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 buddah
 
JP Im with you on the idea of bringing the overnight train back, anything that will bring the renaissance cars cars back to Toronto I'm in favor of. Id actually like to see a straight through overnight corridor Run, Windsor-Toronto-Montreal. I believe the old overnight train left at 11:30 to accommodate those of us coming off the Amtrak Maple leaf and International as well as the last Windsor-Toronto train (78). Only issue with the Renaissance cars if it needed to lay over during the day in Windsor it might complicate platform usage. Unless they reopen the end track that is never used, track closest to the parking lot. I occasionally use to see the Overnight train to Montreal when I rode the International and we use to show up in Toronto (late) around 11pm we pulled up right next to it.
  by timberley
 
anything that will bring the renaissance cars cars back to Toronto I'm in favor of
As of January 20, 2009, VIA has introduced Renaissance cars on Trains 52, 53, 66, and 67, all of which run between Montreal and Toronto. So they are now running into Toronto again.

I did head trackside to confirm this in late February, and I can confirm at the very least that Train 52 was running with Ren cars daily.
  by buddah
 
Timberley thanks for the info Im going to have to find my way out to Islington this weekend and try to catch 66/67 in the yard. im never up early enough to see 52 but ill be looking for it now. I haven't seen a renaissance car since 2004.
  by timberley
 
No problem. VIA had flyers around at the stations over the last two months, announcing the use of Ren cars on more trains. They're using it as a ploy to try to get more people interested in the Montreal-Toronto run, and also to offer baggage services on more trains. I have a suspicion at the moment that it's being done as well to allow them to take some of the LRC's out of service for rebuilding.

I was very excited to hear the news, since I had only ever seen (as well as ridden) Renaissance cars on the Ocean. And being between Montreal and Toronto (and never railfanning at night to catch the Enterprise), I had never seen the Ren cars running at high speed with a P42. I think they fit that role far far better than lagging along behind F40's over the restricted speed zones all through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia...
  by buddah
 
Timberley, I caught it.........

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] ... [email protected]/

I had to get the holiday extended special it was a treat to see renaissance cars back in Toronto and since I was there I got a few shots of the Northlander as well there in my flickr photostream. its a shame VIA is scrapping a fleet of them, Now that I know about it I'd personally think they could be used on the extra summer train to Niagara falls from Toronto, (93/94) I means scrap/ or spare out 30+ cars come on,save 2 baggage cars and 10 coaches for the Niagara falls summer trains at least, these thing just look so good behind a P42.
  by chriskay
 
Great shot!

As far as an extra set for Niagara, GO is supposed to trial service to Niagara sometime this year, I believe.
  by marquisofmississauga
 
I have two comments regarding some previous postings. The 30+ cars that are supposedly going to be scrapped are all sleeping car shells. The window placement isn't conducive to conversion to coaches. The dining room cars have had thick dividing panels placed between most tables so they line up better with the windows. I don't claim to understand the reasoning, but I'm told that changing the windows on this equipment is too difficult. For this reason no large door was added to the sleeper shells used as baggage cars.

Regarding the former immigration holding cell, I noticed on my tour of the cars in their original condition that it was in what is now the empty space in the service car's lounge section. There was also an immigration officer's office beside it. The "accessible suite" with its two berths was in the original configuration of the service cars.
  by timberley
 
Beautiful shot buddah!

I tried to get a few of it passing near Prescott ON at full speed a month back, but those didn't turn out so well. I'm still hoping to get some nice ones myself. But you did a great job catching the full train like that!
  by jp1822
 
marquisofmississauga wrote:I have two comments regarding some previous postings. The 30+ cars that are supposedly going to be scrapped are all sleeping car shells. The window placement isn't conducive to conversion to coaches. The dining room cars have had thick dividing panels placed between most tables so they line up better with the windows. I don't claim to understand the reasoning, but I'm told that changing the windows on this equipment is too difficult. For this reason no large door was added to the sleeper shells used as baggage cars.

Regarding the former immigration holding cell, I noticed on my tour of the cars in their original condition that it was in what is now the empty space in the service car's lounge section. There was also an immigration officer's office beside it. The "accessible suite" with its two berths was in the original configuration of the service cars.
I was fairly surprised recently to learn how many sleepers were actually built for the Ocean. Some how I was thinking the number would have been higher (considering there are three Ocean train sets), but it wasn't. I would also think that later on, it would be easier for VIA to obtain coaches (likely from the US) than sleepers or diners. This was one of the reasons I was hoping that VIA would have completed the sleeper shells of the Renaissance cars, so as to use these as 1) extra sleepers as needed for the Ocean service 2) sleepers perhaps for an overnight corridor train or 3) addtional transition or baggage cars.

VIA only has, to my knowledge, three Renaissance Diners. What happens if one of those diners gets severly damaged or is called out of service? VIA's instance reaction would be to assign a Budd stainless steel train set back to the Ocean. But that's not a long term solution, as it would cut into the pool of cars allocated for VIA's flagship train - the Canadian.

Building out at least some extra Renaissance sleepers, another two Renaissance diners, and the like I think would have been beneficial for VIA's overall long term viability without having to stretch its service thin. As an example, if VIA is ever given the green light to expand service or create new service on a portion of rail, it will likely spread the ex-CP stainless steel Budd cars thin again. This is something that the Renaissance cars were able to relieve (i.e. the Ocean's former Budd stainless steel cars went to augment the Canadian's consists).

And although the Chaleur never got Renaissance cars, it was supposed to. That service would have required at least three Renaissance sleepers, a Renaissance diner, Renaissance baggage car, and if needed, a transtion car between the Renaissance cars and non-Renaissance equipment as needed. But there would have likely been more Renaissance cars needed using the sleeper sheels than say Renaissance coach cars. However, I like the Chaleur with the older, yet rennovated equipment, as this route certainly is worthy of a dome car (the Skyline Dome Car is used).
  by buddah
 
Thank fellas, Im glad you enjoyed the pics. It was a VERY windy day down there and I had no tripod so all pics were taken by hand. they came out better than I expected. As for the renaissance cars I did not know that the majority of the remaining 30+ were sleepers so in that case they would be pretty difficult to transform them into Coach's or VIA1 cars unless your going to do table seating with tables lined between where there are no windows. Id agree with JP for the most part extra sleepers ,dinners, and service cars are needed to be set aside for accident or any number of circumstances that may arise. I Noticed that 52/53 and 66/67 don't run on weekends or holidays. Id be inclined to also say that the overnight special (or Enterprise Extra) would fit the bill in that space. One train each direction Fri, Sat, & Sun, nights. as On weekend most people don't want to be on a train during the few daylight hours as those are the only hours to get out and find activities, but I believe it would make for a profitable night service. Overnight on weekdays as we have seen with the Retired enterprise might not have been a profitable service. Weekends would be worth a pilot project at least. consist would be 1 P42, 1 service car, 2-3 renaissance sleepers and 2-3 coaches. I know personally I'd take it if I could goof off in Montreal all weekend and hop the overnight train for Toronto sleep all the way and arrive early enough in the am say 7 or so to still make it to work by 9am.
  by gaspeamtrak
 
jp1822 wrote:
marquisofmississauga wrote:I have two comments regarding some previous postings. The 30+ cars that are supposedly going to be scrapped are all sleeping car shells. The window placement isn't conducive to conversion to coaches. The dining room cars have had thick dividing panels placed between most tables so they line up better with the windows. I don't claim to understand the reasoning, but I'm told that changing the windows on this equipment is too difficult. For this reason no large door was added to the sleeper shells used as baggage cars.

Regarding the former immigration holding cell, I noticed on my tour of the cars in their original condition that it was in what is now the empty space in the service car's lounge section. There was also an immigration officer's office beside it. The "accessible suite" with its two berths was in the original configuration of the service cars.
I was fairly surprised recently to learn how many sleepers were actually built for the Ocean. Some how I was thinking the number would have been higher (considering there are three Ocean train sets), but it wasn't. I would also think that later on, it would be easier for VIA to obtain coaches (likely from the US) than sleepers or diners. This was one of the reasons I was hoping that VIA would have completed the sleeper shells of the Renaissance cars, so as to use these as 1) extra sleepers as needed for the Ocean service 2) sleepers perhaps for an overnight corridor train or 3) addtional transition or baggage cars.

VIA only has, to my knowledge, three Renaissance Diners. What happens if one of those diners gets severly damaged or is called out of service? VIA's instance reaction would be to assign a Budd stainless steel train set back to the Ocean. But that's not a long term solution, as it would cut into the pool of cars allocated for VIA's flagship train - the Canadian.

Building out at least some extra Renaissance sleepers, another two Renaissance diners, and the like I think would have been beneficial for VIA's overall long term viability without having to stretch its service thin. As an example, if VIA is ever given the green light to expand service or create new service on a portion of rail, it will likely spread the ex-CP stainless steel Budd cars thin again. This is something that the Renaissance cars were able to relieve (i.e. the Ocean's former Budd stainless steel cars went to augment the Canadian's consists).

And although the Chaleur never got Renaissance cars, it was supposed to. That service would have required at least three Renaissance sleepers, a Renaissance diner, Renaissance baggage car, and if needed, a transtion car between the Renaissance cars and non-Renaissance equipment as needed. But there would have likely been more Renaissance cars needed using the sleeper sheels than say Renaissance coach cars. However, I like the Chaleur with the older, yet rennovated equipment, as this route certainly is worthy of a dome car (the Skyline Dome Car is used).
Via Rail are a bunch of idiots if they scrap those car shells! What if they have a major wreck with the Ocean?
I'm from Gaspe and love the Budd equipment on the Gaspe train!
My niece and i tried to upgrade to a sleeper on the Enterprise onec from Montreal and the ticket agent said it wopuld be $500 to $600!!!
We said we would try and upgrade on the train and the Via personel couldn't be bothered to or they were not allowed to do it they never got back to us!!
I know for a fact that the 3 sleepers on the train ( I think there was 3 sleepers?) that maybe they had enough passergers tho fill 1 of the sleepers as we weregiven tour throu the sleepers and there was nobody in the service car.
When Via bought the cars from the UK they were bragging what a great deal this was for Canada and Via Rail and how much cheaper it was to buy than order new viewliners and coaches and the long time it would take to get these cars into service. Well they will never never tell how much money it cost to ship these cars over here and modify them and now they are going to scrap 33 of them???? So what is the cost of each of the cars if you factor in the 33 cars that they are never going to use??? 3 or 4 million $$$??? What a waste of MONEY BY VIA RAIL MANAGEMENT!!!
They had a problem with one of the Ocean's cars and had to leave the whole set of cars in the Quebec City station to be reapaired!!!! and they hijacked the Gaspe cars and sent them to Halifax!!! They kicked the people out of there cars and sent them by bus to Gaspe and put some of the Halifax passengers in the Gaspe cars.That what happens when you have semi-permentley coupled train sets!!! I would have totally pissed off this would have happend to me if was going to Gaspe!!!
Why don't they just put those 33 cars into service somewhere in the corridor or have a back up set for tha Ocean in Montreal and Halifax and not have to steal the Budd cars from the Canadian,Chaleur, or the Churchill trains!!!???
As far as i'm concerned Via Rail's management are a bunch of idiots! Amtrak's management makes some screw ups but not like Via's.
Is everybody scared to criticize Via Rail management??? All i ever here is how better Via is than Amtrak but i just travelled on the Lakeshore from Buffalo to Chicago by sleeper both ways and the service was way superior than Via's and the price charged by Amtrak would have been half of that if the Enterpise was still running. Sorry about the rant as nobody else seems to want to say anything bad about Via Rail...:)
  by jp1822
 
That price for an Enterprise sleeper was completly off base. I am not even sure if 1/2 the cost would have been right. I found the Enterprise sleeper car (Deluxe Sleeper Room) comparable to that of staying at a nice hotel in either Montreal or Toronto so there was no thought into booking the train versus staying overnight in either city and then taking a corriday day train the following morning. Plus it was the perfect "hotel on wheels" - the Enterprise. You must have also caught the Lake Shore Limited (aka Late for Sure) on a good day. This train typically has spotty service at best, and now with its Amfleet "Diner-Lite" car subbing as a full service dining car, I've "written it off" as my main train of choice between Chicago and the East Coast. Typically it's been the Capitol Limited, and that requires me to change trains in Washington DC to get to the metro NYC area. You'd think the Lake Shore would be the train of choice. But too many bad experiences with that train! And the Capitol Limited, as a Superliner train, is for me a little more superior to that of the single level long distance trains, let alone cheaper! Go figure!

I also concur, as stated above that I don't think VIA is being too wise about "scrapping" the sleepers - even if they are shells of Renaissance cars. As pointed out, what happens when a few of these sleepers come under "wreck" status. Then VIA will be playing catch-up - similiar to what Amtrak is currently involved in. Too many wrecked cars in the lot and not enough out on the road. VIA thought a little ahead to purchase the Renaissance cars and frankly the should keep them. Otherwise they are going to just have to outfit a new train set altogether for the Ocean, and I doubt VIA is going to want to take cars from their flagship Canadian train in the summer peak season! After all, freeing up the ex-CP stainless steel Budd cars from the Ocean has allowed the Canadian to not only expand its consist, but also now operate with four train sets, as required with its new scheduling (a story for another day). They should at least keep the sleeper shells of the Renaissance cars around for potential conversion into "sleeper cars" or even a spare diner. After all there are only three Renaissance diners for the three Renaissance Ocean train sets.

And the Renaissance Service/Lounges are a joke. They need better seating, removal of the empty space to add proper seating for a "lounge." There's no need for a "holding cell" for customs inspections. The only place these cars would travel to would be the US, but they don't meet US FRA guidelines so they are not coming to the US.

Lastly, I am surprised VIA is able to stretch its Renaissance corridor fleet that thin to allow more trains onto the Montreal-Toronto Corridor.
  by gaspeamtrak
 
jp1822 wrote:That price for an Enterprise sleeper was completly off base. I am not even sure if 1/2 the cost would have been right. I found the Enterprise sleeper car (Deluxe Sleeper Room) comparable to that of staying at a nice hotel in either Montreal or Toronto so there was no thought into booking the train versus staying overnight in either city and then taking a corriday day train the following morning. Plus it was the perfect "hotel on wheels" - the Enterprise. You must have also caught the Lake Shore Limited (aka Late for Sure) on a good day. This train typically has spotty service at best, and now with its Amfleet "Diner-Lite" car subbing as a full service dining car, I've "written it off" as my main train of choice between Chicago and the East Coast. Typically it's been the Capitol Limited, and that requires me to change trains in Washington DC to get to the metro NYC area. You'd think the Lake Shore would be the train of choice. But too many bad experiences with that train! And the Capitol Limited, as a Superliner train, is for me a little more superior to that of the single level long distance trains, let alone cheaper! Go figure!

I also concur, as stated above that I don't think VIA is being too wise about "scrapping" the sleepers - even if they are shells of Renaissance cars. As pointed out, what happens when a few of these sleepers come under "wreck" status. Then VIA will be playing catch-up - similiar to what Amtrak is currently involved in. Too many wrecked cars in the lot and not enough out on the road. VIA thought a little ahead to purchase the Renaissance cars and frankly the should keep them. Otherwise they are going to just have to outfit a new train set altogether for the Ocean, and I doubt VIA is going to want to take cars from their flagship Canadian train in the summer peak season! After all, freeing up the ex-CP stainless steel Budd cars from the Ocean has allowed the Canadian to not only expand its consist, but also now operate with four train sets, as required with its new scheduling (a story for another day). They should at least keep the sleeper shells of the Renaissance cars around for potential conversion into "sleeper cars" or even a spare diner. After all there are only three Renaissance diners for the three Renaissance Ocean train sets.

And the Renaissance Service/Lounges are a joke. They need better seating, removal of the empty space to add proper seating for a "lounge." There's no need for a "holding cell" for customs inspections. The only place these cars would travel to would be the US, but they don't meet US FRA guidelines so they are not coming to the US.

Lastly, I am surprised VIA is able to stretch its Renaissance corridor fleet that thin to allow more trains onto the Montreal-Toronto Corridor.
I don't think so! The price was very close to what i stated. It seems as if VIA didn't want to sell the sleeper space at a reaonable price! They would rather run the sleepers empty! At least you have a chance on Amtrak to get a sleeper when you are on the train.
I don't know if this was a management decision not to try and even to try and sell the unsold sleeping car rooms. The service director or whatever his title was didn't seem interested in trying to the space or he was not allowed to by management.
I'm 6'6" tall and i can't imagine riding the coaches more than 6 hours. I wouldn't want to ride them to Halifax!!! The bathrooms in the coaches were so small you had more room in a telephone booth.
I will say the ride in th coach was pretty good. I don't know what it is like going to Halifax as some of that track is pretty crappy! Althought i have not ridden down that way for many years.
  by NS VIA FAN
 
jp1822 wrote:That price for an Enterprise sleeper was completly off base. I am not even sure if 1/2 the cost would have been right......
Yes the fares being quoted above are way off! I rode the Enterprise several times and checked back through some old tickets. The most I paid was $235. for single occupancy of a double bedroom. This included the rail fare + room charge and was the full fare, day of travel.....no discount.

No way would the “up-grade” fare for two be $500 > $600. as the rail fare portion must have already been paid . And upgrading aboard the train happens all the time.....must have hit a crew member having a bad day (something more common on Amtrak.....not VIA!)

I’m going to Montreal next week on the Ocean and glad I no longer have to adjust my travel dates to avoid riding the Budd equipment. I’m guaranteed a Renaissance consist both ways now with the three consists back in service. I was on a Budd Ocean both ways to/from Montreal in February and it had to be the worst trip ever. This equipment is getting old and now 15+ years since the last major rebuilding. It was shake and rattle all night with little sleep in the Chateau Bedroom. How I wished for the smooth riding Rens!

Sure the Rens have had problems but look at the LRCs when they first entered service and the problems in the early ‘90s when the whole fleet had to be pulled from service for many days. But they are now the back-bone of the corridor fleet and will be for many years with the recently announced rebuilding contract.
  by timberley
 
NS VIA FAN, I have to disagree with you. Having ridden the Ocean from Truro NS to Montreal a number of times now, I am actually disappointed not to have the Budd cars as an option. I even planned my last trip specifically to line up with the Budd consist, and was glad I did! Yes, the Ren cars are a smooth ride, and comfortable seating. There are things I like about them, but I think they are best suited to the corridor life, travelling at high speed on well maintained track. For short journeys, the all coach consist with the single (or even two) service car combination is certainly adequate. But on long trips?

I can't afford (on a student budget) to travel sleeper class every time, so I can't compare that at all. But the coach riding trip on the Budd consist was most definitely superior. yes, the ride is a little rougher, but the coaches are still comfortable. Plus, the Dome! That's what really made the difference for me. Being able to get up and go sit in the dome, or in the lounge, as a coach class passenger. I wasn't restricted to my own seat for 20 hours. The Ren cars do have the service car, but honestly, I went in there one time and 3 people had spread themselves out such that I had nowhere to sit without feeling like I was being rude and inconveniencing them. Heck, the little lounge at the front of the Skyline cars has twice the seating the service cars do. Sure, the Ren sets have a Park tacked on the end, which is great if you can afford to travel sleeper class....and travel in the summer. Both of those are not things I can often manage.

But I suppose it's a personal preference thing. Maybe the sleepers are better, I don't know.

I will say, in the Corridor, Ren's beat the HEP-1 or HEP-2's any day.