Stainless Steel "Ocean"

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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby electricron » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:41 am

timberley wrote:What I would love to see would be new sleeper equipment built with some of the more modern elements of the Renaissance cars (smoother ride, better sealed diaphragms and vestibules, more en-suite showers, etc), but built to North American standards - i.e. wider and taller cars, at least one other type of accommodation to offer a mid-priced single-person sleeper accommodation, better winterized, etc. Might be dreaming a bit, but the reality is those Renaissance cars aren't going to last forever....they're already having major issues (body corrosion, lack of replacement parts, increasingly expensive to maintain), so I'd love for VIA to be able to look at new long-distance equipment sooner rather than later...

That's not the Canadian way. They "Red - Green" everything, repairing everything to the extremes, before buying new stuff. Even these cream puff Renaissance cars were bought from the second hand market at a handsome discount.

Whatever happen to the 31 sleeper shells never finished, VIA could use them to replace those presently in service as they wear out? Of course, they shouldn't be used to replace the coach cars, but desperation may allow them to do so.

I'm more worried about the slightly older LRC coaches. VIA should buy Talgo train sets to replace them imho. From what I've read, they tested very well on tracks in India - so they should be able to handle the tracks in Canada well too, ;)
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby timberley » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:21 pm

electricron wrote:Whatever happen to the 31 sleeper shells never finished, VIA could use them to replace those presently in service as they wear out? Of course, they shouldn't be used to replace the coach cars, but desperation may allow them to do so.


Those shells sat in Thunder Bay for years, and had all useful parts stripped out of them to replace parts in the rest of the fleet. They finally began scrapping them late last year. For the amount of work that would be required to get any of them into service (it would require basically all parts from existing cars to be transplanted into them), VIA likely eventually decided it would be a better plan to scrap them and get what they could for that value.

electricron wrote:I'm more worried about the slightly older LRC coaches. VIA should buy Talgo train sets to replace them imho. From what I've read, they tested very well on tracks in India - so they should be able to handle the tracks in Canada well too, ;)


The entire Corridor fleet is in need of replacement, and VIA is in the first stages of doing that (planning to replace the LRCs, HEP2s, and Corridor-use Renaissance sets). They got funding last year to start pre-procurement, and had a request for expressions of interest from manufacturers last year. They're now just waiting on the federal government to put up the required funding to go ahead with the procurement process. Some hoped that might have been in this year's budget, but it wasn't yet - though it seems probable at some point in the near future. Part of the issue there is that VIA's specific equipment needs might be tied to whether they get the go-ahead for their dedicated corridor (high-frequency rail) proposal, which is being evaluated right now and expecting a report to the government on that later this year. So we'll see...

In any case, the long-distance fleet has not yet had a comprehensive evaluation in terms of its present status and what refurbishment or replacement plans might need to be.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby timberley » Mon Apr 10, 2017 11:11 am

Reservia currently shows this Wednesday's 14 and next Sunday's 14 as Budd (HEP1) in the system. Oddly, #15 this Friday has not yet been updated to HEP1 (still shows as Ren), nor has next Wednesday's 15. But given that the Budd set will have to return to Montreal once it gets to Halifax, those return components will both have to be run with that set - so just a matter of time before they update.

I'm booked on 15 this Friday and am kind of surprised that I still haven't heard from VIA re: the equipment change, given that my travel is now only 4 days away. Especially since the system has been updated for the subsequent 14 already. My return the following Friday is anticipated to end up as the Budd set as well, so I've wondered if I'll end up getting notified about both parts of my trip at once or if I'll get notified about the return leg later.

*EDIT: Spoke too soon on the first part - as of this afternoon, the system has now been updated to show this Friday's and next Wednesday's 15s as HEP1, so that's good. Now the interesting thing, as a passenger booked on that train, will be to see how long it takes to get notified about it....stay tuned...
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby timberley » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:09 am

Still no email, as of this morning, but I noticed that my car/room assignment updated in my reservation that I can view in the VIA app. I have been changed from a Cabin for 2 with shower to a Cabin for 2 (i.e. bedroom) in the Budds, specifically Bedroom E - which would mean I'm in the single Manor car in the consist, since the Chateaus don't have a room E.

I do wonder if they've bumped everyone to bedrooms, or if some have been downgraded to roomettes. It doesn't look like the train is too busy, because even yesterday (prior to the switch of equipment) there were still lots of rooms available. I'll have to have a look onboard on Friday and try asking around to see if everyone just got swapped at level or what.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby marquisofmississauga » Tue Apr 11, 2017 9:26 pm

Considering my experience you were lucky to get a double bedroom without having to make submissions why you should get what you paid for. This HEP consist has only 15 double bedrooms - in addition to the "twin cabins" and "large cabin for 2" (drawing room) room in the Park car. Some lucky people would get a drawing room in the Château sleepers, but with the service manager and dining car steward normally given a double room each that doesn't leave many for the passengers.

I have to wonder why more Manor sleepers were not used for this consist. Four Manor sleepers would provide 24 double bedrooms, still a lot less than in the four or five Renaissance sleepers normally operated in the off-peak season. Peak season consists for the Canadian start at the end of April and every one of the 40 Manor sleepers will be needed. Right now there are only four or five per consist. There is a line of about 12 Manor sleepers at the Toronto Maintenance Centre and, additionally, there is a spare consist that is switched with the incoming train 2 (except for the Prestige sleeper and Park car). Soon that Manor sleeper from the Ocean will be needed in Toronto and VIA operates Château sleepers on the Canadian on an "as required" basis so maybe some or all of them will head west.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby timberley » Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:23 am

I have to wonder why more Manor sleepers were not used for this consist. Four Manor sleepers would provide 24 double bedrooms, still a lot less than in the four or five Renaissance sleepers normally operated in the off-peak season. Peak season consists for the Canadian start at the end of April and every one of the 40 Manor sleepers will be needed. Right now there are only four or five per consist. There is a line of about 12 Manor sleepers at the Toronto Maintenance Centre and, additionally, there is a spare consist that is switched with the incoming train 2 (except for the Prestige sleeper and Park car). Soon that Manor sleeper from the Ocean will be needed in Toronto and VIA operates Château sleepers on the Canadian on an "as required" basis so maybe some or all of them will head west.[/quote]

I'm not that surprised that I got switched without issue, but one thing worth noting is that I booked this trip with a voucher that would have allowed me to book a double bedroom even if it was a Budd consist from the outset, so I may have been in a different category from others (there was also no discount to offer me for a downgrade). I'll try to find out on Friday what happened with other folks. There's always a chance they could have added more cars to the consist during its couple days layover in Montreal, which could be possible if they were anticipating busier crowds for the Easter weekend (I expect they will at least have a heavier load in coach), but we'll see as it leaves Montreal tonight.

I'm also confused as to why VIA hardly ever runs Manors on the Ocean. The last time we had one at all was in the summer of 2012, when they added one ahead of the Park on a few trains to add extra capacity.

At Christmas time the last 3 years, the extras have been all Chateau. In off-seasons prior to the 2012 cuts, when they ran one Budd set all winter, it was always all-Chateau. I could understand if the Canadian was currently at peak, but especially at Christmas time there are certainly extra Manors available. They do have more bedrooms, as noted, but they're also in much better shape, having all been refurbished in recent years. The Chateaus are really showing their age in many cases.

So what's a little more unusual is that VIA actually used one Manor for this consist, rather than all Chateaus.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby electricron » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:53 am

I'm thinking the more comfortable Manor sleepers would be more appropriate for a multiple night train than the Château with all its single occupancy roomettes. The fact remains the Ocean trip is just a single night while the Canadian trip can take three nights - depending upon how far you're riding it. Therefore, I can understand why the Manor sleepers spend most of their time in Canadian service.
Just as a reminder of VIAs equipment roster Budd fleet.
Manor 40
Chateau 28
Park 14
Skyline Dome 16
Dining 13
Coach HEP 43
Coach HEP2 33
At three trains per week in each direction, with a travel time of 3 days 10 hours per direction (and on time), VIA needs at least 4 train sets to run just the Canadian, 40 Manors allows just 10 of them per train set.

A Canadian consist (May 2004)
F40 (1)
F40 (2)
F40 (3)
Baggage (1)
Coach (1)
Coach (2)
Skyline Dome (1)
Manor (1)
Manor (2)
Manor (3)
Skyline Dome (2)
Diner (1)
Manor (4)
Manor (5)
Manor (6)
Manor (7)
Manor (8)
Manor (9)
Chateau (1)
Chateau (2)
Chateau (3)
Chateau (4)
Chateau (5)
Skyline Dome (3)
Diner (2)
Manor (10)
Manor (11)
Manor (12)
Park Dome Observation (1)
That's one really long train.....
Last edited by electricron on Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby timberley » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:05 am

electricron wrote:I'm thinking the more comfortable Manor sleepers would be more appropriate for a multiple night train than the Château with all its single occupancy roomettes. The fact remains the Ocean trip is just a single night while the Canadian trip can take three nights - depending upon how far you're riding it.


The Canadian is actually a 4-night trip on its current schedule, if you go fully end to end.

There may be something to that - and perhaps VIA has found the roomettes sell better on the Ocean than they do on the Canadian - it just seems odd that there wouldn't be more of a mix, since the Manors do still have 4 roomettes and 3 sets of berths. A combination of the two would offer a more equal splits of accommodation types.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby electricron » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:19 am

When the Ocean trip takes 4 nights too, maybe I can see a better sharing of the Manors.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby timberley » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:05 pm

But that's kind of irrelevant. The Ocean is all Renaissance as a standard, 99% of the time. The only Budd equipped trips are the Christmas extras and these super rare substitutions (this is the first time one has happened outside of Christmas since 2012, when they were still running one set during the off-season and running 6 days per week) - when those Budd trips do happen, the Canadian is running twice a week and shorter trains, so there's no shortage of available Manors.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby marquisofmississauga » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:15 pm

The long consist above is interesting. It has 12 Manor sleepers. Each of the four peak consists normally have 10 each, so if one train has more then obviously another has to have fewer. In the peak season there are no spare Manor cars, Prestige sleepers or Prestige Park cars. It is inevitable at some point something will be bad-ordered. VIA has a warning on their Website about the Prestige Park cars saying that it may be necessary to substitute a non-Prestige Park car. That could be a big problem if the one and only accessible suite is booked.

The twice-a-week service in the off-season requires three consists, but as I said earlier for most of the winter a (almost complete) spare set is kept in Toronto. The line of Manor sleepers I mentioned has been reduced as the Canadian of Tuesday the 11th was longer than normal for this time of year. There were eight Manor sleepers. VIA has responded to complaints from Prestige passengers about the distance between their section and the dining car. Last summer the second diner was immediately ahead of the Prestige sleepers. On yesterday's train there were five Manor sleepers between the Prestige section and the diner. I was told there were some Prestige passengers so it isn't always empty in the off-season.

I am getting off-topic, so I will say I look forward to a report from Tim about his trip on the Ocean.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby timberley » Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:34 am

marquisofmississauga wrote:I am getting off-topic, so I will say I look forward to a report from Tim about his trip on the Ocean.


I'll certainly be happy to report back here about the trip on the Ocean, and I'll also be able to report on the Canadian as well, because I'm connecting directly through to Toronto to depart on Saturday night's #1. This will be my first trip on the Canadian, so I'm very excited about that :D

For anyone keeping track, I finally got a call (not an email) from VIA yesterday to inform me of the equipment change and my new room assignment. I'd already figured it out of course from the VIA app, but I suspect some others were getting their first notification yesterday.

The agent I spoke to had clearly had a long day. She was quite pleased to hear I was happy about the switch, because she said some people definitely weren't. However, she did comment that she found it fascinating how some people absolutely love the Budds and hate the Rens, some people love the Rens and hate the HEPs, and some don't seem to care.

She did note that the main complaint she had been getting was about the lack of a shower in the room, because that was one thing she had to inform people of (if they had a Ren room with a shower). Granted, some of those people might in the long run end up liking other things about the Budds (maybe even finding the shower easier to use...which I've heard from a few people before), but if they're not familiar with the equipment already, I can see how someone would be miffed by being told they were losing one of the amenities they thought they were paying for.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby timberley » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:28 pm

Well, saw pictures of today's 14 coming in and it appears VIA has added 3 cars to the consist, adding an extra coach and 2 more Manors. So there are now 3 Manors and 3 Chateaus (I can report the exact consist tomorrow), which should hopefully mean that most people could be reaccommodated in bedrooms.

The extra length makes sense, since this is the Easter weekend.
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby timberley » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:13 am

Ok, a couple of quick notes on the stainless steel Ocean, now that I'm back from my travels. I may need to start a new thread with a coast-to-coast trip report, as I've got lots to say about my travels on both the Ocean and Canadian. But for the moment, a few Ocean notes:

I was on #15 on April 14th and #14 on April 21st. Both were the Budd set. In each case I got a call 1 to 2 days ahead notifying me of the equipment change. I was originally booked in a Renaissance bedroom (cabin for 2 with shower) and was moved to a bedroom in one of the Manor sleepers. By the time I travelled, VIA had expanded the consist by adding another coach and 2 more Manor sleepers (see below). They also swapped in Tremblant Park instead of Tweedsmuir, which is quite nice since Tremblant is one of the refurbished (non-Prestige) Park cars. I was in MacDonald Manor both ways, in room E and then room B. Both quite comfortable, and the ride was good - no undue rattles.

For those wondering, everyone who was already booked on those trains was re-accommodated in a bedroom, with the exception of a few people who ended up with a Chateau drawing room.

On my westbound trip, there was a good size coach load (around 50 or so people) out of Halifax, but only 4 (yes, four) sleeper passengers. We did pick up more along the way. Apparently the return trip on Sunday was really busy, which was why they expanded the consist - but I was told it was fully sold in the bedrooms, with nobody but crew in other accommodations.

On my eastbound trip, the train was pretty full - there were no deadhead cars, and most of the bedrooms and drawing rooms appeared to be occupied. Crew and some other travelling VIA employees had roomettes. There were no sections or roomettes actually sold, but this isn't at all surprising, because VIA has only been entering the equipment in the reservation system a few days in advance, so unless you booked last minute that wasn't an option.

I was told by a senior manager before I left that the set would definitely be off by the end of April, but on the way back several on board staff said they'd been told it was now extended to the end of May. I guess we'll see.

One other bit to note: despite having a full Budd diner, VIA was still serving the catered Renaissance meals, reheated in the diner's ovens instead. The only exception was breakfast (options of eggs any style or french toast, both of which were superb). This is unlike the Christmas extras, where VIA has done up a special menu for the extra trips and had food cooked on board. From what I understand, VIA's contract with the caterers at either end (the Westin in Halifax, and I don't know who it is in Montreal) meant that it was more straightforward to just continue with the standard menus for most meals than to swap a new menu in and arrange supplies.

The meals were still quite good from Halifax, but supper in particular was pretty disappointing out of Montreal. That may be in part because of experiencing the Canadian in between, but I have also found the meals out of Montreal have generally been a bit less exciting recently.

Aside from that, it was a good trip. I enjoyed the Budd equipment a lot, as usual, and the only people I talked to on board who had anything to say about the equipment were quite happy about the change. On the westbound this included a father and son from New York who came up just to make a down-and-back trip on the Ocean, and had no idea it was going to be a Budd trip - the father was particularly keen on showing his son the Park car, so was particularly thrilled when he realized he'd get to show him the full classic streamliner setup.

Consist for #14 on April 21st:
(lead locos were different on April 14th trip, but 6406 stayed on)

6427
6406
8612 (*previously 8623)
8139 (added to #14 on April 12th)
8140
8138
8505 Skyline
Emerald
Chateau Lasalle
Chateau Bienville
MacDonald Manor (added to #14 on April 12th)
Amherst Manor (added to #14 on April 12th)
Butler Manor
Chateau Dollier
Tremblant Park (switched from Tweedsmuir Park)
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Re: Stainless Steel "Ocean"

Postby marquisofmississauga » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:30 pm

timberley wrote: ...
For those wondering, everyone who was already booked on those trains was re-accommodated in a bedroom, with the exception of a few people who ended up with a Chateau drawing room.
...

I was told by a senior manager before I left that the set would definitely be off by the end of April, but on the way back several on board staff said they'd been told it was now extended to the end of May. I guess we'll see.
...

Thanks for the update. My "group" is going in early May and, if the current rotation is extended in the same sequence, we should get our carefully chosen Ren. bedrooms anyway. There are eight of us and only two are sharing a bedroom. In any event, if we all ended up in double bedrooms on a Budd consist there won't be many complaints except perhaps about the lack of a private shower.

The first run of the three-days-a-week Canadian is Sunday 30th April ex-Vancouver and Thursday the 4th of May ex-Toronto. Normally all Manor sleepers are in service when the increased service starts as four consists are required. If the Budd consist on the Ocean continues into May VIA would have to run the Canadian a bit shorter or operate more Château sleepers on the Ocean in place of the Manor sleepers. It will be interesting.

At this time Reservia is showing the Budd consist departing Montreal on Sunday the 30th of April, but Ren. for the return of that consist on Wed. the 3rd of May. It appears that has not been updated in the system yet.
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