Senior VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman
VIA News Co-Editor (West) Terry Muirhead
On January 8th, 1989, VIA train #3 the ‘Super Continental’ is in the Kootenay Mountains region of British Columbia. On this occasion, under putrid light in a typical westcoast style snowstorm Kevin Dunk photographed VIA FP9u 6305 (ex CN-6508), and F9B 6604 passing under the west signals of BN’s Lake City Control on their New Westminster Sub. with the ‘Super’. Those large Winterization hatches on the covered wagons were very practical in cold weather conditions like this! Since the CN-BN swap of subdivisions, this track is now under CN management and still retains its old name and mileage points between the Fraser River bridge and CN Junction in Vancouver.
Kevin also attached a bit of history on the “Super Continental”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Continental
In the category of “Where are they now”, The F-unit pictured above; VIA 6305 (ex-CN 6508), now resides at the West Coast Railway Association’s Squamish site after spending some time in Quebec (1994, Les Trains Touristique St-Laurent) then Ontario (1997, Waterloo-St, Jacobs Railway) before being shipped to B.C in early 2012, but this engine’s health is reported as not being very good. Unfortunately the F-9B 6604 behind her was retired back in the late 80’s, and is no longer with us.
The VIA Rail locomotive roster is now a monthly installment and we will soon introduce additional historical notes on each locomotive, as appropriate, plus more information on the locomotive classes.
*VIA Units 6400-6419 were originally delivered as GPA-30a, units 6420-6429 were delivered as GPA-30b, and units 6430-6458 were delivered as GPA-30c. All rebuilt units, starting with 6402, were re-classed as GPA-30H while still retaining their F40PH-2d EMD designation.
In the lead-up to the federal budget, there were rumours that more expansive cuts to VIA may be upcoming. The main estimates tabled ahead of the budget suggested VIA’s subsidy would be drastically reduced, and Transport Action raised concerns of the implications such a cut could have for the already crippled passenger rail network.
With the budget tabled on March 21st, more questions than answers remain on VIA’s future. The budget does mention $54.7 million to VIA, but it is unclear if this is in addition to the amount mentioned in the main estimates. In any case, it may yet be months before we know if VIA will be forced to modify or eliminate other services as a result of budget cuts.
On March 7th, CN suffered a small derailment in their Transcona
Yard in Winnipeg. The lead engine and first car of a westbound train coming
into the yard derailed and blocked the main line around 7 AM. The rest of
the train blocked a busy street and the east Perimeter Highway. This trapped
VIA 1 and a couple of freights east of Winnipeg.
Steve Boyko reports that he found VIA 1 between Dugald and Transcona with
only one engine, which turned out to be because VIA 6446 had been employed
to pull the CN train east to clear the crossings. Once that was done, they
rejoined their train. This may be the only time we’ll ever see a VIA F40
pulling a freight train in reverse!
A CP Rail derailment on the Brockville Sub near Smiths Falls on March 20th caused considerably disruption to VIA traffic. Only a few cars derailed, remaining upright, and no hazardous materials were spilled. However, given that many of VIA’s trains now run through Ottawa en route between Toronto and Montreal, this derailment resulted in re-routing and bussing of passengers for many VIA trains through the day. Service returned to usual by the next morning. Some news reports on the derailment can be found here, along with the VIA press release:
On March 22nd, VIA #2 (the Eastbound Canadian) encountered problems while running through a severe snow storm in Saskatchewan. The train, which was carrying 154 people, was stuck near Unity SK for over 22 hours. The train was still carrying adequate supplies of food and water, and was able to maintain power during the duration of the delay. As some others have commented, there are far worse places to be stuck in a storm than onboard the Canadian! It certainly beats sitting in a freezing car on the side of the highway, and VIA offered passengers a travel credit worth 100% of their fare as compensation.
In March, VIA Rail announced a new on board entertainment system that will be unveiled later this year. Using the on-board WiFi system, passengers will be able to use their laptops or mobile devices to access a variety of Canadian entertainment options. You can read more about the upcoming system here
On March 6, freshly rebuilt VIA RDC-2 #6217 finally made its trip west on the rear end of VIA 15/17. Michaël Lussier photographed the train, with the RDC riding behind the Skyline, as the train passed St. Rosalie Jct. Quebec. 6217 is sporting its new paint scheme, and also now only has controls at one end of the car.
Not that long later, Tim Quetton caught a pair of IRSI refurbished VIA RDC’s passing the Canadian Pacific’s Sudbury Yard March 18th. RDC-2 6217 is now in service, paired with RDC-4 6250, as seen approaching the platform at the VIA station.
As usual, check out VIA’s Capital Investment Projects page for information, photos, and news about VIA’s ongoing projects. There have been no recent updates, but the site remains a useful resource on VIA’s ongoing projects, and we anticipate new updates in the near future.
VIA Rail launched a redesigned website recently. Although bearing some resemblance to the former site, a number of small changes have been made across the site.
Michael Berry caught this interesting VIA meet from above at Lachine on March 23. As east and westbound VIA trains pass, a westbound CN freight approaches in the distance.
On March 17th, Tim Ball photographed VIA Train 84 during its station stop in Kitchener, with a rather decrepit looking former CN Pte. St. Charles van in the background.
Also on March 17th, Dan Tweedle caught VIA 75 at Aldershot, with Renaissance green painted P42 #903 on the point. The front of the unit is getting scraped up already, and the underlying blue paint is even starting to show through on the plow!
It might technically be spring, but much of Canada is still looking like winter! On March 23rd, Michael Berry shot VIA 632 arriving in Dorval from Ottawa. Judging by the amount of snow in the background and on the pilot of the locomotive, you’d be hard pressed to tell it’s not still the middle of winter!
A few weeks earlier, Nicolas Houde took this beautiful winter shot of VIA #30 at Glen Roberston ON. This weather is a little more typical for February 28th, but it’s a little more surprising for much of the country to continue having snow like this for several more weeks!
Guy-Pascal Arcouette recently had the chance to take this short but interesting video of VIA SW1000 switcher #204 switching cars at VIA’s Montreal Maintenance Centre. VIA still rosters two switchers at the MMC, #202 and 204, but they keep a low profile behind the scenes and are rarely photographed.
VIA 6449 suffered a failure and was spotted dead in Bellevillle Yard on February 14th.
Ron Visockis caught VIA P42DC 907 leading #57 and VIA F40PH-2d 6455 with #53 Trenton ON February 20th
Super Continental Vignette: After replacing the CNR #6200-series steam locomotives on this train, the new dieselized “Super Continental departs Montreal Central Station 25/4/55 (Pierre Fournier photo).
©CRO April 2013