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 marquisofmississauga
This is, I believe, the third timetable issue of the year. Unlike the previous two which reduced service, the one effective April 1st contains some added trains. Four days a week - Friday through Monday - there is an additional train in each direction between Toronto and Ottawa and Toronto and Montreal. There is an additional train between Ottawa-Montreal-Québec, giving two per day. Unfortunately on the eastbound runs from Toronto some intermediate stops have been eliminated as well as a change in some train departure times. The timetable is available only in an on-line version, which is understandable considering how often changes are made.

These added trains may be of little use this month. Québec has many areas in "lockdown" with nightly curfews. The entire province of Ontario goes into a so-called "shutdown" at midnight tonight for at least four weeks. It isn't really a shutdown, but basically the rest of the province now has the severe restrictions that the Toronto area has had since November, although there is no "stay at home order" at the moment.

Between the first and second and the second and third COVID "waves" I took several trips of fairly short duration to visit friends. Of course, I won't be travelling for a while. I was impressed with the service VIA provided. Almost all my trips were in Business Class, which was well worth it if for no other reason than the space. On my trips there were between six and 20 passengers in the Business Class car, with an average of about 12. Seat assignments in both economy and Business are not adhered to. Passengers are either told to sit where they like except in seats marked as "do not sit here" or they are assisted by the crew in finding seating away from others.

The Business Class catering was much better than that offered by many other transportation providers. Three meal choices are still available for lunch and dinner and, as before, served in china dishes with metal cutlery. Bar service has been reduced to only wine or beer and served in plastic cups. Coffee and tea is served in paper cups. This won't deter me from paying the supplement for what is still a very good level of service.

From what I have seen, economy is more crowded. VIA atempts to seat passengers in a double seat to themselves unless they are travelling with another person. I am told it is very rare that anyone is seated next to a stranger. Food and beverages have been offered for sale from the trolley since last September. For the months prior to that a box containing water, hummus and a chocolate bar were given complimentary.

Transport Canada requires that passengers are screened prior to boarding, although this isn't always strictly adhered to at some stations. Masks are required except when eating. As for drinking, passengers are now told they can remove the mask only when taking sips and not keep them off whilst spending a half hour with a beverage. VIA is serious about the mask requirement. I have been on three trains when a difficult passenger was removed by the local constabulary at an intermediate stop.
  by gaspeamtrak
I always read your post and they are accurate 99% of the time!
Thank you for the latest update...:):):)