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  #1  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 3:03 AM
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VIA Rail

How does a thread for only VIA not exist?

So, with the new fractured government, with a goal of lowering our carbon footprint, do anything to make VIA be more appealing to more Canadians?

Could we see new routes in the West to appeal to them?
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  #2  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 3:17 AM
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I thought we had one in the main forum too. Sometimes, a thread just gets hidden for strange reasons. For example, this is the 2nd time I can’t find Atlantic Canada’s highway thread...
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 4:38 AM
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 8:48 AM
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VIA is useless outside of the corridor, and inside the corridor it is slow, eccentric, strange, and heavily compromised by a lack of track priority.

The best course of action is to get one route -- just one, say Montreal-Ottawa or something similarly central but unchallenging -- up to par and then let Canadians use it, enjoy it, and develop a feel for rail travel.

Because right now we are queuing for trains at gates like flights, stopping for reasons not explained by the conductor, paying for drinks with 1970s-style flatbed credit card machines and just generally playing host to a crazy old relic of a rail system. And the result is that we barely use it, and it all becomes a vicious cycle.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 10:04 AM
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^ Queuing is the main reason I don't use VIA, along with cost. I'm actually a 10 minute walk from the VIA station that has multiple daily trips, it should be super handy for us but it is not. In Cobourg you don't have to quene but in Toronto you do. I'm not interested in doing that for a trip into the city. Instead we drive Durham and take the GO train for a fraction of the cost and convenience of hopping on a train when we see fit.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 10:20 AM
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It's ridiculous. A train to Montreal backs way up into Union, way beyond the capacity of the "gate area" (trains do not need a gate area).

So you have this crowded room full of people queued up single file for one train, and if there are others going soon before or after, everyone's all getting mixed up and shouting, becoming confused. It's ludicrous.

Trains are great because they can load and offload large numbers of people in very short timeframes. Unless you do it the VIA way. And it's not like it's the only thing that sucks and is weird at VIA so maybe they should go for some easy wins.

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Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 10:34 AM
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Last summer, I took a train from Toronto to Niagara Falls. I went over my experiences going to Montreal the previous year in a thread, but the train to the Falls seemed a no-brainer.

I won't be using VIA again. It's just too weird and shitty. The ride from Toronto to Hamilton was OK, if ludicrously slow, but then we just started stopping for 10-20 minute periods every few kilometres. This happened five or six times between Hamilton and the Falls, and at no point did the driver provide any information over the loudspeaker. It was as if the arrival time stated on the ticket had no weight whatsoever, and that everybody just knew that the train would arrive whenever it did.

On SJ, I would have received a full refund for such a trip.

So that's it. It's just too slow and lame. And it's not as if we don't know how to do it -- I also used several GO trains, which were every bit as comfortable and efficient as any commuter system I've ever been on -- but VIA just sucks. I do not support privatization, but this company should be mercy-killed and a new Crown rail corporation built from scratch.
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  #8  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 2:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
I do not support privatization, but this company should be mercy-killed and a new Crown rail corporation built from scratch.
Your idea of starting a new Crown corporation would not do a thing.

What is required is investment in the rail system like we invest in roads.

Via needs to have its trains given legal priority over freight trains and the host railways need to compensate Via for delays.

Passenger rail service need to be re-introduced to repair the damage caused by years of cancellations, particularly in Western Canada.

Passenger trains should be routed to serve the larger population centres so that cost recovery is improved.

Transcontinental train service should be changed to regional service so trains can have more convenient schedules, depart from their origin on time, have less distance to travel and have a greater likelihood of arriving at their final destination on time. This also would have the benefit of increasing ridership and make multiple frequencies more possible.

Via needs it's own right of way in parts of the country where numbers warrant. This would allow for faster and more frequent service. While the HFR proposal is an option there are other ways to have similar results and still use the more populated Lakeshore route in Ontario.

The host railways need infrastructure improvements including increased capacity, increased speeds and electrification which will require massive government and corporate funding over a long period of time.

Infrastructure that was abandoned and or downgraded needs to be replaced either at the expense of the government for allowing the railways to take the action in the first place or by the government forcing the railroads to rebuild certain sections of track. There are still sections of track on the CN line between Edmonton and the BC border where double track on one of Canada's busiest mainlines that was removed by CN and is still not been returned to service.

Stations need be located in the centre of cities where possible not out in the bush like in Sudbury or in the middle of a rail yard on the outskirts like in Saskatoon.

The list goes on and on including such things as building grade separations, construction to reduce curves, implementing positive train control on main lines and more new equipment to name a few. This all takes $$$$$ and commitment.
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  #9  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 2:14 PM
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The GE Genesis is not the worst bit of rolling stock in the world if permitted to run at 160 kph in something approaching an uninterrupted fashion.

It's as fast as the SJ X12, which is regarded as a mildly shitty train but not some sort of crazy relic. I ride on those a lot and while I try to get the X2000, it's not a big deal.

These trains are fine for runs like Stockholm-Norrköping, or Montreal-Ottawa. They're not great, but you can create an OK experience with them. But if you're going to do that, everything else has to be 100% on point: strict schedule adherence, no weird stops, constant communication and explanation of all stops or delays, proper boarding -- all of that.

You can't run a borderline train like that with no communication, antiquated food and bev services, schedule-destroying stops and that insane airplane boarding method.

It will be a shitty experience.

Last edited by kool maudit; Nov 25, 2019 at 2:25 PM.
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  #10  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 2:39 PM
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I think you're both right - the biggest issue with VIA is a major structural one, that it does not have priority on the tracks it runs on. That will require major investment to fix and without that the actual performance of the trains will not be fixed.

But there are quirks of VIA that just 'exist' in typical Canadian fashion for no reason that could be fixed, like the aforementioned boarding process. The other stuff like food and nicer trains would be easier to fix once the major issue starts being fixed, as if people actually see the potential for VIA to be a good service then spending money on the niceties will be more easily justified.
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  #11  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 2:44 PM
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My standards must be pretty low. I've taken the train from Ottawa to Toronto several times for work and to see football games in Hamilton.
I've had no issues any time I have used the train and being in the heart of Toronto when I get off the train is a joy instead of the craziness of getting from Pearson to downtown.

Back in my beloved Prairies its a totally different story.
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  #12  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 3:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
VIA is useless outside of the corridor, and inside the corridor it is slow, eccentric, strange, and heavily compromised by a lack of track priority.

The best course of action is to get one route -- just one, say Montreal-Ottawa or something similarly central but unchallenging -- up to par and then let Canadians use it, enjoy it, and develop a feel for rail travel.

Because right now we are queuing for trains at gates like flights, stopping for reasons not explained by the conductor, paying for drinks with 1970s-style flatbed credit card machines and just generally playing host to a crazy old relic of a rail system. And the result is that we barely use it, and it all becomes a vicious cycle.

I agree with what you say except Ottawa-Montreal doesn't make sense. it should be Toronto-Montreal then expand. Both Montreal and Toronto have direct Amtrack connections so we should be falling in line with Amtrack upgrades. The first step will be building an electrified high speed line. Once in place the same tech could be set up between Calgary and Edmonton, continue the expansion to Ottawa. It would take a lot of political will and public support to upgrade then entire nation. The tracks north of Toronto are very rickety and at the moment train travel through the North until close to the Manitoba boarder where things flatten out is very slow.
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  #13  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 3:09 PM
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I agree with what you say except Ottawa-Montreal doesn't make sense. it should be Toronto-Montreal then expand. .
I think he may have suggested Ottawa-Montreal because there at least VIA owns most of the line it runs on. Probably 80% of the route or so is on VIA-owned track.

Ottawa-Toronto I would estimate is only on perhaps 20% or so on tracks owned by VIA.

As such Montreal-Ottawa is more of a quick, easy win.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 3:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
VIA is useless outside of the corridor, and inside the corridor it is slow, eccentric, strange, and heavily compromised by a lack of track priority.

The best course of action is to get one route -- just one, say Montreal-Ottawa or something similarly central but unchallenging -- up to par and then let Canadians use it, enjoy it, and develop a feel for rail travel.

Because right now we are queuing for trains at gates like flights, stopping for reasons not explained by the conductor, paying for drinks with 1970s-style flatbed credit card machines and just generally playing host to a crazy old relic of a rail system. And the result is that we barely use it, and it all becomes a vicious cycle.
I don't mind the service on VIA1 (first class).
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  #15  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 3:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
I think he may have suggested Ottawa-Montreal because there at least VIA owns most of the line it runs on. Probably 80% of the route or so is on VIA-owned track.

Ottawa-Toronto I would estimate is only on perhaps 20% or so on tracks owned by VIA.

As such Montreal-Ottawa is more of a quick, easy win.

Toronto-Montreal is a lot longer and has more stops. It's obviously the flagship route, but this would be a pilot project, so you need a shorter, less complex route to get things up and running.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 3:15 PM
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I could see VIA working in the corridor, Calgary-Edmonton, and possibly Moncton-Halifax.

Joining these three functioning networks with a single skeleton line service would be an achievable goal for VIA, but it has to completely reorganize its thinking and structure.
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  #17  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 3:21 PM
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You know, VIA's revenue is 2.8 billion SEK vs. 7.8 bn SEK for SJ. SJ, however, handled 31.8m passengers in 2018 vs. 4.4 million for VIA.

It also has a much busier schedule and way more service. VIA apparently receives $2 in subsidies for every $1 received from customers; I'm not sure how SJ works.
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  #18  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 4:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
VIA is useless outside of the corridor, and inside the corridor it is slow, eccentric, strange, and heavily compromised by a lack of track priority.

The best course of action is to get one route -- just one, say Montreal-Ottawa or something similarly central but unchallenging -- up to par and then let Canadians use it, enjoy it, and develop a feel for rail travel.

Because right now we are queuing for trains at gates like flights, stopping for reasons not explained by the conductor, paying for drinks with 1970s-style flatbed credit card machines and just generally playing host to a crazy old relic of a rail system. And the result is that we barely use it, and it all becomes a vicious cycle.
They actually just fixed this (a few months ago I think). They now have proper 2010s on-board payment.

HFR and the new fleet of trains will go a long way to fixing the problems.
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Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 4:45 PM
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I travel with VIA between Toronto and Ottawa fairly often and it's a mixed bag. Generally I find that the schedules are off by 5-10 minutes, however once one delay occurs they begin cascading. I remember leaving Toronto an hour earlier than a friend and beating them to Fallowfield station because our train was on time and received priority. Unfortunately been on that delayed train a few times...

The payment system was annoying as hell but thankfully supposed to be updated now. Wish they had better drink offerings as the only craft beer last time was Beau's, but according to some friends in the industry that has to do with bilingual labeling requirements. The waiting corrals are also annoying but since I rarely travel with large bags I don't bother standing in line anymore. Wifi also sucks.

I always check and see if there are deals on first class as it's MUCH better - occasionally it's only $20 or so more than economy which is made up for with free drinks / meals. Though I was a bit flabbergasted once when I asked if I could have a beer with my meal instead of wine and was told that no, I absolutely could not!

Right now it's world's better than the bus, but that's not saying much. During busy periods (Xmas, for instance) I try and use Porter unless the price differential is just too much to justify. If they do manage to improve service speeds and timeline reliability at the current price point I would always stick with the train.
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  #20  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2019, 4:48 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
I could see VIA working in the corridor, Calgary-Edmonton, and possibly Moncton-Halifax.

Joining these three functioning networks with a single skeleton line service would be an achievable goal for VIA, but it has to completely reorganize its thinking and structure.
First priority to me is to have a daily regional Calgary - Winnipeg train and 3-4 daily trains between Calgary and Edmonton to act as a place holder until decisions can be made about higher speed rail. This would promote the service and if it could do the trip in 3 hrs it would show how much latent demand there is for inter-city service.

I would change Halifax- Moncton to Halifax-Moncton-St John with daily service The Ocean should also be daily between Montreal and Halifax.

These improvements would address regional alienation, promote a more climate sensitive for of transport and actually service larger centres of population than much of Via route.

Some of this would require infrastructure upgrades and using some of the Canadian's equipment until new trains can be acquired.

I agree that Ottawa to Montreal should be electrified with hybrid locomotives which are already in use by AMT in Montreal. Some curves need to be re-aligned for faster speeds and there should be a rail/rail separation between Via and CP near Coteau.
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