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 Dieter

Temporary replacement of the Matapedia / Gaspé train by bus services

Thursday, 22 December 2011

MONTREAL – As a preventive measure, VIA Rail Canada will redirect passengers on board the Montreal / Gaspé train service onto motorcoaches for the Matapedia / Gaspé leg of the trip, in both directions. VIA has taken this decision, in consultation with the Société des chemins de fer de la Gaspésie (SCFG), following questions raised as to the condition of the rail network in the area. The situation will remain as such until an updated notice is released.

Last week, inspections carried out on the Grand-Pabos Bridge, in Chandler, revealed damage to the structure of one of its pillars. Since December 14th, passengers have been asked to board buses to complete the New Carlisle / Gaspé leg of the trip, while repair work was being performed on the bridge.

However, VIA has learned that more extensive repairs are needed on the Grand-Pabos Bridge, which has raised concerns as to the condition of other similar infrastructure in the area.

VIA has therefore requested assurances regarding the safety and reliability of the network from SCFG. As soon as VIA has obtained a written assurance that the Gaspé Peninsula rail network is reliable and safe from the engineers responsible, service will resume.

The safety of passengers is of paramount importance for VIA Rail. VIA apologizes for any inconvenience or delays this service interruption may cause to its passengers. Customers wishing to obtain more information can consult the updates available at www.viarail.ca, or reach us by phone at 1-888-VIA RAIL (842-7245). Follow VIA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@via_rail.
  by labaienordique
This is the second train (though partial) that is either replaced by bus service or postponed altogether. It's been about a year since the Vancouver Island service has been postponed...
  by marquisofmississauga
It's amazing that both the Vancouver Island and The Chaleur trains have lasted as long as they did. Both services were on the Brian Mulroney Conservatives hit list and were originally going to be discontinued with so many other trains on 15 Jan. 1992.

The E&N RDCs were saved, initially, by a court application in the British Columbia Supreme Court. Although originally successful, the Supreme Court of Canada later overturned the decision and the train might have been history. In the meantime the government changed and the Liberals decided to keep the train running.

The Chaleur was saved by an impressive amount of community support. If my memory is correct, the Chaleur was not on the chopping block when the final list was assembled in October 1991 so it was not a surprise as was the Vancouver Island train. To expand just briefly: originally the government leaked information that the transcontinental service would be completely axed and the Maritimes trains (Ocean and Atlantic) cut back to three times a week on the Ocean route only.
  by Tadman
How bad is the track? It seems this train is a tourist train, not for businessmen, so I can't imagine it's important to go faster than 30-40mph. If the track is so bad that the trains can't make 25-30 mph, it must be quite rotten. I did hear a few days ago that there is no freight customers after Matapedia, so I can understand why the track is bad, if it is.
  by NeoArashi
Is it me, or the whole ''People get bussed from Matapedia'' buisness has happened quite often in the recent years?

And BTW, Merry Christmas all!
  by Amtrak7
There is a Trains Magazine article about this train in the Jan 2012 issue. Track facts:

-Jointed rail
-No freight east of Nouvelle
-100 speed changes between Gaspe and New Carlisie
-Restrictions as low as 5mph over some bridges
  by marquisofmississauga
NeoArashi wrote:Is it me, or the whole ''People get bussed from Matapedia'' buisness has happened quite often in the recent years?

And BTW, Merry Christmas all!
Most of the time the Chaleur makes it to New Carlisle, but short-turning at Matapedia has also occurred. The "alternate transportation" (as VIA frequently calls a bus) has been far too frequent. If it isn't snow, rain, leaves on the rails, etc., then it's often a case of the train running late. There is a "Y" at New Carlisle, so this is where the train is short-turned when late. I have friends who have made it all the way to Gaspe only twice in five trips and have been treated to the bus trip the other times. My wife and I have made it twice in six attempts, but we were lucky in having to endure a bus only once. Thanks to advance notice of problems on the line we were able to cancel our trip three times before leaving Toronto.

It seems to me that the unreliability of this train has affected ridership. On the two times we made it to Gaspe, both in the off-peak season, there were hardly any passengers riding to or from the end of the line. On one trip, there were only two arriving in Gaspe in addition to the group I was travelling with. On the return trip there have been as few as four plus my group. It's obvious that most people fly to or from Gaspe. Our sleeping car attendant told us it's not unusual to have no sleeper passengers and only one or two in coach. But the Chaleur does handle a fair number of passengers to intermediate points where there are no airports. There are more passengers handled to and from Gaspe in the peak summer tourist season.
  by gaspeamtrak
Can anybody tell what's happening with the Gaspe train?
Are they still bussing people from Matapedia to Gaspe?
  by marquisofmississauga
It's still a bus ride east of Matapedia. I was "bustituted" five-hours once in winter weather and it was rather unnerving. The bus driver was very skilled, but I was still overjoyed to get off - more so than the usual relief when a bus journey is over. On VIA's on-line booking system (Reservia) a warning about this bustitution appears for the foreseeable future, i.e. 11 months ahead.
  by jp1822
I see that the Chaleur/train to Gaspe is running to New Carlisle before being turned. Passengers are bused east/west from New Carlisle to Gaspe.

Are there plans to ever restore this train to Gaspe. The more scenic parts of this route are east of New Carlisle (or from New Carlisle to/from Gaspe).
  by timberley
Yes, the intention is to restore service all the way to Gaspe. Work is ongoing, and the last I heard the *hope* is to have it restored before the end of the summer. That might be optimistic, but it is the goal as I understand it.

Now of course that is all relying on the train not getting cut in the near future....but that's a whole other can of worms, and probably not worth delving into in this thread!
VIA is also building a new station in Gaspe to replace the one damaged in a fire last year.....but that’s not a sure indication of the train’s survival!

VIA built new stations at Stellarton/New Glasgow on the Truro>Sydney route and at Kentville on the Dominion Atlantic. They were open for about 2 years before those trains were discontinued.

.....and Saint John, NB: After using a temporary station for nearly 15 years, VIA built a new station there also and the Atlantic was gone within the year!