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VIA Rail

Bordercollie

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It's not just LRC Locomotives, but RDC's as well. Considering that there is no crumple zone compared to modern designs with CEM.
 

ManyQuestions

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I don't know if I am missing something, but I do not see why there is a large focus on RDCs. While I have not rode on them, they appear to be antiquated in comparison with modern DMUs given that they are now almost 70 years old.

If VIA chooses to acquire a small number of relatively cheap DMUs, would it not make sense to just buy some more modern second hand units from Europe or join an existing order in the same way that OC Transpo joined a DB order for Bombardier Talents when starting the OTrain?

VIA could even purchase the Talent units directly form OC Transpo given that they are still trying to sell them now that they have been replaced with newer standardized rollingstock. The three Talent units are already fitted with overhead bins and are very comfortable thanks to air suspension but only have high-floor boarding doors. I know that the city of Ottawa has put the three units up for sale several times but I think that they are still in the Wakley yard. I don't know about the crashworthiness of the units but do know that they operated on a stretch of track that was formerly connected to the national railway system and crossed via rail trains at a diamond junction.

I'm not suggesting that VIA buys the the former OTrain DMUs, but I do not see why there is such focus on RDCs instead of the other options in the new and used markets. However, I am just a university student with an interest in railways and am by no means an expert so I might be missing something obvious.
 
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Bordercollie

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Those Talents do not meet FRA crashworthy standards and cannot be used on main line service with freight trains. The reason OC was able to use them was because freight traffic only uses the line at night when the passenger trains are not running.

Colorado Rail Car was a company making DMU's but they went belly up.

The UP express trains do meet that standard and that's why they are able to run on mainline service.

Stadler's FLIRT units are FRA compliant (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stadler_FLIRT) and GTW's have a waver to be able to run with freight trains. So those may be options. Dont know if they are currently in production thou.
 

nfitz

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I'm not suggesting that VIA buys the the former OTrain DMUs, but I do not see why there is such focus on RDCs instead of the other options in the new and used markets.
Personally, when I say RDC, I mean the same thing as DMU. (though I suppose they could be run as DSUs) :)

I don't particularly care about the brand name. More the functionality and lifespan. Same why my scotch tape isn't made by 3M. And my Aspirin isn't made by Bayer.
 

ManyQuestions

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Those Talents do not meet FRA crashworthy standards and cannot be used on main line service with freight trains. The reason OC was able to use them was because freight traffic only uses the line at night when the passenger trains are not running.

Ohhh! That makes sense!

Still, I am not convinced that DMUs make sense in addition to VIA's new relatively short loco hauled Siemens trains. I think that there were some 3 car consists that were shown somewhere in this forum.
 

smallspy

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It's not just LRC Locomotives, but RDC's as well. Considering that there is no crumple zone compared to modern designs with CEM.

The standards that the LRC locos were designed and built to are not vastly different than the ones today, and they even received the same updated windshields that are still standard today. By and large, they are basically the same safety-wise as anything modern on the rails today.

RDCs are a totally different question, on the other hand. They were designed and built to meet a standard that has been greatly superseded over the years. That said, the 6 RDCs that VIA is using today have all undergone a heavy rebuilding, and part of that rebuilding was a redesign of the front cab area to make it safer for the operating crews. It may not be quite as safe as a modern loco, but it's light-years better than when they were outshopped by Budd in the 1940s and 1950s.

The only locomotives with CEM elements on the rails today are the Progress Spirit and Siemens Charger. And despite the addition of those elements, they are still reliant on the basic rules of locomotive design (1,000,000 lb buff strength, 300,000 lb collision posts, CFR273 part 223 glass, etc.).

Dan
 

crs1026

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^Many people seem to be fixated on those old Budd built RDC carbodies, largely (I guess) because they are still out there and therefore (seemingly) quicker to access than new stock. I would question whether they are really the optimal purchase, considering a) they would have to be rehabbed, and b) they will only last so much longer.

The cost difference between a 2, 3, or 4-car Budd RDC train and a conventional train is a spreadsheet exercise, and only VIA knows those exact numbers. And even that is likely a guesstimate, because the current White River operation has sufficient differences from Corridor service that the numbers may not be generalizable. I can't ever remember a VIA or CN RDC consist exceeding 4 cars, nor did CN routinely run 3-car conventional trains.....maybe that gives a hint. But that's very old data.

In any event, the big advantage of DMU is probably not cost, it's quick convenient turnability. VIA's current fleet doesn't have a good solution for that except where longer consists justify push-pull configuration. However, VIA has addressed that issue by ordering cab cars and by configuring its fleet to provide some short push-pull consists.

With VIA having options for more equipment, I would argue that it would be as quick, and no more expensive, to just order more 3-car Challenger trainsets for any low-volume service.

There is a romantic attachment to the railways' old branch line RDC service, where on many routes a single car (or maybe two) plied a lightly used line to smaller communities. That was fine once, I guess, although those branch lines were uneconomical for decades and the tracks are mostly gone. The RDC's advantage as a light, quickfooted railcar is likely lost to current track and speed regulations. I'm old enough to have ridden a few branch line RDC's, and they were great fun. But..... this is 2020, and a single partial carload of passengers is not going to approach the minimum "break-even" threshold to justify service by today's yardstick. Let's face it, it takes 2 or 3 carloads of passengers to justify a VIA train anymore.

Likewise, there may be a romantic attraction to the likes of DMU services in, say, the UK. Also great fun to ride, but we just aren't going to see a St Ives branch in Canada anytime soon.....while these may return some day if the country moves away from road transportation, the capital cost of restoring the tracks and adding signalling and maintenance infrastructure will be so substantial that the choice of rail vehicle will not be a consideration. And again, that's so many years down the road that clinging to RDC's seems a very poor strategy.

VIA's attempts to buy back RDC's is as much a matter of desperation as anything. Government is certainly not encouraging a light-load rail passenger service. I commend VIA's intentions, but let's not pretend that buying back these old veterans is a sound fleet acquisition strategy.

- Paul
 
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Allandale25

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At today's Toronto Region Board of Trade Recovery Summit Series on transportation, on a panel (screenshot below) the President and CEO of VIA Rail provided some remarks that touched on HFR.

Here is the audio: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1x_Da_AQ4NYMwOCS_MOfr6x6uzrB37q62/view?usp=sharing

Quick summary (my paraphrasing):
  • VIA had its best year in 2019 and hit a revenue high and experienced 5 years of ridership growth leading up to 2019;
  • Despite the challenges of the blockade and COVID-19, we can't lose sight of modernization;
  • VIA is reaching the limit of its potential and frequency potential, and needs modernization;
  • Modernization includes: 1) new reservation system; 2) refurbishment of the existing fleet; 3) the new fleet coming online in 2022; and 4) HFR is the "flagship" and the "heart of the future";
  • $71 million was allocated by the feds in 2019 to study 2019. The Joint Project Office (JPO) report should be available "shortly" and they hope for a decision by the end of the year [it wasn't clear who is making the decision but I assume the Minister];
  • HFR: it's about frequency and connectivity, creating service for new places, improving reliability/on-time performance, getting passenger trains away from freight trains, environmental sustainability, and there is an opportunity to electrify the network [route]. It was noted that it's a large-scale project that aligns with the government's goals on job creation and aligns with green goals; and
  • SW Ontario - there was a question on more SW Ontario service. Here is the audio of the response: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yhOz5jJ1-oKlQ607wswoMMuB4sbLotVx/view?usp=sharing
1606316963801.png
 
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roger1818

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I think this is at Brockville.


Thanks for posting. It certainly does look like Brockville. VIA also posted another video and a couple days ago and I wasn't sure where it was, but I am now wondering if it is also the nearby bridge in Brockville. It certainly looks similar and both could be part of an upgrade to the Brockville Sub.

 

micheal_can

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^Many people seem to be fixated on those old Budd built RDC carbodies, largely (I guess) because they are still out there and therefore (seemingly) quicker to access than new stock. I would question whether they are really the optimal purchase, considering a) they would have to be rehabbed, and b) they will only last so much longer.

The cost difference between a 2, 3, or 4-car Budd RDC train and a conventional train is a spreadsheet exercise, and only VIA knows those exact numbers. And even that is likely a guesstimate, because the current White River operation has sufficient differences from Corridor service that the numbers may not be generalizable. I can't ever remember a VIA or CN RDC consist exceeding 4 cars, nor did CN routinely run 3-car conventional trains.....maybe that gives a hint. But that's very old data.

In any event, the big advantage of DMU is probably not cost, it's quick convenient turnability. VIA's current fleet doesn't have a good solution for that except where longer consists justify push-pull configuration. However, VIA has addressed that issue by ordering cab cars and by configuring its fleet to provide some short push-pull consists.

With VIA having options for more equipment, I would argue that it would be as quick, and no more expensive, to just order more 3-car Challenger trainsets for any low-volume service.

There is a romantic attachment to the railways' old branch line RDC service, where on many routes a single car (or maybe two) plied a lightly used line to smaller communities. That was fine once, I guess, although those branch lines were uneconomical for decades and the tracks are mostly gone. The RDC's advantage as a light, quickfooted railcar is likely lost to current track and speed regulations. I'm old enough to have ridden a few branch line RDC's, and they were great fun. But..... this is 2020, and a single partial carload of passengers is not going to approach the minimum "break-even" threshold to justify service by today's yardstick. Let's face it, it takes 2 or 3 carloads of passengers to justify a VIA train anymore.

Likewise, there may be a romantic attraction to the likes of DMU services in, say, the UK. Also great fun to ride, but we just aren't going to see a St Ives branch in Canada anytime soon.....while these may return some day if the country moves away from road transportation, the capital cost of restoring the tracks and adding signalling and maintenance infrastructure will be so substantial that the choice of rail vehicle will not be a consideration. And again, that's so many years down the road that clinging to RDC's seems a very poor strategy.

VIA's attempts to buy back RDC's is as much a matter of desperation as anything. Government is certainly not encouraging a light-load rail passenger service. I commend VIA's intentions, but let's not pretend that buying back these old veterans is a sound fleet acquisition strategy.

- Paul

The attachment to the RDCs, I feel, has less to do with them,but more to do with what they can do. By having a self propelled passenger car in it's fleet, it can run a single car to meet demand. Right now, that is all via has in it's fleet. For the modernization, Via should look for a modern replacement for it. Then, they should look for modern replacements for the rest of the fleet. This can help with expansion without a shortage of rolling stock.
 

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