Senior VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman:

VIA News Co-Editor (West) Terry Muirhead:

December 2011

Time to look for the mittens and boots. Here is a taste of what is coming as Walter Pfefferle shot VIA 70 with 6403 leading at it flew through Beachville Ontario during a snowstorm on November 11th 2011.

On October 29th, several HEP-1 cars were dropped off at VIA Rail’s Halifax station to undergo maintenance. This is equipment that is being used on the Budd consist which has returned to operation on the Ocean (starting from Montreal on November 16th). According to station staff, some of the equipment was brought to Halifax to spread the maintenance work between there and Montreal.

The equipment that arrived at the station consisted of Renaissance transition car #7601, HEP-1 coaches #8112 and 8127, and Chateau sleepers Lasalle, Laval, Dollier, and Closse. VIA Rail News Editor Tim Hayman was able to visit the station, and took these photos of the spare equipment.

On November 9th, the HEP-1 equipment was being prepared to be sent back to Montreal on the next day’s VIA 15. Prior to leaving, VIA crews used rebuilt F40 locomotives 6402 and 6437 to perform a series of coupling tests. These tests were to help “work out the kinks” that would be involved when coupling VIA 14/15 (the Ocean) with VIA 16/17 (formerly the Chaleur) at Matepedia during the winter season. Several combinations were attempted, which included placing one locomotive between Renaissance and HEP-1 cars, and between two segments of HEP-1 cars. This was to prepare for the new marshalling arrangement of the combined Ocean and Chaleur. On Nov. 16th, VIA 14 and 16 departed from Montreal coupled with the Chaleur consist behind the Ocean, instead of ahead, and with one locomotive mid-train. This is similar to VIA’s “J-train” operations in the corridor. The Ocean’s locomotives provide the motive power, while the Chaleur’s locomotive (a rebuilt F40) idles (as neither HEP-1 nor Renaissance cars are equipped to control a mid-train unit from the head end) with only the HEP generator running. The HEP generator on the mid-train engine is sufficient to provide power to the consist of VIA 16. This arrangement allows faster splitting and joining of the two trains in Matapedia, and will allow all cars of both trains to be connected to power during the procedure. This will be a help in the winter, as the Renaissance cars get cold very quickly! This new arrangement is being tested for now, and it is yet unclear if VIA will continue the practice in the future. Since the separate HEP generator on the rebuilt F40s is a necessity to provide power for the consist of 16/17 while coupled in this fashion, VIA 16 and 17 must operate with a rebuilt F40 as long as this arrangement is used. Below are photos Tim Hayman took of some of the equipment movements in Halifax.



On November 10th, the HEP-1 equipment was coupled to the rear of VIA 15, and sent back to Montreal in time to be used on the first HEP-1 Ocean departure of the season (Nov. 16). David Othen photographed this unusual Ocean consist as it left Halifax.



Since the F40 rebuild program began, many of the rebuilds have been assigned to Trains 14/15, The Ocean, and non-rebuilt F40s have been a relatively rare sight for several years. However, on November 2nd in Halifax, both #15 for Nov. 2 and #15 for Nov. 3 were equipped with dual non-rebuilt F40s. Tim Hayman took this photo of the two #15s, one ready to depart and one waiting for the next day’s departure, while in Halifax station. #6435 and #6415 would lead one train out that day, and #6453 and #6408 (in the Coors Light livery) would lead the next.


While at the Halifax station, Tim was also able to photograph #6408 in its Coors Light promotional livery, inside and out. These photos show 6408 behind 6453 on the point of Train 15, as well as inside the cab (compare these non-rebuilt F40 cab photos to the rebuilt cab of 6437 below).


A week later, Tim was able to tour inside rebuilt F40PH-2d locomotives #6402 and 6437 while at the station in Halifax. In addition to touring the cabs of each locomotive, Tim got a first hand look “under the hood” of 6402. Below are photos of the engineer’s controls in 6437, as well as the second engineer’s (or conductor’s) side of the rebuilt cab. Comparing the photos of the new cab to those of the non-rebuilt cab of 6408 (above), many of the improvements VIA made to the rebuilt cabs are evident. Note the new screen displays, new and modified controls, pull-down window shades, along with the overall “sprucing up” of the cab. Not visible in these photos are the newly added refrigerator and microwave, which are amenities surely to be appreciated by crews! The next two photos are from inside the engine room of 6402. In the first photo, the fresh looking rebuilt engine is visible, resplendent in bright blue. With the shift to Renaissance green on the outside of the locomotives, this is the only part of a VIA F40 that is blue anymore! (well, apart from the HEP receptacles!) The next photo shows the newly added CAT HEP generator that is responsible for the added “bulge” on the back of the rebuilds. Along with the bright blue engine, the yellow CAT generator makes the interior of these locomotives very appropriately VIA coloured. These new rebuilt locomotives have been very nicely improved both inside and out.

In mid-November, both Coors decorated locomotives (6408 and 6445) were in service on Trains 14/15. Wendell Lemon caught 6445 on the point of VIA 14, while leaving Sackville, NB on November 10th.

On November 2nd, two VIA Rail engineers operating VIA Train 692 from Churchill to Winnipeg were suspended following an incident en route. The train was supposed to have stopped at the Meharry siding to wait for CN 853 to pass. Instead, the train had traveled several kilometers past the siding, when it was forced to stop and reverse to clear the line for the CN freight. While reversing to the siding, a passenger on board (who was familiar with train operations) noticed that the train began moving before the second engineer had reached the last car of the train. According to the passenger, it was nearly 5 minutes after the train began moving in reverse that the second engineer finally reached the rear of the train, to offer appropriate protection for the reverse move. VIA has confirmed that the incident took place, and that the two engineers had been suspended, but also stressed that there was no actual danger of the two trains colliding. You can view the Winnipeg Free Press article, which hugely exaggerates the event in the title, here:


At the start of November, VIA officially unveiled the new paint scheme that will feature on the rebuilt LRC Business Class cars. The scheme varies heavily from the original LRC paint, and features VIA’s Renaissance Green as the predominant body colour. An artist’s rendition of the new paint scheme, along with some more information on the painting process, can be found on VIA Rail’s website here:

Still unknown is what paint scheme will be used on the new “Combination” LRC cars (which will feature half Economy and half Premium Economy seats). VIA has not said whether they will feature the same scheme as the rebuilt LRC cars, or a unique scheme different from the Business and Economy paint jobs.

The rebuilt LRC coaches that have already been released continue to move around the Corridor. On November 10th, Ron Visockis caught two rebuilt LRC coaches, still looking sharp in their new colours, on the tail end of VIA 44 in Belleville, ON.

Rebuilt LRC car 3343 was released from Industrial Rail (IRSI in Moncton) on November  25th. It was on VIA 15 (HEP equipment) to Montréal, arriving 11-26-2011 at 09:05.

On November 6th VIA No 670 lead by F40PH-2 6443 bottomed out over a crossing between Lihou and Frauts, Ontario creating a fuel leak with the ensuing loss of about a 1/4 tank of fuel. It is believed a CN 4700-series GP38-2 went out to drag No 70 into the CN yard at London East, with 6443 and seven VIA HEP coaches already turned and facing east. 6443 was dead and closer examination revealed a missing plow, deflected pilot and broken ditch light. VIA 900 (off the #85/88 run) and a coach from TMC was the rescue train to fetch No 670's train from London, departing about 21:00. No 72 picked up No 670's passengers on the way by. What is interesting is no other trains reported any rough track or bottoming out at the location previously over the crossing, thus the cause has yet TBD. (Froth)

 Hugues St-Pierre clicked Central Station action on July 20th 2010 from the Delta Hotel in Montréal as the Ocean VIA #15 arrives and the Adirondack AMTRAK # 68 prepares to depart for New York .


On November 5, VIA Rail removed the two RDCs from Vancouver Island, to be sent by barge to the mainland, and then to Moncton, NB, by rail. With passenger service on the island suspended for the foreseeable future, it appears VIA is taking the opportunity to take the sidelined RDCs to IRSI Moncton for their planned rebuild. Jeff Keddy caught VIA RDC-1s 6135 and 6148 eastbound (from Vancouver Island) on The Canadian (Train #2) during its stopover in Winnipeg, MB November  21st  



To comply with new Transport Canada recommendations, VIA has begun adding louder, higher frequency emergency horns to their P42s, as they have been to the rebuilt F40s. Several VIA P42DC’s have already received an additional 5-chime unpainted horn, located above the right-hand roofline over the cab. Unlike the F40s, where a 3-chime and 2 chime horn are located on either side of the cab roof, the horns on the P42 are a single cluster. Locomotives  901, 904, 908, 912 and 917 have been confirmed to have these new horns to date, with  the as-built set of horns are still centered, set into a depression behind the cab. The remainder of the P42 fleet will soon receive them as well.

On Oct 31st Cliff Holder caught VIA #15 at Onslow, Nova Scotia (just outside of Truro), with F40PH-2 6435 and 6415 in the old paint.  With Cadrail releasing rebuilt VIA F40’s each month this scene will become a rarity later next year.

"There have been rumors that VIA is considering replacing the locomotive-hauled HEP-1 consists on the Montreal-Senneterre and Montreal-Jonquiere trains with IRSI rebuilt RDCs. Given that the trains currently often operate with a single baggage car and a single HEP-1 coach each, they could easily be handled with an RDC service. This would also free up the locomotives and coaches currently on the route for other services, and would also allow VIA to end its lease of the ex-GO Transit F59PHs. Whether this will actually happen remains to be seen.

On July 20th 2011, Andy Cassidy had the opportunity to visit the VIA Vancouver Maintenance Centre and submitted the following shots of VIA FP9Au 6300 (ex-CN 6524) before being sent to the National Railway Historical Society (BC Chapter) in New Westminster, BC during September 2011.  

VIA Machinist Neil Lozada and VIA Supervisor Randy Miller are seen posing with VIA 6300. Neil worked for Andy at CP when serving his apprenticeship and he and Randy were resolving a problem on the VIA F40PH-2 6424 during his visit. As one who worked on F-units when they originally belonged to CN or CP, this unit is almost a completely different locomotive than it was when it was built. On the surface, and initially, it looks to be just another old EMD A-Unit. It is anything but! Through overhauls and upgrades, almost everything about it has been changed!

VIA #2 Departure Vancouver Pacific Central Station on Nov 22nd.

F40PH-3 6406 (Rebuild) Mtrl Assigned Unit

F40PH-3 6401 (Rebuild) Mtrl Assigned Unit

8606 Baggage


8507 Skyline    8407 Emerald Dining Car

8314 Cameron Manor

8316 Christie Manor

8340 Stuart Manor

8321 Draper Manor

8714 Strathcona Park

 The train above VIA #2,  struck a large boulder at China Bar (between North Bend and Yale) late in the evening of November 22nd.  The boulder was significant close to 12 feet in diameter. The train was severely delayed as were the trains stuck behind it. Reports have some eastbound CN trains traveling eastward on the CN Yale Sub all the way up the canyon as opposed to the normal directional running route via the CP. VIA was on the move late in the afternoon arriving into Kamloops around 1800 without the lead unit. The leader, rebuild 6406, was in North Bend on the tank track with significant front end damage. The pilot was bent and the plow was laying by the side of the unit detached.

VIA Vignettes

On September 4th, 1989 Alex Simins clicked VIA SW1000 #201 at the TMC. VIA originally had 4 of these switchers (numbered 201-204), which they purchased second hand from Indiana-based Inland Steel. The 4 units were all painted in this grey-and yellow scheme, but only 201 and 203 ever received the blue stripe on the hood. The other units, 202 and 204, are still on the VIA roster today, assigned to Montreal

Here are a couple of photos by Bryon Thomas that were taken in Saint John NB. We do not have the dates taken but I am sure our readers will know.

Here is a brain teaser for our readers.

This one is not VIA but was part of the passenger scene many years ago. Only information I have is it CP 9020 RDC-3 taken at Angliers QC.

© CRO December  2011