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 XC Tower
 
I'm not sure of what possible limitations are written into VIA Rail's "Charter" or "Founding Agreement", but are there ways possible to be put into practice which would reduce the sudsidy costs? I know that Amtrak tried hauling mail and parcels before the David Gunn era, but there was a down side to that as it was stopped with all the high-speed equipment cars sold off.
Years ago, I did hear another suggestion of renting or selling advertising space aboard the cars on the train, which sounded plausible without huge capital outlay to do.
As I've written before, I agree with Mr. Gunn's words that no passenger rail system can exist without a subsidy, but perhaps less of one may sell in these days of fiscal restraint and finacial fear, where the demands on government funding are even stronger.
In any event, hearing what others have to say on this subject should prove interesting.



XC Tower
  by dowlingm
 
What metric are you using to determine that VIA subsidy needs reducing?
  by XC Tower
 
No offense intended. I apologize by being misleading in my statement and question(s). Honestly, I feel that VIA's subsidy should be increased. The idea of bringing in revenue by carrying mail, on-board advertising would be a supplement to the subsidy, which could possibly garner public and political( Yes...that word again..) support for VIA and other passenger rail services in Canada. My feeling is that the future of a passenger rail system in Canada, a steel thread that binds a nation, rolling between Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, is gloomy at best. Actions speak louder than words. What I've seen in Canada lately troubles me with the dropping of ONR's "Northlander", along with all the VIA cutbacks. The cuts in 1990 were a watershed in VIA's future and national network. What has and is about to happen over this and the next two years is critical for maintaining even a core national system. In whatever small way I can help to support VIA Rail is my hope and goal.




XC Tower
  by jp1822
 
Well it would seem that VIA has some "extra stainless steel ex-CP Budd cars," as a resut of the reduction of various services. Amtrak on the other hand is in NEED of such cars for its long distance day and overnight services. I've long supported VIA and Amtrak working together. Although Amtrak doesn't have a lot of money to throw around, perhaps it could lease some of the cars VIA has that are in excess right now.

Although Amtrak is supposed to get a Viewliner II order to help its situation, it still has funding hurdles to overcome. Here's a chance for Amtrak to potentially add cars to its consist - particularly sleepers - where they know demand exists. Logistics and what routes - I don't know. But things seemed to have started with the Amtrak Adirondack taking on VIA cars this week from Albany to NYP. Cross Platform change is not enticing, but in my opinion, VIA's equipment is a welcome relief to the Amfleet service that is offered on the Adirondack, particularly with a VIA Park Car Dome operating!

Question is - can Amtrak and VIA work together with some sort of lease on the equipment for certain routes. VIA gets money for loaning out the cars it doesn't need for a given time, and Amtrak makes incremental money (hopefully) due to the demand of passenger rail it is seeing. It appears the equipment IS compatible if done right - as we have now learned and seen with the Adirondack service using VIA equipment.
  by dowlingm
 
Given the restrictions on Budds going into NY Penn (thus the Adirondack transferring at Albany this week), I can't see a VIA consist being of any help to Amtrak with the possible exception of operating some Cascade services at times of year when Superliners normally stand in. Even then choices VIA made like removing sanding from the locos and the way HEP is wired mean their equipment is not as free to roam in FRA land as one would wish. Perhaps if the ex-Amtrak LRC cars were available VIA would have the option to provide sets to Adirondack on a more regular basis while continuing to maintain them in Montreal, but that option is probably too far past at this point.
  by jp1822
 
dowlingm wrote:Given the restrictions on Budds going into NY Penn (thus the Adirondack transferring at Albany this week), I can't see a VIA consist being of any help to Amtrak with the possible exception of operating some Cascade services at times of year when Superliners normally stand in. Even then choices VIA made like removing sanding from the locos and the way HEP is wired mean their equipment is not as free to roam in FRA land as one would wish. Perhaps if the ex-Amtrak LRC cars were available VIA would have the option to provide sets to Adirondack on a more regular basis while continuing to maintain them in Montreal, but that option is probably too far past at this point.
If the International was still operating between Chicago and Toronto, this could possibly open up additional possibilities. However, I would still think the Midwest Corridor could use VIA equipment - particularly in Michigan and even Illionois.

I think some more clarification needs to begotten on 3rd rail clearance issues south of Albany and into NYP cause I am not sure if this applies to all "Budd" cars (coaches, sleepers). Clearly a dome can't operating into NYP. But if a long term relationship is formed between VIA and Amtrak, the Lake Shore could potentially be a candidate for VIA equipment. The issue resides more with the size of the retention tanks "clearing" the third rails, but perhaps this could be modified. The bigger picture is that this would free up three long distance train sets that could help add cars to other cars on east coast overnight trains.

VIA has surplus long distance equipment that Amtrak is short of and in need of. This could be used on the "day trains" or overnight trains. I am still worried about funding issues to get the Viewliner II order complete. Thus it would be interesting IF VIA and Amtrak could work together.

And by the way, I've done the cross platform change (literally) between the train that brought us up from NYP and the trainset of the Adirondack that would bring us to upstate NY and Montreal. I've done this more than once and with family member in tow with luggage and all. It was NOT the worst thing possibe even in 30 degree weather, as opposed to 50 to 60 degree weather in the Albany area of recent. I was actually glad to do the cross platform change as we didn't have to wait for an engine change and once all were boarded we were OFF and running! Pittsburgh is a disaster with the change of trains between the Pennsylvanian and the Capitol Limited. It's a change of trains and layover.

We know Amtrak can't expand without equipment. Well VIA's got the equipment NOW - is there a way that its equipment could tide Amtrak over till funding comes through for additional rail cars in the future.
  by MACTRAXX
 
jp1822 wrote:
dowlingm wrote:Given the restrictions on Budds going into NY Penn (thus the Adirondack transferring at Albany this week), I can't see a VIA consist being of any help to Amtrak with the possible exception of operating some Cascade services at times of year when Superliners normally stand in. Even then choices VIA made like removing sanding from the locos and the way HEP is wired mean their equipment is not as free to roam in FRA land as one would wish. Perhaps if the ex-Amtrak LRC cars were available VIA would have the option to provide sets to Adirondack on a more regular basis while continuing to maintain them in Montreal, but that option is probably too far past at this point.
If the International was still operating between Chicago and Toronto, this could possibly open up additional possibilities. However, I would still think the Midwest Corridor could use VIA equipment - particularly in Michigan and even Illionois.

I think some more clarification needs to begotten on 3rd rail clearance issues south of Albany and into NYP cause I am not sure if this applies to all "Budd" cars (coaches, sleepers). Clearly a dome can't operating into NYP. But if a long term relationship is formed between VIA and Amtrak, the Lake Shore could potentially be a candidate for VIA equipment. The issue resides more with the size of the retention tanks "clearing" the third rails, but perhaps this could be modified. The bigger picture is that this would free up three long distance train sets that could help add cars to other cars on east coast overnight trains.

VIA has surplus long distance equipment that Amtrak is short of and in need of. This could be used on the "day trains" or overnight trains. I am still worried about funding issues to get the Viewliner II order complete. Thus it would be interesting IF VIA and Amtrak could work together.

And by the way, I've done the cross platform change (literally) between the train that brought us up from NYP and the trainset of the Adirondack that would bring us to upstate NY and Montreal. I've done this more than once and with family member in tow with luggage and all. It was NOT the worst thing possibe even in 30 degree weather, as opposed to 50 to 60 degree weather in the Albany area of recent. I was actually glad to do the cross platform change as we didn't have to wait for an engine change and once all were boarded we were OFF and running! Pittsburgh is a disaster with the change of trains between the Pennsylvanian and the Capitol Limited. It's a change of trains and layover.

We know Amtrak can't expand without equipment. Well VIA's got the equipment NOW - is there a way that its equipment could tide Amtrak over till funding comes through for additional rail cars in the future.
DM and JP: I believe one reason that the VIA equipment can not enter NYP is that the Park domes do not clear the overhead catenary...
I feel that it is good strategic move to have riders change trains at ALB to keep the VIA equipment closer to Montreal...
When Amtrak operated the Super Dome car ALB-MNT it was switched on to the Adirondack at Albany with the engine change...

When I first heard about VIA equipment being used I thought at first it meant both the Adirondack and Maple Leaf would be operating to ALB
with dedicated connections ALB-NYP...In that case four VIA trainsets would have been needed to protect these runs...The Adirondack will
benefit from having those Park cars on its scenic route-especially along Lake Champlain...

Using the 10 former Amtrak LRC cars has precedence-while the International was still in service Amtrak and VIA equally pooled equipment and
those cars regularly ran to Chicago...Spotting them was easy because the windows were different than VIA's LRC's - a two-pane window instead of
one large one that the VIA cars had...

A good start would be to use VIA equipment on the Maple Leaf when it is necessary...as many know that train runs exclusively with Amfleet...
I would like to know if for example the Renaissance equipment would have any clearance issues coming into the US but the problem with those is
if they are compatible with any of Amtrak's equipment or locomotives...and perhaps can Amtrak maintain them if it is necessary...

I am all for further partnerships between Amtrak and VIA and because of unfortunate cutbacks in service some VIA equipment is now becoming
available for some expanded train service...Amtrak should use this extra equipment to their advantage...

MACTRAXX
  by CHTT1
 
The reason the VIA cars cannot be used south of Albany is that there is equipment on the bottom side of the cars which will not clear Metro-North's third rail. The dome, of course, would not clear Penn Station, but even the coaches can't enter NYP.
Can the LRC's be used at the high level platforms? I believe there are also mechanical differences. The lRC cars tested by Amtrak were never used by VIA due to the mechanical differences.
As far as the Renaissance equipment, I don't if it can pass U.S. crash requirements.
Talk of using VIA equipment on Amtrak is interesting for rail fans but I doubt if it will ever happen on anything but an emergency basis. Because of mechanical differences, the fact that maintenance facilities would have to be fitted out with replacement parts, crew training, etc., I don't think it will happen.
  by jp1822
 
I am surprised it happened AT ALL even with the current Adirondack case.

There were a lot of rumors circulated about how VIA equipment could not be used on Amtrak's system. HEP compatability was always the first to be thrown out there, then the lack of retention tanks. The later VIA has had for a while, and it appears the HEP issue can be overcome.

So I am not going to say never on this one given that Amtrak knows VIA has extra equipment it could use for its demand, now more than ever!

What coaches can't clear the third rail, and what the remedy exactly would be has yet to be clearly defined as some of the HEP I and HEP II cars are former Amtrak cars to begin with (yet modified and upgraded by VIA over the years)! I've heard its the largeness of the retention tanks that were added that would not clear the third rail in Metro North terrirtory. But again, no specifics.

Without the retention tanks, VIA coaches....and probably sleepers would clear into NYP as they are the same height as the Amtrak Heritage equipment that was operated for years into and out of NYP - even on the Empire Connection that was built in the 90s.

The dome cars could not fit due to height - tunnels and catenary would come in contact with the domes to make them convertibles. That's a known fact and reason why Amtrak's Great Dome is added/dropped at Albany.

I've heard that the Renaissance equipment would never clear USA's FRA guidelines.

Again, I think it is very interesting that Amtrak has even entertained VIA equipment operating on its routes - the Adirondack most logical and Maple Leaf next logical. The Maple Leaf operated with VIA equipment before on emergency basis in the past ONLY.

Be that as it may, what Amtrak really needs is overnight long distance equipment - Budd sets for say the Lake Shore Limited. I'd encourage Amtrak and VIA to think outside the box if they can, as I am more interested in being able to book a sleeper on the Lake Shore Limited at any time I needed to, rather than going out to "railfan." My goal is to use Amtrak for transportation means, offering good service, and seeing the system grow so I can get to more places by train rather than flying or driving.
  by NeoArashi
 
Doesn't Via Rail already do mail carriage on some routes? I'm fairly sure that the Montréal-Senneterre route do that for small villages/settlements (I know they do, or used to do that for people of Weymont)