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 train2
I have some interest in riding the line to Gaspe. I understand on some trips they short turn the train and it doesn't go all the way to Gaspe. What would observers/riders say would be a real percentage of trips out of the year that have this happen to them?

I would like to ride the entire line and wounder if this happens a lot or infrequently?

What is the good rule of thumb you can share that might help understand when this might happen. By this I mean: "if the train is X hours late at X station look for it to be short turned?"

  by marquisofmississauga
The train formerly known as the Chaleur is likely VIA's most unreliable train. In most cases, it cannot be said to be VIA's fault. The weather is a major factor: "mother nature" sends a lot of rain and snow, causing washouts or an amount of snow that the short-line can't handle. The line is no longer owned by CN and I'm told there is no freight at the moment, so repairs can take a very long time as there is no urgency to effect same. In autumn there can be a problem with leaves on the tracks, but for the last two seasons VIA has rented a CN freight loco to pull the train because VIA's F40s don't have sanders. Two years ago I postponed a trip because a washout of a very small bridge took over six weeks to repair. (Can you imagine it taking that long to do that on a busy CN or CP freight line?) Several months later I postponed the trip again - there were six of us booked - because of yet another problem.

VIA personnel tell me there is no set length of lateness that determines whether the train will be short-turned at New Carlisle, but it seems to be roughly two hours or more. Now, in the 21st century a Canadian train being two hours late is not in the least bit unusual, but turn-around time in Gaspe is just under three hours so this is the reason given for short-turning the train. I have a group of friends who have made it to Gaspe only twice in six attempts. My wife and I have had better luck: we made it twice in just five attempts. Having had advance notice, we were able to postpone two of those trips prior to leaving home. So we have ridden the stinking bus (and I mean that literally) only once. Short-turning can take place at Matapedia. Worse, a couple of years ago the train was replaced by buses all the way from Montreal in one instance when there was an engineer shortage when the Halifax and Gaspe trains were running separately. Another time, due to a problem with the Halifax portion of the train, the Chaleur became the Ocean not too far east of Montreal - Saint Hyacinthe I believe - and therefore the Gaspe passengers were evicted and treated to an overnight bus journey. Not all of the Ocean passengers could be accommodated on the shorter Chaleur, so some of them were probably handled by bus as well.

The line is once again closed beyond New Carlisle because of a land-slide near Chandler. There has been no estimate of its re-opening. Here is a press release:

http://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail ... w-carlisle

It's a lovely little train on a very scenic route, but I won't be booking again any time soon.
  by jp1822
Ironically, know on wood, I have had made four trips on the Chaleur (May/June and Sept./Oct.) and NONE have resulted in a short-turn. Although it does certainly happen, I guess I've been lucky! On one trip we were running close to 2.5 hours late, but some how we made up about an hour's worth of time between Matapedia and Gaspe. VIA did a great job in servicing and turning the train so they could leave Gaspe on-time. I do notice that a LOT of people seem to rely on this line, as it carries a lot of locals to/from the Gaspe penninsula and Montreal. It's a great trip to take - when it goes all the way to Gaspe!
  by BAR
On May 24 through May 27 we completed a four day track car trip from Matapedia to Gaspe and back and encountered no track problems. The VIA train also made it all the way to Gaspe. The line owns three ex CP locomotives which handle its one freight train handling wood chips and lumber for interchange with the CN at Matapedia.