VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman:
VIA News Editor (West) Terry Muirhead:
VIA LRC rebuild car 3317 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 VIA RENAISSANCE CARS
“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.
VIA LOCOMOTIVE FLEET STATUS REPORT
June 16, 2011
Tim Hayman – VIA Editor
Unit# Status Notes
902 Active Damaged by fire (August, 2009), repaired and repainted Renaissance green, w/ no
903 Wrecked March 18, 2011. Currently stored awaiting repairs.
904 Active First equipped with emergency horns
917 Active Repainted Renaissance Green
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