Ken V wrote:You can forget any ideas of joining up with the present day Canadian route west of Thunder Bay.
Not quite. The hypothetical train could continue to Winnipeg, where shortline (CEMR) owns a track that links the CP and CN lines. It could then pull into Union Station and travel along the CN Rivers subdivision to Portage la Prairie, where it could either continue along CN trackage towards Saskatoon or rejoin the CPR line using a preexisting track that takes advantage of the fact that the tracks are parallel in Portage la Prairie and head to Regina.
Yup, that would be the easiest way to rejoin CN tracks, and perhaps the only convenient way. If VIA decided to reinstate the Super Continental, they would probably have to make use of the CEMR tracks and the Portage la Prairie connection.
However, we're assuming that the Super Continental is out of the picture. If The Canadian went back to CP without any replacement, the many roadless communities currently served by VIA on the CN route would (rightly) scream bloody murder. I've pointed out the issues with running a Budd car train on the northern route, namely extreme distance, small capacity (not necessarily an issue), old equipment and seasonally large baggage. So, barring an Ontario Northland train on the current CN route or a full second train, The Canadian is sort of stuck where it is. Having said that, it would be very nice to induce VIA to make a full Toronto-Thunder Bay service.