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Canadian Railroads > Maritime Route Realignment

Date: 11/19/19 00:20
Maritime Route Realignment
Author: ghCBNS

Almost missed this one!.......but It was 40 years ago on October 28, 1979 that VIA realigned and combined the former CN and CP Routes between Montreal and the Maritimes.

Date: 11/19/19 00:23
Re: Maritime Route Realignment
Author: ghCBNS

The previous night the last, still essentially ‘CPR’ Atlantic Limited departed from CP’s Windsor Station in Montreal.....crossed through the USA and terminated in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Now the new ‘VIA Atlantic’ departed from Gare Centrale in Montreal.....ran on CN to a junction with its former CP route at Lennoxville, Quebec (near Sherbrooke)....then through Megantic and across the State of Maine. But now instead of terminating in Saint John, the new Atlantic continued on to Moncton and Halifax.

There were changes over on CN’s ‘Intercolonial’ route through Campbellton also:

There had been two trains a day each way between Montreal and Halifax: the Ocean Limited and the Scotian. Now only the Ocean would be retained. (The old Scotian No’s 11 & 12 actually went to the new Atlantic)

Replacing the Scotian were new local/Intercity trains on more convenient schedules. One of these: le Saint-Laurent…operating on a new daytime schedule between Mont-Joli and Montreal even got the Skyline Dome that had been running on the old CPR Atlantic Limited. (Note: neither the Ocean nor new VIA Atlantic had Domes or Park Cars at the time)

A new ‘Intercity’ route between Halifax-Moncton-Saint John was launched with two through trains a day each way: the new Atlantic and an RDC Railiner. Previously…..you had to change and wait for connections in Moncton.

A downfall of the new schedules was the elimination of the through cars between Sydney and Montreal and also between Gaspe and Montreal that had been combined with the Ocean and Scotian. Passengers now had to change trains in Truro or Matapedia respectively......connecting with RDC Railiners.

I was on that first run of the new e/b VIA Atlantic.....and here’s some souvenirs:

- My ticket (& still on CN ticket stock) for Roomette 10 in Car 1240

- The Atlantic’s consist in the “Instructions Speciales” issued at Gare Centrale, Montreal. Note the consist for Amtrak’s Montrealer (Item 21) and Train No. 14 (Item 27) This is the consist for the Ocean now departing Montreal on the Scotian's old schedule at 2340.

Date: 11/19/19 00:25
Re: Maritime Route Realignment
Author: ghCBNS

At Saint John the old downtown station was demolished in the early ‘70s and CP moved their station 6 km west and CN to a freight yard 4 km east. Now with the launch of the new through ‘Atlantic’VIA built a small station downtown again near the old Union Station site.

Here we’re stopping at the new station on that first run on rainy, wet October 29, 1979....then onto Moncton (and eventually Halifax)

Date: 11/19/19 00:27
Re: Maritime Route Realignment
Author: ghCBNS

Things looked very optimistic for VIA back in October 1979......but it didn’t last long. Just two years later in November 1981 the new ‘Atlantic’ made its last run and the CPR line across Maine went freight only. To appease New Brunswickers.....the Halifax-Moncton-Saint John ‘Intercity’ RDC ‘Railiner’ was extended to Fredericton Jct on the Atlantic’s route then onto Fredericton…..NB’s Capital on a 22 mile branch line that hadn’t seen a passenger train in 20 years. Previously Fredericton passengers took a bus 25 miles to Fredericton Junction to connect with the Atlantic.

What had been a quick overnight trip across Maine to Montreal (450 miles) Dep. Fredericton 7pm; Arrive Montreal 7am....now required Fredericton passengers to take the RDC to Moncton at 215pm, connect there with the Ocean and arrive in Montreal at 915am the next morning……now an 800 miles trip via Campbellton!

- Last run of the VIA Atlantic at Truro NS in November 1981.
- VIA RDC ‘Railiner’ at Fredericton York St. Station in 1983.

Date: 11/19/19 00:28
Re: Maritime Route Realignment
Author: ghCBNS

The ‘Atlantic’ did come back on CP across Maine again in June 1985. It survived the cuts of January 1990 (becoming tri-weekly) Was fully HEP’d in the early ‘90s and lasted until December 1994 when it was discontinued for the final time. Since then the Ocean has been the only train between Montreal and the Maritimes.

-First run of the restored VIA Atlantic at Truro NS in June 1985

-The restored Atlantic even had a Park Car now. We’re at Moncton on the first run and note the train in the distance on Track 1 (right) That’s the Ocean. It’s just been cut-back to a Moncton-Montreal only train. Anyone travelling from say Halifax to Campbellton now has to change in Moncton.

-And later that evening in a foggy Saint John.

Date: 11/19/19 08:24
Re: Maritime Route Realignment
Author: eminence_grise

In your photo of the new Saint John NB station, is that a large freight station in the background?  Similarly, Truro seems to have a large freight shed across from the station.

Date: 11/19/19 15:48
Re: Maritime Route Realignment
Author: jp1822

For what it is worth, if you look at various VIA Rail schedules of the Maritimes starting from 1979 and before the 1990 cuts - perhaps eliminating the brief period that the Atlantic was eliminated in the early 1980s - to VIA's credit, they ran a pretty impressive and expansive amount of trains in the Maritimes. There was some really neat choreography with the RDC/Railiners on the eastern end, largely in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. To see what was in place to what emerged after the 1990 butchering - definitely shocking. Still remember seeing all those RDC's lined up at the Halifax rail station...........

Date: 11/20/19 10:54
Re: Maritime Route Realignment
Author: cn6218

What is the train on the right in the second picture?  I think you're facing east,and the Atlantic is on the left, but No. 11 wouldn't be there until the evening.

Also, was the picture of the "new" station taken Oct. 29 as well?  If so, they muct have really put a push on to finish it.  I was looking at a picture taken on October 21st of that year, and it's still under construction, with no siding yet.  That station was replaced in 1994 by another, farther east but still between the two overpasses.  It fell into disuse later that year when the Atlantic was cancelled, but now serves as a terminal for Maritime Bus. The construction of Harbour Station (now TD Station) may have had something to do with moving the VIA station.


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