Senior VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman:
VIA News Co-Editor (West) Terry Muirhead:
Terry Muirhead caught VIA #2's Equipment 6406, & 6408 heading for the TMC at Mimico, Ontario and #85's equipment 6424 backing up towards Toronto 's Union Station at the Peter St. overpass outside the Toronto Renaissance Hotel. Oct 23, 2011
Back in March of 2011, VIA RDC-4 #6250 was removed from service on the Sudbury-White River route after a grade-crossing accident. The damaged RDC-4 was sent to IRSI Moncton, and IRSI began work on rebuilding ex-CP RDC-4 #9251 for service. Work is nearly complete, and newly-renumbered VIA 6251 has been testing near the IRSI shops. On October 22nd, Wendell Lemon caught #6251 while testing on CN's Springhill Subdivision between Pacific Jct and Gordon Yard. As shown in the photos below, the new RDC-4 differs from VIA's current RDCs in a number of ways. Most noticeably, the cab ends have been left silver, and have had the full VIA Rail Canada logo added on the end doors. The unit has also received the full "Canada" logo on the side-fluting, a yellow sill stripe, and no Canada flags. A third headlight has been added above the end door (in the same fashion as the F40s and P42s), and the B-end cab has been removed, with windows, headlight and numberboards plated over. This will force the unit to operate exclusively as part of a paired-set, with the A-end facing out.
The F40 rebuild program is continuing at a steady pace. In late September CADRAIL released VIA 6438, and in early October released VIA 6441 to further add to the total of rebuilt F40s
It is getting harder to find F40's in the old yellow paint scheme but Walter Pfefferle caught 6424 heading up 70 as it arrived in Ingersoll on a foggy morning.
VIA Rail has once again changed the nomenclature for their sleeping class accommodations. As of this October, what had previously been known as “Sleeper Touring Class” (featuring sleeper accommodations with meals and Park car access included), will now be referred to as “Sleeper Plus” class. These changes apply to both The Canadian and The Ocean, where Sleeper Touring had previously been available. The only place in which the name “Touring Class” is still being used is on the Jasper-Prince Rupert train, where it refers to the step-up from Economy class, including full meals and access to the Park car.
Despite speculation that the days of Budd equipment being used on The Ocean were finally over, recent updates to VIA’s online reservation system indicate that one Budd consist will once again be used on Trains 14/15 this winter, to allow for one Renaissance consist to be removed from use for servicing. At the time of this writing, the online system indicates that the Budd consist will first operate from Montreal on November 16th. This consist is also listed in the reservation system for into the New Year, including during the Christmas season. However, there are inconsistencies with the equipment cycling as it is presently listed in the system, suggesting that VIA will have to make changes to some of the dates as they sort the details out. This is certain to cause some frustration for certain travelers who are trying to travel on the Budd equipment!
According to VIA’s Capital Investment page (http://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/capital-investment), one Skyline car has now been upgraded and given a full interior cosmetic overhaul (similar to the newly overhauled Park cars that are now in service). With the funds currently allocated to VIA’s Capital Investment work, four Skyline cars will be receiving this treatment. You can view one interior photo, showing off the new upholstery in the lounge, here:
Just like the upgraded Park cars, the new Skylines feature leather seat coverings in both the lounge and the dome section, as well as new lighting, a new heat tracing cable for the water system, and a new retention tank. According to VIA, all types of equipment in use on the Canadian will be overhauled in the near future, which will apparently include coaches as well (despite little mention of these plans in the past). With the rebuilt F40s on the point, all new interiors, and new “luxury” accommodation options, the so-called “New Canadian” will be quite the experience by next summer.
In October, VIA Rail Canada opened their new train station in Smiths Falls, ON. Funding for the $750,000 project came from the government of Canada's $923 million investment in VIA Rail for improvements to its facilities, equipment and infrastructure, including $407 million through Canada's Economic Action Plan.
"The completion of projects like Smiths Falls' new station shows the positive results being achieved for both rail passengers and the community of Smiths Falls through government of Canada funding to VIA", said Steven Fletcher, minister of state for transport. "It also underlines this government's commitment to revitalize passenger rail service and support economic development in the region."
VIA Rail's new Smiths Falls station, which began serving passengers in early August, is fully accessible and located just north of downtown. With its distinctive tower, the new station has been designed to blend in with the historic character of Smiths Falls. Its new location will also lead to smoother and improved rail service at this important stop on VIA's busy Ottawa to Toronto route.
"Trains in Smiths Falls have a long and proud history, connecting people and businesses here with the rest of Canada since the first train arrived in 1859", said Smiths Falls Mayor Dennis Staples. "On behalf of all the citizens of this great town, I am proud to be able to play a part in this new station's official inauguration and want to thank the government and VIA Rail for this important contribution to our town's continuing prosperity."
Speaking of stations, Ron Visockis sent in these photos of the huge overpass that seesm to look out of place been built at the Belleville VIA station. Can you say "what the heck"?
The Toronto Railway Heritage Association's (TRHA) ex-VIA LRC locomotive 6917 is currently stored and being worked on at VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre in Mimico by TRHA volunteers. Batteries have been installed and the electrical systems have been tested. Work is ongoing and it is hoped that the unit will be started up before the New Year. (Dan Garcia).
VIA 8715 Tremblant Park was on #49 Dead Heading going past the Skydome this evening. Prior to that is was on #635 Montreal-Ottawa again Dead Heading. Last week it arrived off #15 from Halifax
Correction: In the October CRO, we incorrectly stated that VIA FP9 6300 was not damaged during the 1986 Hinton collision. We apologize for this error. VIA 6300 did in fact suffer severe damage to its nose, and later had its cab replaced with the cab of KCS F9 4062. Please refer to the March 2011 issue of CRO, where we correctly identified the damage to 6300, and featured several photos of it shortly after the wreck.
In October, VIA Rail was awarded The Railway Association of Canada's Safety Award, for VIA's successful "Grade Crossing Closure Strategy and Program". According to the RACS, VIA Rail's strategy "consisted of a one-on-one personal approach, which enabled parties to exchange on the use of crossings, VIA's operations, regulations and safety practices. This effort promoted a friendly atmosphere, where logic and common understanding prevailed and led to a very high rate of success in closing crossings." More information can be found in the RACS press release, here:
Francois Jolin snapped these shots of the Montreal-New York “Adirondack”, first departing the VIA Rail Maintenance Center, and about to back up to Central Station located in downtown Montreal, in preparation for departure September 18th. Then a week later on September 25th Frank caught the “Adirondack” again, heading south with the Ocean View Dome, on the D&H near Willsboro, NY, high above Lake Champlain on a gorgeous afternoon.
Andy Cassidy clicked both ends of Amtrak 510 North coming through Spruce, BC at mile 144.5 on the BNSF New Westminster Sub. Power assignment is varied with some days arriving power at both ends, and other days with paired units and a Control Cab on the back end. On August 7th the train had had two P42DC’s AMTK 55 leading and 41 trailing.
Claude Langlois shot VIA FP9A 6537 at Spadina Yard, 12 hours before she was wrecked at Ingersoll in 1982.
Here we see VIA 1410 and CP 4068 in Saint John NB on a cold winter day. Photo was taken in the late 80's. Walter Pfefferle Collection
© CRO November 2011