Senior VIA News Editor (East) Tim Hayman

VIA News Co-Editor (West) Terry Muirhead



Locomotive News

The four remaining VIA Rail F40PH-2’s at CAD Railway Services for rebuild, and listed in their expected order of release are:  VIA  6451, 6427, 6440 and 6453.  VIA F40PH-2d 6408 was released in early September, and VIA 6415 was released in late September.  The F40 rebuild program is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

VIA Rail Roster Report

Next month, we will be returning a full locomotive roster report to the VIA News section, updated with what locomotives are where, which ones are in and out of service, and so on. It will be much as we had for several months late last year.

As VIA Editor, I’d like to know if this is of interest to return as a monthly feature. Would you like this information as a “once-in-a-while” update every few months, or would you like to see it there every month? Would you like it expanded to cover more equipment than just VIA’s locomotives? Would you like info on RDCs, coaches? Let me know what you think by e-mailing  You’re also free to e-mail with any other suggestions on how the VIA News column could be improved, or what you do and don’t like about it. I want CRO to work for you, our readers!

VIA News

 The Canadian Football League trophy the “Grey Cup” will tour Canada on a specialized 6-car train with a 74-day whistle-stop tour.  A fully decorated F40PH-2d 6445 will be used used for HEP and four cars are wrapped as well. The F40 and 4 cars moved on the Canadian to Edmonton, AB with the F40 the third unit and cars up front. In Edmonton, two more cars added: VIA Skyline dome 8502, and VIA “Chateau Dollier”, (these are not wrapped), and the 6 cars and F40 departed with CP ES44AC 8711 leading.  On October 5th CP 8711 was removed at Portage LaPrairie MB as the train was transferred to CN trackage.

On September 3rd VIA #1 (To Vancouver) left Toronto with VIA 6445 as the third unit.  At the tail end following the Park Car were four custom wrapped Grey Cup cars:  VIA Baggage 8612, CP Coach 103, CP Coach 104, and VIA Diner 8412 “Kent”. 

The special Grey Cup train marks the first time that a rebuilt F40PH-2d unit has been wrapped for promotional purposes. The very brief period without wrap units (which began when Coors units 6408 and 6445 went in for rebuild) has come to an end. In almost ironic fashion, the “new wrap” era has begun with the same locomotive that ended the previous period. 6445 was previously wrapped as a Coors Light promotional unit. Following it’s rebuild, it was rather hastily wrapped in flashy Grey Cup graphics. Note that the Renaissance paint is still visible on the rear of the unit, which was not covered. What remains to be seen is whether or not the unit will stay in this scheme for long. If it returns to regular service, it would seem likely that a VIA Rail logo would be added to the surprisingly empty looking front end.

Greg Shevchenko snapped the VIA/CFL unit in Vancouver BC, at the Via station at Pacific Central. Sept 9th.

Michael Da Costa snapped VIA 6445 wearing in her brand new wrap at the VIA TMC July 29th.

More of VIA Rail’s Chateau sleepers and Park cars that had been sent to Avalon Rail for rebuilding into premium cars for the Canadian are on their way home, with the rebuild work unfinished. On August 16th,  Chateau 8210 and two Park cars (8706 and another) were sighted in Milwaukee being handled by a Union Pacific switcher. The cars had received exterior modifications but were unfinished inside, and were en route back to VIA’s Toronto Maintenance Centre. The company responsible for the rebuild work has reportedly gone bankrupt, and so the cars are being returned incomplete. This is likely responsible for VIA’s delay in implementing their planned new “premium” class of service on the Canadian, and the removal of information about that planned class from their website.  UPDATE:  the total number of cars is eight Chateau Sleepers and four Park Cars.  Three of these have already been moved Quebec City (as of August 30th), and are destined to CLN Industries in Levis, QC, for completion.   

A photo of three of these cars at Mississauga as they returned “home”, Chateau 8210 and Parks 8706 and 8710, recently surfaced on Railpictures. As you can see, the window band is currently in grey (possibly as a primer), and the marker lights have been removed from the Park cars.

Update on Upcoming VIA Rail Cuts

 VIA Rail Canada Inc. has posted second-quarter ridership and revenue figures that were lower than the same period a year ago, presumably in part due to economic uncertainty affecting travel markets. However, as a result of "stringent cost management measures," the railroad's bottom line was within approved funding levels for the quarter, VIA officials stated in a news release. "We responded to challenging market conditions with aggressive measures that helped us maintain expenses below the same period last year, reducing the impact of reduced ridership levels as much as possible while still making passenger rail a more attractive option for customers," said VIA President and Chief Executive Officer Marc Laliberté.

Net income in the quarter plunged to $7 million (in Canadian dollars) from $17.3 million a year earlier. Total revenue dipped to $68.1 million from $69.1 million a year ago, and total passenger revenue declined to $63.5 million from $64.5 million.  For the year's first half, net income decreased to $8.6 million from $9.2 million a year ago, while total revenue fell to  $128.8 million from $130.8 million and total passenger revenue fell to $119 million from $121.6 million.

Of particular interest was the note that two major routes saw an increase in ridership over this period last year (a trend consistent with recent observations). Ironically, these routes are the same two that VIA will be cutting back on dramatically: The Canadian, and especially The Ocean. Ridership was down in the Corridor, at the same time VIA is stressing the need to enhance those services and dramatically cut back on the eastern and western transcontinental services.

During a visit to Halifax, Laliberte mentioned that VIA is considered options to try to enhance their eastern services, including improvements in “intermodality”. Most significantly, he mentioned that VIA is considering making a switch to the routing of the Ocean, changing from the current route through northern New Brunswick to the more southern National Transcontinental Route (NTR), which is currently CN’s primary route through NB. This route would decrease travel time by up to 4-5 hours, but would cut off communities west of Moncton through Campbellton, instead offering the possibility of service to the outskirts of Fredericton and Edmunston.   VIA is now negotiating with Acadian Bus Lines amoung others, to assist in transporting passengers in the region.

You can read the speaking points for Laliberte’s speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce here:

Capital Investment Projects Update

As usual, check out the updates on VIA’s Capital Investment Projects page:

A new passenger station has opened at Windsor-Walkerville to replace the 50
year old 'temporary' structure.

Story and pictures at
http://blogs. windsorstar. com/2012/ 09/11/new- via-rail- station-opens- its-doors- to-rave-reviews/

VIA Rail officially opened it’s new station in Belleville on September 12, 2012.


IRSI Update

Although the progress at Industrial Rail Services in Moncton NB is still unclear (court proceedings are ongoing), CRO contributor Wendell Lemon was able to update us about the VIA equipment still at IRSI. At present, it appears all VIA equipment that was at IRSI (a number of LRC coaches and clubs, in various stages of rebuild, as well as several RDCs) are still there. It is yet unclear when VIA will move the equipment, or who has received the contract to continue the LRC and RDC rebuild programs.

VIA Photos

Ron Visockis snapped a rarity on September 12th when he caught VIA #51 with three locomotives and only four cars.  The extra locomotive were being transferred for power redistribution.

On September 8th, VIA operated Train #605 with a Montreal to St-Tite QC (Special Festival Western) express with stainless cars.  ( video: Andre St. Amante)

In mid September, Raymond Farand visited the Fallowfield VIA station and photographed a meet between trains VIA 37 and VIA 46. The relatively new double tracked platform and CTC enhancements have made meets like this not only possible, but a relatively frequent occurrence. The trains were led by P42DC 906 and F40PH-2d 6434, and included at least one rebuilt LRC coach in the consists.

Ray also caught VIA 659 at speed at MP41.8 of the Alexandria Sub, with a Renaissance consist in tow.

Although VIA's Ocean (Trains 14/15) usually runs between Halifax and Montreal with a Park Car on the rear, sometimes a last minute substitution has to be made when a Park is not available. On September 14th, VIA Editor Tim Hayman caught VIA 15 on its way out of Halifax with Skyline 8501 on the rear as it passed under Mumford Road.

VIA Vignettes

Ron Visockis snapped this pocket sized passenger train with VIA FPA4 6784 leading a former CP baggage and CN coach through  Coteau, QC  on April 28th, 1984.

VIA #60 is seen in June 1985 stopped at Belleville, ON, with a Toronto to Montreal train lead by CN GP9 4362 (one of only six high speed geeps), seen mu’d with a VIA F9B.   Note the water pump for diesels near the GP-9 cab.

VIA FPA4 6775 throttles up under a huge Alco plume as it departs the station at Coteau, QC, in August 1983, bound for Montreal.

Ron Visockis' photo above of CN 4362 and a VIA F9B at Belleville with no. 60 from June 16, 1985 looked familiar to Eric Gagnon.  From his observations, the 4300-series mainly ran in the Corridor during 1984-85.  Eric didn't shoot any trains on that particular June day, though he did catch 4364-6631 on a 9-car westbound on May 11th, then 4360 solo on a three-car eastbound on May 19th.  Eric submitted these three great photos of similar VIA power consists, all taken at Kingston, ON. (Eric Gagnon Photos)

CN 4361 and VIA 6632 lead an 8-car westbound at 1216 on August 6, 1984.

The dead head reversed “Park” car would have been the place to be on for a rail buff on this train!   CN 4362 and VIA 6624 are seen with 7-car eastbound no. 60 at 1150 on Dec 21, 1985

CN 4366 and VIA 6624 expedite an 11-car eastbound at 1203 on April 27th 1985 , including “Tweedsmuir Park” placed  wrong-way-round behind the power.   The 1980's were truly a cornucopia of corridor consists with lots of displaced power and rolling stock showing up in the Corridor.

On February 14th, 1976 Earl Minis snapped this great shot of CN RS18 3152 with Toronto to Windsor train #141 arriving on time at Windsor’s Walkerville Station February 12, 1976.

John Eull snapped CN train 81 rolling into Bayview behind CN FPA-4 6772 on April 28th 1976.  Note the unique silver and black painted CN Baggage car.

©CRO October 2012