VIA RAIL NEWS
Senior VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman
VIA News Co-Editor (West) Terry Muirhead
The VIA F40PH-2’s at CAD Railway Services for rebuild as of January 7th and listed in their expected release order are:
VI A 6446, 6428, 6413, 6421, 6445 (Coors Lite), 6420, 6424, 6414 (the “Turd”)
VIA’s classic yellow-faced F40s are quickly moving into the “last chance to see” category, as the rebuild program moves quickly along. Currently, there are only seven VIA F40PH-2’s left “in service” in the old paint scheme. The numbers are 6408, 6415, 6427, 6435, 6440, 6451, and 6453. The completion timeline for the rebuild program is the end of 2012, so it is now only a matter of months before the entire VIA Rail fleet will wear the Renaissance paint scheme, and the non-rebuilt F40PH-2d will be only a piece of history. Get your photos while you still can!
On January 11th, VIA F40PH-2’s 6451 and 6427 led VIA #1 "The Canadian" in to Vancouver. As of January 2012, only seven un-rebuilt F40PH-2’s remain in service on the VIA Fleet. Terry Muirhead clicked the units at the Vancouver Maintenance Centre on January 13th, as this scene of two together is becoming rare.
VIA Rail RDC-4 #6250, which had previously been removed from service following a grade-crossing accident, has nearly completed its rebuild at IRSI, and was recently sighted testing near Moncton, NB. #6250 has been rebuilt in the same fashion as 6251. When released into service, VIA will now have two RDC-4s operating as a coupled pair on the Sudbury-White River route, to accommodate high baggage demands (especially in the form of canoes!) on that route. Wendell Lemon submitted these photos of the fresh RDC-4 while testing on January 14, 2012. Note that like 6251, the controls, lights and windows have been removed from the rear of the unit, as the 2 will be intended to permanently run back-to-back. The ends are also now silver, and the large “Canada” logo appears on the sides. Each of these RDC-4s have only a single engine for propulsion, but 6250 has an additional Auxillary Power Unit (APU) to provide electric heat and power for lights and other accessories to both units. This APU is mounted under the frame, and 6250 has an extra 4” exhaust stack on the left side of the exhaust blister (visible in the photos below).
As well, Youtube user saintjohnrailfan shot this video of the newly refurbished 6250 testing between Gordon Yard and Pacific Jct. in Moncton, NB.
A Bloomberg report recently surfaced suggesting that the Canadian Federal Government may be looking into the possibility of slashing services on VIA Rail, or selling part of the railway to cut costs, although there are no immediate plans for privatization. The report mentions several options for future support for passenger-rail services such as reductions in service and a partial sale. As a Crown corporation, VIA often requires additional funding to cover operating expenses. Despite new rumors of potential service cuts, VIA continues looking at ways to increase service between Quebec City and Windsor, ON (although high speed rail possibilities are still being dismissed as impractical). It should be made clear that the Government has officially denied any immediate plans to privatize or reduce service. The present studies are part of continued ongoing evaluation of government expenditures on passenger rail services in the country. One article on the story can be found HERE.
In late December, VIA Rail suspended the train formerly known as the Chaleur (Trains 16/17) in eastern Quebec due to an unsafe rail bridge at Chandler, QC. In the meantime, VIA has initiated bus service east of Matapedia, QC. A recent inspection of Gaspe Railway’s Grand-Pabos Bridge revealed damage to one of the pillars. VIA began busing passengers Dec. 14 east of New Carlisle, QC. However, further inspections revealed the need for more serious repairs to the structure that will take more time. Additionally, Gaspe Railway officials said they wanted to look more closely at other similar bridges in the area to ensure their safety. VIA says it won’t resume service until it has obtained “written permission” from Gaspe Railway that it’s 100% safe.
During the summer of 2010, a misaligned switch within the Jasper Alberta Yard, caused CN SD70M-2 8904 to veer into the side of the stopped VIA Sleeper “Grant Manor” ripping into at a 20 degree angle. The damage may be serious as this VIA car has not returned to service since the accident. CN 8904 only suffered minor damage.
You can read the TSB report (including photos and track diagrams) on this incident HERE.
Roger Lalonde caught the “Ocean” in Bathurst, NB,with VIA F40PH-3’s 6449 with 6431 with matching set of Renaissance equipment on August 23rd 2011.
VIA Rail’s Capital Investment Project
For those of you who have not yet discovered it, VIA Rail has an excellent (and very railfan friendly!) page on their website about the ongoing Capital Investment Projects at VIA Rail. The page is updated weekly, with information (and photos and videos!) about the ongoing Trains projects (LRC, F40 and RDC rebuilds for example), track upgrades, and new station construction. Here is the link:
This past month’s additions include information about VIA’s modified Corridor schedules, and upcoming changes to the ticketing system (including more extensive eticketing!). In the next few weeks, expect to see articles on the addition of a new mini-galley to a Renaissance coach car, upgrades to the WiFi system, and more updates on the RDC work at IRSI in Moncton.
In the coming months, CRO will be connecting with the VIA Rail Capital Investment Projects micro-site to help bring you, our readers, the most up-to-date information on VIA’s ongoing “billion dollar transformation”.
Major upgrades along the CN Kingston Subdivision have been taking place over the last while, to facilitate more efficient movement of trains on the route. One of the major track projects has taken part west of Brockville, ON, where a third track has been added. At the Brockville VIA Rail station, the track has been modified to allow trains between Montreal and Toronto to use the station track that was originally only used by Ottawa trains, as well as now being able to continue on to the third track west of the station. In the process, the overhead signal bridge that stood adjacent to the station has been removed, and the crossing signals on Perth Street have been upgraded. VIA editor Tim Hayman took these photos in early January. The first photo shows the new signals, and the second shows the new track with a CN local switch job approaching the crossing, and VIA 56 (led by P42 917) not far behind.
VIA 6208 leads three other siblings into Bayview, ON with a Toronto bound train. Shot in the late 1980’s by Michael Taylor. VIA 6208 is a Budd/CC&F RDC-2 built in February 1958 as CPR 9195 (serial number 6907), acquired by CN in July 1973 and renumbered CN 6208. It was sold to Industrial Rail Services in Moncton in 2000.
THE ROCKY MOUNTAINEER
RMR 8011 and 8017 lead a snake like Rocky mountaineer through the Skoonka Tunnels at MP 80.5 on the CN Ashcroft Sub Aug 26th 2011. Mark Forseille’s photos show how impressive the newest Rocky Mountaineer paint scheme appears when meandering through outstanding scenery.
© CRO February 2012