VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman:

VIA News Editor (West) Terry Muirhead:



 VIA LRC rebuild car 3317 was released from IRSI on june 8th, the second of VIA Rail's rebuilt LRC coaches to be completed, and headed west on VIA 15.  It arrived in VIA Montreal Maintence Centre June 9th.  It and rebuilt LRC car 3315 have been noted on VIA Trains 22 and 24.  Pierre Fournier clicked 3317 & 3315 on the 620 being turned around behind the station at Québec on June 19th

On June 19th Walter Pfefferle caught VIA 70 leaving Ingersoll Ont.with 6439 after running through a swarm of shad flies on its way to and from Windsor

Ron Visockis caught VIA P42DC 906 leading Train #51 at Belleville, ON May 31st.



“The first 9-Years”.

(by Tim Hayman - VIA Editor)


In the early 1990s, a new overnight train service was proposed to operate between Britain and Europe, traveling through the Channel Tunnel, and operating with a fleet of cars based on the British MK-4 design and built by Metropolitan-Cammell/Alstom. The train would be made up of sleeper cars, long distance coaches, and lounge/service cars, and would be dubbed “Nightstar”. Construction of the car fleet began in 1992, but by 1999 the entire project had been cancelled due to skyrocketing costs, airline competition, and poor planning. This left the 139 cars, in various stages of completion, sitting in storage. Alstom agreed to attempt to find a buyer for the cars.


In 2000, VIA Rail took delivery of a coach-service car-sleeper set for extensive testing between Ottawa and Montreal (hauled by LRC locomotive 6905). Following successful tests, VIA agreed to purchase the entire 139 cars from Alstom for a mere $130 million, a bargain for the number of “new” cars aquired. These cars, along with the soon to be aquired P42DCs, heralded in the so-called “Renaissance of passenger rail in Canada”.


By 2002, the cars had been prepared for service by Thunder Bay’s Bombardier plant. Now dubbed as the “Renaissance” fleet, they entered revenue service on corridor trains between Montreal and Quebec City, on the Ocean, and on the  short-lived Enterprise. 14 coaches were outfitted as VIA 1/Business Club cars, and 33 as Economy coaches. Of the 57 sleeper cars only 28 were finished as sleepers, 29 remained as empty shells, 3 sleeper shells were outfitted as dining cars, 9 as baggage cars, and 3 as “transition cars” to facilitate attaching a Park car to the end of the Ocean. There were also 20 service cars.


Given that the “Nightstar” two-tone green paint was still under warranty, VIA elected not to repaint the cars, but rather to simply add yellow striping and the appropriate VIA logos. This resulted in an entirely new set of colours entering the fleet, and would eventually lead to VIA’s shift away from its traditional blue, towards the now dubbed “Renaissance green”. The newly ordered P42DC locomotives would receive a paint scheme designed to match these cars as well as the LRCs, a scheme that would eventually grace the rebuilt F40PH-2d locomotives, and inspire the new paint on the rebuilt LRC coaches.  Inside and out, the cars underwent many upgrades and modifications to make them compatible for Canadian service, including electrical system overhauls, and “winterization” work. Surprisingly though, most cars retained their “Euro” couplers, and only baggage cars were actually outfitted with standard knuckles (interestingly, the first Enterprise trains were pulled by F40s with European style couplers added to the rear!).


The Renaissance cars have now operated for 9 years, and have had more than their share of teething problems. Winters have been the worst, with problems such as doors freezing open occurring due to the cars being designed for a more temperate climate. Accessibility issues also arose, forcing VIA to make extensive modifications to the cars to comply with disability access requirements. In 9 years, the cars have seen more modifications than many will see in their service lives, and continue to pose problems for VIA in terms of high operating costs and new issues that frequently arise. However, there is no doubt that the Renaissance cars have been an invaluable asset for VIA in the last decade. It allowed for the fleet to expand considerably, and for more Budd-built HEP-1 cars to be freed up for the Canadian and other services, as well as freeing LRC and HEP-2 cars up to expand corridor services. Despite having some ongoing problems, the cars were exactly the sort of bargain VIA needed, and at the right time, to make a significant fleet expansion.





June 16, 2011

Tim Hayman – VIA Editor


Unit#         Status                                                               Notes




900                 Active

901                 Active

902                 Active                     Damaged by fire (August, 2009), repaired and repainted Renaissance green, w/ no

                                                          Canada wordmark

903                                                  Wrecked March 18, 2011.   Currently stored awaiting repairs.

904                 Active                    First equipped with emergency horns

905                 Active

906                 Active

907                 Active          

908                 Active

909                 Active

910                 Active

911                 Active

912                 Active

913                 Active

914                 Active

915                 Active

916                 Active

917                 Active                       Repainted Renaissance Green

918                 Active

919                 Active

920                 Active


Note: All P42DC locomotives have been equipped with a third headlight mounted above the headlights and below the numberboards. VIA has recently begun installing emergency horns located above the cab of the locomotive to comply with new Transport Canada recommendations.




6400              CAD Rebuild prototype Wrecked February 2010

6401              Rebuilt, Active      (former “Spiderman 2”)

6402              Rebuilt, Active

6403              Rebuilt, Active      (former CBC unit)

6404              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight (former Kool-Aid and “Spiderman 2”)

6405              At CAD for rebuild          (former Kool-Aid unit)

6406              Rebuilt, Active      (former “Spiderman 2” and Kool-Aid unit)

6407              Rebuilt, Active

6408              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight, Coors Light “Silver Bullet” (former “Spiderman 2”)

6409              At CAD for rebuild

6410              Rebuilt, Active

6411               Rebuilt, Active      (former Kool-Aid and Operation Lifesaver)

6412              At CAD for rebuild

6413              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight        (former “Spiderman 2”)

6414              Non-rebuilt, Loto-Quebec Promo Scheme, Active

6415              Non-rebuilt, Active

6416              Rebuilt, Active

6417              Rebuilt, Active

6418              At CAD for rebuild

6419              Non-rebuilt, Active

6420              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight

6421              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight

6422              Wrecked 1999       (retired 2001)

6423              Wrecked 1999

6424             Non rebuilt, Active 3rd headlight and VIA Rail Canada logo on the side

(former Budweiser, Spiderman 2 and Koolaid)

6425              Rebuilt, Active

6426              Non-rebuilt, Active

6427              Non-rebuilt, Active

6428              Non-rebuilt, Active

6429              Rebuilt, Active      (former Home Hardware and Telus)

6430              Wrecked 1999                   (retired 2001)

6431              Rebuilt, Active

6432              Rebuilt, Active      (former Kool-Aid unit)

6433              Rebuilt, Active      (former Kool-Aid unit)

6434              Rebuilt, Active      (Former “Spiderman 2”)

6435              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight

6436              Rebuilt, Active

6437              Rebuilt, Active

6438              At CAD for rebuild

6439              Rebuilt, Active      (former Kool-Aid unit)

6440              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight

6441              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight

6442              Rebuilt, Active

6443              Rebuilt, Active

6444              Rebuilt, Active

6445              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight, Coors Light “Silver Bullet”

6446              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight, and “VIA Rail Canada” logo on side

6447              Wrecked 1997                   (retired 1998)

6448              At CAD for rebuild

6449              Rebuilt, Active

6450              Wrecked 2000                   (retired 2001)

6451              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight

6452              Rebuilt, Active

6453              Non-rebuilt, Active        3rd headlight        (former Kool-Aid unit)

6454              Rebuilt, Active      (former Kool-Aid unit)

6455              Rebuilt, Active

6456              Rebuilt, Active

6457              Rebuilt, Active

6458              Rebuilt, Active


*6407 is the most recent unit to be released from CAD, while 6405 and 6412 have just been delivered to CAD.


Units 6400 to 6419 were originally class GPA-30a, 6420-6429 were GPA-30b, and 6430-6458 were GPA-30c. 6400, when rebuilt, was class GPA-30d. All other rebuilt units are now class GPA-30h.




RBRX 18520           ex-GO Transit unit on lease

RBRX 18522           ex-GO Transit unit on lease

RBRX 18523           ex-GO Transit unit on lease


*All RBRX leased units have been in service on VIA services from Montreal to Jonquiere and Senneterre.



6300              VMC Switcher, currently active.  The FP9ARM 6300 had been inactive for some time but was recently put back into VMV Shop captive service after repairs. Originally numbered VIA 6524, this F-unit was involved in the 1985 Hinton, AB wreck, and was rebuilt with cab of KCS F7A 4062 at Pointe St-Charles Shop in Montreal.


202                 Active           MMC switcher

204                 Active           MMC switcher


  Ron Visockis clicked VIA 6440 with new trucks on May 22, as the F40PH-2 passed through Belleville, Ontario on train no.57.

 In mid-June Ron also photographed the new train station at Belleville now under construction right next to the old depot.

After being moved from the roundhouse in Victoria, the two VIA Budd cars now stored under protective tarps on Vancouver Island at Nanaimo, BC in Wilcox Yard since VIA service has been shut down due to track and structural repairs needed on much of the E&N line. As previously reported, VIA will terminate bus substitution service on the line, leaving all VIA services on Vancouver Island suspended indefinitely.

 Once again this summer VIA Rail will be offering “Bike Train” services, which allow riders to conveniently check their bikes in the baggage cars on select departures throughout Ontario and Quebec. VIA has expanded this service this year by adding baggage cars to more trains, and now offers bike trains services on trains between Toronto and London, Windsor, Ottawa, and Montreal, as well as between Montreal and Quebec City, Ottawa, Jonquiere, and Senneterre. The service is offered from June 6 to October 31 this year, and will cost riders a $20 fee per direction for their bike.

 © CRO July 2011