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 Tadman
 
Today I saw a pic of the Canadian. I've long noticed it's a very long train. I tried counting the consist, specifically the consist coach/sleeper/non-rev car ratio. It seems there is a high sleeper:coach ratio. What are the purposes of the coaches, shorter trips around western Canada? Does the train carry much of that crowd? And are the sleeper passengers usually end-to-end cruisers or are there many genuine travelers using the train in a more utilitarian fashion?

I ask because we discuss a lot of this type of questions in the Amtrak forum, and it would be interesting to know a bit more about the flagship train up north.

Thanks!
  by dowlingm
 
The length of the train is in part because of VIA cutbacks similar to the reduction of the Ocean schedule, combined with opposition by Rocky Mountaineer to VIA running a more frequent schedule over the most popular part of the route, west of Edmonton. This causes operational issues in Toronto because the train cannot be wyed at the yard, so having arrived via CN Bala/Metrolinx Richmond Hill, it must proceed up the Metrolinx Barrie line, reverse onto the CN York sub and proceed from there to the Bala sub.

The train passes through quite remote areas of Ontario so there is a rural transportation to the train in part. From the first to the last Ontario stop (Toronto and Rice Lake) is 30hrs travel time.
http://www.viarail.ca/sites/all/files/m ... _40-41.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Like US LDs, freight en route is up which is causing schedules to lengthen.
  by marquisofmississauga
 
The usual summer-season consist - which runs from late April or early May until late October - includes two or three coaches and 10 to 14 sleepers. The minimum winter consist includes one or two coaches and three or four sleepers. I have not included the Park car in the number of sleepers, although it is a half-sleeper.

I have been riding the Canadian at least once a year since 1968, although not always the entire length of the route. In recent years I have been taking it to or from Vancouver once a year, usually in the off-season. My comments are based on my observations and conversation with on-board crew. Most of the coach passengers are travelling one night or maybe two. A minority of coach passengers will travel the entire four-night trip. The majority of sleeper passengers are travelling either the entire route or Toronto-Jasper or Jasper-Vancouver. There is some sleeper business at Winnipeg and Edmonton.

A few years ago CN insisted VIA add a fourth night to the run. This was supposed to help the train operate on time. Lately the time-keeping is atrocious. This, I suspect, will hurt local business at Winnipeg and Edmonton more than the through business. I used to take the Canadian from time to time Toronto-Winnipeg and/or return. I'm unlikely to do that with the current problems in maintaining the schedule. Because the westbound arrival is at 08:00 it isn't a great inconvenience if it arrives a half day late. But the eastbound arrival at 20:45 (with departure for Toronto at 22:30) is a problem when late. The last time I boarded #2 in Winnipeg it was only a few hours late so I was able to board just before midnight. Earlier this year on a Vancouver-Toronto trip we didn't arrive in Winnipeg until 04:00. Some arrivals have been even later in the morning. This does nothing to encourage local business. There have been occasions when Edmonton passengers have been boarding in the middle of the night. Because of late-arriving #2, the Toronto departures are frequently delayed until after midnight. It's rather sad when passengers not only don't what time they will board or arrive but what day!

On my March trip we arrived in Toronto about 16 hours late. I was travelling on points from the VIA Preference programme. VIA doesn't advertise this anywhere, but if the trains are late there are "late train credits" for those travelling free on points as well as those on paid tickets. Some or all of the points will be returned on request. Because my train was so late I was given back all of the points. So I did very well, but many others who had rail or air connections in Toronto had major disruptions to their plans.

Except for the uncertainty of the schedule, the Canadian continues to be a splendid train. The food and service are very good. But its best to take the train for its entire route and make no plans whatsoever for the day of arrival.
  by jp1822
 
marquisofmississauga wrote:The usual summer-season consist - which runs from late April or early May until late October - includes two or three coaches and 10 to 14 sleepers. The minimum winter consist includes one or two coaches and three or four sleepers. I have not included the Park car in the number of sleepers, although it is a half-sleeper.

I have been riding the Canadian at least once a year since 1968, although not always the entire length of the route. In recent years I have been taking it to or from Vancouver once a year, usually in the off-season. My comments are based on my observations and conversation with on-board crew. Most of the coach passengers are travelling one night or maybe two. A minority of coach passengers will travel the entire four-night trip. The majority of sleeper passengers are travelling either the entire route or Toronto-Jasper or Jasper-Vancouver. There is some sleeper business at Winnipeg and Edmonton.

A few years ago CN insisted VIA add a fourth night to the run. This was supposed to help the train operate on time. Lately the time-keeping is atrocious. This, I suspect, will hurt local business at Winnipeg and Edmonton more than the through business. I used to take the Canadian from time to time Toronto-Winnipeg and/or return. I'm unlikely to do that with the current problems in maintaining the schedule. Because the westbound arrival is at 08:00 it isn't a great inconvenience if it arrives a half day late. But the eastbound arrival at 20:45 (with departure for Toronto at 22:30) is a problem when late. The last time I boarded #2 in Winnipeg it was only a few hours late so I was able to board just before midnight. Earlier this year on a Vancouver-Toronto trip we didn't arrive in Winnipeg until 04:00. Some arrivals have been even later in the morning. This does nothing to encourage local business. There have been occasions when Edmonton passengers have been boarding in the middle of the night. Because of late-arriving #2, the Toronto departures are frequently delayed until after midnight. It's rather sad when passengers not only don't what time they will board or arrive but what day!

On my March trip we arrived in Toronto about 16 hours late. I was travelling on points from the VIA Preference programme. VIA doesn't advertise this anywhere, but if the trains are late there are "late train credits" for those travelling free on points as well as those on paid tickets. Some or all of the points will be returned on request. Because my train was so late I was given back all of the points. So I did very well, but many others who had rail or air connections in Toronto had major disruptions to their plans.

Except for the uncertainty of the schedule, the Canadian continues to be a splendid train. The food and service are very good. But its best to take the train for its entire route and make no plans whatsoever for the day of arrival.
The Canadian should have NEVER given into the CN requested schedule change, as this had no benefit to the train. Scenery was best when on the three night schedule - should the train be on time. Amtrak gave into the UP schedule change of the Sunset Limited years ago, and only recently did it finally get changed back to what it should be. Whether the Empire Builder's schedule is completely overhauled to allow for continued delays (as opposed to just a temporary schedule) remains to be seen. I hope it doesn't and BSNF just works to get the freight moving better with the addition of sidings and double track.