News   Jan 22, 2021
 577     0 
News   Jan 22, 2021
 333     0 
News   Jan 22, 2021
 847     3 

VIA Rail

Allandale25

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 19, 2007
Messages
5,292
Reaction score
5,295
^ I'm probably completely mistaken on this but for some reason I thought that the new Siemens units could be converted/retrofitted to electric units? I'm probably wrong.
 

roger1818

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Messages
235
Reaction score
318
Given this, I would not be surprised if one of the major reasons for choosing the Siemens bid for fleet renewal was that the use of cab cars and separable coaches enables VIA to use the same trains on both HFR and lower demand routes.

Does anyone know if VIA plans on having the coaches configured with semi-permanent or Tightlock (Janney ARR Type H) couplers (or a combination of the two)? The Siemens Venture coaches can be (and have been) configured either way and sometimes with combinations of the two. Obviously the locomotives (and cab cars) will have ARR couplers at the cab end, to make split service operation possible.

There are pros and cons to both options. Semi-permanent makes it easier to travel between coaches but they can't be reconfigured on the fly (it needs to be done in the shop). Tightlock couplers allow the trains to be quickly and easily reconfigured, but traveling between cars more challenging as both coaches are swaying back and forth independently.
 

kEiThZ

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jul 31, 2008
Messages
9,927
Reaction score
3,534
Does it make sense for VIA to custom order a half dozen DMUs and have them scattered across the country, or does it make more sense to just have shorter versions of the same trains they are using elsewhere (optimally nearby). That way if there is an issue with one of the trains, they can just substitute replacement equipment from their existing spares inventory.

They have plenty of varied equipment now. Adding DMUs could actually be part of a fleet simplification scheme. Especially if deployed at the Kingston Hub post-HFR. What is important here is kit that enables daily service for a reasonable cost. If the only economical way to run a train of coaches with a locomotive is to run 3x per week, then should consider DMU consists with fewer cars that enable daily service.

I tend to agree. I posted on the SSP that VIA should be divided into 3 divisions and have each division funded by a different government department based on its purpose.

I'm not just saying a different government department. But a different government altogether. Why is the Government of Canada paying for rail service that runs entirely within a given province and has no national significance?
 

roger1818

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Messages
235
Reaction score
318
^ I'm probably completely mistaken on this but for some reason I thought that the new Siemens units could be converted/retrofitted to electric units? I'm probably wrong.

It was a bit confusing. The Procurement Process had a key requirement of, "Tier 4 Diesel engines, with the option to operate on electrified rail infrastructure as it becomes available." However, the RFQ says, "If VIA Rail is given the authority to build its own infrastructure and electrification is required, then the additional trainsets must be capable of both diesel and electric operation (dual-mode)," (emphasis added by me) but there was no requirement that the original trainsets in the original order be dual mode. I gather Siemens assured VIA that they would be able to sell VIA dual mode locomotives in the future if needed.
 

roger1818

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Messages
235
Reaction score
318
They have plenty of varied equipment now. Adding DMUs could actually be part of a fleet simplification scheme. Especially if deployed at the Kingston Hub post-HFR. What is important here is kit that enables daily service for a reasonable cost. If the only economical way to run a train of coaches with a locomotive is to run 3x per week, then should consider DMU consists with fewer cars that enable daily service.

They currently do, and their maintenance costs are high. Reducing the variability in the equipment they use would greatly reduce their maintenance costs. DMUs have their advantages, but they also have their disadvantages. Check out this article, Why You Don’t See Many Long Distance Diesel Multiple Unit Trains.

I'm not just saying a different government department. But a different government altogether. Why is the Government of Canada paying for rail service that runs entirely within a given province and has no national significance?

Relations with the First Nations is a federal responsibility. That's why I put Regional trains under Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.
 

crs1026

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 16, 2014
Messages
6,577
Reaction score
8,538
^One interesting tidbit about the couplers etc: I’m told that one of the modifications that is being made in the main maintenance bases in anticipation of the Chargers is sufficient jacking capacity to do wheel/truck changeouts without separating cars in a trainset. That tells me that VIA is serious about semipermanent connections between cars.

- Paul
 

lenaitch

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
2,509
Reaction score
2,053
I tend to agree. I posted on the SSP that VIA should be divided into 3 divisions and have each division funded by a different government department based on its purpose.

One problem with dividing things up between different departments is you would x3 all of the expertise, support and back office that each would require, which would no doubt increase overall costs. Other than traversing indigenous traditional lands (which by the broadest interpretation is the entire country), I'm not sure much of the regional service directly serves many indigenous communities.

Keitz raises a good point about regional service entirely within one province. Some provinces might take them over with a corresponding permanent slice of federal money.

Edit: Finishing an incomplete thought. There might be some danger in over-subdividing the pie. Would 'corridor service' within one province (i.e. Toronto-Sarnia, Toronto-Ottawa,Montreal-QC) be a federal or provincial problem or considered 'regional service'?
 

micheal_can

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
Messages
2,332
Reaction score
1,446
Are there any routes where VIA currently operates that would be better severed by single cars? I suppose they could be deployed on the Montreal-Senneterre and Montreal-Jonquière lines?

A single car route should be replaced with a bus. Having any route less than daily and/or with insufficient demand to fill 2-3 car DMUs, should be replaced with daily or twice daily buses.

Everyone understands the value of frequency with HFR. I don't get why people don't see the value of that outside the Corridor.

Here are pictures of a I took of the Northern Quebec train leaving Montreal (the two trains are coupled together and run as one train to Hervey). Note on May 2, both trains consist of a locomotive, a baggage car and a single coach but on May 4, a second coach was added to one of the two trains (presumably the one to Jonquière as it departs Hervey first). If they don't "need" RDCs on this route, I don't see why they are needed on the Sudbury-White River train if another type of bi-directional train is available.


May 2, 2018 - taken by user roger1818 (click photo to enlarge)


May 4, 2018 - taken by user roger1818 (click photo to enlarge)

On those rare exceptions, run a daily two car DMU. But it's just dumb to run an RDC to Sarnia.

Also, there needs to be a discussion on which routes VIA is obligated to serve and which ones the provinces should pony up for. Because there's plenty more places with poor to no oad access in Canada that VIA doesn't serve.

The routes for which this "rare exception" applies are:
  1. Montreal - Jonquière,
  2. Montreal - Senneterre,
  3. Sudbury - White River,
  4. Jasper - Prince Rupert, and
  5. Winnipeg - Churchill.
The Winnipeg - Churchill is 33 hour ride, so sleepers are required and a DMU wouldn't be appropriate. That leaves only 4 routes that this applies to. Does it make sense for VIA to custom order a half dozen DMUs and have them scattered across the country, or does it make more sense to just have shorter versions of the same trains they are using elsewhere (optimally nearby). That way if there is an issue with one of the trains, they can just substitute replacement equipment from their existing spares inventory.



I tend to agree. I posted on the SSP that VIA should be divided into 3 divisions and have each division funded by a different government department based on its purpose.

Here are my thoughts with all of this.

1) All existing lines are required by the government. Generally, the remote ones, even if they only serve one province, are because they serve communities with no road access. Keeping existing lines running would be cheaper than building and maintaining an all weather, year round road.

2) The 5 routes could be converted to a DMU set up. There is no reason a DMU cannot be set up for sleeping.

3) Buses hold between 40-80 passengers. An RDC-1 holds 90 passengers, and an RDC=-2, which is a baggage car holds 70.passengers. The regular coaches can hold 68 passengers. So, if you just run an RDC-1 and it is full, you need 2 buses to meet the demand.

In short, it is not as simple as anything running short trains should just be converted to bus routes. There are many factors that take into account why it is still running.
 

Urban Sky

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 5, 2014
Messages
784
Reaction score
1,449
Location
Montreal
One problem with dividing things up between different departments is you would x3 all of the expertise, support and back office that each would require, which would no doubt increase overall costs. Other than traversing indigenous traditional lands (which by the broadest interpretation is the entire country), I'm not sure much of the regional service directly serves many indigenous communities.
I don’t think he was talking about any operational separation, just that different governmental departments (or even: administrative levels) should define and fund these services.

Keitz raises a good point about regional service entirely within one province. Some provinces might take them over with a corresponding permanent slice of federal money.
Even with the pre-CoVid schedules, this would hardly cover anything else than Corridor services within Ontario:
  • Quebec: MTRL-QBEC trains (20/25/29/622), MTRL-SENN (600/601/602) and MTRL-JONQ (603/604/606)
  • Ontario: OTTW-TRTO (40-59, 641-647), KGON-TRTO (650/651/655), TRTO-LNDN (80-83, 85/88), TRTO-WDON (70-79), TRTO-SARN (84/87) and SUDB-WHTR (185/186)
  • Manitoba: TPAS-CHUR (690/691), but not WNPG-TPAS-CHUR (692/693) which operate through Saskatchewan
That’s 17 departures per week in Quebec (Corridor: 15, JONQ/SENN: 12), 6 departures per week in Northern Ontario, 2 departures per week in Manitoba vs. more than 200 departures per week on Ontario’s Corridor routes...

Edit: Finishing an incomplete thought. There might be some danger in over-subdividing the pie. Would 'corridor service' within one province (i.e. Toronto-Sarnia, Toronto-Ottawa,Montreal-QC) be a federal or provincial problem or considered 'regional service'?
I’m not too sure of the value of having the feds pay for MTRL-OTTW and MTRL-TRTO, but letting Ontario pay for OTTW-TRTO, but this is a moot point anyways, since the Corridor services already recover more than just their variable costs, whereas the “subsidy” shown in the Annual Reports is just the portion of the shared and fixed expenses allocated to the Corridor which exceed its revenues...
 
Last edited:

kEiThZ

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jul 31, 2008
Messages
9,927
Reaction score
3,534
Relations with the First Nations is a federal responsibility.

Well aware of that.

My point here is that the decision on which roadless communities (Indigenous or otherwise) are served is entirely arbitrary.

Moreover, the duty of care the Feds have says nothing about specific modes of transport, frequencies or levels of service. There are communities in the North that get nothing more than a few flights in from an RCAF Twin Otter a few times a year.

Keitz raises a good point about regional service entirely within one province. Some provinces might take them over with a corresponding permanent slice of federal money.

Edit: Finishing an incomplete thought. There might be some danger in over-subdividing the pie. Would 'corridor service' within one province (i.e. Toronto-Sarnia, Toronto-Ottawa,Montreal-QC) be a federal or provincial problem or considered 'regional service'?

I said within the same province and of national significance. Connecting major cities clearly has strategic significance to our economy, cohesion and even national security. It's not a stretch to say that running good train service between Calgary and Edmonton is substantially more in the national interest than running train service from White River to Sudbury. There's only one of those regional routes that truly has strategic value. And that's the one to Churchill.
 

crs1026

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 16, 2014
Messages
6,577
Reaction score
8,538
It's not a stretch to say that running good train service between Calgary and Edmonton is substantially more in the national interest than running train service from White River to Sudbury. There's only one of those regional routes that truly has strategic value. And that's the one to Churchill.

The one to watch will be Calgary-Banff. (I’m dubious it will happen, but politically it just might ring bells that Calgary Edmonton might not ring....scary thought since the price tags would be comparable). Does it make any sense for VIA to set up infrastructure in Calgary to operate that one route?
My prediction - if the study of that route gets out of the gate, watch for a proposal for a contracted private operator. Once that precedent is set, look for other remote services to follow, funded directly from Ottawa to local operators.

- Paul
 

roger1818

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Messages
235
Reaction score
318
Here are my thoughts with all of this.

1) All existing lines are required by the government. Generally, the remote ones, even if they only serve one province, are because they serve communities with no road access. Keeping existing lines running would be cheaper than building and maintaining an all weather, year round road.

I tend to agree.

2) The 5 routes could be converted to a DMU set up. There is no reason a DMU cannot be set up for sleeping.

Just because a DMU could be setup for sleeping, doesn't mean it should. First of all it would be the only sleeping DMU in the country, so the utilization of the required spare train would be very low. Secondly, DMUs tend to only be beneficial for short 1 or 2 car trains. At 3 cars they are a toss up and at 4 or more cars, a conventional train is more economical. A sleeper train needs at least 1 baggage car, 1 coach car, 1 dinning car and 1 sleeper, so you are at 4 cars and you haven't added any for excess capacity. If you look at the following video of a train entering Churchill, it has 7 cars, so it is no where close to the size a DMU would be beneficial.


3) Buses hold between 40-80 passengers. An RDC-1 holds 90 passengers, and an RDC=-2, which is a baggage car holds 70.passengers. The regular coaches can hold 68 passengers. So, if you just run an RDC-1 and it is full, you need 2 buses to meet the demand.

The key phrase in that point is "if it is full." Even if it is full, having double the number of departures isn't a bad thing when service intervals are infrequent?

In short, it is not as simple as anything running short trains should just be converted to bus routes. There are many factors that take into account why it is still running.

I agree it isn't a simple. There are many factors, some you like to highlight, and some you like to ignore.
 

Urban Sky

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Oct 5, 2014
Messages
784
Reaction score
1,449
Location
Montreal
Well aware of that.

My point here is that the decision on which roadless communities (Indigenous or otherwise) are served is entirely arbitrary.

Moreover, the duty of care the Feds have says nothing about specific modes of transport, frequencies or levels of service. There are communities in the North that get nothing more than a few flights in from an RCAF Twin Otter a few times a year.
I’m not too sure what is so arbitrary about how communities who are connected to the rail but not road network are served: those communities along lines formerly served by federally regulated railroads get funded by the federal government (and in most cases served directly by VIA Rail), whereas the provincial governments are responsible to fund passenger rail services to roadless communities along their respective provincially regulated railroads (which seems to only be the Polar Bear Express in Northern Ontario and the Koaham Shuttle along the former BC Rail line). As a service frequency, 2-3 round trips per week have been the established standard for federally regulated railroads, whereas BC and Ontario offer more frequent services.

Obviously, these services create inequalities between those communities which are connected to the rail network and those which are not, but maintaining a passenger rail service might be a lot cheaper than offering an air service, while the picture changes completely if you would need to build a rail line in the first place. And with a negative contribution of only $20 million (i.e. $0.50 per Canadian per year), this is simply a rounding error compared to the wealth we’ve derived from the lands which belonged to First Nations like those which are most dependent on remote passenger rail services...
 

roger1818

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
Messages
235
Reaction score
318
My point here is that the decision on which roadless communities (Indigenous or otherwise) are served is entirely arbitrary.

It isn't arbitrary, it is based on which communities already have tracks.

Moreover, the duty of care the Feds have says nothing about specific modes of transport, frequencies or levels of service. There are communities in the North that get nothing more than a few flights in from an RCAF Twin Otter a few times a year.

And your point is?
 

Top