TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Discussion of Canadian Passenger Rail Services such as AMT (Montreal), Go Transit (Toronto), VIA Rail, and other Canadian Railways and Transit

Moderator: Ken V

TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:34 pm

It is hard to believe, but "rah rah passenger trains" Bob Johnston has penned a "roughshod" of VIA Rail Canada appearing in August TRAINS.

All the usual; poor timekeeping, aging equipment with no replacements in sight, a CEO who "doesn't seem to know how to play the game", even less priority over the CN than Amtrak enjoys on the US Class I's.

So tell this guy, who has not been on a VIA train since 1980, where TRAINS has it wrong.

Or might they be on mark?
Gilbert B Norman
 
Posts: 12899
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:52 am
Location: Clarendon Hills, IL (BNSF Aurora Sub; MP 18.71)

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby NeoArashi » Tue Jul 05, 2016 5:04 am

ironically enough, I think the older equipment VIA uses, albeit more ''shaky'' is far more comfortable than renaissance trains. Although I truly enjoyed my 8 rides (4 round trips) on the ocean so far, I still think the Stainless steel cars to be best, which the Montreal-Senneterre-Jonquiere exclusively use.

I'll give him the poor timekeeping argument though. I understand VIA Rail's poor priority over CN (or CP, on certain routes) but last time I took the Senneterre-Montreal from Sanmaur to Montreal, the train was already an hour late upon arriving in Sanmaur. We ended up almost three hours late, Half an hour being because of the Jonquiere train being late, and the fact that due to a certain law, we had to make a 20 minutes stop... in Montreal-Nord (St-Léonard AMT station) so the engeneers could rest.

SO do the math: Train was 1 hour late, and we ''collected'' 50 minutes of ''lateness'' for understandable reasons. Now, considering we did NOT meet a CN train, how do you explain the extra hour?

Nowaday, even the Corridor has a hard time being on time. And I don't even count 5 minutes as being ''late'' My GF had her train stuck in Drummondville for TWO HOURS due to another VIA TRain (and I was in the following Ocean, which overtook her train), and the Quebec-Montreal train I often (3-4 times per year) take becomes increasingly more late. In fact, I noticed something on the timetables. Because, it took between 2:50 and 3:20 for a QC-MTL trip, now, some train states it takes 3:40 for this trip... Even as a VIA rail fan, almost 4 hours for this trip is a bit much (as there is close to nothing interesting to see) which makes me think I'll do my next QC-MTL trip by bus...
My new big project: Sharing the wonders of Canada with the whole world!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5xxPe ... TH27YLt5AA

Want to become part of it? You can by helping me!
http://www.patreon.com/user?u=211450&ty=c
User avatar
NeoArashi
 
Posts: 164
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 1:55 am

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby marquisofmississauga » Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:31 pm

Although I have not read the Trains article I can comment on the précis that Mr. Norman has given.

I can’t disagree with the comments, but based on my extensive VIA experience (an annual trip Toronto - Vancouver and Toronto – Halifax plus countless trips in the “corridor”) I suggest that the situation isn’t quite as bad as implied.

There is no doubt that every train in the country has a slower schedule than at the end of the last century. This has helped somewhat, but timekeeping needs improvement. But every run of the Canadian is not a day late as some people think nor is every corridor train late as others claim. The Canadian has been doing much better this year than in the previous two years. I haven’t exact statistics, but most westbound runs arrive in Vancouver on time or only slightly late and many arrive early. Arrivals in Toronto are less reliable, but the degree of lateness is less. Of course, that isn’t good enough but at least the situation is improving. My train in April arrived in Toronto almost an hour early. I know someone who was an hour and a half early. For the past few weeks, late arrivals in Toronto have become more frequent – usually three hours.

My last dozen trips in the “corridor” have been mostly on time. Two of the trains were 40 minutes late, two more were about 20 minutes late and the rest were basically on time or no more than five minutes late and two were even five minutes early.

Most of the equipment is old, to be sure, but most of it is well-maintained. The exception is the HEP-2 coaches and VIA 1 cars that were acquired around 1990 from US railways. These 1940s cars should be retired but if they were VIA couldn’t operate as many corridor trains as they do.

The president of VIA is a man who thinks outside the box, but unfortunately most of his ideas are not practical – mainly because of lack of funding. The idea of making all corridor equipment “50-50” seating is not going over well with a lot of passengers. When the LRCs were new they had this style of seating, i.e. half the seats face one way and the other half face the opposite direction. It didn’t take VIA long to respond to the huge number of complaints and turning seats were soon installed. VIA claims that by not having to turn trains or seats it will be quicker for a train to commence its next voyage. A few trains are already running in “push-pull” mode with top and tailed locomotives. The problem is: there aren’t enough locomotives to do this with more than a few trains. Perhaps VIA intends to make come cab cars out of existing equipment.

One aspect of VIA should be remembered and that is the on-board experience is generally very good. Crews are almost without exception friendly and efficient. The Canadian is a splendid train. The overall experience continues to be of high quality. The meals have not been downgraded. The corridor Business Class is a good deal. The meals were downgraded a bit a few years ago (VIA is in denial of this) but there has been some improvement recently. The LRC Business Class cars (formerly VIA 1) have been reconfigured with spacious “2+1” seating that is very popular. Coach fares can be very cheap, especially if purchased on a Tuesday. Even Business Class on some trains is quite cheap considering what you get for it. People who can plan in advance need never pay full fare.

As I said, I haven’t read the Trains article, and I hope it does point out the positive aspects of VIA travel.
marquisofmississauga
 
Posts: 297
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 5:33 pm

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Jul 05, 2016 6:43 pm

marquisofmississauga wrote:As I said, I haven’t read the Trains article, and I hope it does point out the positive aspects of VIA travel.

Unfortunately no, not really. Just lots of doom and gloom, and a veiled call to Canadian readers to get after Prime Model Trudeau for VIA funding and a guaranteed-access agreement a la RPSA '70. Johnston must have skipped the Haterade and gone straight to the Blue Gloom lager.
User avatar
mtuandrew
 
Posts: 4089
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby NH2060 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:31 pm

I don't know why anyone would call VIA's Prez's plans impractical because 1) he has said that true high speed rail is unnecessary, pointless, and too costly and 2) has argued that dedicated tracks -preferably electric- would eliminate conflicts with the immense volumes of freight traffic. Just what exactly is so unreasonable about that?
NH2060
 
Posts: 1442
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:44 pm

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby marquisofmississauga » Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:04 pm

Nothing. I don't think anyone suggests that all the ideas of Yves Desjardins-Siciliano are impractical. Transport Action (formerly Transport 2000) can say it better than I can, but there are many impracticalities and contradictions in this man's ideas. Certainly the point "1" you make is quite true. The previous CEO of VIA, Marc Laliberté, had said the same as have some in government.

As for your point "2" it makes sense. The problem is VIA estimates it will cost $3 billion plus and there is no funding in place for this and no indication it may happen soon. Mr. D-S has suggested the private sector will invest in this. A nice idea, but really this isn't the Eurostar - Channel Tunnel we are talking about here. The federal government has, however, provided a modest amount to study the purchasing of new equipment and a study of a new rail line.

Regarding a new fast line from Montreal to Toronto, Mr. D-S has said that VIA cannot compete with the airlines (mainly Porter) on trips from one end to the other. He has said that intermediate stations are a good source of passengers. Yet a new line could by-pass many population centres. One place for a new line that has been discussed would involve acquiring some of the CPR line and also the abandoned right-of-way between Havelock and Perth. This line would miss the cities of Cornwall, Brockville, Kingston and Belleville. Would VIA maintain two lines between Montreal and Toronto? It is a mystery.

Many of his ideas will require billions in investment, yet he has previously stated that the federal government has given enough money to VIA and he won't be asking for more.

VIA is annoying many passengers with the so-called "50-50” seating, yet despite encouraging people to book on-line they have resisted putting seat diagrams on their booking site. Whenever anyone complains about this VIA's response is that it is coming in six months. I wrote to them about this at least six years ago and was told the same about six months. Because this seating is being phased in, passengers don't know for sure what seating arrangement they will get, although some trains have it on a regular basis. Then there is the refusal to put the new "2+1" Business Class seats in the few HEP-2 antique Business cars. Some trains regularly run these cars so they can be avoided if one is flexible, but when an LRC Business car is bad-ordered a HEP-2 car is substituted and the seating assignments don't match. Those who have paid for single seats are particularly annoyed.

Mr. D-S wants to run shuttle trains between London and Sarnia, yet he has not approached CN about getting track use. As for equipment he says he will transfer the RDCs from the White River train and give that route a conventional locomotive-hauled train. That will no doubt increase the huge losses on that service.

He wants to run local trains between Moncton-Campbellton and Moncton-Halifax. This is a good idea but again, where will the trains come from?

A while back he said he would like to re-route the Canadian through northern Ontario on CP tracks "as soon as early next year" which meant 2016. It was recently admitted that VIA has not even approached CP about this.

Mr D-S has spoken about the importance of the Ocean and the Canadian yet he has said they should not be subsidised because the taxpayers don't subsidise peoples' holidays to Cuba.

I am not a “VIA-basher.” I use VIA a lot and care about it. But I am realistic and look at VIA as a passenger not as a railfan.
marquisofmississauga
 
Posts: 297
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 5:33 pm

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby gaspeamtrak » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:28 pm

Well said "Marquiofmississauga" !!! I I totally agree with you.
I just have one more thing to add.
I wish Via would bring back the café/lounge car like Amtrak has on there trains. I take Via a couple of times during the year between Brantford and Montreal or just Toronto and Montreal and most of the runs are around the 4.5 to 5.0 hour timings. If you travel Toronto /Ottawa/ Montreal you are looking at 7.0 hours or more!
Being stuck in your seat waiting for the snack cart to come along with its crappy cold food is not acceptable to most people. I personally like Amtrak's offering of hot food and a nice place to eat it. I know some of these Amtrak haters will disagree with me.
Just my 2 cents ... :wink:
gaspeamtrak
 
Posts: 143
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 9:16 am

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby electricron » Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:22 pm

I completly agree with you!
While I understand why (money) VIA prefers to follow an airline protocol to serve food at our seats, they have forgotten why many have chosen to ride a slower train vs riding on a faster plane! They are different experiences, and they should remain completely different as far as I am concerned. Golly, if I had wanted to be fed a pre-prepared dinner from a reheating oven at my seat, I would have chosen to ride a plane instead of a train.
electricron
 
Posts: 3903
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:35 pm

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby Matt Johnson » Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:57 pm

I guess those European Nightstar cars weren't such a bargain after all, needing extensive mods for North American operations and apparently already falling apart. Maybe Canada should find funding for Viewliners while the CAF plant in Elmira is up and running, assuming they're finally getting those Viewliners properly built! (I'd really like to see some diners and sleepers roll out of Elmira.)

I also hope they can keep those dome cars in good working order, as nobody has a modern dome car in production
User avatar
Matt Johnson
 
Posts: 3822
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2008 3:57 pm
Location: Hazlet, NJ

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby gaspeamtrak » Mon Jul 18, 2016 8:23 am

You are so right! But then that makes sense why would Via do that???
They will wait till they shut the production down and then get Bomb...to set up a plant here in Canada a few years later and then they will sub-contract it to there Mexican plant and we will be in the same boat as the "TTC" is with there street cars !!! :-D :-D :-D
gaspeamtrak
 
Posts: 143
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 9:16 am

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby dowlingm » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:34 am

Re: London-Sarnia and the RDCs - they have already tested the RDCs on that subdivision so it's slightly more than talk, but no sign of a service start either.
dowlingm
 
Posts: 969
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:42 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby dowlingm » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:49 am

marquisofmississauga wrote:The president of VIA is a man who thinks outside the box, but unfortunately most of his ideas are not practical – mainly because of lack of funding. The idea of making all corridor equipment “50-50” seating is not going over well with a lot of passengers. When the LRCs were new they had this style of seating, i.e. half the seats face one way and the other half face the opposite direction. It didn’t take VIA long to respond to the huge number of complaints and turning seats were soon installed. VIA claims that by not having to turn trains or seats it will be quicker for a train to commence its next voyage. A few trains are already running in “push-pull” mode with top and tailed locomotives. The problem is: there aren’t enough locomotives to do this with more than a few trains. Perhaps VIA intends to make come cab cars out of existing equipment
As I understand, the push pull trains are principally to assist increasing service flexibility to Quebec City, being a dead end station. As for the special snowflakes who won't sit backwards, the technology does exist to speed the process of getting a push pull train facing forward... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSsMO9dzrnI
dowlingm
 
Posts: 969
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:42 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: TRAINS Treats VIA Rough

Postby dowlingm » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:55 am

Matt Johnson wrote:Maybe Canada should find funding for Viewliners while the CAF plant in Elmira is up and running, assuming they're finally getting those Viewliners properly built! (I'd really like to see some diners and sleepers roll out of Elmira.)
Why should VIA prototype a Viewliner 2 coach for Amtrak (even before CAF's issues with delays) when it can take the Brightliner coaches the FEC are prototyping? Also, the VIA call for proposals entails trainsets, not merely coaches.
dowlingm
 
Posts: 969
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:42 pm
Location: Toronto, ON


Return to Canadian Passenger Operations: AMT, Go Transit, VIA, etc.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron