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Canadian Railroads > VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean


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Date: 03/05/19 12:29
VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: DrawingroomA

Anyone who cares about rail travel in Canada will find much interesting information in this, particularly about the Canadian and the Ocean. It is dated 2018 so it is obviously a little late being published. The summary contains most of the information on pages 4 to 13.It is a long document, but on page 53 it says the revenues on the Ocean will drop because of the issues with the loop in Halifax and also the replacement of the Renaissance fleet with HEP equipment which will reduce capacity. As we know the Budd sleepers have higher capacity than Renaissance, but maybe VIA thinks the open berths and roomettes will not sell well because we are spoiled with the  double cabins on the Renaissance fleet.

My interpretation is there is a hint that the Canadian might be replaced between Winnipeg and Sudbury Jct. with a train of mainly coaches and some sleepers for those who want that option. This is rather vague. It says nothing about service between Toronto – Sudbury Jct. I hope my interpretation is wrong.

I accepted the invitation to keep in touch with VIA's CEO (a note comes with the Premier Preference renewal) and sent an e-mail enquiring about various ways of turning the Ocean. He asked the Chief Transportation and Safety Officer to respond to me. In less than 24 hours I had a detailed explanation as to why the Ocean will no longer be able to be turned after Nov. 2020 in Halifax or anywhere nearby up to and including Truro. It was pointed out to me that Renaissance and HEP equipment cannot be operated in "push-pull mode" so one must wonder what sort of train will be operated into Halifax.

https://www.viarail.ca/sites/all/files/media/pdfs/About_VIA/our-company/corporate-plan/Corporate_Plan2018.pdf



Date: 03/05/19 13:24
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: Chessie

Makes me wonder if I should try to ride the OCEAN when I'm in N.S. this summer.  Was going to save it for another time but may alter that plan. 



Date: 03/05/19 13:43
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: Jimbo

Is there a way for the locomotives (operating back to back) to run around the train in Halifax?  In most places there is.  Then turn the coach seats.  A feature car like the Park car would either not be used or operate the wrong way in one direction, or substitute a Skyline car.

Not operating the Canadian as a through train doesn't sound good for the long term operation of the train.

Ride 'em while you can.



Date: 03/05/19 14:23
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: DrawingroomA

Jimbo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Is there a way for the locomotives (operating back
> to back) to run around the train in Halifax?  In
> most places there is.  Then turn the coach seats.
>  A feature car like the Park car would either not
> be used or operate the wrong way in one direction,
> or substitute a Skyline car.
>
> Not operating the Canadian as a through train
> doesn't sound good for the long term operation of
> the train.
>
> Ride 'em while you can.

From my observations one or more locomotives could be run around the train on the approach tracks to the container terminal and station.  I had suggested to VIA that the train could be towed in reverse formation - not backed up! - to the nearest "wye". The wye at Windsor Jct. - approximately 15 miles north - is no longer available and VIA will not go to the expense of re-instating the  tracks. There is a wye at the junction at Truro - 64 miles north.  The locomotives could be run around the train there and then proceed as normal. It appears VIA is not interested in using that wye.

The coach seats in Renaissance cars are fixed and can't be turned, but this should not be a problem for such a short distance. Half the passengers on corridor trains now face rearward on some fairly long trips. If any passengers felt queasy riding backwards they could go to the lounge or have lunch in the dining car. As for sleepers, the sofas in half the cabins face rearwards no matter which way the car is operated.



Date: 03/05/19 14:37
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: joemvcnj

Since the REN cars are going to be scrapped, they are not an issue. They can run displaced Corridor coaches with improved seating and run the engines around the train.  Is there not a place to do that near Halifax ? 

Segment the Canadian at Winnipeg, and run a ordinary Amtrakian like train east of there, fine, but why  end at Sudbury Jct ?

Seems to be VIA Rail is enforcing its ridiculous policy that there shall be no off-corridor LD passenger service if there is a bus. Greyhound gets as far as Sudbury, and no farther. Toronto is a major passenger draw that they will kill if they require people to take the Dog to reach their train. These trains wil quickly turn into 2 car accomodation trains and be financial basket cases. 



Date: 03/05/19 17:11
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: mundo

Sounds like Amtrak Anderson wrote that report.



Date: 03/05/19 18:48
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: cn6218

Turning the train on the loop gets in the way of operations on the container pier.  To accommodate Halterm, VIA has been turning the train early in the morning before things get busy (that's when they had the "switch incident" withthe Renaissance set), but that is undoubtably expensive for them in terms of crew costs.  I'm not even sure how a crew can do the turning, and then get to Moncton in under 12 hours.  Any delays, and they're up against hours of service.

Using the wye in Truro (which should never be congested late in the afternoon) would work, but they'd have to tow the train backwards to Halifax.  There is no problem at all running around the train there, plenty of options at Ocean Terminals.

GTD



Date: 03/06/19 04:35
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: DrawingroomA

cn6218 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Turning the train on the loop gets in the way of
> operations on the container pier.  To accommodate
> Halterm, VIA has been turning the train early in
> the morning before things get busy (that's when
> they had the "switch incident" withthe Renaissance
> set), but that is undoubtably expensive for them
> in terms of crew costs.  I'm not even sure how a
> crew can do the turning, and then get to Moncton
> in under 12 hours.  Any delays, and they're up
> against hours of service.
>
> Using the wye in Truro (which should never be
> congested late in the afternoon) would work, but
> they'd have to tow the train backwards to
> Halifax.  There is no problem at all running
> around the train there, plenty of options at Ocean
> Terminals.
>
> GTD

On my trip last October the train was turned approximately 9:00 a.m. I don't know if that is the typical time. With an on time arrival in Moncton of 5:17 p.m. that is well within the time limits. The crew would have a substantial break between the turning of the train and the 1:00 p.m. departure from Halifax.



Date: 03/06/19 04:48
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: ghCBNS

Cut the Ocean back to a Montreal-Moncton only train. Only one set of equipment required and turn it on the wye at Gordon Yard.

Very few ride sleeper out of Halifax now but the sleepers do fill from Moncton > west. Add the much talked about ‘Intercity’ train from Halifax to Moncton and possibly Saint John.....providing connecting service to/from the Ocean. No need to turn a coach train in Halifax.....either rotate seats or they are half forward, half backward just like the corridor trains now.

(Note: The Ocean was a Montreal-Moncton only train between 1985 and 1990 and Halifax passengers did have to change in Moncton. (The Atlantic was still running then for thru Halifax-Montreal passengers via Saint John and the USA)



Date: 03/06/19 07:06
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: joemvcnj

Cut the sleepers of at Moncton. Send the coaches through to Halifax. Use HEP-I coaches - I think they are train-lined. There are a few scattered about on a couple of corridor trains anyway, and they can use a HEP-II on the Quebec remote trains to get 2 more. Run the engines to the other end of the train at Halifax. A 3rd engine needs to be left behind in Moncton to wye the sleepers and Park car.

This is sort of like the Empire Builder at Spokane. Portland Engine get rotated in when needed,

Running once a week, which is my interpretation of it, Sudbury Jct - Winnipeg is terrible.



Date: 03/06/19 07:33
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: ghCBNS

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Cut the sleepers of at Moncton. Send the coaches
> through to Halifax.

You could do that 3 days a week but that ‘Intercity’ Halifax-Moncton(-Saint John) train should be running at least 6 days/week.



Date: 03/06/19 07:47
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: joemvcnj

ghCBNS Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> joemvcnj Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Cut the sleepers of at Moncton. Send the
> coaches
> > through to Halifax.
>
> You could do that 3 days a week but that
> ‘Intercity’ Halifax-Moncton(-Saint John) train
> should be running at least 6 days/week.

OK, on non-Ocean days, run the eastern end 6 days. Sort of like the Hooiser State/Cardinal.



Date: 03/06/19 09:33
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: newtonville150

DrawingroomA Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If any passengers felt queasy riding
> backwards they could go to the lounge or have
> lunch in the dining car. 

I've never understood why North Americans get queasy riding backwards. Half the people
on almost every full train in Europe ride backwards without problems.



Date: 03/06/19 09:45
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: joemvcnj

Half the seats in the dining car are backwards too  (come to think of it).
If no sleepers east of Moncton, no more of those delicious looking catered dinners put on at Halifax, or would they get a Moncton caterer ?
 



Date: 03/06/19 10:42
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: ghCBNS

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If no sleepers east of Moncton, no more of those
> delicious looking catered dinners put on at
> Halifax, or would they get a Moncton caterer ?
>  

They could probably get a caterer in Moncton or just double cater the train leaving Montreal.

A couple of times I’ve been on the Ocean when it’s going to be late into Halifax.....VIA has put meals aboard in Moncton for all (including coach passengers who would normally be on their own)

Here’s the meal I received on a trip on the Ocean last year from St. Hubert Rotisserie. And if anyone is familiar with St. Hubert…well worth the late train! And an FYI….St Hubert was acquired by CARA (now Recipe Unlimited) that began operations in the 1880’s as CAnadian RAilway News supplying news stands in stations and on trains.






Date: 03/06/19 10:43
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: jp1822

Admittedly, the report did NOT look good for current operations of the Ocean, and left me scratching my head a big on the future of the Caidadian.

Reading between the lines, I don't think it was completely agreed upon that the cut from six days a week to three days a week was necessarily a good thing, as it cut back the inter-city reliability of this train. I don't think VIA is convinced what equipment will best service the Ocean, but it appears that the Renaissance equipment is heading to pasture. Sorry to even hear that for the sleepers, a young service life to be retired it in the scheme of things. Not sure if the sleepers could somehow be "preserved" for the route or not. Presume not.

Pulling ANY sleepers away from the Canadian to eastern/maritime service, even with a reduced operating schedule with the Edmonton-Vancouver stub train, is not going to be a good business move for VIA. VIA admits that it has NO Manor cars in spare during peak season, and Chateau cars are even at a premium in peak season. If VIA even cuts back the Ocean to Moncton, it's still got to solve the equipment problem - where is it getting at least seven sleepers to operate in the consist? If not Renaissance (or buying Amtrak's Viewliner's), it's got to pull them from the Canadian. But perhaps it now only pulls four sleepers, instead of seven, which creates a demand/supply problem, and hence the basis for why VIA predicts Ocean revenue will continue to go down with any restructuring of the route........

Sad and hard to believe the Renaissance equipment in the Maritimes just did not work out and is being shelved at a relatively young life cycle. I always enjoyed my sleeper trips on the Renaissance sleepers......... 

Not sure if I get the whole Sudbury Jct to Winnipeg piece of this report. Leaving Sudbury in the early morning hours, I don't think the train could reach Winnipeg at a passenger friendly time in the evening. Will have to look back at some old VIA schedules........ It does seem that VIA ma have a warm spot for trying to harvest that scenery. 

Unfortunately with 20/20 being hindsight, it is also VERY convincing that VIA should have NEVER changed the schedule in 2010 - to appeas CN in the hopes of raising OTP for the Canadian. The exact opposite occurred and . Many had watched the Canadian's OTP errode in the summer of 2009, but the resulting change of schedule that came out in 2010 produced catastrophic OTP numbers.  

There's always some political strife with the Maritimes, as they often feel "left out" by Ottawa. So it's likely they get their inter-city trains from Moncton to Halifax, but this doesn't look good for a Montreal-Halifax one seat ride Ocean...... Too bad. Love the route!



Date: 03/06/19 16:21
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: eminence_grise

At least Via is announcing a five year plan. 

Previous cuts in the 1980's and 90's were announced barely ahead of the 90 day notice required by law required to terminate employment.

I don't recall any public hearing process regarding the 1980's cuts, and public hearings took place after the 1990 cuts.

Whether these plans are carved in stone, or just a trial balloon, at least passenger service advocates have something to discuss with the Government.

The timing of the release of this document is significant, with a Canadian Federal Election taking place in October. The political landscape may change, and with it the fortunes of Via Rail.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/06/19 17:05 by eminence_grise.



Date: 03/06/19 21:58
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: jp1822

When the massacre of RDC's happened in the Maritimes back in the 1990s, it did not go over well at all in the Maritimes. Most routes were killed with two roundtrip RDC frequencies on them, so it wasn't even a reduction of two to one to none. Just outright and total elimination. The spider web of Nova Scotia rail service disappeared nearly overnight, and left in its place was the daily Atlantic. Ocean was truncated to Moncton. Then the Atlantic cancelled and Ocean extended to Halifax six days a week. Very ugly. People were doing a mass exodus from Nova Scotia on top of it as it was felt the fishing industry was tuned upside down. They also felt very "divorced" from Ottawa and this wasn't the first time in recent history. Another economic issue hit the Maritimes shortly thereafter and it was nearly another mutiny as I recall.

The inter-city trains between Moncton and Halifax are a mere restoration of service - those routes were held down by both RDC's and conventional trainset that VIA had been operating.

I just don't think the truncation of the Ocean to Moncton is going to go well with politicial leaders in the Maritimes, especially Nova Scotia. 

And yes, none of this is etched in stone, but VIA has repeatedly stated its intention to retire the Renaissance equipment. Not to beat a dead horse, but the interior of say the Renaissance Diner and Renaissance Sleepers seem to be in pretty descent shape. The sleepers ride great. Do all the Renaissance cars suffer from the same problems of the underbody corrusion. There's no fix that could be had with the sleepers per say? The Ocean and Chaleur (train to Gaspe) surrendered its sleepers (mostly Chateau based) to the Canadian. Giving them back just cuts into the Canadian sleeper availability. Course there's also the main issue of the balloon track at the ship yard being closed down. VIA couldn't build a Y somewhere? Did they always have access to this balloon track even back when CN and CP operated indepdently to the Maritimes before VIA? 



Date: 03/07/19 02:30
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: ghCBNS

jp1822 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When the massacre of RDC's happened in the
> Maritimes back in the 1990s, it did not go over
> well at all in the Maritimes. Most routes were
> killed with two roundtrip RDC frequencies on them,
> so it wasn't even a reduction of two to one to
> none. Just outright and total elimination. The
> spider web of Nova Scotia rail service disappeared
> nearly overnight, and left in its place was the
> daily Atlantic. Ocean was truncated to Moncton.

In January 1990......the Atlantic went to 3 days per week and the Ocean was extended back to Halifax also on a 3 day per week schedule alternating with the Atlantic so there were 6 trains a week each way between Halifax, Moncton and Montreal. Beyond Moncton….the Atlantic ran tri-weekly via Saint John and the USA....and the Ocean tri-weekly via Campbellton.

West of Matapedia, the Chaleur was no longer attached to the Ocean and was rescheduled to run on alternate days to the Ocean…..so there were now 6 trains per week each way between Matapedia and Montreal.

When the Atlantic was discontinued in December 1994....the Ocean went to a 6 day per week schedule between Halifax and Montreal via Campbellton and the Chaleur was again attached to the Ocean west of Matapedia tri-weekly.

In 2012...the Ocean again went tri-weekly. The Chaleur has also been discontinued (with hopes it may be restored someday!)



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/07/19 06:38 by ghCBNS.



Date: 03/08/19 07:48
Re: VIA's 5-year Plan - not looking good for the Canadian & Ocean
Author: DrawingroomA

newtonville150 Wrote:

>
> I've never understood why North Americans get
> queasy riding backwards. Half the people
> on almost every full train in Europe ride
> backwards without problems.

North Americans do complain more than Europeans about rear-facing seats, probably because they are not used to them to the same extent. Many in Europe can't ride backwards though. I have a cousin in England who gets very ill riding backwards and I have heard others in booking halls saying they need to ride forward. I suspect for most it is a matter of preference, but I don't doubt that many people get queasy or ill.  Several years ago I was on a German train that changed direction twice en route. Each time there was a massive turning of seats by the passengers. Not many trains had that capability, so passengers have to choose carefully.

Personally I like rear-facing seats. For one thing I feel safer should there be an emergency stop or worse.



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