Senior VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman

VIA News Co-Editor (West) Terry Muirhead




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

VIA 6414 (Loto Quebec), 6445 (Coors Lite), 6435, 6408 (Coors Lite), 6451, 6427, 6440, and 6415. Rebuilt VIA F40PH-3 6420 was released from CAD in early May, and 6424 in late-May.

The last F40PH-2 to be done will be 6453, which will likely be headed to CAD any day now. This means that the days of the yellow-faced F40 are all but over.  Get your photos while you can (and please feel free to send them to us. We’d love to see them!). This rebuild could be released as early as November 2012, bringing VIA’s ambitious F40 rebuild program to a close.

On May 13th, VIA resumed some service of the Chaleur (Train 16/17). The train has resumed running as far as New Carlisle after a hiatus of nearly five months due to work on the line. For the time being, bus service between New Carlisle and Gaspe will continue. According to Olivier Demers of the Gaspesie Railway (from an interview with Radio Canada), the chances are slim that the train will be running to Gaspe this summer due to continuing bridge work farther along the line.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has released a report on the findings of their investigation of a Feb. 6, 2011 roller-bearing overheating in Oakville, ON. The report is an interesting read, and is quite informative about the roller bearing systems in use on VIA’s equipment and efforts to improve safety (even if the authors mistakenly refer to the LRCs as “LCRs”!). You can read the full report HERE.

VIA Rail has temporarily backed off of plans to increase speeds through Barrhaven ON, due to backlash from a local councillor. With the introduction of new express services between Ottawa and Toronto, trains would pass through Barrhaven at 160km/h. Despite VIA having made improvements to the safety systems in place to accommodate these increased speeds, Barrhaven Councillor Jan Harder has raised concerns about the safety of local residents. VIA has elected to hold off for 60 days to allow for the local concerns to be addressed. The main concern raised has to do with the Woodroffe Ave and Fallowfield Rd crossings, which would now see trains pass through at 160km/h, and the Greenbank Rd crossing that would be traversed at 140km/h. Despite improvements made by VIA to maintain appropriate advanced crossing signaling, Ms. Harder remains concerned about the safety of these changes. For more, see this article in the Ottawa Citizen: HERE

VIA Photos

Ron Visockis shot VIA P42DC 912 whizzing by westbound at Belleville, ON, on April 16th and snapped VIA’s new Belleville Station, now almost complete.

Frank Jolin photographed Amtrak #66 on a gorgeous spring day above Willsboro Bay, NY on April 19th. The Amtrak “Adirondack”is seen traveling south on the CP (D&H Canadian Sub) along the western shore of picturesque Lake Champlain with the distant Vermont's Green Mountains to the northeast. 

Mark Forseille snapped West Coast Express (WCE) F59PHI 904 and VIA F40PH-3 6442 sitting at the Vancouver Maintenance Centre on May 2nd.

On May 5th Andy Cassidy caught VIA #1 “The Canadian” at mile 147.2 on the CN - New Westminster Sub.  VIA 6434-6417-6421 lead the 24 cars including  high window Colorado Railcar coach #1721.  By coincidence, this car is former BC Rail coach "Cariboo", shot passing Cariboo Road level crossing in Burnaby, BC.  

On April 30, Train 15 (The Ocean) left Halifax with the final Budd HEP-1 consist of the season. As work on the Renaissance upgrades continues, it is unclear whether or not the Budd consist will return again next winter.

The consist for this last Budd departure was:
F40PH-3 6448
F40PH-3 6406
HEP-1 Baggage 8621 (ex-UP)
HEP-1 Coach 8139 (ex-US)
HEP-1 Coach 8137 (ex-US)
Skyline 8505
Diner “Acadian”
Chateau Lasalle
Chateau Richelieu
Chateau Bienville
Chateau Papineau

On a beautiful day, VIA Editor Tim Hayman caught what could be the last Budd Ocean on its way out of Halifax, from the Young St. overpass in Halifax.

The former “Northern Spirit” sleepers that had been stored at WMC left en route to Mexico on May 19th via CP. The  cars are now lettered FXE 15004, 15005, 15007 and 15008.

IRSI Update

Following last month’s cancellation of the VIA Rail contracts with Industrial Rail Services in Moncton, NB, a court-appointed monitor took control of IRSI to determine how they could recover the value of unrepaid loans from the provincial government. IRSI subsequently put forward two proposals to VIA and the province of New Brunswick that would get the shop back to work and continue with the contracts. Although details are scant, it seems that neither offer piqued the interest of VIA or the province. On May 22, just days before the company was placed into receivership, IRSI filed two lawsuits against VIA Rail. The lawsuits, worth nearly $32 million, allege that VIA acted in bad faith by terminating the contracts and violated the terms of the Renaissance contract.

IRSI claims that VIA did not meet deadlines, and places the blame for delays on VIA failing to allow IRSI the opportunity to sufficiently inspect the LRC cars before starting the rebuild. IRSI court documents state that “All delays were as a result of the actions and inactions of VIA, over which [IRSI] had no control, namely VIA's change of priorities and its failure to meet court appointed deadlines”, and additionally that “as a result of the actions of VIA, [IRSI] has suffered a loss of assets, profit and opportunity”. Although VIA Rail has not made any public response to these claims, the assertions by IRSI do contradict the apparent opinion of VIA (in canceling the contracts) that IRSI was responsible for the delays, especially since the contract was well behind before the additional LRC structural flaws were discovered. Some observers have pointed to notable inefficiencies in IRSI’s operation and an overall lack of experience as contributing factors to the delays. However, until the issue is settled in the courts, these observations remain speculation.

You can read a relevant CBC article on the issue HERE

Capital Investment Projects Update


A number of particularly interesting updates were posted to VIA’s Capital Investment Projects page. These include:


-Photos of the next phases of the F40 rebuild process, part of an ongoing series

-An update on work to the Halifax VIA station

-Continued info on VIA’s TSI+ technology

-A video about the simulator used to train new engineers. This one is really cool!

See all the updates HERE

The first two Chateau sleepers and one Park car that had been undergoing major work at Avalon Rail Inc. have returned to Canada. These cars are being refitted for VIA’s new premium service on the Canadian, and will feature new luxury accommodations. The Chateau sleepers will have all of the large bedrooms down one side, with larger windows cut out on that side of the car. The Park car has also received larger windows on the bedroom side. The body work on these cars is complete, but the remainder of the interior work will be finished in Canada. At the end of April, these first three cars were brought back into Canada via CP.

VIA Vignettes

Dave Burroughs photographed the Bombardier-built LRC demonstrator JV-1 at Sarnia, ON in 1975, several years before the quirky looking LRCs would become a major staple of VIA’s fleet.  Now a decade after their retirement, two LRC locomotives are preserved, one at Exporail (CRHA) in St-Constant, QC and one in Toronto at the TRHA (currently stored at VIA's TMC pending movement to the roundhouse or a local shortline for possible operation)"

VIA 6307 was one of the last FP9Au locomotives in road service operating on the northern Quebec routes (Montreal-Jonquiere/Senneterre) as late as 2002. Since it was still in active service when the whole fleet started receiving their "Canada" markings, 6307 got them as well. This FP9Au was involved in a collision after being repaired received the updated "Canada" lettering applied, making it unique.  In the 1990’s Bombardier in Montreal removed the steam generator and added the HEP generator.  The F-unit also had a BBD builder’s plate added beside the GMDD builder’s plate. It, along with all other VIA F units are now off the roster.  Tim believes he might know where the photo was taken. If you look at the consist, lighting, and the particular snow pattern on the front of the locomotive (a dead-on match), I'm pretty sure it's someone photographing the train in this photo from the opposite side: If that's the case, then the photo was taken March 25, 2002, at the VIA station in Senneterre.

© CRO June 2012