percent and ridership up 8 percent last year.

VIA expects to continue emphasizing its corridor service because it accounts for 95 percent of the carrier’s ridership.

Plans are underway to assign new single-level cars and locomotives to corridor service.

During a question and answer session, VIA management said it expects to resume tri-weekly service by the Canadian between Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia, by next spring after CN finishes increasing the capacity of the route used by the train.

Currently, VIA is operating one Canadian roundtrip only between Vancouver and Edmonton, Alberta.

VIA also plans to eventually resume going all the way to the end of track on the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, but officials gave no date for that.

They noted that the government of Quebec is rebuilding the tracks on the route.

No plans are in the works for VIA to institute service in Western Canada to cities left behind by discontinue of bus service by Greyhound. VIA officials said the carrier does not “have the resources allocated to entertain any more services.”

Likewise, VIA management said that additional service in Southwest Ontario “is solely dependent on working with the infrastructure providers and intermodal partners to evaluate access.

Although the region shows great potential, VIA doesn’t expect to add service in the short term.

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.