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Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Published: Wednesday, July 15, 2009
TORONTO - VIA Rail Canada will lay out its largest-ever investment in upgrading passenger service between Canada's capital and its two largest cities. The crown corporation will hold a press conference tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. at Toronto Union Station featuring two VIA dignitaries.

Canada's most heavily used intercity passenger services run between Toronto and Ottawa, Ont., and Montreal. Tomorrow's announcement will likely detail how some stimulus money will be spent to upgrade the corridor.

Headlining the conference will be VIA Rail Canada Chairman Donald Wright and Canadian National Railway Executive Vice President Claude Mongeau. Mongeau will soon take CN's helm
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
TORONTO, July 16 (Reuters) - Canada will spend C$300 million ($267.8 million) to improve performance on a high-traffic stretch of railway between Toronto and Montreal, government and industry officials said on Thursday.

The government funds will be used to increase capacity and trim delays by eliminating bottlenecks and reducing conflicts between Via Rail passenger traffic and Canadian National Railway Co (CNR.TO) freight trains.

Projects at eight locations along the 539-kilometre (335-mile) track include construction of additional track to allow Via and CN trains to pass, or overtake, each other safely and quickly.

Extensions to siding and yard tracks will allow CN trains to exit and clear the main line when needed.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Ottawa's $300-million rail investment signifies "new era" in mass transit: Via
By Trevor Pritchard (CP) – 22 hours ago

TORONTO — The federal government is committing $300 million to what's being hailed as the largest-ever investment in passenger rail service between Montreal and Toronto.

Via Rail's CN Kingston Subdivision Project is a series of infrastructure improvements along the 539-kilometre double-track rail line that are designed to reduce bottlenecks and limit delays for passengers.

Sections of new third-line track will be added to the existing track at five locations between Brockville, Ont., and Oshawa, Ont., to allow three or more trains to pass by without stopping.

A fourth track will be built at Via Rail's busy Belleville, Ont., station.

"We will make passenger and freight service more reliable, more frequent, and more competitive," said Gary Goodyear, minister of state for science and technology, who unveiled the funding Thursday at Toronto's Union Station.

More than 400 Via trains operate on the busy Quebec-Windsor corridor, which accounts for 90 per cent of the Crown corporation's ridership.

Bottlenecks can be a problem, however, since the rail lines Via trains use are owned by freight railroads.

Donald Wright, Via's chairman of the board, hailed Thursday's investment as "nothing short of a reshaping of the Canadian railway map."

Via's hope, Wright said, is that by the time the project is completed in 2011, a half hour will be shaved off the time it takes to travel from Toronto and Montreal.

Via trains carried about 4.6 million passengers in 2008, and that number should increase by 40 per cent over the next five years, he added.

"We are witnessing the birth of a new era in passenger rail service in the Quebec-Windsor corridor," Wright said.

The new money comes out of $407 million set aside for Via in January's economic stimulus package.

The federal government is also studying whether a high-speed rail system would be a good fit in the Quebec-Windsor corridor. Goodyear said Thursday's announcement was unrelated to those plans.

"(High-speed rail is) probably a decade out," he said.

"We need interim answers right now, and this is a perfect solution."

Along with expanding Via's rail network, the funding will also go towards installing new and upgraded signals, warning systems, and island platforms at certain stations along the corridor.

Work is expected to get under way this summer. The project is expected to create more than 100 jobs.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
7/17/2009    Capacity Crunch

VIA Rail, CN and Canadian government team up to expand passenger road's infrastructure
Yesterday, the Canadian government and VIA Rail Canada Inc. announced a more than $250 million investment in the railroad’s “Canadian National Kingston Subdivision” project — the largest infrastructure improvement program in the 153-year history of passenger-rail service between Montreal and Toronto, according to VIA Rail.

Part of the federal government’s more than $900 million commitment to renew and expand Canada’s passenger-rail systems, the project calls for a series of infrastructure improvements at eight locations along VIA Rail’s 334-mile double-track line. The project, which also includes station and rolling stock upgrades, is designed to boost capacity by eliminating bottlenecks and reducing operational conflicts between VIA Rail and CN trains.

VIA Rail plans to build a third mainline track to enable passenger and freight trains to pass or overtake each other; extend sidings and yard tracks to allow CN trains to exit and clear the mainline when required; and improve other track and signals to boost on-time performance for both railroads.

Work is scheduled to begin this summer and conclude in 2011. CN has hired 100 track and signal workers to complete its portion of the work, which will be performed under contract with VIA Rail. Under the project’s first phase, VIA Rail also plans to add two daily round-trip trains on the Toronto-to-Montreal and Toronto-to-Ottawa routes.

"Today is the dawn of a new era in safe, swift and sustainable passenger-rail travel in Canada," said VIA Rail Chairman Donald Wright in a prepared statement. “This project will decisively position the passenger train as the modern answer to highway gridlock and airport winglock."

Meanwhile, the federal government and VIA Rail also announced the arrival of the first of 54 rebuilt F-40 locomotives from CAD Railway Industries. The locomotives will feature new components and systems designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 12 percent, and cut fuel usage and maintenance costs, VIA Rail said.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
VIA Rail Canada was struck by its locomotive engineers.  VIA issued a statement that, as a result of the strike, it was temporarily discontinuing all passenger train services, except on its Sudbury-White River and Victoria-Courtenay routes, which are operated by third parties on VIA’s behalf.  A VIA spokesman said that it was continuing to negotiate with the union representing the locomotive engineers to attempt settlement.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
VIA Rail locomotive engineers ended their two-day strike against the Canadian national passenger rail carrier.  The railroad and the striking locomotive engineers, represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, agreed to final and binding arbitration.  VIA locomotive engineers have been without a new contract since December 31, 2006.  Later in the week, VIA announced discounts of up to 60 percent on fares to lure passengers back, but the overwhelming demand for discounted tickets notably slowed VIA’s telephone reservation system and website.  “We normally have 1,500 hits on our website each day, but we had over 12,000 hits today,” said a VIA spokesman on Thursday.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
OTTAWA - The federal government is denying a published report that it is thinking about selling Via Rail.

A spokesman for Transport Minister Denis Lebel says privatizing the passenger rail service isn't on the table.

Pierre Florea, Lebel's press secretary, says all government spending is under review, but there are no plans to sell Via Rail.

Via Rail is a Crown corporation established in 1977 to run passenger trains.

The report cited briefing notes provided to Lebel when he assumed his portfolio.

Florea says the information contained in these notes does not necessarily reflect government policy.

"The information provided does not necessarily reflect the government's position on these files, or a decision made by the government," he said in an email.

"While the department can make suggestions, the minister is in charge of government policy."

Via runs almost 500 trains weekly on 12,500 kilometres of track and serves 450 communities across the country.

In 2010, it carried more than four million passengers.

The federal government contributes both operating and capital subsidies to Via.

A parliamentary report issued last November said subsidies ran between $700 million and $1 billion in the 1980s, but declined to about $445 million in 2010, with all figures in constant 2002 dollars.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Yesterday, VIA Rail Canada Inc. introduced new schedules in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto triangle as part of an effort to attract more than 100,000 new riders per year.

The anticipated ridership growth could generate a revenue increase of several million dollars a year, VIA Rail officials said in a prepared statement.

Among the changes: Riders on the new Ottawa-Toronto express trains will be able to make the non-stop trip in just under four hours; and riders traveling from Montreal to Toronto will be offered two new trains, bringing the total number of weekday departures to 10.

The schedule changes are the result of the federal government’s investment of $923 million (Canadian dollars) in VIA Rail capital improvements since 2007, agency officials said.

During the coming year, VIA Rail officials expect to complete other major rail infrastructure projects tween Toronto and Brock in order to improve service reliability.
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
VIA Rail Canada has introduced new schedules in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto triangle.

The company said the changes are expected to bring in 100,000 new passengers per year.

VIA’s Ottawa-Toronto express trains will now make the journey in 3 hours 57 minutes.

A new late evening departure from Ottawa for Montreal is also available. Two new trains on the Montreal to Toronto route are now running, meaning there are now ten weekly departures to Toronto.

The Government of Canada has invested $923 million in VIA since 2007.

Over $400 million of this funding has been dedicated to rail infrastructure projects.
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

TORONTO, March 12, 2012 — On VIA Rail’s Skeena train, which travels 684 miles from Prince Rupert in Northern British Columbia to Jasper, Alberta, we fully expect the scenery to be stunning. And it is. From the lush coastal rainforest with towering moss-covered red woods and the interior forests to the climax of snow-capped Mount Robson, the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains, the views out of the windows make us grateful we no longer have to buy film.

Equally captivating are the stories we encounter of the small communities we pass through and the people who inhabit them. We meet Steve, a self-described gold-miner and part-time hobo, who lives in the bush with only his dog for company. He chats happily about his chosen life of treacherous climbs, hard physical labor and a rough cabin with no modern conveniences.

It’s not a poor one, though. “I average about $200 a day, and if I’m lucky I can make $1000, he says as he pulls out a small mustard-colored nugget that looks nothing like our gold jewelry. Independent and self-sufficient, it’s clear that Steve is rich in more ways than one.

“If it got any better, it would be too good,” he declares. Before long, the train stops and Steve disappears into the bush.

The train picks anyone up anyone who flags it down along the route, providing an important service to the remote communities of the region.

 “We’re always happy to see Steve,” says Tracy Maclean, the service coordinator onboard. “He depends on us and we depend on him for entertainment value.”

All the communities along the way have their tales. There’s Penny, which has a small wooden post office and claims to be the only place in Canada that still gets its mail delivered by train, and small logging and missionary settlements like McBride and Cedar Vale. The latter turns out to have a personal connection to the train’s service manager, which he shares with the passengers in the panoramic lounge.

“My great-grandmother grew up in the three-room cabin we’ll be passing by soon,” he tells us and then recounts anecdotes of his relatives as school children rushing across tracks to arrive at school before the freight trains passed and as young adults walking long distances along the same tracks dressed in their best to attend dances in neighboring towns.

When the train passes his relative’s homestead, now owned by a recluse, passengers rush to the windows to snap pictures of a scene that probably would have gone by unnoticed if we hadn’t known about its history.

“The stories give it a more human touch,” says Moira Graham, a passenger from Glasgow.

About the Skeena Train: The Jasper-Prince Rupert train takes two days with an overnight layover in Prince George (you will need to book your own hotel room).

About Prince Rupert: Situated on an island on British Columbia's North Coast, a short distance from the Queen Charlotte Islands and Ketchikan, Alaska, Prince Rupert is easily accessible by air, rail, cruise ship, ferry, car, or RV. Exceptional wildlife viewing, sports fishing, a rich First Nations history, and attractions like the Museum of Northern BC make a visit to this small town (population 15,000) a truly memorable experience.

About Jasper: A self-described little town in a big park, Jasper is the gateway to Jasper National Park, the largest in the Rocky Mountains, covering 6,976 miles. A World Heritage Site, Jasper gives visitors access to pristine wilderness, including awe-inspiring glaciers, wildlife, clear turquoise lakes, waterfalls, canyons and evergreen forest. 

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

OTTAWA — In the winter of 1924, when the railway was only way to travel for professional hockey players, the train carrying the Ottawa Senators to Montreal for a game against the Canadiens got stuck in a snow drift.

With no way to communicate with the outside world, a young King Clancy and forward Cy Denneny, both future Hall of Famers, made their way out into the blizzard to find food for the rest of the team. On their way back, Denneny fell into a well that had been covered by snow and had to be hauled out.

The Senators finally arrived at their hotel the next morning, but many hours late for their game with the Habs the previous night.

Train travel has long been a part of the past for the NHL, although the modern-day Senators, decked out in fedoras, custom plaid suits, silk ties and highly polished black shoes, did their best to evoke the romance of that era Tuesday by taking the train to Montreal for Wednesday night’s game against the Canadiens.

“It’s fun and something different,” said defenceman Chris Phillips, who has become a fan of the team train travel. “We took the train a number of years ago and . . . I loved it and definitely wanted to do it again. It’s a great way to go.”

From hockey’s earliest days and well into the 1960s, teams would book coach cars for overnight trips for their players, who would settle into their comfortable seats to play cards, horse around — and, naturally, share a drink a or two — while forming deep bonds of brotherhood.

In one famous incident in the 1950s, members of the Detroit Red Wings got into a fight with players from the Chicago Black Hawks, who were in the next train car, after a brawl-filled game that night in Detroit. In the rematch the next night in Chicago, the two teams went at it again, with several players, including Detroit’s Ted Lindsay and Chicago’s Eric Nesterenko, ejected from the game.

Travel could hardly be more different in today’s NHL. The players are treated like celebrities, everything is taken care for them, their equipment moved and waiting for them once they arrive at the rink, flight and travel arrangements booked, and their meals and training room time methodically planned.

Just about the only thing the current NHL star needs to focus on is lacing up his skates and playing the game.

“The distances between cities are so great now I don’t think they can travel by train anymore,” said Len Lawson, a longtime hockey fan who can remembers well the days when Original Six travelled by rail. “Players are certainly pampered now, but they’re our heroes.”

Tuesday’s trip also gave the players a chance to have a bit of fun fantasizing about what it would have been like to play in that era.

Phillips said he thinks the flair of smooth-skating defenceman Erik Karlsson would have brought a different dimension to the game.

“It would be pretty incredible to see what he would be able to accomplish. I don’t know if he could handle the travel, but on the ice he’d be fit for it.”

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Last VIA Rail F unit donated to NRHS group

Published: March 26, 2012

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – VIA Rail Canada donated its last F unit to the British Columbia Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society last fall. Now the group is repainting the operational unit to a generic cream and royal blue at a warehouse in New Westminster, B.C., where it is stored along with several vintage passenger cars, The Province newspaper reports. VIA 6300 was retained by the railroad as the shop switcher for its Vancouver Maintenance Center until it was donated to the NRHS group.

No. 6300 is an FP9 built for Canadian National in April 1957 as No. 6524. It was transferred to VIA in March 1978. In 1983 Canadian National remanufactured it at its Pointe St. Charles shop in Montreal and it was renumbered VIA 6300. The unit was the only locomotive rebuilt following a head-on collision between VIA’s Super Continental/Skeena and a Canadian National freight train on Feb. 8, 1986 near Hinton, Alberta, which killed 23 people. The smashed front end of 6300 was replaced using the nose and cab from Kansas City Southern F7A 4062.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
On Friday, VIA Rail Canada Inc. completed a $6.9 million project to restore VIA’s heritage train station in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“We continue to transform passenger rail in Canada with new stations, tracks, trains and technology,” said VIA Rail board member David Hoff in a prepared statement.

The project required preservation of the “heritage” features of the building, which was built in 1919. Canada’s government designated the building a heritage rail station in 1991.

Platform canopies and lighting were improved along the track where trains arrive and depart, and station columns were repaired in 2010.  Then, a full restoration of the building began. Exterior masonry was repointed and cleaned, the roof rebuilt, exterior windows and doors restored or replaced, security added, and the iconic “Pacific Central” sign on the roof stabilized, VIA Rail officials said.

“These improvements will not only benefit the many travelers who use Vancouver Station, but bring economic benefits to local and regional businesses and the community,” said Wai Young, a member of Parliament for South Vancouver.

The project was funded in part with $2.3 million from Canada’s economic stimulus plan as part of the government’s $923 million investment in VIA Rail to improve passenger-rail services. (All dollar figures are in Canadian dollars.) Other projects being funded through the federal investment program include upgrades to facilities, stations, equipment and infrastructure
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Vancouver station restoration complete

Monday, April 16, 2012

The completion of a CA$6.9 million (US$6.89 million) project to restore VIA Rail Canada's heritage train station in Vancouver, B.C., was celebrated on April 13.

VIA Rail has completed major renovations to the station, paying strict attention to preserving the heritage features of the building, which was built in 1919. First, the platform canopies and lighting were improved alongside the tracks where the trains arrive and depart and station columns were repaired. This work was finished in 2010. Then, a full restoration of the Vancouver Station building was undertaken. From top to bottom, the exterior masonry of the building was repointed and cleaned, the roof rebuilt, the exterior windows and doors restored or replaced and the iconic "Pacific Central" sign on the roof stabilized, as well as security improvements made. This second phase was recently completed.

"We continue to transform passenger rail in Canada with new stations, tracks, trains and technology," said David Hoff of VIA Rail. "We remain focused on what counts: responding to markets and the needs of our customers in the most efficient way possible."

Funding for the upgrades to Pacific Central Station included CA$2.3 million (US$2.297 million) from the stimulus phase of the Economic Action Plan as part of a total investment of CA$923 million (US$921.8 million) by the Government of Canada to VIA Rail to improve passenger rail services.


wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

VIA Rail Canada Inc. is moving “full-steam ahead” on a $930 million capital investment project — its largest ever — that calls for improvements to more than 50 rail stations, agency officials recently announced.
The project includes upgrades and modernization work at key stations from Vancouver to Halifax, they said in a prepared statement. Improvements range from minimal cosmetic upgrades (such as exterior masonry work and new roofing) to building new stations. Other planned work includes improved platforms and customer service areas, passenger lounges, more energy efficient lighting and an expansion of Wi-Fi service to all stations.

“VIA Rail is well on the way to completion of this ambitious improvement project,” said Pierre Santoni, director of domestic and international sales. “Beyond the necessary improvements to ensure the traveler a pleasant experience, VIA is committed to preserving the historical significance of some of our oldest stations which date back to 1856.”

Improvements to the historic stations will include construction of a new, 6,300-square-foot business class lounge at Toronto Union Station; replacement of masonry, roof and windows at Pacific Central Station; renovations to the Halifax Station, such as heritage building preservation, a new lounge, upgraded platforms and parking lots;
and construction of a new overhead walkway and island boarding platform and a completely rebuilt main platform at the Belleville Station.

Other aspects of the project will entail new locomotive and passenger-car infrastructure; expansion and renovation on such routes as the Ontario-Quebec corridor; the addition of new trains and faster service, including new express service between Montreal and Ottawa, and a doubling of trains between Ottawa and Toronto; and the introduction of new “green” technology to ensure equipment meets current environmental standards and improves fuel efficiency.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Canadian province hopes to salvage VIA contract

Published: April 24, 2012

MONCTON, New Brunswick – The New Brunswick Department of Economic Development is hoping that a contract between Moncton’s Industrial Rail Services Inc. and passenger operator VIA Rail Canada can still be salvaged, CBC News reports. On April 11, VIA canceled a $109 million deal with Moncton’s Industrial Rail to refurbish 98 LRC passenger cars, citing delays in work on the cars. The company says it fell behind trying to work around problems that engineers found in the cars’ frames. 

The Court of Queen’s Bench appointed a receiver last week for Industrial Rail at the request of the provincial government. Bruce MacFarlane, a spokesman for the Department of Economic Development, said the provincial government had to protect the investment of taxpayers after trying to mediate between Industrial Rail and VIA for two months. “The receiver will try and see if they can look at the contracts and see if they can piece anything back together,” McFarlane said. He said the provincial government has paid out $9.5 million to support Industrial Rail and there is another $11 million at risk.

Located in the former Canadian National shops in Moncton, Industrial Rail recently has refurbished six RDCs, plus LRC and Renaissance fleet cars for VIA.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

Canadian government mulls privatization of VIA Canadian service

Published: April 25, 2012

OTTAWA, Ontario – The Canadian government is considering privatizing all or a portion of VIA Rail’s triweekly Toronto-Vancouver Canadianpassenger service. Portions of a “Request for Proposals” from Transport Canada, the equivalent of the U.S. Department of Transportation, was obtained by the Toronto Globe & Mail and focuses on four options:

  • Privatizing the entire Toronto-Vancouver Canadian route,

  • Privatizing the Jasper-Vancouver portion,

  • Reducing service to “low-mid level” by selling off the Canadian’s deluxe cars, and luxury offerings,

  • Making VIA recoup a greater share of its costs for the Jasper-Vancouver portion of the route.

The request for proposals was the result of a Parliamentary mandate for all government agencies and departments to find economies in their budgets to reduce the national debt. 

The debate about the western portion of the Canadian’s route is being generated by VIA’s decision to spend $25 million to refurbish theCanadian’s cars to luxury standards, aimed at enticing affluent tourists aboard. That puts VIA in direct competition with the Armstrong Hospitality Group, which claims that the deluxe service to be offered by VIA between Jasper and Vancouver will be unfair competition to its Rocky Mountaineertrain. 

A spokesman for the Rocky Mountaineer said the company has long objected to facing direct competition from taxpayer-funded VIA, but said it has not received privatization proposals from the government, and declined to speculate on whether the company would want to take over some of VIA’s current services.

Starting next year, VIA’s fleet will include 12 deluxe sleeping cars featuring private rooms, double beds, flat screen TVs, leather sofas, heated floors and glass-door showers. Priced at $1,289 for an upscale one-way ride from Jasper to Vancouver, VIA’s planned rate for 2013 would be nearly half of what the Rocky Mountaineer charges per person for its “Gold Leaf” package, on a train that only runs during daylight hours and includes a stay in an upgraded hotel room.

While Transport Canada insists no decisions have been made about privatizing the train, Armstrong Hospitality President Randy Powell met with Canada’s Transport Minister Steven Fletcher last December. According to prepared talking points, the minister solicited Powell’s views on privatizing the train.

Without continued subsidies from the government, it’s doubtful the entire portion of the Canadian’s route could be privatized. Trains Magazine columnist Fred Frailey said according to VIA’s 2010 Annual Report, theCanadian took in $39 million a year, but VIA spent $89 million on the train, making it a $50 million-a-year money loser.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

VIA Rail Canada and the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) have announced that AMT commuter train tickets will now be sold by VIA Rail, thus enabling customers to purchase VIA – AMT tickets through a single transaction.

The aim of this agreement is to promote public transportation, as well as the benefits of intermodality.

VIA Rail and the AMT are working together to ‘make travel planning easier for their users’.

“By establishing partnerships with other carriers to promote ecologically sound transportation and offer greater efficiency and ease of use to its users, VIA Rail is committed to updating train travel as a mode of transportation. I am pleased to announce today this agreement with our partner, the AMT, who obviously share this vision,” said Marc Laliberté, President and CEO of VIA Rail Canada.

“Through its constant search for innovation aimed at providing the best possible service to its customers, the AMT is working to make public transportation attractive by developing new ticket collection systems. This partnership with VIA Rail enables us to offer even more flexibility and convenience and is in line with our desire to develop an integrated, simplified and accessible pricing strategy,” said Paul Côté, the acting President and CEO of the AMT.

This service applies to the AMT’s Deux-Montagnes and Mont-Saint-Hilaire commuter train lines.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

VIA chief: Beyond 500 miles, planes are best option

Published: May 7, 2012

MONTREAL, Quebec – In a speech this month at the Montreal Board of Trade, VIA Rail Canada President and Chief Executive Officer Marc Laliberte discussed the viability and sustainability of passenger trains. While the speech was generally positive about the future of passenger rail service in Canada, particularly in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor, Laliberte’s comment s also included what could be viewed as an ominous view of long distance trains.

Laliberte was discussing various transportation systems when he made the following comments: 

“To optimize transportation modes in the country, from our standpoint, the train is the best option for trips between 160 and 800 kilometers [100 and 500 miles]. Why? Besides being affordable cost-wise, travel times are reasonable and can be put to productive use (mobile devices always connected to our Wi-Fi, for work or relaxation, in a comfortable environment).

“For trips less than 160 kilometers, the most suitable transportation modes are, according to our analyses, car, bus, and commuter train. They cost less, and the trip time is reasonable. Beyond 800 kilometers, planes are obviously the best option, because of the travel time and also because they have a greater range.

“So we can draw the following conclusion: every transportation mode has its benefits, and it’s in the best interests of travellers that the partners agree on how to take advantage of their strengths and promote intermodality.”

Laliberte went on to tout VIA’s successes in recent years. He said in 2011, on-time performance of VIA trains reached 84 percent, and for the first quarter of 2012, it increased to 88 percent. For the Montreal-Quebec service, compared to 2009, revenue increased by 13 percent in 2011. For the same route, there has been a 12 percent increase in revenue for the first quarter of 2012 compared to 2011.

He concluded his remarks saying “Better passenger rail service that can attract a larger number of passengers, that’s what Canada needs. It will also contribute to decreasing the number of cars on our roads, reducing pollution, providing travel from one city to another on a more frequent basis, and especially, making it easier for all Canadians.”

The complete text of the speech is available here.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

VIA Rail, CN, CP and partners put spotlight on rail safety

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

From April 30 to May 6 this year, Operation Lifesaver's Rail Safety Week raised public awareness and encouraged Canadians to take personal responsibility for safety near rail property.

While rail transportation is the safest of all ground transportation modes, trespassing on rail property and negligence at railway crossings cause unnecessary and preventable tragedies every year. This year, VIA Rail Canada contributed to the efforts to change attitudes and behaviors towards rail safety and reduce injuries and fatalities by organizing and participating in a variety of community-level events and activities.

"Safety is our number one priority," said Jean Tierney, VIA's senior firector, dafety, security and risk management. "From our train operations, to the work we do at our stations, in our maintenance centers and in our offices, VIA employees strive to promote a strong safety culture across every aspect of our business operations."

According to Operation Lifesaver, every year approximately 300 collisions and trespassing incidents occur at railway crossings and along railway tracks in Canada.

"That is 300 incidents too many," declared Tierney. "Indeed, even one incident is one too many. That is why VIA is proud to work with Operation Lifesaver, the Railway Association of Canada, Transport Canada, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and other industry partners, with a goal of preventing these incidents through education and outreach. We believe that getting out into communities to spread the word on rail safety can save lives."

As part of Rail Safety Week 2012, VIA worked with Operation Lifesaver, Belleville Police Service, CN and Bay of Quinte Safe Communities to educate the public and the youth of Belleville on the importance of following safe practices in and around railway land in the Belleville, Ontario area.

"Together, our teams have been in the community, handing out rail safety guides at kiosks at VIA's Belleville station and in local malls; meeting pedestrians and vehicle drivers at area rail crossings; giving safety presentations at local schools and accepting a special donation from VIA Rail to the Belleville Children's Safety Village," said Belleville Police Chief Cory McMullan. "It has been a pleasure for the Belleville Police to collaborate with these organizations to put the spotlight on such an important safety issue for our community and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to improve safety for the citizens of Belleville.

"Initiatives like these ones and hundreds more happen during Rail Safety Week and all year long," added Dan Di Tota, national director of Operation Lifesaver. "Our goal remains the same all year and right across the country: to educate the public on how to stay safe."

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

VIA Rail services in the Gaspé Peninsula to partially resume on May 13

Thursday, May 10, 2012

VIA Rail Canada service between Montreal, Matapédia and New-Carlisle, Quebec will resume with the departure of train 16 from Montreal on Sunday, May 13, (first westbound train to Montreal May 14th). The interruption in services over the past few months was caused by significant track maintenance work undertaken by the Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie.

"Having recently received engineering reports indicating that the bridges and other structures between Matapédia and New-Carlisle are now safe, we are pleased to resume operations of our trains on this leg," explained Marc Beaulieu, VIA's regional general manager east and chief transportation officer. "Although this interruption in our services was beyond our control, we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this situation may have caused."

The Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie is pursuing its detailed inspections and load calculations on the portion of track between New-Carlisle and Gaspé. The train there will continue to be replaced by motor coach service until VIA receives an inspection report indicating that the infrastructure can again be used safely by its trains.


Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

VIA to resume partial service to Gaspé Peninsula

Published: May 10, 2012

MONTREAL – After a 142-day disruption, VIA Rail Canada will resume partial service from Montreal to the Gaspé Peninsula. Service has been suspended since December 2011, after inspections on the Grand-Pabos Bridge in Chandler, Quebec, revealed damage to the structure of one of its pillars. VIA was also concerned about the condition of other rail infrastructure along the tracks operated by the Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie, and replaced the train with bus service until repairs were made. 

VIA said it would resume service between Montreal, Matapédia, and New-Carlisle, Quebec, with the departure of train 16 from Montreal on May 13. The first westbound train to Montreal will operate the next day.

“Having recently received engineering reports indicating that the bridges and other structures between Matapédia and New-Carlisle are now safe, we are pleased to resume operations of our trains on this leg,” Marc Beaulieu, VIA’s regional general manager, East, and chief transportation officer, said in a news release. 

VIA said Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie is pursuing detailed inspections and load calculations on the portion of track between New-Carlisle and Gaspé. Bus service will continue over that portion of the route until VIA receives a report that the track can again be used safely by its trains.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

A fresh-tossed Caesar salad with red pepper, goat cheese and chicken; spice seared salmon topped with tropical fruit salsa; and slow-braised short ribs with pasilla peppers are probably not the first things that come to mind when thinking of Amtrak. Why would they be, when many travelers have been conditioned by less than stellar airline food to accept limp biscuits and wet meats while en route?

U.S. and Canadian railways are looking to change this by upping the ante in their long-distance dining cars.

To keep its menus fresh, Amtrak consults its Culinary Advisory Board, a kitchen brain-trust of sorts, that includes Amtrak's own chefs as well as industry big wigs. At a demo in New York's Union Square highlighting the progress on Amtrak's new dining car and dishes, the line's Executive Chef Daniel Malzhan and Director of Food and Beverage Services Gary Gunderson shared what goes into menu creation.

"Most of the ideation comes from the Culinary Advisory Board," Gunderson told HuffPost Travel. "We use that as a forum to decide what's trendy and regionally popular to keep our menu current."

At the test kitchen in Wilmington, Delaware, Amtrak's culinary team comes together for an annual workshop, Malzhan explained. After breaking into groups, each is tasked with creating items that fit a certain menu profile: healthy dishes, vegetarian dishes, seafood dishes, etc. The chefs prepare mock-ups of the various meals, trying to get the best flavors into dishes that are also executable in the tiny train galley.

"I think the biggest difference between train food and airline food is that we actually cook to order," says Malzhan, who once developed menus for Delta. "We are the original meals on wheels."

Certain elements must be brought onto the train prepared, but unlike on a plane where the food is prepackaged then nuked, there's an actual Amtrak chef tossing salads and preparing steaks for train riders.

To the north, VIA Rail Canada, the country's version of Amtrak, has completely revamped the dining car menu on its cross-country Canadian line.

"Our menu had been the same for a few years," says Chef Martin Gemme, who is in charge of planning services on the long-haul trains. "We wanted to update it with the newest trends in the food and restaurant business, and recenter it to Canadian products."

That's no small order considering the Canadian's menu changes for every meal and never repeats itself.

To do that, VIA took a unique approach, rallying the internal talent in a contest called the Menu Creation Challenge. All of VIA's chefs were invited to submit a recipe, and the top eight submissions earned a spot in the challenge in Winnipeg. After a two-day work shop, the team came up with 78 new menu items inspired by the regions and products of Canada.

Some of the items that came out of the challenge include: cheesecake-stuffed french toast with red berry compote; Canadian pickerel roasted in horseradish and panko breading with ravigote sauce; honey- and soy-glazed duck breast with gastrique blackberry; and red wine roasted beef ravioli and root vegetables sautéed with bacon vanilla sauce.

The recipes can be found here. The new menu will be available mid-June.

Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW

VIA Rail services in the Gaspé Peninsula to partially resume on May 13

Thursday, May 10, 2012

VIA Rail Canada service between Montreal, Matapédia and New-Carlisle, Quebec will resume with the departure of train 16 from Montreal on Sunday, May 13, (first westbound train to Montreal May 14th). The interruption in services over the past few months was caused by significant track maintenance work undertaken by the Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie.

"Having recently received engineering reports indicating that the bridges and other structures between Matapédia and New-Carlisle are now safe, we are pleased to resume operations of our trains on this leg," explained Marc Beaulieu, VIA's regional general manager east and chief transportation officer. "Although this interruption in our services was beyond our control, we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this situation may have caused."

The Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie is pursuing its detailed inspections and load calculations on the portion of track between New-Carlisle and Gaspé. The train there will continue to be replaced by motor coach service until VIA receives an inspection report indicating that the infrastructure can again be used safely by its trains.

wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

VIA Rail Canada Inc. has marked the completion of the $4.2 million Panorama Lounge revitalization project at Toronto’s Union Station. The lounge upgrade is part of a larger $640 million program to rehabilitate the station.

The 2,000-square-foot lounge sports more than twice the capacity of the previous lounge and features modern amenities, such as wireless fidelity, a business center and beverage service area. The new upgrades were completed while retaining the original architectural and design elements of the historic station.

The Canadian government is contributing $164 million toward the Union Station revitalization project and the province of Ontario, $172 million. The city of Toronto is funding the remaining $304 million.

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