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VIA Rail

kEiThZ

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The current hourly HFR departure plan is sort of manageable with the current platform config. But I wonder how they manage half hourly departures and through service at Union in the future. And we all hope that day is closer than further. This is going to have run closer in service concept to RER than VIA's current thinking on intercity service.
 

Urban Sky

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The current hourly HFR departure plan is sort of manageable with the current platform config. But I wonder how they manage half hourly departures and through service at Union in the future. And we all hope that day is closer than further. This is going to have run closer in service concept to RER than VIA's current thinking on intercity service.
I don't know what would happen if VIA was to run half-hourly service in the future, but:

If VIA had two through platforms for its exclusive usage, it could run one through train every 30 minutes on each.
If VIA had four stub platforms (i.e. two on each side) for its exclusive usage, it could have one train terminating and originating every 60 minutes on each.
 
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crs1026

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^i don’t have access to official timings, but my impression as an observer is that many VIA trains arriving Toronto do simply “dump and go” and promptly exit the depot, heading to the TMC to tie up or to wye and return to Union. If the train has an on-duty crew on board, you can be sure they will be heading to the TMC promptly to go off duty… otherwise labour dollars would be wasted.

Trains running through (eg a trainset from the east that is meant to assume a run to Windsor) do lay over in the depot for much longer - given the low reliability, there’s padding so late arrival doesn’t cause a late departure.

The actual departure dwell may be a function of how quickly the empty train can be handled by the tower and the ML RTC… at busy times, VIa will have to wait until there is a gap in the flow of trains.

If one or two through tracks were converted to stub tracks with a mezzanine in the middle, one would have a more passenger-friendly area with lots of flexibility for servicing trains and trainset layovers.

- Paul
 

kEiThZ

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If VIA had two through platforms for its exclusive usage, it could run one through train every 30 minutes on each.
If VIA had four stub platforms (i.e. two on each side) for its exclusive usage, it could have one train terminating and originating every 60 minutes on each.

I thought as much. Which leaves me wondering if frequency increases to half hour headways (or beyond) is contingent on a westward extension of HFR till at least the airport.
 

Urban Sky

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I thought as much. Which leaves me wondering if frequency increases to half hour headways (or beyond) is contingent on a westward extension of HFR till at least the airport.
That's at least how trains in Hamburg (terminating at Altona rather than Hauptbahnhof), Berlin (terminating at Gesundbrunnen, Südkreuz or Ostbahnhof rather than Hauptbahnhof), Warsaw (terminating at Wschodnia rather than Centralna) and Vienna&Geneva&Copenhagen (terminating at the Airport rather than their respective main stations) operate...
 

reaperexpress

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Thank you for sharing this great European example of a passenger-centric rail hub, but I believe the most important difference between European rail hubs like Wien Hauptbahnhof and North American rail hubs like Toronto Union only becomes clear when you draw the attention at the width of the platforms and of the vertical access (stairs or escalators):


Source: Urban Toronto article by Robert Mackenzie


We can laugh all we want about the archaic boarding practices on which VIA insists, but they are a direct consequence of the severe historic underinvestment in rail infrastructure on this continent. If we want passenger-centric boarding processes like across Europe, we'll have to heavily invest into passenger-centric infrastructure first...
The narrow platforms are why I said that passengers would wait in the lounge until the platform is announced. The platform would only be announced once the train is at the platform, so passengers don't need to be stored on the platform. If we had wide platforms like in Wien Hauptbahnhof, the platform assignments could be displayed the entire time that the train is on the departure board. Keep in mind that GO uses platforms just as narrow, and yet doesn't have any crazy boarding practices like VIA.

The platform widths at Union are of course a major problem, which is why construction is now starting the Union Station Enhancement Project as described in the article you linked. Widening platforms is not something we "would do" or "should do", it is something we "are doing".

Interesting point. Could Union work with fewer, but wider platforms?
Yes. Construction on them starts next year.

It's the shared VIA/GO platform, to my understanding. Metrolinx released a PR release here: https://blog.metrolinx.com/2021/05/06/torontos-union-station-slated-for-new-shared-platform/
My understanding is that the ongoing work to create a shared VIA/GO platform (platform 20/21) is largely a preparatory step to allow for greater platform flexibility once work gets underway on the core of the enhancement project and platforms 26/27 and sometimes 25 will need to be temporarily closed.

There are two passing tracks at the south end of the station, could they use one of those tracks to free up the platform?
Its not like there are that many freight trains that use those tracks on a daily basis.
The first core component of the enhancement project will be a new south concourse and two very wide platforms taking the place of those freight bypass tracks. These platforms and approach tracks will be designed with a 45 mph (72 km/h) track speed, which should save a couple minutes of travel time - which adds up to a huge time savings considering how many trains pass through Union.

41463-137349.png

Rendering by Metrolinx, copied from the same article Urban Sky linked in his post.

That additional track/platform capacity will then allow the next stage of the project to remove some of the tracks in the existing shed creating platforms nearly three times as wide as today. But my understanding is that the exact platform layouts are not yet finalised for that stage of the project.
 

smallspy

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How long do VIA trains dwell at Union? Instead of killing time at the platform, could they move the train to a layover facility?
There are two passing tracks at the south end of the station, could they use one of those tracks to free up the platform?
Its not like there are that many freight trains that use those tracks on a daily basis.
Or allow VIA to share the Bathurst layover or east layover facilities?
Dwell times depend on the train, and whether it is continuing on in its journey or not.

If a train is ending at Union, it usually only stays there for about 10 minutes or less.

If a train is originating at Union, most will usually arrive 25 to 30 minutes before scheduled departure. The earliest trains of the day shorten this to 10 to 15 minutes, and The Canadian extends this to an hour.

If a train is scheduled to continue past Union as a different train, then it depends on the schedule, but usually about (but less than) an hour. They want to make sure that there is enough slack in the schedule to unload, clean and prep, load, and still account for any delays in the first trip.

VIA's layover facilities are at Mimico, and the upgrading of the service tracks from Union to Mimico to full mainline tracks oh so long ago was expressly to help account for the equipment moves from both GO's and VIA's (then projected future) yard.

Dan
 

reaperexpress

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Dwell times depend on the train, and whether it is continuing on in its journey or not.

If a train is ending at Union, it usually only stays there for about 10 minutes or less.

If a train is originating at Union, most will usually arrive 25 to 30 minutes before scheduled departure. The earliest trains of the day shorten this to 10 to 15 minutes, and The Canadian extends this to an hour.

If a train is scheduled to continue past Union as a different train, then it depends on the schedule, but usually about (but less than) an hour. They want to make sure that there is enough slack in the schedule to unload, clean and prep, load, and still account for any delays in the first trip.

VIA's layover facilities are at Mimico, and the upgrading of the service tracks from Union to Mimico to full mainline tracks oh so long ago was expressly to help account for the equipment moves from both GO's and VIA's (then projected future) yard.

Dan
Adding to this: Part of GO's rationale for stopping all of their trains at Exhibition and at East Harbour is to divert as much as possible of the downtown-bound demand away from Union, to reduce the dwell times in Union. This is critical if they want to reduce the number of tracks.

If trains are expected to dump their entire passenger load at Union and go out of service, then the current arrangment actually is fairly optimal, with tons of tracks, and platforms on both sides of the train allowing all doors to be opened simultaneously.
IMG_20210828_083505900_HDR.jpg
 

crs1026

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If trains are expected to dump their entire passenger load at Union and go out of service, then the current arrangment actually is fairly optimal, with tons of tracks, and platforms on both sides of the train allowing all doors to be opened simultaneously.

GO's use of Union is not much different than a subway stop - other than whatever padding is in the schedule, dwell is a matter of arrive - discharge people - pick up people - depart. (Assuming no changes that would force brake or continuity tests, changing ends, etc).

VIA is unlikely to be that quick and there may be terminal functions required that GO doesn't bother with - eg more merit on VIA to a crew member doing a walk-through to spot lost items, sleeping passengers, waste collection, grooming check, food inventory or replenishment, etc.

Certainly, there are places around the globe where intercity trains dispense with those and make very quick stops at very major stations. My point is just that the two will likely not converge.

I sure hope that the platforms dedicated to VIA can be the first to be made high platform.

- Paul
 

roger1818

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GO's use of Union is not much different than a subway stop - other than whatever padding is in the schedule, dwell is a matter of arrive - discharge people - pick up people - depart. (Assuming no changes that would force brake or continuity tests, changing ends, etc).

VIA is unlikely to be that quick and there may be terminal functions required that GO doesn't bother with - eg more merit on VIA to a crew member doing a walk-through to spot lost items, sleeping passengers, waste collection, grooming check, food inventory or replenishment, etc.

Certainly, there are places around the globe where intercity trains dispense with those and make very quick stops at very major stations. My point is just that the two will likely not converge.

I sure hope that the platforms dedicated to VIA can be the first to be made high platform.

- Paul

Agreed. The other factor that makes VIA different than GO is luggage. Most GO riders aren't carrying more than a small backpack or briefcase, but a large number of VIA riders have a some type of suitcase (and possibly a carry on). That makes boarding and alighting slower, takes up more platform space, and means more people will want to use an escalator instead of stairs (slowing the clearing of the platform). With only 1 escalator per platform, VIA needs to keep changing its direction, meaning after the train has arrived, you can't use the escalator to get to the platform until everyone has finished leaving the platform. GO will have the escalator always in the up direction and force people going down to use either the stares or the elevator for those willing to wait for it.
 

roger1818

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Siemens is busy. Not only did they deliver VIA's first trainset last week, but they are delivering the first of Brightline's new trainsets for their Orlando service this week (Bright Red II).

 
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Canadian Chocho

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At the moment there are no Depot Turns at all, everything is getting serviced at the maintenance centre precisely to cut down on dwell times as ordered by Metrolinx.

As for the bags, you'd be surprised what people try to bring as "Carry-On" luggage, items they can barely drag let alone lift onto a rack and/or a few steps. Wouldn't want to have that in the same car as a passengers in case of an emergency.
 

nfitz

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Has VIA started to repaint some of their stainless steel equipment? I was walking down the street his afternoon and in the distance a train (presumably to Ottawa or Montreal) passed. The first car next to the locomotive had a dark stripe where the windows were, and I thought I saw some yellow above the windows. The rest was typical stainless steel equipment.

Looking on the fleet website, the closest I can see is this inactive observation car - but I don't think this was it.

VIA_club_observation.jpg
 

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