Senior VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman

VIA News Co-Editor (West) Terry Muirhead



Guy-Pascal Arcouette photographed VIA P42DC 916 whizzing over the CN Ste-Hyacinthe Sub with Montreal-bound train #23, on March 9th. 

TSB REPORT: Burlington, ON Wreck Feb. 2012

On February 26th, VIA Rail train #92 enroute from Niagara Falls to Toronto, derailed at Burlington, ON, killing three in the locomotive cab, and injuring one employee and a number of passengers on board.

The consist of VIA 92 was:
F40PH-3 6444 
LRC Club 3454
LRC Coach 3354
LRC Coach 3318
LRC Coach 3319 (Rebuilt)
LRC Coach  3311.

Last month, CRO reported extensively on the details of the incident. Since that time, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) investigation is underway. Although it may take as much as a year or more to complete the investigation, the TSB has already determined that excessive speed was a major factor in the derailment. From information retrieved from the locomotive’s data recorder, the TSB was able to determine that the train passed through the crossover from Track 2 to Track 3 at 67 mph. The maximum allowable speed for the crossover is 15 mph, meaning the train was traveling at more than four times the authorized speed.

At present, it is unclear why the crew did not slow for the crossover. All that is known for sure is that the brakes were not applied before the derailment, and the throttle was left open, both of which indicate the crew were not expecting to change tracks. Until the TSB investigation reaches further conclusions, we will not know the exact cause of the excessive speed.

For more information on the TSB investigation, and to keep posted as it progresses, CLICK HERE

Saint-Charles-De-Bellechasse, QC Wreck Feb. 2010

In the early morning of February 25, 2010, VIA Train 15 derailed at St. Charles-de-Bellechasse, QC. No fatal injuries were sustained by the crew or passengers, but CAD rebuild prototype F40PH #6400 suffered severe damage and was ultimately retired and scrapped. For more information, see the March 2010 issue of CRO.

On March 6, 2012, the TSB released their final report on the investigation into this derailment. Interestingly, this derailment occurred 2 years and a day before the Burlington wreck, and was caused by a very similar scenario. VIA 15 entered a switch at approximately 64 mph, with the maximum allowable speed being 15 mph. The crew realized at the last minute that they were in fact taking the switch and applied the brakes, but it was not enough to keep the train on the tracks. Unlike the Burlington derailment where the weather was clear, the St. Chales-de-Bellechasse derailment took place in the middle of a heavy snowstorm, and early in the morning. The TSB report concluded that the train was traveling at excessive speed due to several factors:

-Snow had obscured the signal lenses, making it difficult for the crew to read the indication. They incorrectly assumed that signals ahead of the switch indicated they were clear to proceed at speed.

-The crew had anticipated that the CN freight, which was the reason for VIA 15 taking the siding, had been delayed in Charny and would not be meeting them at that point.

-Medical records for one of the engineers had not been passed over from CN, leaving VIA without the knowledge that he may be at risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

-Possible crew fatigue.

The TSB report can be accessed online, and is worth reading for the full details of the accident. There is also a video reconstruction of the derailment available on the same page. Follow this link for more: CLICK HERE

Currently, there are only seven VIA F40PH-2’s left “in service” wearing the old paint scheme.  The numbers are 6408, 6415, 6427, 6435, 6440, 6451, and 6453.  

The VIA Rail F40PH-2’s at CAD Railway Services for rebuild and listed in their expected order of release:

 VIA 6421, 6420, 6424, 6414 (Loto-Quebec), and 6445 (Coors Light).  

Rebuilt VIA F40PH-3 6428 and 6413 were released from CAD in early March, and VIA 6446 was released in late-January

Fresh from CAD on one of her first runs, VIA 6428,was photographed by Guy-Pascal Arcouette at Dorval Station March 17th.

Only a small handful of yellow-faced F40s are still in service. Very soon, the original F40PH-2d, along with the yellow/grey/blue paint scheme that adorned it, will be a piece of history. Get your photos while you still can!  As of March 24th, only seven VIA F40PH-2’s wearing the old paint scheme. remained “in service”: 6408, 6415, 6427, 6435, 6440, 6451, and 6453.

At present, only two of the VIA RDC2's at Sudbury are in service: 6205 and 6215.

There have been some recent delays to the LRC rebuild program. IRSI recently discovered structural flaws in the floor of some LRC cars, which will require additional work to repair. At the moment, it is unclear how many cars are affected by the problem, but VIA intends to have the problem remedied as part of the rebuild. This problem has caused additional production delays, and IRSI has laid off 85 employees as they attempt to determine how to move forward with the rebuilds, in light of the new problems. The contract is already behind schedule, with VIA having received only 10 of the 27 rebuilt LRCs they expected to have completed by this time. It is still unclear when the first Business Class or Combination cars will be completed.

For more on the recent developments, see these CBC reports: HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

VIA Capital Investment Projects

VIA has made significant progress on several of its Capital Investment projects in this past month. A number of new articles have been posted on VIA’s Projects site, including an update on work at the “Gare du Palais” station in Quebec City, an update on the Windsor station in Ontario, and more.

The most exciting news this month is the announcement that VIA will be introducing a new mobile booking app version of the online Reservia system. The app will allow smartphone users to buy train tickets or rail passes on their phones, as well as check arrival/departure status of trains and cancel existing reservations. The new mobile booking system will also correspond with VIA’s move to improved eTicketing, which is being implemented over the coming months.

 You can read more about the mobile booking engine HERE.

More information on VIA’s Capital Investment projects can be found HERE.

New Belleville Station Opened

On March 20, 2012, VIA officially opened the newly built Belleville station to the public. The new station, located adjacent to the existing building, is larger and more spacious with improved amenities, and features an overhead pedestrian bridge to a new island platform. The island is now in use, and the old platform will be replaced in the near future. More information about the new station is available HERE.

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.

Pre-VIA Vignette

On a rainy night in 1967, Bruce Chapman snapped CP RS-10 8462 and sister at the head end of train #5 the “Expo Limited” taking passengers in Ottawa.   Basically a re-incarnated “Dominion” the Expo Limited operated for a short time (Vancouver-Montreal) during the World’s Fair in Montreal - EXPO ’67, and utilized mostly CPR Tuscan red cars and GMD Geeps and MLW road switchers   A “Park” car carried a white drumhead with 'Expo Ltd' in blue.  The second photo shows #6 the “Expo Limited” with a trio of geeps and the mixed consist at Pritchard, BC on July 3rd, 1967. (Thanks to John Godfrey and LBC)

VIA Vignettes

Bruce Chapman and Kevin Day submitted these fine looking former CP units that went to VIA in 1978.

VIA 6553 (ex-CP 1404/4103) at Ottawa Station 12/10/88 photo by Ross HarrisonVIA FP9A 6553 (ex-CP 1404/4103) at Ottawa Station (Ross Harrison) 4-23-89; and VIA RS10 8558 at Palliser Station in Calgary Alberta 5/13/80 by Fred Clark.

Stepping back in time to 1987, to witness an all MLW passenger locomotive scene at Ottawa’s Central Station.   VIA LRC-2 6908 waiting to depart for Toronto, and FPA-4 6764 working “the Canadian” solo to Sudbury.  For all his years living in Montreal then studying in Ottawa, Kevin Dunk seldom witnessed an MLW working the Canadian, but on this day he was lucky!  Sadly both these locomotives and their respective classes have been long retired from Via Rail.  VIA 6764 was retired between 1987 and 1989 so this scene was likely my last of her, while VIA 6908 was sold to CAD Railway Services in 5/99 and renumbered 2000, to this day I’m not sure what has become of the 2000.

In the early 1990s, VIA purchased a number of second-hand Budd coaches from the United States to refurbish as part of its HEP program. Some of the ex-US cars would become HEP-1 coaches to supplement the ex-CP cars, while the rest would be rebuilt into VIA’s HEP-2 Club and Coach cars. Jon Archibald photographed several of these ex-US cars of various heritages while they sat in Halifax, waiting to be rebuilt. Photos were taken in 1990 or 1991.

© CRO April 2012