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 Sir Ray
OK, bit of a sensationalist (opinion) article from Railway Age, with a deceptively innocent title:
Canada to Create Separate Railway for Corridor HFR
Well, nothing too dramatic there., but then...
Transport Canada confirmed Oct. 31 that state corporation VIA Rail Canada has been shunted aside from its own project to construct and operate an electrified “High Frequency Rail” (HFR) service along the Corridor linking Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto—the only profitable route VIA currently covers.
Another snippet from the article:
Deprived of the Corridor traffic, VIA Rail would be left only with its money-losing regional and national services,
This would kill VIA Rail’s commercial viability and eventually the provision of any publicly owned passenger rail beyond the Quebec and Ontario Corridor
As I said, sensationalist, but what do others think?
  by electricron
The HFR was planned to use the old CP single track rail corridor west of the existing CN double tracks line VIA uses currently. The idea that an electrified corridor on a rebuilt CP rail corridor was going to be significantly faster than the existing CN corridor seems foolish to me, if using the same trains traveling at the same average speeds. Slowdowns due to increase freight traffic on a congested double track line should be about the same as slowdowns experienced with congestion on a passenger only single track line, which of course will not be passenger traffic only with local freight trains providing local services.
Meanwhile VIA still has access to the CN tracks and lines.
It will be interesting to find out who will be replacing VIA rebuilding and operating trains on the old CP corridor, if anyone?
  by eolesen
Are there any restrictions on CP operating these services?.... It's their track.
  by Dayliner381
There is certainly angst among VIA stakeholders, especially organized labor, regarding the possible new organizational structure. Nevertheless I think it is premature to predict the end of VIA entirely. However, it is certainly true that any future Canadian government could change VIA at will, as it is a Crown Corporation established through Order in Council

HFR is a build/ operate/ transfer project. If it goes ahead there will be private sector investment, but also significant public funding through the Canadian Infrastructure Bank, and I think it is safe to say, substantial ongoing public subsidies. The successful bidder would eventually become the operator with the newly established VIA subsidiary the owner. The operating contract would be analogous to Bombardier's role operating most GO Transit trains. It is simply too early to determine how the service would be marketed, and what would be the future of the VIA brand.

As far as the CP route is concerned, the majority of the old Ontario and Quebec Railway was abandoned it the 1970s. The idea is to return it to service as a passenger-only line, potentially electrified, under public ownership. CP has recently single tracked their route on the in-service mileage east of Perth Ontario, and if the HFR follows this alignment it would likely do so as a separate structure adjacent to the remaining CP mainline. In any case the background information makes it clear that land acquisition would be the responsibility of the Canadian government not the private sector investment partner.
  by Gilbert B Norman
This action establishing a new entity to operate the 716 (highway) miles of "what could be considered as counts" is simply indicative of that the "VIA as we know it" cannot be sustained.

I think it safe assumption to note The Canadian's tour business will not return to pre-COVID levels. As I've previously noted, a guided tour need be carefully choreographed considering the various providers involved. If an integral part of such a tour is The Canadian , and such is so unreliable to arrive within its 40% schedule padding over when introduced during '55 (or thereabouts), the tour operators will simply do without.

Another factor is how much more Europeans, owing to the significant devaluation of the Euro, must pay for travel by any mode.

Furthermore, VIA's equipment is in even more need of replacement than is Amtrak’s.

All told, a day of reckoning is at hand, and the most expedient way to wipe the slate is to dissolve the existing VIA.

Now I will acknowledge - and in fact know so first hand - there are established communities whose only access is by rail (my "first hand"; Kapitachuan Club, QC along the CN's Canadian Northern). However, I would think any such residents simply want a ride to where air or highway transportation is available, and that ride can be provided by self-propelled equipment without Sleepers, Diners, and Domes.