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 M&Eman
I understand that historically under CN, and under VIA before the re-electrification and signaling of the Mount Royal Tunnel in 1995, that the VIA trains to Northern Quebec used the tunnel, being hauled by AMT boxcabs. After the installation of CTC this practice had to stop and all VIA trains were rerouted to use the South approach to Gare Centrale. What routes do these trains take to get from the south side of Gare Centrale to the trackage north of the island and why didn't VIA do this until they were forced to?
  by jp1822
Doesn't the new route post 1995 (not using the electrification) cause the trains to Northern Quebec to take on an additional 45 minutes or so of running time? Seems to me I heard the running time was greatly increased when the electrification was discontinued at Montreal for trains heading to northern Quebec and the re-route.

And prior to that there was another hit to these trains to northern Quebec. Due to the refurbishment and choice by VIA to keep the ex-CP stainless steel Budd cars, there weren't enough sleepers (or so it was said) to accommodate what used to be partially a night time running in getting to northern Quebec. So as a result, the trains became tri-weekly "day trains" and even joined to Hervey junction (to help save costs). How did this end up affecting ridership by making them into "day trains?"

One would think that this really put a burden on some Canadians travelling the entire line to Montreal, from say Senneterre or west of Hervey Junction as they no longer had the option to at least "sleep in a sleeper" for part of their trip into Montreal.

Would it have been better to have kept the train to Senneterre as an overnight train, travelling along its southern portion (south of Hervey Junction) in the overnight hours, while the other train to northern Quebec - continuing on to Jonquiere - as a day train (a day train especially to compensate for the overnight train on the south end).

I was also sad to see the VIA train to Senneterre truncated there rather than continuing on to connect with the Ontario Northland route. Course I believe track conditions or potential abandonment of the track west of Senneterre made was the reason for truncation. I forget exactly where the train connected with the Ontario Northland - some where near Swastika?

And these trains to northern Quebec could certainly host a Park Car since VIA seems to have plenty of those to go around (out of around 13 cars, only 9 are utilized in peak season when the Ocean takes on 3 Park Cars). Having one Park Car on the train to Senneterre would likely make for a more pleasant experience - or even having two for the Hudson Bay train sets year-round. Then with the Skeena turning to a day train for its two day trip to Prince Rupert in the late 1990s, this freed up some sleeper that could have potentially went back to re-organize the northern Quebec trains.

I've never really travelled on these northern Quebec trains, despite hearing they are quite scenic just because I didn't feel like being couped up in a coach the whole way. The dome cars make the Canadian passenger rail travel experience much more enjoyable.
Trains to northern Quebec were hauled out through the Mount Royal Tunnel by ancient CN Electric Boxcab until 1990. After VIA transferred the xCP service to Quebec City (via Trois-Riviere) from Windsor Station to Gare Centrale you could also find a single RDC unit being hauled by a boxcab. Trains were hauled as far as Gohier (Eastern Jct. - the jct with the St-Laurent Subdivision) where the electric cut off.

After 1990 outbound VIA trains started going ‘round the mountain but inbound trains continued to use the tunnel for a couple more years until it was closed for major rebuilding of the infrastructure. There is a 0.6% downgrade through the tunnel from Portal Heights Station (now Canora) to Gare Centrale so trains would run under diesel power as far as the tunnel entrance, place the diesel in idle and just coast the 3 miles downgrade through the tunnel into Centrale.

Click on the Montreal Map in the list here:


The route VIA’s trains to northern Quebec follow now begins at Central (shown as Montreal in the centre of the map) Follows the blue (CN) line west to Taschereau Yard where it joins the St-Laurent Sub. then north-east across Montreal Island to Pointe-aux-Trambles. The dashed blue line north from Central Station is the Mount Royal Tunnel (Deux-Montagnes Sub) Eastern Jct is where it crosses the St-Laurent Sub.

Today’s route is about 15km longer but not much different than the route CP trains to the north and east to Quebec City always followed. Red route on the map.
  by Montrealrail
Lask week,I get a little ride onboard the VIA 603,the one for Jonquiere and Senneterre.
The train make the detour by Tachereau CN yard,I get some video and pics of the target,I get off at Pointe-Aux Trembles,I was curious to see by where he was going to joint the East Junction to get on his way..
So I put the video there,so you will see a part of the route in Montreal