Discussion of Canadian Passenger Rail Services such as AMT (Montreal), Go Transit (Toronto), VIA Rail, and other Canadian Railways and Transit

Moderator: Ken V

A trip last week on the Ocean from Campbellton to Truro certainly reinforces what I’ve experienced lately for ridership. The train had pretty well emptied out by Moncton…..especially the sleepers but a few did board in Moncton for the run onto Halifax.

Other than summer and holidays…..the sleeper market seems to have dried-up out of Halifax …..they’re all on that 1 1\2 to 2 hr flight to Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto…..so perhaps the Ocean should be repositioned as a couple of “Daytime” trains: Halifax-Moncton-Campbellton and Campbellton to Montreal.

Or maybe a Moncton-Montreal run with coaches and a Business Class (VIA1) car? If the track on the ICR is now going to be repaired sufficiently, perhaps the speeds of 20 years ago will be achievable. Looking at the Oceans schedule for 1994, it departed Moncton at 6:45PM and arrived in Montreal at 8:15AM. Advance that by 12 hours and you have a pretty good daytime schedule. Say….depart Moncton at 7AM with an 8:30PM arrival into Montreal. Eastbound…..out of Montreal at 7AM for an 11PM arrival at Moncton. This would give some excellent times at Campbellton, Mont Joli, Rimouski and Riviere-du-Loup compared to the late night or wee hours of the morning that they have now!

An origin/destination survey would be required first as connections at Montreal on a daytime run would be poor or non-existent for anyone continuing onto Ontario…… or perhaps there will be an entirely new market for day trips into Quebec City or Montreal from say Rimouski that would off-set the connecting traffic lost.
  by NH2060
Does VIA have enough spare coach equipment to assemble a Montreal-Moncton day train? And if it were more feasible on that end could a separate Moncton-Halifax train survive on its own? Even as a direct connection to/from the Montreal train?
  by dowlingm
the problem with VIA is that they are not obligated to publish the level of data Amtrak does. Accordingly, it's difficult to know what they can or can't do. It was okay to send 3 leased F59s pulling five coaches up to Jonquiere and Senneterre when a turntable broke a while back (and even normal ops is two F40s because the train splits). The coach refurb programme has dragged on longer than expected while there is a sense that the Feds have decided that VIA has gotten enough cash for now that CN Kingston Sub is upgraded.

VIA is expected to be a luxury train operator, a rural service operator and an intercity operator all at the same time and isn't resourced accordingly. Most people commenting on VIA approach it from only one perspective, and want the other two to be shaved back to expand the bit that works for them. In the case of Ocean, I don't see much improvement there unless QC, NB and NS come to the table with a $ commitment. Instead VIA got caught in a game of chicken between CN and the Feds which almost led to a disruptive re-route.