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 marquisofmississauga
CPRTim wrote:
marquisofmississauga wrote:Then there is VIA's occasional short-turning of the Canadian in Capreol. I've seen passengers furious with VIA when facing a 266-mile bus trip when they have paid a small fortune for a first-class train ride.
I was on one of these bustitutions a couple of years ago but in the opposite direction. We actually arrived into Toronto ahead of the Canadian’s schedule due to the buses faster road trip time. The majority of us were First Class “Silver & Blue” passenger and were well compensated for and accepted the minor inconvenience of a bus ride the last few miles of what had been a great trip across the country. Sure there were a couple of complainers who thought it beneath them to have to take a bus but they were told by the rest of us to lighten up and accept the adventure of travel. I’m sure VIA would rather have run the Canadian through to Toronto if it had been possible. But the bus ride was fast and comfortable on a modern highway coach and appeared to be no big deal to the vast majority involved.
Most bustitutions between Capreol - Toronto and v.v. have nothing to do with emergency situations. It's almost always a case of VIA management not wanting to be bothered running the train because it's inconvenient. In the course of my many travels I've had occasion to meet several VIA managers and I asked one once (in a friendly manner) why VIA is so quick to discontinue a train and put people on buses. His response was: "Because it's the easiest and cheapest thing for VIA to do." The majority of passengers who have paid over $2,000 (peak season, incl. tax) for their one-way trip on the Canadian are not concerned with their "social position" in having to take a bus for many hours. They are concerned about being arbitrarily denied their private-room accommodation, their gourmet meals in the art deco dining car, the dome, the lounge and all other aspects of a comfortable journey - including having a place to put your legs and feet.

Buses are a horror for anyone taller than the four-foot-eight for which their seats seem to be designed. I take bus trips several times a year (usually the bus/ferry connection between Vancouver and Victoria or GO buses to and from the end of the train service) but anything over an hour is a misery to be endured only in a real emergency. VIA's "bus credit" policy, excerpted below, makes no mention of the fact that they may discontinue a train for no reason other than the fact it is late.
* * * * * *
"Trains replaced by buses

In exceptional circumstances (e.g., when track works cause a section of track to be taken out of service), buses may be used to ensure connections between one or more of our stations. For the portion of the trip made by bus, we will grant you a travel credit equal to 50% of the rate (taxes not included) you would have paid to travel the same distance by train. In Sleeper class, the travel credit is equal to half the price you would have paid in Comfort class (Economy).

Only the segment of your trip travelled by bus will be considered."
* * * * * *
The passenger loads on the Canadian are falling rapidly for a variety of reasons. Imagine what would happen if VIA was telling prospective passengers: "Oh, by the way, if the Canadian is late it will be annulled at Capreol and you will complete your journey by bus." The Kamloops-Vancouver portion of the route used to get a lot of bustitutions, but that is now rare. Even the Capreol busing is becoming rare. The Canadian is usually allowed to proceed to Toronto, even if means arriving at 0400 or 0700. Over the years I've met many passengers on other trains who have been treated to a bustitution in a non-emergency situation. You can be sure when they get back to Europe or the US they are going to tell everyone about their experiences, both positive and negative. VIA doesn't need the bad publicity.

It is hoped that with new schedule the Canadian will arrive on time more often. But that, of course, depends (mostly) on CN.
  by marquisofmississauga
jp1822 wrote: ...Why such a weird time of 9:42 a.m. for arrival into Vancouver? Toronto arrival is 9:30 a.m. Would have expected similar for Vancouver.

I thought VIA was still able to maintain an extra trainset in Vancouver year-round - even with the longer consist? Toronto only during off-season. Is this still the case? I'll be venturing out on the Canadian in late August it looks like - for an eastbound run, which I've only taken once before. Typically I only travel westbound. Seems they are definitely running more Chateau sleepers this summer, as they were trying to sell me a single bedroom in a Chateau car, and I definitely prefer a single bedroom in a Manor series car. I know it's most Manor series sleepers in the off season, and a mix in the peak season.

But I thought maybe the Chaleur, running separately from the Ocean this 2008 peak season may get an extra Chateau sleeper or two. And occasionally they added one to the Ocean (adjacent to the Park Car). Not sure if this was for special group arrangements or perhaps a "crew" car. The inventory doesn't really show such for the Ocean in peak season with Easterly Class.
One has to wonder where they come up with arrival times for a thrice-weekly train. Westbound, Winnipeg will be 8:01 a.m. This isn't Europe where such precision is necessary and actually means something.

Vancouver keeps an extra set of equipment, although in reality it is not kept as a back-up as it was originally but cycled into the regular runs. So even if #1 arrives on time into Vancouver (I was 20 minutes early last Nov.) the other set will be used for that day's departure of #2. With the new schedule, the turn-around in Vancouver is two days and one night on two of the consists and three days and two nights for the arrival on Mondays. Even with the "extra" set, in peak season there are sometimes not enough sleepers or diners or Skylines for a complete consist, so if #1 arrives significantly late #2 will depart late because it will have to wait for some equipment from #1.

Because passenger loads are falling on the Canadian, some sleepers, previously assigned on this summer's Canadian, are being pulled from service. I have a friend whose family was booked in a Chateau drawing room for a July trip. That car will no longer be operated and they have been re-assigned to another car - no drawing room - so it must be a Manor sleeper.

There are extra Chateau sleepers being operated on the Chaleur this summer, as is usual. We have a booking for an August trip and I'm told each of our trains has four sleepers. The eastbound trip had all its rooms sold out two and a half months in advance.
  by David Benton
To my mind , if youre going to extend it , you might as well make it into a minitour .
Take out the padding , and have even longer stops in places such as Jasper , Edmonton , and Winnipeg . then provide tours or other attractions in these places . Afterall , the Canadian is now a tourist train , it does not provide everyday transportation .
The deal with the railoroad would be , run the train ontime and youve got these stopovers to get your trains past etc .
  by jp1822
I would have expected the Chaleur to get a boost in ridership to some extent with its new schedule and separate running from the Ocean during peak season this year. Perhaps it will be getting some extra Chateau sleepers - as it should if a trip 2+ months out are sold out already.

The August consist that I am for the Canadian is still maintaining Chateau cars. Between the Park Car and the Manor series sleeper that I am in are at least two Chateau sleepers.

I think the summer travel season in general this year will be low, not only for VIA, but airlines, car etc. as most people are not going to travel with the higher gas rates and higher rates that are likely going to take affect on airlines, let alone the currency issues. I woud expect a significant drop in US residents vacationing in Canada this year with the dollar being nearly equal.

I have not heard of any bustitutions from Capreol on the Canadian in recent months. And as mentioned the bustitution from Kamloops to Vancouver is not needed with the extra pasesenger cars in Vancouver now. I would expect VIA to still have a fair number of Skyline Dome cars though. They only operate now on the Canadian and Chaleur. I think the Park Cars are very under utilized at present (or especially during off peak season). Swapping the Skylines out from the Skeena train and adding the Park Car there a few years ago was certainly a wise move. That was prior to the Totem Deluxe class coming into play.
  by SimplySam
Happy New Year! Has anyone on this board ridden the Canadian since the change to the 4 night/3 day plan on Dec 1st? Would love to hear what you thought. I am thinking of booking a trip in May. Also can anyone comment if the triple bedroom is worth the extra $$$ for a party of two? Ridden in regular (double) bedrooms on Amtrak but I have never seen or ridden in a triple. For one night I wouldn't waste the money but for 4 nights I wonder...

  by DonPevsner
(1)The triple bedroom is well worth the extra cost for a party of two UNLESS the two qualify for the Senior Companion Fare, which saves each person 37.5%. For this fare, at least one person has to be at least 60 years of age, with two passengers traveling together. This special fare is valid only in Double Bedrooms and Roomettes. As there is only one Drawing Room (in the Park car) on the train, unless Chateau sleepers are used (in peak summer months only), VIA always sells this room at full price way in advance, as it's the only room with two lower beds. I used to ride in Drawing Room A in the Park car each winter, until the Senior Companion Fare made it too costly by comparison. Now I ride in a roomette, as does an old friend who is a fellow CPR fan.

(2)I will ride "THE CANADIAN" Eastbound from Vancouver to Toronto from January 23-27, 2009. I'll see new areas of Canada by daylight, such as Saskatoon-east, and miss others like
Hornepayne-Capreol. The 3-hour dwell time in Winnipeg is scheduled from 8:30-11:30PM, but Winnipeg will be an icebox on January 25th. Plus, I am not sure whether the adjacent
"FORKS" complex is even open that late on a Sunday night. I'll probably read a good mystery book after a great diner dinner, in the observation car or in my nice, warm roomette.
Last edited by DonPevsner on Thu Jan 01, 2009 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by 3rdrail
I think that over 4 nights, you might appreciate the extra space. Can you tell me what the consist is for this Canadian ? FP-4- w/Budd Stainless ? I'm trying to find a FP-7A set pulling the Budds, such as their #1400. I may do the Royal Canadian Pacific, which looks like a tremendous journey.
  by DonPevsner
From past experience, the consist in late January is:

2 standard VIA diesels
1 baggage car
1 coach
1 Skyline dome lounge car
1 diner
2 "Manor" sleepers
1 "Park" dome observation car

All Budd cars from the CPR 1954-55 order, and all stainless-steel. Sometimes there are 2 coaches and/or 3 "Manor" sleepers, which bring the total number of cars from 7 to 8 or 9.

The "Royal Canadian Pacific", as I recall, costs close to $5,000 a berth. In sharp contrast, "THE CANADIAN" costs only about $800 all the way from Vancouver to Toronto, v.v., on the "Senior Companion Fare." As 10 excellent meals are included, this remains one of the best travel bargains in the world. Note, however, that the "Senior Companion Fare" is not available during the peak summer months, when the regular fare is far higher than the off-season fare as well.
  by 3rdrail
That is indeed a bargain at that price (and even more so, I would assume when the American dollar bounces back !) That being the case, I may wait the three years to age 60 ! :( While you get the older F's on the Royal Canadian Pacific, you don't get the classic "Canadian" stainless Budd equipment of the 50's, so, in spite of the gorgeous heavyweight equipment, it's a trade-off for some (including myself). Looking forward to 2012 !
  by labaienordique
Here is a comparison chart between the old & new canadien train schedules:

2005 --- 2011
09:00 - 22:00 Toronto
11:08 - 00:40 Washago (difference: +32 minutes)
12:58 - 02:42 Parry Sound (difference: +12 minutes)
15:58 - 05:13 Sudbury Jct (difference: -29 minutes)
16:35 - 05:38 Capréol AR (difference: -12 minutes)
17:00 - 06:08 Capréol DP (difference: +5 minutes)
19:20 - 08:53 Gogama (difference: +25 minutes)
22:58 - 13:51 Oba (difference: +1 hour, 20 minutes)
00:25 - 14:40 Hornepayne AR (difference: -38 minutes)
01:00 - 15:20 Hornepayne DP (difference: + 5 minutes)
03:15 - 17:49 Longlac (difference: +4 minutes)
09:05 - 23:39 Sioux Lookout AR (no time difference)
09:25 - 00:09 Sioux Lookout DP (- 10 minutes)
15:45 - 08:00 Winnipeg AR (difference: +1 hour, 31 minutes)

Old duration: 1 day, 6 hours, 45 minutes
New duration: 1 day, 10 hours

2005 --- 2011
16:55 - 12:00 Winnipeg DP (difference: +2 hours, 50 minutes)
14:05 - 13:00 Jasper AR (difference: +3 hours, 50 minutes)
15:30 - 14:30 Jasper DP (difference: +5 minutes)
07:50 - 09:42 Vancouver AR (difference: +2 hours, 52 minutes)

Old duration: 1 day, 15 hours, 45 minutes
New duration: 1 day, 21 hours, 42 minutes

I will add the eastbound trip later as well as a comparaison of the correspondences (whether they are beneficial or not in regards to the delay).
  by labaienordique
Interesting that the travel time between Washago & Toronto has increased. Also, there is now a 40 minute break in Sioux Lookout & 35 minutes in Hornepayne. I'm also intrigued that the Canadien is scheduled to arrive at the exact same time as the Algoma Central service at Oba.

22:30 Winnipeg (DP)
23:35 Elma
23:56 Brereton Lake
00:13 Ophir
00:17 Winnitoba
00:22 Rice Lake
00:31 Copelands Landing
00:35 Malachi
00:39 Ottermere
01:00 Minaki
01:29 Redditt
01:46 Farlane
02:21 Canyon
02:51 Red Lake Road
03:41 Richan
05:02 Sioux Lookout (AR)
05:42 Sioux Lookout (DP)

07:07 Savant Lake
07:27 Flindt Landing
07:42 Allanwater Bridge
08:27 Collins
09:48 Armstrong
10:29 Mud River
10:33 Ferland
11:13 Auden
12:28 Nakina
13:03 Longlac
13:33 Caramat
14:23 Hillsport
15:35 Hornepayne (AR)
16:10 Hornepayne (DP)

17:10 Oba
19:10 Elsas
19:58 Foleyet
21:43 Gogama
22:02 Westree
22:38 Ruel
22:44 Felix
23:12 McKee's Camp
23:23 Laforest
00:18 Capréol (AR)
00:48 Capréol (DP)

01:17 Sudbury Jct
04:33 Parry Sound
06:49 Washago
09:30 Toronto (AR)
  by Tom6921
I have never seen the Canadian with less than 3 "Manor" sleepers.
DonPevsner wrote:From past experience, the consist in late January is:

2 standard VIA diesels
1 baggage car
1 coach
1 Skyline dome lounge car
1 diner
2 "Manor" sleepers
1 "Park" dome observation car

All Budd cars from the CPR 1954-55 order, and all stainless-steel. Sometimes there are 2 coaches and/or 3 "Manor" sleepers, which bring the total number of cars from 7 to 8 or 9.

The "Royal Canadian Pacific", as I recall, costs close to $5,000 a berth. In sharp contrast, "THE CANADIAN" costs only about $800 all the way from Vancouver to Toronto, v.v., on the "Senior Companion Fare." As 10 excellent meals are included, this remains one of the best travel bargains in the world. Note, however, that the "Senior Companion Fare" is not available during the peak summer months, when the regular fare is far higher than the off-season fare as well.
  by marquisofmississauga
In recent years three Manor sleepers has been the minimum, and in winter there is often an extra dead-head sleeper ahead of the Park car as protection in case one of the regular cars has mechanical problems. But many years ago two sleepers was normal in winter, even when the CPR operated the train in the 1970s. Once the upgraded "Silver and Blue" service commenced in 1992 the minimum was three sleepers. But if the passenger loads are very light one of the sleepers (car 23) may be taken out of service even though it won't be removed from the consist. Passengers booked in that car will have to be re-assigned to another. This happened to me once in December 2002.
  by Highball
This was the consist of Train # 1 December 27th, 2011, leaving Toronto.........

Units 6448 / 6434

Baggage Car No. 8602
Coach 8130
Coach 8101
Skyline 8507

Diner 8407 Emerald
Sleeper 8338 Rogers Manor
Sleeper 8337 Osler Manor
Sleeper 8335 MacKenzie Manor
Sleeper 8336 Monck Manor
Sleeper 8334 MacDonald Manor
Park 8718 Yoho