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 jp1822
So has the Chaleur and Ocean started to run as seperate trains or has the schedule not kicked in yet? If it has kicked in, how are the trains operating? Any better with the timekeeping? The Ocean last year was even having trouble with timekeeping after it had split from the Chaleur at Matapedia (to/from Halifax).

Let's hope VIA does a good job marketing the Easterly Class this year for the Ocean. Unless I read something wrong, it appeared, VIA is going to sell sleeping car space in the Park Car this year to try and get the triple bedroom and possible two double bedrooms sold as a "suite." Are they also going to possibly operate a Chateau car next to the Park Car as a "crew car." I think this was done a couple of occasions last year. It's definitely worth the trip - on the Ocean - with the Easterly Class Learning Experience and Park Car Dome/Lounge in tow.

As for the Chaleur, this train could also be marketed well to add to its patronage and operate with at least two coaches and more Chateau or Manor series sleepers. A full diner and Skyline Dome Car certainly helps make this train complete in peak season!

I've seen passengers just take the train out and back from Montreal to Gaspe - the passengers and train making a same day turn at Gaspe. It's definitely worth the ride for the scenery.

I did note in some areas on my recent trip that the Chaleur did operate a little faster in certain sections. Course the line could still could use some trackwork. We crawled at low speeds over most of the bridges. Beautiful trip along the shoreline etc. out to Gaspe!

And if the Chaleur did indeed operate as a seperate train, perhaps VIA would be open to having a private rail car tacked onto the back. Course "parking" the private car in Gaspe for any extended period may be an issue, so this may be a "same day turn" with perhaps an extra trip on the private car from Montreal to some destination in Canada - or even just a tour in Montreal before or after. I did notice a lot of "trainees" on the Chaleur when I took the train back in May. So it seemed like they were gearing up for possibly adding some cars to the train - perhaps as demand permitted. My trip on the Chaleur was nearly sold out on the way to Gaspe and fully sold out on the way back from Gaspe - at least in sleeper. We could have used the full diner, but the Skyline Dome Car worked out well. I don't know why VIA doesn't try to serve an early lunch on this train to try and get additional revenue (or especially when it may be running a little late to Gaspe). Running as a seperate train, they shouldn't have to short turn the train at New Carlisle.

Be interesting if the Chaleur operated with a Skyline and Park Car if demand warranted it - operating as a seperate train etc.! VIA I think could find a Park Car for the Chaleur. They only need one Park Car for the service and if they are going to try and operate four sleepers and two coaches - it may be well needed. Course they could the car off if there was a private car to be accommodated!
  by marquisofmississauga
The Chaleur is indeed operating separately from the Ocean: from 15 June to 12 Oct. ex-Montreal. Consists have been posted on some sites. The dining car is being operated for the peak season and it is located in the middle of the four sleepers. (Some consists last summer had only three sleepers.) My wife and I and another couple have booked a trip for August. We booked nearly three months in advance and on the "going" trip all rooms were shown as sold out just after we made our booking. We will not do a same-day return. It didn't work well on my two previous attempts at so doing, although the service should be more reliable with the train running separately. It is a beautiful area so hiring a car for our two-day stay seems appropriate. Although the dining car or Skyline is not open for early lunch, the crew will provide a sandwich and salad take-away on request. I have friends who did just that a few weeks ago. They enjoyed their lunch whilst sitting at the station.

The Park car drawing room and suite "C&D" have been sold on the Ocean since last year. Reservia shows them as being available for two persons, even though there is a third berth in the drawing room (officially known as a triple bedroom) and the suite, of course, has two uppers. VIA sent us a 45% discount coupon for Easterly Class on the Ocean, but it is valid only in the regular and deluxe Renaissance rooms. As we aren't fond of the Renaissance upper berths, we splurged on two adjacent rooms at a very reasonable surcharge for a September trip.
  by jp1822
As mentioned it definitely seemed that they were gearing up to add more sleepers to the Chaleur for the "split" train. VIA should certainly watch the bookings so as to possibly add another sleeper as needed. So glad they are operating this train separate from the Ocean for peak season. I didn't realize they were selling Park Car space. I could have sworn on my late June trip last year, no rooms were being sold in the Park Car.
  by marquisofmississauga
jp1822 wrote:As mentioned it definitely seemed that they were gearing up to add more sleepers to the Chaleur for the "split" train. VIA should certainly watch the bookings so as to possibly add another sleeper as needed. So glad they are operating this train separate from the Ocean for peak season. I didn't realize they were selling Park Car space. I could have sworn on my late June trip last year, no rooms were being sold in the Park Car.
You are probably right about June last year. I also was on the Ocean in mid-June, just a few days after Easterly Class started. The Service Manager told me there was a computer problem that prevented the Park car rooms from being sold. That technical glitch was soon corrected, but I don't know on what date the sale of the rooms actually began. But for most of the Easterly Class season they were available - even on Reservia. Only the suite C&D and the drawing room A are being sold. Bedroom B is assigned to the Learning Coordinator (and, presumably, the plastic lobster.)
  by jp1822
So does anyone know how the Chaleur and Ocean are working out operating as two sepearate trains - any interesting delays at Charny (i.e. both trains trying to arrive/depart at the same time)? I would hope the Chaleur has added sleeper capacity now that it is running as a seperate train. I would imagine it is a very unique operation with its coaches, Skyline Dome, Diner and sleepers on the rear.

Likewise the Ocean gaining back its Park Dome Lounge/Car for the Maritime experience, and also selling sleeping space in the car (which was only natural).

Curious as to how the trains are running and if the Chaleur has had to make any short turns. I would assume not if the "road" is clear ahead - even if the train is operating late etc. Some extra time was added on for the turn at Gaspe, and we were early into Gaspe when I took it the last two times. But we were about 45 minutes late last year when combined with the Ocean at peak season. But nonetheless we made it all the wy out to Gaspe and still left on time. On one trip we had about an hour dwell time waiting for the Ocean in Matapedia.
  by Ken V
jp1822 wrote:So does anyone know how the Chaleur and Ocean are working out operating as two sepearate trains - any interesting delays at Charny (i.e. both trains trying to arrive/depart at the same time)?
I guess no news is good news.
I’ve seen the eastbound Ocean a couple of time in the past month since the separate operation has started and on both occasions the train has been about a hour late.

On days a separate w/b Chaleur is running, the e/b Ocean must now meet two trains in “dark” unsignaled territory between Rimouski and Riviere du Loup where before it only had to meet one combined train. (Same in the reverse direction)

Even a separate Ocean is around 20 cars long and still requires double stops at some stations and the heavy on/off summer traffic at some stations takes extra time. The other day at Truro, NS for example, the w/b Ocean arrived ontime but left nearly 15 minutes late by the time all the baggage and passengers were loaded.
  by jp1822
Hopefully VIA has recognized that certain trips of the Chaleur are sold out and an extra sleeper is needed. Is the Canadian running with its peak consist - even in a downward spiral of the US economy in particular. Perhaps all its sleepers are not needed, as much as I wish they were?

Last year they added a Chateau sleeper car adjacent to the Park Dome/Lounge car on the Ocean. Not sure if this was done due to high demand or for a special tour group. Either way, it was interesting to see the mix and match.

Its even too bad the ex-Hudson Bay "Spirit" sleepers couldn't be used in "warmer weather" on the Ocean or Chaleur during peak periods as demand warrants. Does anyone know where these sleeper now reside? I know VIA had difficulty with these cars as they couldn't sustain the "Arctic Weather" so to speak of the Hudson Bay line.

To some extent is it time for VIA to assemble some additional Renaissance sleepers that are stored at Thunder Bay? The Ocean operating with 27 sleeper seems a little low to me - especially with three out of service. Course I realize VIA manages the suply and demand of the Ocean pretty well with its sleeper inventory.
  by jp1822
Saw pictures on another site of the bridge washout that has suspended service on the Chaleur from Matapedia to Gaspe. Essentially this has converted the Ocean into handling the route of the Chaleur to Matapedia and then passengers who were to be on the Chaleur switch to a bus for a continued journey.

- So what's the status on bridge repair? Hopefully this is not the nail in the coffin for this train. VIA - east of Quebec - has really lost a lot of service, particularly in the Maritimes.

- Are they still running a seperate Chaleur train set, with the stainless steel Budd equipment or has the passenger traffic just been combined with that of the Ocean? One bulletin said that sleeper service is not being offered on the Chaleur. But I would think that instead of a separate Chaleur train that was supposed to run, they would just move passengers over to the Ocean and then have them switch to a bus at Matapedia. So I guess the question really is - what train traffic is Matapedia seeing? Just the Ocean or also a Chaleur just carrying perhaps a few coaches and a Skyline Dome car?

Too bad that this occurred right at the peak period for the Chaleur and when it was running seperately from the Ocean. It could have really made a positive impact on ridership if operated during the entire peak period - of summer. VIA had even allocated extra sleepers to the Chaleur during this year's peak season. I was on the Chaleur back in May and they were training extra crew to work this line with the extra sleepers and such - and preparing for the diner operation that has also returned during peak season.
  by marquisofmississauga
It appears from Reservia that the Chaleur is still running between Montréal and Matapédia. The full range of sleeping car accommodation is shown, i.e. upper and lower berths, single bedrooms (roomettes), double bedrooms and triple bedrooms (drawing rooms.) Although shown as a separate train with a different departure time from the Ocean, I don’t know if in fact it is running separately or attached to the Ocean. Perhaps someone in the area can advise us. Coach tickets are still being sold to Gaspé, although there is a notation on the Website that passengers will travel by alternate transportation beyond Matapédia.

Reservia is selling sleeping car space to and from Gaspé starting in September.
  by Ken V
With the earlier announcements by the Province of Quebec and the Government of Canada to provide financial assitance to short lines, including the CFMG which owns this line, I fully expect the bridge to be rebuilt and service on the Chaleur to resume. For anyone interested, here's a link to a photo of the washed out bridge from Le Soleil newspaper in Quebec City.

From other reports it appears that the Chaleur is still running separate from the Ocean between Montreal and Matapedia but I don't know that for a certainty.
  by jp1822
Let's hope they fix it sooner rather than later. Not a good time for this to happen for the Chaleur and travel season to this region of Quebec!
  by marquisofmississauga
It has been reported by a VIA employee on another site that the Chaleur did not depart Montreal on Sunday due to engineers not being available east of Charny. It was reported that buses were used. One can hope that there was some space on the Ocean so at least some of the Chaleur's passengers could travel by train. One question that comes to mind is if there weren't engineers available to run a separate Chaleur, why couldn't the equipment be taken to Matapédia combined with the Ocean as it is most of the year? Without a train going to Matapédia on Sunday, there wouldn’t be one back on Monday. Sadly, the Chaleur is the most unreliable of VIA's services (well, maybe a tie with the Winnipeg-Churchill Hudson's Bay.) A significant amount of taxpayer's money has been spent to purchase part of the Gaspé line to ensure its survival and millions more to do track work. Yet all too often we hear about buses, buses, buses.

Of course, the present bustitution in the peninsula is in no way VIA's fault, but so often the train is short-turned at New Carlisle because it is late or short-turned at Matapédia because there are leaves on the track and no sand on the locomotive, and now we hear about buses from Montreal to Gaspé. I fear for the long-term prospects of this train.
  by jp1822
I called up to confirm a trip I have coming up on the Canadian (which seems to be travelling with a bunch of Chateau sleepers on my day of travel), but any way, I happened to ask about the Chaleur and the representative seemed pretty positive about its future and getting the line back up and running. Course we shall see. Again, too bad this had to happen like this right during peak season when this train really could have been at his prime.
  by Ken V
VIA's Chaleur Service Set to Resume Normal Operation September 3
MONTREAL, Aug. 25 /CNW/ - VIA Rail Canada has been advised by the Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie that work to replace a rail bridge that had been washed out near Pointe à la Croix, Québec (near Matapédia) is nearing completion. Effective September 3, 2008, regular VIA service on the Chaleur between Matapédia and Gaspé is expected to resume.
Canada Newswire report