Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).

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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby NS VIA FAN » Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:14 am

NS VIA FAN wrote:In the final years of the Atlantic, the trip times between Halifax and Montreal were just about the same via either the Atlantic or the much longer route on the Ocean through Campbellton. Today the Atlantic route would take a lot longer.

If VIA was ever to inaugurate an additional train from the Maritimes to Montreal.....perhaps it could be a day train between Moncton and Montreal running on the National Transcontinental Railway via Edmundston.....Fast and CTC all the way. And it could even serve “The County”.....Van Buren to St. Leonard is just one mile. Edmundston to Madawaska is also a mile and to Fort Kent: 20 miles. Presque Isle to Grand Falls 35 miles.

There’s reports that CN’s line through Campbellton NB could be in trouble and the possibility of VIA’s Ocean being rerouted on the NTR line which hugs the US border of Aroostook County.

http://atlantic.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local ... lanticHome
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby gokeefe » Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:35 pm

NS VIA FAN wrote:
NS VIA FAN wrote:In the final years of the Atlantic, the trip times between Halifax and Montreal were just about the same via either the Atlantic or the much longer route on the Ocean through Campbellton. Today the Atlantic route would take a lot longer.

If VIA was ever to inaugurate an additional train from the Maritimes to Montreal.....perhaps it could be a day train between Moncton and Montreal running on the National Transcontinental Railway via Edmundston.....Fast and CTC all the way. And it could even serve “The County”.....Van Buren to St. Leonard is just one mile. Edmundston to Madawaska is also a mile and to Fort Kent: 20 miles. Presque Isle to Grand Falls 35 miles.

There’s reports that CN’s line through Campbellton NB could be in trouble and the possibility of VIA’s Ocean being rerouted on the NTR line which hugs the US border of Aroostook County.

http://atlantic.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local ... lanticHome


Definitely a potential upside for Aroostook County. I didn't realize VIA's Ocean took such a circuitous route to get to Moncton.
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby davidns8560 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:35 am

All I can say is that The Atlantic Limited was one of the best train rides I've ever taken. And I only went from Montreal/Windsor as far as Brownville, IIRC.
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby RGlueck » Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:22 am

Every time I rode the "Atlantic", it was crammed with passengers. It was a moneymaker and much beloved by a regular ridership.
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby Cowford » Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:44 pm

It was a moneymaker...


Indeed it was well patronized under Via management, but moneymaker? The Atlantic's alter ego, the Ocean, enjoyed a high load factor (~130K passengers/yr) up until the service reductions in 2012, but lost about 60 cents per passenger-mile. In 2013, the shortfall rose to a whopping 84 cents per passenger-mile!*

I just looked up a coach fare: Montreal- Halifax is $130.. It's 836 miles... a coach rider would be receiving a one-way C$702 subsidy! Yikes.

*Source - Via annual reports
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby Highball » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:40 pm

Cowford wrote:
It was a moneymaker...


Indeed it was well patronized under Via management, but moneymaker? The Atlantic's alter ego, the Ocean, enjoyed a high load factor (~130K passengers/yr) up until the service reductions in 2012, but lost about 60 cents per passenger-mile. In 2013, the shortfall rose to a whopping 84 cents per passenger-mile!*

I just looked up a coach fare: Montreal- Halifax is $130.. It's 836 miles... a coach rider would be receiving a one-way C$702 subsidy! Yikes.

*Source - Via annual reports


Cowford, do you realize the last year the Atlantic operated, was 1994 ..... it was not operated on a daily basis at that time. What's with comparing Ocean Ltd. 2013 data to the Atlantic ???

Also, VIA coach fare you quoted must have been an Escape Fare ( less tax ). I checked an economy coach fare for this weekend, Mtl - Hfx, quoted as $ 244.90 ( tax inc. ).
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby Cowford » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:56 pm

So a passenger is paying $245 for a seven-day advance fare... and still receiving a subsidy of $702. As I said: Yikes!

Sorry I can't access Via annual reports back 20 years. I was trying to get as close as possible to comparing apples-to-apples and only pointing out that a train running full doesn't mean it makes money. In the case of the Ocean, it bleeds red ink. It's also a pretty safe bet that Canadian passenger rail economics have changed much in the last generation. If you are claiming that the Atlantic even came close to breaking even, I look forward to your references!
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby trainsinmaine » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:14 am

I'm aware of all the challenges of establishing, much less financing, passenger train service. It's much the same situation here in the States. That said, however, I have just recently (within the last month) heard that there is an increasing clamor in New Brunswick for the restoration of service to the central and southern parts of the province. We'll see what, if anything, happens.
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby RRBUFF » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:17 am

Back in the last days of the Atlantic Limited a group of us took the CP Atlantic Limited from Montreal to Halifax NS. The ticket included a trip from Montreal to West Saint John, a chit for a taxi ride to the Saint John dock, a ticket for the ferry to Digby NS and a ticket from Digby to Halifax on the Dominon Atlantic Budd RDC. It was a nice 2 day trip. We returned by taking the CN Scotian back to Montreal.
Beside our 3 there were 5 others all retired CP people travelling on passes.
If the Atlantic Limited ever comes back it would have to connect further to Halifax and not terminate in Saint John.
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby trainsinmaine » Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:37 pm

I think a restoration of the full route would be a given. One recalls former Saint John MP Elsie Wayne's blunt remark when it was announced that The Atlantic Limited was going to be terminated: "Over my dead body are they going to tell me I have to drive to Moncton to take a train!"
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby Highball » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:56 pm

Highball wrote:
I checked an economy coach fare for this weekend, Mtl - Hfx, quoted as $ 244.90 ( tax inc. ).


Rechecked a VIA Coach fare again for Mtl - Hfx ...... since VIA has ongoing escape fares, weekly deal options .... for an adult, one way Economy, Escape fare on March 22nd, 2015 ... $ 129.92 ..... economy is quoted as $ 210.40.

Browsing older files of mine, from TRANSPORT 2000 Atlantic Division ( consumer advocacy group specializing in transportation issues ), came across some stats for VIA's Atlantic Ltd., Halifax - Saint John - Montreal, comparing 1988 versus 1987 ( in brackets ) ...

passengers 267,000 ( 249,000), passenger miles in millions, 90.3 ( 78.3 ), total revenue in million $, 12.2 ( 10.7 ), avoidable cost recovery 48.6% (43.3% )
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby Cowford » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:27 pm

Thanks for looking that up, Highball. That indicates the Atlantic those years averaged an operating loss of CAD$23.5 million annually / 28 cents per passenger-mile (in 2013 CAD dollars).
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby NS VIA FAN » Mon Jun 01, 2015 6:36 pm

It's 30 years ago tonight, June 1, 1985 that VIA restored the Atlantic across Maine after a 3 1/2 year hiatus and I was aboard for the inaugural run.....Ah Memories!

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I returned from Montreal on June 4/85. Here we’re looking forward into New Brunswick and back into the US as we cross the International Bridge at Vanceboro-St. Croix...... then stopped in McAdam, New Brunswick on June 4, 1985.

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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby MEC407 » Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:43 pm

Great photos!
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Re: Return of The Atlantic Limited: An Unrealistic Dream?

Postby gokeefe » Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:29 pm

In the thread I started in the New England forum regarding the new National Monument there were some points regarding the interest of the current Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, in restoring the VIA Rail's Atlantic. I encountered this very interesting Los Angeles Times article from 1987 and wanted to post a link to it here for posterity. According to the article the loss of the Atlantic was an election issue for Pierre Trudeau, the current PM's father. Pierre Trudeau cut the Atlantic and the Los Angeles Times attributed his election loss to this policy change in particular. It makes for fascinating reading and the fact that the Trudeau family political history has ties to the fate of this train certainly makes me wonder all that much more what could be in store for the future:

CP Rail's "Atlantic" passenger train became a political issue in Canada's last election. Then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau's government discontinued the passenger trains through Maine in November, 1981, as result of a cutback in funding for Via Rail, which, like Amtrack, operates in the red.

In his campaign, Progressive Conservative candidate Brian Mulroney promised that if he were elected prime minister he would restore the "Atlantic" passenger trains. Following his election, the trains were placed back in operation in June, 1985.


There are also some interesting details regarding passenger counts and other common uses for the train by Maine based residents:

The exact publication date for this article is listed as February 11, 1987.

It was around 9 one recent evening, and the westbound "Atlantic"--operated by Via Rail, Canada's version of Amtrack--was light, only six coaches with 60 passengers. The U.S. immigration and customs officials boarded the train to check passengers' documents.


In Maine, the passenger trains stop at Vanceboro, Danforth, Mattawamkeag, Brownville Junction, Greenville and Jackman. People from Maine take the trains to St. John and Montreal to shop and vacation in Canada, where the exchange rate favors Americans.

Many baseball fans in Maine will hop the CP Rail train at night, sleep on the way to Montreal, where the train arrives at 8:30 a.m., take in an afternoon baseball game of the National League's Montreal Expos then catch the evening train home to Maine.
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