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 bdawe
Someone bringing up the topic of upgrading legacy railways for fast passenger service, much like the NEC, or British Rail mainlines, caused me to think about the Toronto-Montreal corridor. In my curiosity, I downloaded a number of old passenger schedules to try to figure out what direction passenger schedules have gone over the years.




These images represent the time of the fastest, slowest, and the average time of day trains between Toronto and Montreal over the corridor main line, along with scheduled average speeds

(edit: updated with more old timetables)
  by mdvle

One question, not being familiar with the past, has the number of stops remained the same over the decades or is VIA now serving fewer stops?
  by bdawe
Fewer stops than in the 50s, but the fastest trains have started making more stops in recent years. A few years ago the fastest TO-MTL express made 1 stop. Same with the turbos of yore.

I find it interesting that much of recent development has been the slowest and fastest trains converging more than anything
  by mdvle
Regarding the fastest trains becoming slower, might that be VIA deciding that schedules with no slack in them are too unreliable given the delays by CN, and so they are better off with a slower but more accurate schedule?
  by bdawe
mdvle wrote:Regarding the fastest trains becoming slower, might that be VIA deciding that schedules with no slack in them are too unreliable given the delays by CN, and so they are better off with a slower but more accurate schedule?
That is the case, as far as I understand. VIA was not granted rights to CN property similar to Amtrak in the states, and are rather more at the mercy of CN's freight. Though they still manage a fairly brisk schedule for a mixed North American corridor
Probably.....what we know today as the Toronto-Montreal Corridor had it's beginnings on October 31, 1965 with the end of the jointly operated CN-CP 'Pool Trains'.

Since the mid 1930s.....Passenger train schedules and equipment between Toronto & Montreal, Toronto & Ottawa and Montreal & Quebec City were 'Pooled' and jointly operated by CN and CP. Tickets were honoured by either railway on the Pool Trains. (Note Montreal – Ottawa trains had not been part of the pool agreement)

On October 31, 1965......the very pro-passenger CN launched their new Rapido: 4 hr/59 min for the 335 miles between Toronto and Montreal (via the Kingston Subdivision) It became very popular....often running in sections.

CP took on this competition with their new Stainless Steel and Domes....The Royal York w/b to Toronto and Chateau Champlain e/b to Montreal….named for the CP Hotels in the respective cities.

Consists of the new CP trains included Budd Stainless Steel Coaches, Dining Car, Skyline Dome Coffee Shop and Park Car Dome Observations. There were also Parlour Cars converted from the Stainless Steel Coaches. The trains ran on CP’s Belleville and Winchester Subdivisions via Trenton and Smiths Falls…..taking 5 hrs/45 min for the 340 miles. But the faster CN Rapidos and lower fares were just too much……so after less than 3 months the new Royal York and Chateau Champlain were gone……ending all CP passenger service between Toronto and Montreal.

At that time CN did not operate any passenger trains between Toronto and Ottawa. This was exclusive CP territory and with the end of the pool agreement in Oct 1965 service was drastically reduced to a single RDC ‘Dayliner’ run each way between Toronto and Ottawa (via Peterborough) and an RDC from Ottawa connecting with the Royal York/Chateau Champlain at Smiths Falls. Particularly missed were the overnight trains between Toronto and Ottawa. (a far cry from the 9 trains each way today!)

Now with the Royal York and Chateau Champlain gone......CP also ended all passenger services between Ottawa and Toronto.

With the Board of Transport Commissioners approval....CN now had to somehow hammer together an Ottawa to Toronto route. They had an old freight only Canadian Northern route between Ottawa – Smiths Falls – Napanee and the new CN daytime trains started using the Ottawa – Smiths Falls segment in mid January 1966. At Smith Falls, CP granted running-rights so CN could continue on down to Brockville to connect with their Montreal - Toronto corridor trains. This is essentially the same route VIA’s Ottawa – Toronto trains still use today and now VIA owned.

CN’s new Ottawa – Toronto overnight train started in mid February 1966 but it didn’t run via Brockville. Upon reaching Smiths Falls ….it stayed on the old Canadian Northern route to a jct with the Kingston Sub at Napanee... then continued onto Toronto.

CN and CP also went their separate ways between Montreal and Quebec City. CP basically maintained their previous schedules but CN now had their recently launched (1964) Champlain (using the ex Reading Railroad Crusader equipment) on a fast 3hr/10min schedule via Drummondville and again.....VIA's Corridor route today.

So after October 1965 and up until the launch of VIA there was....
CN: Toronto - Montreal 
CN: Toronto - Ottawa
CN: Montreal - Ottawa
CP: Montreal - Ottawa via Rigaud
CP: Montreal - Ottawa via Motebello
CN: Montreal - Quebec City via Drummondville
CP: Montreal - Quebec City via Trois Riviere
  by ExCon90
Thanks for that history. Really handy to have all that in one place.
  by SemperFidelis

Would you be able to add information for the blank axis, such as hours and minutes or mph/kph?

If the information is there or was added later and I somehow missed it, please accept my apologies.

I just feel the surly ghost of my math teacher yelling at me once again, reminding me that the graph lacks labels and, as such, is incomplete and would be more useful with the information added.

Thank you!
  by bdawe
time is in hours, speed is in miles per hour