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

Moderator: Ken V

  by vermontanan
Tadman wrote:I mean, look at the consist. It's 2-3 coaches and 20 sleepers sold at prices 50-100% higher than Amtrak sleepers. This is a tourist train. Look at Westjet, they can get you to Toronto or Vancouver in a few hours, not a few days. Buy a ticket and look at the riders. I did it in the off season and they were still mostly tourists, half were from foreign countries. I met Americans, Brits, French, Aussies... That's not a very hard challenge.
As usual, you missed the point. That the train is a tourist train should be intuitively obvious to the most-casual observer. But your statement appears to be that no one should complain regardless of how late the train is. As another poster pointed out, would cruise ships tolerate this type of performance? And if a modicum of performance was not expected by someone, why is there a schedule, and why are there so many intermediate stops? On some level, VIA is advertising a service they do not provide. Despite the likelihood that the reason they advertise the service as they do is political, at some point there will be a day of reckoning.

Again, you missed the point, which was simply that without going to Toronto on the train, you were not in a position to say how the late train would have affected you because you did not go there! Therefore, you have no standing to criticize the others who did have a problem with it, and in spite of your vaulted resume, you have no idea about the travel and business experience of the others you labeled as idiotic.

At latest report, train 2-28 is 12 hours late departing Edmonton; train 1-28 is 18 hours late inbound to Hornepayne. The reality is that these very late trains have to have a negative effect on the operation if for no other reason than the increased costs of recrewing and passenger accommodations. Tadman may think that people who complain about the train being late are idiots, but as the word spreads, and they don't ride again because of it, patronage and revenue can only drop. An untenable situation, but we'll have to see how long it will be tolerated as it is....

Moderator's note: this post has been edited to remove certain personal comments.
  by Mark0f0
NS VIA FAN wrote:
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)
I had such an experience on VIA earlier this year, on The Canadian. It involved dining in the dining car with an Israeli student, to whom another soon-to-disembark passenger had gifted a complimentary meal reservation coupon for lateness. Long story short, the service manager felt that the complimentary dining car meal was non-transferrable, and demanded payment ($32) from the Israeli student. And then proceeded to slap the student when he started recording her with his cell. Service manager then faked calling the head end to have the train emergency'ed (something that would've gotten her severe demerits upon an investigation into her behavior, that the OTS crew couldn't cover up, if she had actually tuned her radio to call the head end instead of being on the OTS channel!). I had pretty good situational awareness and knew we were in the big cell dead zone near Red Pass/Robson, so they couldn't just toss the passenger off as policy requires the RCMP to be called and that would have to be done through RTC -- OTS personnel are not allowed to talk to RTC!

Very disturbing. If I didn't have to be in Vancouver in a timely fashion to undergo surgery, and if it wasn't -25C outside.... The incident was appalling and I (and a number of us) gave the student our contact information and even exchanged cell numbers to ensure that he made it to Vancouver. And I offered to write a letter in support if he wanted to take it up with VIA management.

So make no mistake, VIA does have some issues with crew for whatever reasons. All it takes is one interaction with such an individual to walk away with a very negative perception. There's even a YouTube video that someone posted recently about the complete lack of tact certain power-tripping VIA OTS employees apply when enforcing the prohibition of the Economy passengers entering the sleepers. I can just imagine the same sort of power-tripper going nuts on some 80-year-old booked in the last non-Prestige sleeper on the train who accidentally ends up using the Prestige Park dome which is technically off-limits at certain hours.
  by mdvle
electricron wrote:Of course it slips under the radar. Does the yearly subsidies ever see a glint of light?
Here's a headline from a recent news article:
"Via Rail boosts ridership, cuts operating loss by 12 per cent"
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report- ... e29913520/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
But dig a little deeper into the story, here's some interesting facts that don't jive....

"Via Rail's ridership rose in 2015, helping Canada's national passenger train service cut its annual operating loss by 12 per cent to $280-million.
The Crown corporation said passenger-miles rose by 1.7 per cent last year and revenue climbed by 6 per cent, the first time in seven years both categories have increased.
Total government funding declined to $378-million while on-time performance fell to 71 per cent from 76 per cent, a deterioration Via Rail blamed on the freight railways that own the tracks."

Their operating losses was $280 million, but the Canadian government funded VIA $378 million in total. So obviously VIA spent $98 million on some capital projects. Did VIA buy any new rolling stock in 2015? No, they're still using existing equipment. So where did VIA spend that extra $98 million on? It looks like created accounting imho....
No creative accounting - capital projects aren't just rolling stock purchases.

Given that new article is about VIA's 2015 financial year, the capital expenditures for 2015 (from the 2015 VIA annual report) were:
  • $25.9 million - LRC revitalization
    $ 4.0 million - HEP1 modernization
    $12.8 million - Ottawa-Montreal infrastructure (includes a new siding)
    $ 6.9 million - GEXR upgrade (GO and VIA funded CTC installation on the Silver Jcn->London section)
    $22.3 million - IT - includes reservation system modernization, workforce management system
    $13.1 million - other projects, including purchase of Brockville Sub (Brockville -> Smith Falls 45km)
electricron wrote: Some more facts that don't make sense at all.
"Taxpayer subsidies for every Via Rail passenger were $73 in 2015, compared with $83 in 2014. The subsidies are lowest – $42 – in the Southern Ontario and Quebec corridor. Long-haul subsidies were almost $500 per passenger while regional services were subsidized at $607, Via Rail said in its annual report released on Friday."

Isn't corridor services the same as regional services? Maybe VIA defines regional services differently than Amtrak?
Nope. VIA classifies its services into 3 categories - Corridor, Long Distance, and Regional.

From the 2016 Annual Report this is what VIA calls Regional:
VIA Rail provides passenger service in several rural and remote regions of Canada. Mandated by the Government of Canada to meet essential transportation needs, these trains serve many communities where alternative, year-round transportation is limited or unavailable.
So in 2016 Regional services were:
  • Montréal-Gaspé
    Sudbury-White River
    Jasper-Prince Rupert
  by vermontanan
VIA posts this message when booking space on the Canadian: "While VIA endeavors to operate on time, the realities of increased freight traffic on tracks that we do not own may give rise to significant delays. We suggest that you plan accordingly, such as not arranging connecting transportation on the day of your arrival."

While some might consider this as reason to quell any complaints about late operation, things really don't work that way in real life. Noted TRAINS magazine contributor Fred Frailey is riding VIA train 1 which was supposed to depart Toronto at 1000 PM December 2, but due to late inbound equipment, didn't depart until 1045 AM December 3. Fred is riding all the way to Vancouver, and heeding the warning above, booked an outbound airline flight from Vancouver early Thursday, on the day after the train is scheduled to arrive in Vancouver. But due to the train's late start, and the likelihood that it could get later, he's fretting about missing his flight Thursday (22 hours after the train's scheduled arrival).

On the bright side, the previous train 1 which was supposed to leave Toronto at 1000 PM November 28, but didn't depart until 200 PM November 29 actually made up a bit of time (there is even more fat in the schedule westbound, including more dwell at Winnipeg) so he has a chance of making it. He has blogged about it at:
http://cs.trains.com/trn/b/fred-frailey ... nario.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

--Mark Meyer