Canadian Trip Booked

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

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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby Tadman » Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:22 pm

Thanks, all, for your input. I am so looking forward to this trip.
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby northcornice » Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:43 am

The adjacent airport is still used, but no longer for passenger service except chartered planes.

This airport has been closed since November 30, 2013. It is being redeveloped into medium and high density housing.
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby Tadman » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:08 am

https://scontent-sea1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/ ... e=5A54E1F3
https://scontent-sea1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/ ... e=5A4EC8B7
https://scontent-sea1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/ ... e=5A3FF704

https://scontent-sea1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/ ... e=5A121C95

So a few things on the trip:

1. The food was awesome, and the diner staff was excellent. Somehow the diner chairs are not fastened to the floor per FRA regs, it's a wonder Canada hasn't disappeared into a black hole of danger. Or maybe the FRA is a swamp that needs a bit of draining.

2. The 1950's vintage rolling stock has mostly been completely rehabbed and is in great shape. Some of the duplex rooms and sections are a bit worn, but not grubby by any means.

3. RE the duplexes and sections, I have no idea why Amtrak doesn't do this. Most Amtrak roomettes are only occupied by a single person, with a section you could really boost revenue and passenger miles with relation to car-miles.

4. It was not a cheap trip - $500US for lower section, 24 hour ride.

5. The Edmonton station is in the boones and cabs were a bit tough to get, especially because CN had us 3 hours late. It would be nice if a coach bus met the train and ran to downtown and/or the airport. I would pay $50 extra to avoid the uncertainty of "will I get a cab in a foreign land at 2am?".
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby electricron » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:00 pm

Tadman wrote:The Edmonton station is in the boones and cabs were a bit tough to get, especially because CN had us 3 hours late. It would be nice if a coach bus met the train and ran to downtown and/or the airport. I would pay $50 extra to avoid the uncertainty of "will I get a cab in a foreign land at 2am?".

How tough was it? Did everyone needing a ride find one?
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby marquisofmississauga » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:37 am

northcornice wrote:
The adjacent airport is still used, but no longer for passenger service except chartered planes.

This airport has been closed since November 30, 2013. It is being redeveloped into medium and high density housing.


Thanks for the update. My last several times through Edmonton have been e/b on a late train so I didn't know the airport was closed. It used to be amusing watching planes coming in low over the Canadian while we walked the platform.
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby northcornice » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:05 pm

I took "The Canadian"July of 2013, where balloons and small planes were still taking off, and August of 2014 when it was closed and they were tearing up the runways.
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby Tadman » Tue Sep 26, 2017 3:22 pm

The trip went well. It was a bit late - 3 hours - into Edmonton, but whatever. I didn't expect anything better. We didn't really get behind until central Alberta.

What I don't understand is all the complaints on the internet about "this train is always so late into Toronto and I didn't like that". Obviously nobody is riding this as timely transport, so why complain? Via clearly states it will be late and not to have same-day connections. How can one complain about a hazard they've clearly been warned about?
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby bdawe » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:40 pm

I stumbled across this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jmVFvL3vjQ from 1955 on CP's Canadian

I got a bit of a kick out of one of the taglines : The oldest route; the newest trains

Today, of all the long distance trains in North America, I believe today's Canadian is The newest route; the oldest trains, the last regularly scheduled long distance train using almost entirely streamliner-era equipment running over CN's amalgam of of the Grand Trunk Pacific & Canadian Northern routes, which were the last transcontinental routes to be completed (later than the Western Pacific by a few years)
B. Dawe's map of routes and urban populations https://brendandawe.carto.com/viz/80b9d ... /embed_map NOW updated with 2016 Canadian Populations
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby electricron » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:55 pm

bdawe wrote:I stumbled across this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jmVFvL3vjQ from 1955 on CP's Canadian

I got a bit of a kick out of one of the taglines : The oldest route; the newest trains

Today, of all the long distance trains in North America, I believe today's Canadian is The newest route; the oldest trains, the last regularly scheduled long distance train using almost entirely streamliner-era equipment running over CN's amalgam of of the Grand Trunk Pacific & Canadian Northern routes, which were the last transcontinental routes to be completed (later than the Western Pacific by a few years)

While it is a scheduled train, it’s frequency is terrible. What is it at now, twice a week starting October 14?
Will you consider it a regularly scheduled train if it falls to once a week? My point being it is not a daily train. To me, that’s an irregularly scheduled train.
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby bdawe » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:56 pm

twice a week is pretty regular. Even once a week is an event that happens with regularity

What isn't regular is, say, the Rocky Mountaineer, which departs Vancouver for varied destinations on an irregular, seasonal schedule. Trains depart on particular dates, rather than so many times per week or per month.
B. Dawe's map of routes and urban populations https://brendandawe.carto.com/viz/80b9d ... /embed_map NOW updated with 2016 Canadian Populations
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby Tadman » Mon Oct 23, 2017 1:53 pm

I have a real beef with all the online reviews complaining about how late the Canadian is. If you're travelling and in need of timely connections, WestJet or Air Canadia is happy to help you, and for far less money than Via. If you're travelling for the view, you can take the Canadian and treat it as a vacation. When Via notes clear as a bell to arrange connecting travel the day after one arrives, and then one ignores that, it seems pretty stupid to complain about a late train.

On the flip side, Via could make some serious coin by packaging train trips with shuttle to hotel, hotel room, and flight home. For example, last time I arrived in Edmonton at three hours late, the late hour didn't bother me. What bothered me was the three taxis to get 50-ish people downtown. 50 happens to be about the capacity of a coach bus. Why Via couldn't hire a coach bus and charge us an additional $15-25 to get downtown is beyond me. Would be a decent money maker and remove the ambiguity of arriving in a strange town at the quietest possible hour. If they had a shuttle-hotel-air package for the casual traveler/vacation person, it would not only remove the ambiguity but would make the trip on time even if the train wasn't.
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby vermontanan » Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:08 pm

Tadman wrote:I have a real beef with all the online reviews complaining about how late the Canadian is.


It's amazing how many people give the "Canadian" a "pass" just because of its equipment and on board service. Shouldn't it have some semblance of on-time performance? The train has lost ALL reason for existing, i.e. no utility. The train operates only two or three times per week, and has snuffed out nearly all ridership to intermediate communities due to high fares and a restrictive policy that basically prohibits spontaneous travel. Not that there is any - the train operates so late that few actually consider it viable public transportation.

Here's an interesting comparison to the Empire Builder, which each trip operates only 99 miles less than a "Canadian":
https://wawa-news.com/index.php/2017/08 ... ss-canada/

The "Catch 22" of the lateness of the Canadian is, that if you're boarding at an intermediate point, you can really have no idea when the train will show up, and neither does VIA. The reason is that the train is carded for only 34 MPH average speed eastbound and 32 MPH westbound. Therefore, if not massacred for freight train interference, it has the potential to make up a lot of time en route (about 16 hours westbound Toronto to Vancouver), but it usually just gets later.

Train 2 which departed Vancouver November 24 is currently about 15 hours late. To be fair, it was delayed some due to derailment congestion in British Columbia, but still has lost time elsewhere on its pokey schedule. Even though the train only operates twice a week, VIA keeps no equipment or personnel in Toronto to operate a westward train on time when the eastward train is late. Therefore, the Tuesday evening November 28 version of train 1 is already looking to depart sometime November 29. This has been a commonplace occurrence all year. Why VIA insists on a 12-hour turnaround of equipment on a train that is never on time is puzzling. To put the performance of the Canadian in perspective this summer and fall, in the amount of time it takes for an average VIA train 2 to make the trip from Vancouver to Toronto, Amtrak operates THREE Empire Builder trains from Seattle/Portland to Chicago.

But again, I know many defend the "Canadian" due to its equipment and services. But given its lack of utility, as word of the increasing and recurring level of its unreliability continue, what arguments will proponents of the train use to urge continued funding? It's easy to have one's eyes glazed over by 1950s streamlined equipment, but the reality is (using the data supplied by Mr. Gormick in the link) that supporting a service like the Empire Builder is infinitely easier. Both the Empire Builder and Canadian cost about the same to operate, but the Empire Builder operates about three times as often and carries over 5 times the passengers. In October, the Empire Builder (endpoint) was on time about 76 percent of the time. In September, it was nearly 90 percent, better than Acela. In addition, Amtrak provides its patrons with genuine station facilities (lighted, heated waiting areas, most with restrooms, and some staffing) at most of its boarding locations, something VIA (even west if Winnipeg) doesn't. Many VIA stations, even where VIA once built its own station such as Biggar and Wainwright, are now just "sign posts"; i.e., no platform, no shelter, no nothing. And basically no presence in the community to garner a sense of place and customer support as in the case along routes like the Empire Builder.

So indeed: Ride the "Canadian" while you can, because its raison d'être is diminishing. Fast.
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby NS VIA FAN » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:43 am

vermontanan wrote: It's amazing how many people give the "Canadian" a "pass" just because of its equipment and on board service.

I have yet to feel like I wanted to bail mid-trip on the Canadian (or any VIA train) like I have on the CZ and Empire Builder (if alternate transportation had been available in Havre MT....I probably would have!) And it was all due to the crew: Passengers caught in the middle of a dining car crew dispute and a very militaristic conductor. (Amtrak should get rid of their conductors as VIA did and have customer orientated Service Managers who know how to deal with the public instead of being on some ego trip)
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby mdvle » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:23 pm

Tadman wrote:If you're travelling for the view, you can take the Canadian and treat it as a vacation. When Via notes clear as a bell to arrange connecting travel the day after one arrives, and then one ignores that, it seems pretty stupid to complain about a late train.


Why should unreliability be acceptable for a vacation?

How many would take cruise vacations if the cruise lines told the customers that they couldn't say when the ship would dock?

How long will the Prestige Class be a viable product (given it costs C$10,000 for 2 people) given people paying the sort of money generally are going to expect reliability?

And finally, why should a customer have to book (and likely pay for if they have no phone/data access at the correct time to cancel) a hotel room because the service is unreliable?

I have sympathy for VIA given that the problems are out of their control - but they really should be approaching CN and the federal government and telling them unless things get fixed then the Canadian needs to be cancelled.

The problem for VIA is that their prospective customers don't differentiate between the Canadian, Ocean, and the corridor - all they hear is that VIA is "late again", thus making the corridor less attractive given the "reputation for being late" that VIA has online (not to mention making it more difficult to get political support and funding). Thus VIA needs to sort out the Canadian one way or another.
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Re: Canadian Trip Booked

Postby Rockingham Racer » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:42 pm

If VIA tells CN that the Canadian needs to be canceled, I'll bet you a dollar to doughnuts that CN would be ecstatic to get this pesky passenger train off their rails. That is not a good strategy, IMHO.
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