Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily services?

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

Moderator: Ken V

Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily services?

Postby railgeekteen » Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:40 pm

As much as people rag on Amtrak, most of it's long haul routes operate daily. Why do almost all routes outside of the Toronto to Montreal corridor operate less than daily?
railgeekteen
 
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:42 pm

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby electricron » Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:30 pm

railgeekteen wrote:As much as people rag on Amtrak, most of it's long haul routes operate daily. Why do almost all routes outside of the Toronto to Montreal corridor operate less than daily?

Not enough rolling stock and not enough passengers seems the logical reason.
Like Amtrak's NEC, VIA's corridor services carry most of its passengers.....
Some data to prove that point:
Per https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/v ... 31823.html
From December 18, 2017 to January 7, 2018:
VIA RAIL CROSS-CANADA ROUTES
308,000 passengers (up 9.7%)
Total 100%
QUÉBEC CITY–WINDSOR CORRIDOR
291,500 passengers (up 10.7%)
291,500/308,000 x 100 = 94.6%
LONG-HAUL – EAST (OCEAN)
7,700 passengers (up 1.5%)
7,700/308,000 x 100 = 2.5%
LONG-HAUL – WEST (THE CANADIAN)
4,600 passengers (down 8.2%)
4,600/308,000 x 100 = 1.5%
REGIONAL ROUTES
3,800 passengers (down 13.6%)
3,800/308,000 x 100 = 1.2%

Of course, one could argue that the long haul routes would attract a higher ridership if they ran daily. But at even double the ridership, they would still compare very poorly with the corridor train services.

Speed = distance / time laws of physics are still in effect. Trains attract far more customers when the time needed to travel a certain distance is small. And with trains limited to relatively low maximum speeds, the shorter the distance and time the better trains perform.
I believe the data above proves that point very very well. ;)
electricron
 
Posts: 4237
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:35 pm

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby Mark0f0 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:53 am

In the winter, its ridership. In the summer, trains like The Canadian are running so full that they're basically at the limits of length. There were 30 car Canadians that went out last summer which is basically the technical limitation of HEP system. When they cut in the Panorama car at Edmonton, the train was so long that they were having to pull onto the mainline simply to accomplish the switching move, which would cause a lot of delays with RTC. So the Panorama car, which used to be located at the middle of the train for ease of access to all the sleepers, is now very close to the front so it can clear the switch to the other track.

But if they went to 4X or 5X weekly service, they probably don't have enough equipment, and their staffing costs would be driven up. And CN probably would be a big problem as well as their current infrastructure isn't even able to really properly accommodate the Canadian in its 3X weekly each way configuration. Its basically an incredibly tardy tourist land cruise, not a form of transportation that anyone can rely upon.
Mark0f0
 
Posts: 63
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:19 pm

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby bdawe » Wed Apr 04, 2018 8:50 pm

Let's compare on-line population centres:

Along the route of The Canadian, there are 18 population centres with a population greater than 5,000, summing to a total of 10,220,510 inhabitants (2016 Census). Along the route of the Empire Builder, there are 43 such population centers, with a combined population of 19,531,532
B. Dawe's map of routes and urban populations https://brendandawe.carto.com/viz/80b9d ... /embed_map NOW updated with 2016 Canadian Populations
User avatar
bdawe
 
Posts: 588
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:06 pm
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby NH2060 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 8:56 pm

Don't forget the freight carriers (CN?) allow only a certain number of frequencies on the Corridor services hence the real need for a dedicated set of tracks for only passenger services. Amtrak owns most of the NEC and therefore can run as many trains as capacity and demand warrant.
NH2060
 
Posts: 1503
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:44 pm

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby bdawe » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:14 pm

For another comparison, the City of New Orleans sees 25 5,000+ population centres with a total population of 11,444,167, but this corridor is done in less than a day while the Canadian takes 4.

The Canadian averages 34 miles per hour. The Builder and the CONO make a more reasonable 47-50 mph.
B. Dawe's map of routes and urban populations https://brendandawe.carto.com/viz/80b9d ... /embed_map NOW updated with 2016 Canadian Populations
User avatar
bdawe
 
Posts: 588
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:06 pm
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby Mark0f0 » Thu Apr 05, 2018 12:48 am

NH2060 wrote:Don't forget the freight carriers (CN?) allow only a certain number of frequencies on the Corridor services hence the real need for a dedicated set of tracks for only passenger services. Amtrak owns most of the NEC and therefore can run as many trains as capacity and demand warrant.


Yeah dedicated tracks probably isn't going to/can't happen. VIA probably will get their line between Toronto and Montreal built eventually, by cobbling together legacy rail corrridors and a little bit of new construction. A few daily CN and CP trains will be swapped from the existing Corridor to the VIA track. VIA will thus be able to increase its utilization of the existing Corridor without building any more stations or infrastructure. A few non-stop Toronto-Ottawa/Montreal services will use the VIA tracks.

Even the NEC isn't 'dedicated' by any stretch of the imagination and has significant freight operations, even if significantly owned by Amtrak.
Mark0f0
 
Posts: 63
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:19 pm

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby NS VIA FAN » Thu Apr 05, 2018 12:37 pm

On a per capita basis.....VIA carries more passengers per year than Amtrak does. (Canada’s population is a bit more than 1/10th that of the United States)

In 2017
VIA: 4 million passengers (Canada’s population: 37 million)
Amtrak: 32 million passengers (US population: 328 million)

There might me a case for an ‘Intercity’ type service with more frequency on the Canadian’s route across the prairies. But with little population through northern Ontario…the Winnipeg passenger is more likely to just board a plane for a 2 ½ hour flight to Toronto instead of a 2 day train ride.

On the Ocean’s route….the majority of passengers are boarding between Moncton and Montreal. Halifax passengers are just on a plane for the 2 hr ride to Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto vs: 24 to 28 hrs on the train. Again….an intercity type service with more frequency along the Ocean’s route especially between Halifax and Moncton (and maybe onto Saint John again someday!) would probably attract more passengers.

Moncton – Montreal could easily be done as a daytime trip…..but the problem here would be arriving in Montreal in late evening with no connections available for those passengers continuing onto Ottawa and Toronto. Same problem eastbound. A train would have to depart Montreal before any connecting services would arrive.
User avatar
NS VIA FAN
 
Posts: 929
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 11:51 am

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby bdawe » Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:52 pm

It seems that if one wanted to make a big investment in intercity rail in the Maritimes it would have a lot of potential - the rights of way connecting important cities are reasonably straight the trains just don't go very fast.

The main draw back just being that there aren't that many people in the Maritimes
B. Dawe's map of routes and urban populations https://brendandawe.carto.com/viz/80b9d ... /embed_map NOW updated with 2016 Canadian Populations
User avatar
bdawe
 
Posts: 588
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:06 pm
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:37 pm

VIA could do worse than multi-daily Edmonton-Calgary service too, if Jean-Luc can manage to jawbone Keith into track access.
User avatar
mtuandrew
 
Posts: 4812
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:59 am
Location: the Manassas Gap Independent Line

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby NS VIA FAN » Fri Apr 06, 2018 4:02 am

bdawe wrote:The main draw back just being that there aren't that many people in the Maritimes

Up until the big VIA cuts in January 1990….the Maritimes had an extensive ‘Intercity’ type service with several RDC runs connecting to and supplementing the Ocean and Atlantic ‘long-distance’ trains.

Today there are nearly a million living in the 450 km (275 mile) ‘corridor’ linking Halifax-Moncton-Saint John-Fredericton with a good population density compared to other areas of the Maritimes. Although these cities are linked by 4-lane Freeway (a section in Nova Scotia is a Toll-way).....they are also linked by good, well maintained track which could lead to the reestablishment of an Intercity type service (track to Fredericton has been cut back to Fredericton Jct…south of the city)

VIA has already indicated they want to reestablish an Intercity service linking Halifax-Moncton-Campbellton…supplementing the Ocean on days it is not running.

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=161211

VIA is also proposing a commuter rail service in Halifax:

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=163000

On my numerous trips riding the Ocean from Halifax….and at times other than on Holidays and in the Summer…. frankly there are just not many in the sleepers until Moncton. The coaches seam to do well with a lot of students and locals.

IMHO…The Ocean (in the off-season) could easily be cut-back to Montreal-Moncton with connecting trains providing a better, more frequent service between Halifax and Moncton and maybe someday on to Saint John again.
User avatar
NS VIA FAN
 
Posts: 929
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 11:51 am

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby Tadman » Sat May 12, 2018 5:53 pm

Keep in mind that other than the USA, long distance trains don't always run daily. Argentina has a 1-2x/week standard for their true long distance trains to Cordoba, Tucuman, and Bariloche. The Moscow-Paris sleeper runs 1/week. Even the Calley skips a day on Saturday nights. I'm not an expert on the Chinese LD trains so I don't know the standard there, nor Russia.
Tadman
 
Posts: 8800
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:21 am

Re: Why does Via Rail operate so many less than daily servic

Postby marquisofmississauga » Sun May 13, 2018 7:17 am

The most luxurious train I have have ever travelled on in terms of food and accommodation is South Africa's Blue Train. It normally runs once a week in each direction between Pretoria and Cape Town. Occasionally there is a second weekly trip. On our first trip 40 years ago it ran twice a week for a good part of the year.

The reduction from daily to tri-weekly operation of the Canadian occurred on 15 Jan. 1990 as a result of the government's 50% cut to VIA service. Other trains' frequencies were reduced at the same time. Further cuts were made to the frequency of the Canadian and the Ocean in 2012.
marquisofmississauga
 
Posts: 324
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 5:33 pm


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

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest