VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman:

VIA News Editor (West) Terry Muirhead:

October 2011

VIA FP9Au 6300, which until recently was the (VMC) Vancouver Maintenance Centre shop switcher, has been donated to the National Railway Historical Society (BC Chapter), and in September was moved to New Westminster, BC.  VIA 6300 was one of the locos involved in the 1986 collision at Hinton Alberta, but was undamaged as it was placed in the 8th position of the train. The accident took place on a stretch of CN's transcontinental main line, near the town of Hinton, Alberta, west of Edmonton. Nearby towns are Jasper to the west and Edson to the east. Passenger service on the line was provided by VIA Rail Canada. Slightly over half of the 100 mile (160 km) stretch of track between Jasper and Edson was double-tracked, including 11.2 miles (18 km) of trackage from Hargwen siding west to Dalehurst siding. Traffic on this line was controlled with CTC. You can read more about the collision in the March 2011 issue of CRO


VIA 6300 has been utilized as the Vancouver Maintenance Centre Switcher. The 6300 has been sidelined on several occasions due to mechanical Issues. Recently mould was discovered in the cab, and the F-unit and has sat idle at the VMC for the past couple of years before being donated the NRHS.

A new round rear red disc marker mounted on the knuckle as on this “Park” car, is now standard on VIA trains. While CN have added red lights to their DPU’s, VIA has gone the other route in favour of the new round marker disc. After Transport Canada regulations ceased to require marker lights as end-of-train markers, VIA began to remove markers from the rebuilt LRC cars, and added “red dots” on the back of all of their coaches. The new red marker disk is fit into the coupler knuckle, and can therefore be easily applied to only the last car on the train. On September 10th Mathieu Tremblay caught CN 369 and VIA 605 with the Saint-Tite Country Festival CN Special, meet at Saint-Thècle, QC You don't see a VIA “Park” car everyday in these parts!

Ron Visockis took these excellent detail photos of one of the new markers in the coupler of the last HEP-2 coach of Train 60, while stopped in Belleville.

Newly released LRC car #3339 left Moncton NB on the tailend of VIA 15 September 24th for Montreal.  Ron Visockis found 3328 at Belleville with a comparison to the original scheme. “Look for an extra yellow band over the windows and they removed the flag but kept CANADA in the middle of the car "  The new "Renaissance" green colour in place of the old blue is also very noticeable when placed in consist with the non-rebuilt cars.

Walter Pfefferle caught VIA 76 with 901 leading as it arrived in Toronto Ontario on the 27th in the bright sunshine.

Also on the 30th he caught VIA 904 with 72 as it flew toward Paris Ontario through some of the changing colors of Fall.


The New York-Toronto Amtrak train coming into Niagara Falls Sept 4th, (which becomes VIA #98 once across the border into Canada) had three private cars on the rear, VIA F40 6451, VIA Chateau, Northern Sky, Evelyn Henry, Warren E Henry, and were moved to TMC. The cars were for a special VIA train that a Saudi prince rented/chartered, and departed Toronto for Vancouver around 2pm September 8th operating as VIA #3 with new locomotive VIA F40 6436 hauling VIA 8223, WSOR 800588, RVIX 800149 and RVIX 800148.

In early September, VIA Rail officially unveiled it’s new “Deluxe Sleeper Class” service on The Canadian, a new premium level of service that will be available on the Canadian only during the summer season. The new service will be available in summer 2012, and will include accommodations in the newly remodeled Chateau sleepers that are now being dubbed as “Deluxe Sleeping Cars”. The cars will feature 6 large bedrooms, which are touted to be 50% larger than the normal Chateau and Manor double bedrooms, and will feature, according to VIA’s website, a “Very comfortable double bed and bunk bed, flat-screen television with closed circuit programming and DVD player, full en-suite washroom with glass-door shower, large mirror and heated floors, leather sofa, shower kit and hair dryer, refrigerator in the bedroom, and upgraded linens and amenities.” Deluxe sleeper class will also feature all of the amenities of Sleeper Touring class, as well as a dedicated service attendant, all day room service, priority boarding and luggage service, and a tour during the stopover in Winnipeg. VIA also unveiled the floor-plan of the new Park cars, which will feature larger fully-accessible suites, and a redesigned mural lounge. Floor plans for the new sleepers and Park cars, as well as photos and a further description of the service, can be found on VIA’s website here:

On September 15th, CN announced that they are reevaluating service on the Newcastle Subdivision, which is CN’s New Brunswick route that connects Moncton to Campbellton via Mirimichi, Bathurst, etc. This is the former NBEC route that VIA’s Trains 14/15 “The Ocean” use through the province. Most of CN’s traffic is carried on the more direct route through Fredericton and Edmunston. CN noted that business is down on the line, especially in recent years, as New Brunswick has been hit hard economically. CN is considering abandoning the line, a move that would leave VIA Rail as the single biggest customer on the line, and that would through the route of The Ocean (and service to many small communities on the line) into jeopardy. At the moment, CN is still only considering the idea, and have been clear that any final decision will be made public, and consider public opinion. A CTV News article on this story (with video) can be found here.

VIA’s yellow-faced F40’s are quickly disappearing, as the CADRAIL rebuild program moves quickly towards completion. On September 9th, Gord Henwood caught 6427, one of the remaining yellow F40s, on the lead of VIA 78 in Brantford, ON.  The bright yellow nose and blue stripe on grey will be only a memory this time next year

VIA Rail recently added an updated “Capital Investment” page to their website. The page features information about the recent and ongoing capital investment projects, including the F40, RDC, and LRC rebuilds, as well as improvements to stations and tracks throughout the system. The page features some early photos and mock-ups of the new LRC business class interiors, the new (and soon to be released) RDC-4 6251, and the new Park Car interiors. The page can be found here, and is well worth checking out:

 Along with featuring updates on the projects, VIA’s new Capital Investment page laid out more details on several upcoming projects. To name a few:

  • In addition to the F40 rebuilds, 9 P42DC locomotives will be overhauled for improved operational and environmental efficiency

  •  Of the 98 LRC cars being rebuilt, 26 will be Business Class cars (with upgraded 2+1 seating), 46 will be standard Economy coaches, and 26 will be new “Mixed Class” cars. These will feature half Economy seats and half Business style seats, which will be offered in a new “Premium Economy” service. This service will offer the comfort seating of Business class, but without the extra perks such as included meals, and will be offered at an intermediate price range.

  •  9 Renaissance baggage cars will be upgraded to feature a large baggage door to facilitate easier loading and unloading of baggage. 9 Renaissance coach cars will be equipped with fully accessible washrooms, and each train set on the Ocean will soon feature one sleeper with a fully accessible suite.

  •  Of the 13 HEP-1 Diners being rebuilt, 9 will feature a completely revamped interior.

On September 27th, Terry Muirhead clicked F40PH-3 6439 and 6407 at VIA's Vancouver Maintenance Ctr. after arriving on Train #1.  Sitting on Track S1E is Dining Car 8414 “Palliser:, and  Skyline 851 getting serviced  after arriving on Train #1 the previous morning.  VIA F40 6443  was  doing the VMC Switcher Job on this day.

Pre-VIA Vignette:

 Bill Thomson caught the CP Rail “Canadian” leaving West Toronto enroute to Vancouver in 1971. As a boy, your editor recalls it was quite rare and very special to see an FP9A back to back with an FPA-2 on the “Canadian”. It occurred more often on the “Atlantic Linited” (Dennis Peters wrote: The FA-2 in trailing position is what Arnold Pearson (among the best of the enginemen at Ottawa) referred to as a 'donkey', reason being that when you first opened the throttle from a standing start, the MLW would load faster than the GM, resulting in an annoying kick from behind).


© CRO Oct 2011