Senior VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman
VIA News Co-Editor (West) Terry Muirhead
Joseph Bishop shot VIA F40PH-3 6407 leading train 72 at the Station in Brantford ON March 16th. The historic Station was built in 1905 by the Grand Trunk Railway, and became part of CN in 1923, and much later VIA in the 1970's.
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.
Terrorist Plot targeting VIA Rail train Thwarted
On April 22nd, the RCMP announced the arrests of two men suspected of conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack targeting the rail line over which the joint Amtrak-VIA “Maple Leaf” travels. Authorities from both Canada and the United States had been tracking the two suspects, Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, from Toronto, for close to a year before the arrests were made. The two men were believed to have ties to Al-Qaeda elements in Iran, and have been charged with conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack and "conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group."
Authorities have said that the two men intended to derail a VIA Rail train operating between the United States and Canada in the Greater Toronto Area, which would suggest the targeted train was the joint Amtrak-VIA Maple Leaf. Although initial reports still leave many of the details unclear, it seems the plan was to attempt to derail the train by disrupting the tracks, rather than to launch an attack onboard the train itself.
RCMP officials said that while they believe the individuals accused had the "capacity and intent" to carry out an attack, they believed there was "no imminent threat" to the public, rail employees, train passengers or infrastructure. In a statement, VIA Rail reiterated that "at no time" was there an imminent threat to the safety of the public or VIA Rail passengers or staff. "We co-operate with all involved in ensuring the safety and security of our passengers, our employees and the public," VIA said. The two men were allegedly apprehended at this time because the behaviour of one of the suspects was becoming increasingly unstable, and some have suggested the recent Boston marathon attack may also have prompted authorities to make the arrests, which were initially prepared several weeks earlier.
In response to the foiled terrorist plot, VIA Rail has suggested they will continue to review their internal security procedures, while acknowledging that much of this security work takes place “behind the scenes” and is constantly being improved and reviewed (see more: http://www.canada.com/Rail+review+safety+procedures+after+terror+plot+revealed/8282860/story.html). The plot has once again ignited some debate as to whether new security measures should be put in place for passenger trains, similar to those in place at airports. Some have argued this would be a wise investment, while others have suggested that such changes would be impractical, and that investment would be better made at continuing to improve security intelligence and networking to prevent attacks. For further discussion of some views on security changes, see here: http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/04/23/ontario-wants-train-security-talks-experts-say-increasing-intelligence-is-best/
You can read more about the foiled plot through just about any reliable media source, but here are links to some of the early stories to check out:
Aside from the general implications of this planned attack, there is already some concerned discussion among Canadian railfans with regard to the implications this incident could have for people watching trains trackside. Since 9/11, many American railfans have received greater scrutiny when photographing trains (particularly passenger and commuter operations), although some railways have enlisted the help of railfans to act as extra sets of eyes watching for suspicious behaviour. It remains to be seen whether Canadian authorities will increase scrutiny on railfans in light of this plot, or whether authorities will perhaps view railfans as a valuable part of a wider monitoring network. In light of these events, it is likely best for railfans who do encounter any issues with authorities to be open and cooperative about what they are doing trackside, and as always, to avoid trespassing or engaging in any other illegal activities around railway property. It is also a good reminder that railfans who notice suspicious or unusual activity trackside would do well to report it to the relevant authorities. We can all play a part in helping to keep our railways safe!
A VIA train travelling from Toronto to Ottawa and Montreal struck a tree that had fallen on the tracks near the eastern Ontario city of Belleville on Friday, forcing passengers to take buses to reach their destinations. No one was hurt, but the impact shattered locomotive windshields. Via Rail says even though the train was able to continue to its station in Belleville, a few kilometers away, it wasn't safe to go any farther. Passenger Frank Dimant, CEO of B'nai Brith Canada, was heading to Montreal to attend meetings organized by the group when the accident occurred shortly before 9 a.m. ET April 12th.
On April 28th, VIA train 693 left tracks between Runnemede and Togo, SK. this was caused by a washout caused by heavy snow and rain. VIA F40PH-2d 6405 and 6448 were leading five cars Westbound and derailed at the washout at mile 83.5 on the Togo sub, VIA 693 was about to meet a CN freight train at Kamsack SK. CN crew said they could see the smoke from the ruptured fuel tanks on the VIA units 17 miles away.
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.
On April 8th Ron Visockis snapped VIA 6440 leading #44 and VIA P42DC 914 on #57 at Belleville, ON.
At the VIA station in Shawinigan, QC on April 10th, André St-Amant photographed CN 542 (with CN units 9566 and 4762) meeting VIA 601/603.
Mark A. Perry snapped VIA train #1 (The Canadian), boarding passengers at the Winnipeg Union Station on April 4th as CN X312 passes by on the mainline.
From inside the overhead section and from the platform of the new VIA station in Belleville, Ontario, Ron Visockis clicked VIA P42DC 915 on train #60 on February 14th, 2013.
Francois Jolin photographed VIA #8716 “Tweedsmuir Park” bringing up the rear of Amtrak 68 as it crawls through the St-Jean-sur Richelieu, QC. on a cold November 2012 morning on the Canadian National Rouses-Point Sub.
After the hurricane Sandy disaster in 2012, VIA Rail Canada leased rolling stock to Amtrak. On a cold November morning, Amtrak Adirondack has a set of leased VIA stainless steel equipment, has just left the Island of Montreal as it rolls on the south shore at St-Lambert, QC.
Under the sweet light of the morning sun, haze of fog fills the air over Montreal, QC as the Amtrak Adirondack with leased VIA Rail stainless steel equipment departs for New York City on time.
On their first voyage on an “Amtrak” train, VIA leased these stainless steel cars and two Park cars for several weeks. Bound for Albany, the Amtrak Special move races south through the southern Quebec countryside at L’Acadie, QC on November 18th.
Shots of the on-going construction at Union Station:
Guy-Pascale Arcouette snapped these two neat night shots of VIA trains in April. On April 25th, VIA 6454 leads Train 64 into Montreal, while VIA 908 is seen stopped at St. Lambert station with VIA 27 in tow.
In mid April 2013, VIA has been working to replace one of the station tracks at the Halifax station. On April 12th, VIA Editor Tim Hayman photographed the removed track at the station, with stacks of new ties off to the side.
Then on April 21st, the new track was in the process of being put in, as seen here.
VIA will soon return to running a Park Car on the Ocean for the summer season. In a somewhat surprising development, the Parks returned early, although the bedrooms were not made available for sale on most trips. Tim photographed Evangeline Park looking beautiful in the sun at the VIA station in Halifax on April 12th, and then again on the end of VIA 15 in the Moncton station on April 21st.
CN TURBO VIGNETTE: In December 1968, Jim Parker snapped the Turbo Train on her inaugural run on the hallowed ground at Toronto Union Station, as passengers boarded for Montreal.
CN TURBO VIGNETTE: In April 1969, Jim Parker caught one of the CN Turbo trains in Toronto, ON.
Passing through a location well known to many railfans, Jim Sandilands CN Turbo train 67 roars through Ballantyne (the mainline junction to Taschereau Yard, Montreal, QC) on May 15th, 1985.
©CRO May 2013