Posts Tagged ‘VIA Rail Canada’

Capitol Limited Back in Service, LSL and Some Michigan Trains Still Suspended

December 27, 2022

Amtrak began getting back to normal in Northeast Ohio on Wednesday with the resumption of the Capitol Limited in both directions.

Nos. 29 and 30 departed their respective terminals of Washington and Chicago for the first time in nearly a week, although No. 29 did leave Washington on Sunday.

No. 30 passed the Elkhart rail camera on Tuesday night with its usual consist of five Superliner cars but also had a Viewliner baggage car on the rear

The Lake Shore Limited, however, did not depart Chicago, New York  or Boston on Tuesday.

Amtrak corridor services in Michigan remained sidelined on two routes on Tuesday with some service suspensions still in effect on Wednesday.

However, Amtrak said it is providing substitute bus service for some cancelled Midwest corridor trains and at the time the advisory was issued was trying to line up alternative bus transportation for other trains.

Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac) that did not operate on Tuesday included Nos. 352, 354 and 353. Nos. 351 and 353 will not operate on Wednesday.

The Blue Water did not operate in either direction on Tuesday and will not operate from Port Huron to Chicago on Wednesday.

Lincoln Service trains between Chicago and St. Louis that were cancelled on Tuesday included Nos. 305 and 315. No. 300 will not operate on Wednesday.

Also cancelled on Tuesday was the Missouri River Runner No. 318 from Kansas City to St. Louis, and the Illinois Zephyr between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois. The Quincy to Chicago Zephyr is cancelled for Wednesday as well.

In the East, the Maple Leaf was canceled between Toronto and Rochester, New York on Tuesday and will not operate on Wednesday between those cities, either.

Empire Service No. 280 was cancelled from Niagara Falls and Albany-Rensselaer for Dec. 27 and 28.

Cancelled between Niagara Falls and Syracuse for Dec 27 and 28 are Empire Service Nos. 281, 281 and 284.

In the West, the Empire Builder was cancelled the length of its route westbound on Tuesday. However, the eastbound Builder operated from St. Paul, Minnesota to Chicago while being cancelled between Seattle/Portland and St. Paul.

VIA Rail Canada began resuming service on Tuesday on a modified schedule that saw some trains combined in the Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa corridors.

The Canadian carrier had cancelled all trains on those corridors on Dec. 25 and 26, in part due to a freight train derailment that blocked the tracks.

VIA was set to operate 14 trains in those corridors rather than the normal 28.

Rail passenger service was not the only transportation mode disrupted by severe winter weather in the past several days.

Southwest Airlines canceled 2,886 flights on Monday, about 70 percent of its schedule. It cancelled 60 percent of its Tuesday flights. The cancellations left thousands of air travelers stranded.

The airline said on Tuesday it would operate about a third of its scheduled flights in the coming days as it seeks to recover from a service meltdown.

It setup a website, www.Southwest.com/traveldisruption, where passengers could contact the airline to rebook travel or request a refund of their fare.

The U.S. Transportation Department has launched an investigation into Southwest and its cancelled flights, which the agency described as “unacceptable.”

DOT said it was concerned about Southwest’s “failure to properly support customers experiencing a cancellation or delay.”

The CEO of Southwest, Bob Jordan, released a three-minute video statement on Tuesday in which he said he is “truly sorry” for the airline’s failures over the holiday weekend.

Southwest was not the only airline to cancel thousands of flights last weekend but has been much slower than other carriers to recover from the service disruptions triggered by a winter storm that brought subzero temperatures and heavy snow.

Another factor behind the cancellations of flights and Amtrak trains has been staffing shortages.

In his video statement, Jordan said some of Southwest’s problems can be attributed to how it has set up its network.

“We build our flight schedule around communities, not hubs, so we are the largest airline in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S., cities where large numbers of scheduled flights simultaneously froze as record bitter cold brought challenges for all airlines,” he said.

Over the next several days Southwest will be working to reposition planes and personnel in order to “reset” its service. That will mean ferrying some planes without passengers.

One of the hardest hit cities has been Buffalo, New York, where officials issued a travel ban after more than four feet of lake effect snow fell on the region.

Buffalo Niagara International Airport will be shut down until Wednesday. News reports indicate that 29 people have died since the onset of the winter storm in the Buffalo region.

Amtrak Service Suspensions Lingering

December 26, 2022

Amtrak appeared to be slowly returning to normal today after several days of service cancellations of Midwest corridor trains and Eastern long-distance trains due to a winter storm.

As of 6:30 a.m. this morning the Amtrak website did not show any new cancellations for today beyond two that had already been announced.

However, the eastbound Capitol Limited that had been scheduled to resume service on Sunday was cancelled due to mechanical issues Amtrak announced on its Twitter feed.

The westbound Capitol Limited did leave Washington on Sunday afternoon as scheduled but was operating more than an hour late.

The westbound Cardinal was operating more than two hours late. No. 51 last ran on Dec. 20.

A handful of Midwest Corridor trains will not operate today (Dec. 26). These include the Missouri River Runner between St. Louis and Kansas City, and Lincoln Service Nos. 301 and 306 between Chicago and St. Louis.

Amtrak cited “manpower issues” for cancelling today Wolverine Service No. 353 from Pontiac, Michigan, to Chicago with alternative transportation being provided.

The passenger carrier cited the same reasons for cancelling Wolverine Service Nos. 354 and 355 between Chicago and Battle Creek, Michigan, on Sunday night.

The Lake Shore Limited between Chicago and New York/Boston was slated to resume operation today after not operating since late last week. However, the Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle/Portland remains cancelled.

Amtrak was not the only rail passenger carrier to cancel trains during the Christmas weekend.

VIA Rail Canada cancelled all of its trains in the Toronto-Ottawa, and Toronto-Montreal corridors on Christmas Day. VIA extended those cancellations into Dec. 26 although it attributed the latest round of service suspensions to the “ongoing impact of the CN train derailment which occurred on Dec. 24.”

The derailment occurred in Grafton, Ontario, shortly after 11 a.m. on Dec. 24 and blocked all tracks. The VIA cancellations affected 25 corridor trains.

Earlier, VIA cited the winter storm for prompting the cancellation of 24 corridor trains on Dec. 24. The Toronto Star reported that on the night of Dec. 23 some VIA trains were delayed up to 14 hours and nine trains were stranded overnight.

The storm brought subzero temperatures and, in some areas, heavy snow. VIA reported that some delays were due to power outages and downed trees.

The Canadian passenger carrier said passengers affected by those delays will receive a full refund and a travel credit.

Canada’s Transport Minister, Omar Alghabra had taken to Twitter to describe the VIA situation as “unacceptable and we are in contact with them to resolve all issues safely and efficiently.”

Amtrak Says CP Will Allow Passenger Expansion

October 26, 2022

Amtrak said in a brief filed with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that Canadian Pacific has agreed to back the passenger carrier’s efforts to expand service in several locations, including Michigan.

The brief was the final filing by Amtrak in the proposed merger of CP and Kansas City Southern.

CP has agree to allow Amtrak to institute new service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, that would connect at the latter with trains of VIA Rail Canada. The service would use a tunnel under the Detroit River that is owned by CP.

No details about that proposed service have been released nor is there a timeline for its implementation.

Amtrak’s current Wolverine Service between Chicago and Detroit continues northward to suburban Pontiac. One or more of those trains would have to be diverted to Windsor.

The existing Detroit Amtrak station is not located on the route into Windsor.

Amtrak’ s brief described CP as a “reliable partner in working with Amtrak to provide safe, efficient and effective passenger-rail services.”

The brief said CP also agreed to allow Amtrak to add other additional or new services including:

• Expansion on the CP-owned portion of the Hiawatha Service route between Chicago and Milwaukee;

• Between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, on lines owned by CP; 

• Between New Orleans (IC Junction) and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on a KCS line.

CP also has agreed to participate in a study with Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and various governmental agencies of implementing new service between Dallas and Meridian, Mississippi.

Before its CVSR Days

October 5, 2022

A VIA Rail Canada train rolls through Scarborough, Ontario, on March 23, 1982. If VIA 6777 looks familiar it is because is now works on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad as one of their three Montreal Locomotive Works FPA-4 cab units.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Pact Averts Strike Against VIA Rail Canada

July 12, 2022

A strike against VIA Rail Canada was averted on Tuesday when the passenger carrier reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract.

Members of Unifor Council 4000 and Local 100 had been threatening to strike as early as Monday if the two sides did not reach an agreement.

That deadline was extended a couple of times before the pact was reached.

The unions represent 2,400 VIA workers who will now vote on whether to ratify the contract.

The employees involved work in rail stations, on trains, in maintenance centers, the VIA Customer Center and administrative offices.

If ratified, the contract will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, and extend to Dec. 31, 2024. Terms of the agreement have not been released.

VIA said trains will continue to operate normally while the ratification vote is being conducted.

However, VIA said it will continue to offer passengers the opportunity to make changes to their travel plans without service fees for any departures prior to July 31, 2022.and through Dec. 31, 2024.

Amtrak’s Maple Leaf to Resume Serving Toronto

June 25, 2022

Amtrak said on Friday that its Maple Leaf train will resume operating between New York and Toronto on June 27.

The train has been operating only between New York and Niagara Falls, New York, since March 2020 due to restrictions on international travel imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers crossing the border will need to follow standard entry documentation requirements as well as fulfill additional requirements imposed by the governments of the United States and Canada.

Passengers traveling to the United States who are not U.S. citizens must be fully vaccinated with a U.S. FDA or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Passengers traveling into Canada must use the ArriveCAN app before travel and wear a facial mask while aboard the train traveling within Canada and in Canadian railroad stations.

Non-Canadian citizens must be fully vaccinated and carry the vaccination record that was uploaded into ArriveCAN.

Required documents include the following as well as copy of an ArriveCAN receipt: Passports and travel documents; visas required by foreign nationals to enter Canada; valid permanent resident cards; travel documents issued to permanent residents abroad to facilitate their return to Canada; single journey travel documents issued to refugees selected abroad for resettlement in Canada; travel documents issued by Canada to persons on whom the Government of Canada has conferred protection as refugees or protected persons.

The service advisory noted that minor children are subject to the same travel document and visa requirements as adults.

More information about the ArriveCan program is available at the website of VIA Rail Canada at

www.canada.ca/arrivecan.

VIA operates the Maple Leaf between Toronto and Niagara Falls, Ontario.

VIA to Reduce Service Due to Pandemic

January 15, 2022

With cases of COVID-19 surging VIA Rail Canada has decided to temporarily reduce service in its corridors between Windsor, Ontario, and Quebec City, Quebec.

VIA said the affected routes include Montreal-Ottawa, Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa, Toronto-Kingston-Montreal, Toronto-Kingston-Ottawa, Toronto-London-Windsor and Toronto-London-Sarnia.

Business class seating has been suspended and business lounges are closed. VIA said it will gradually restore service during the spring.

In a statement, VIA said it will continue to offer “essential service” on all routes. The service reductions will take effect Jan. 19.

Canadian Two for Tuesday

January 11, 2022

We’re going north of the border into Ontario for a two for Tuesday feature. Better warm up those vocal cords before you start singing O Canada.

In the top image Paul Woodring and I were at Bayview Junction, Ontario, in July 1980 when I photographed VIA Rail Canada 6530 heading east to Toronto, as it meets a Canadian National freight.

In the bottom image A Toronto GO Transit commuter train is eastbound on March 23, 1982, Cabin D in Toronto.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Catching the Canadian in Winnipeg

December 16, 2020

In May 2000 Ursula and I flew to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to attend a wedding.

With VIA’s Canadian being tri-weekly, I was hoping to see it since we were visiting for just a few days.

On May 11 I ventured to the Forks in downtown Winnipeg, an historic site, meeting place and green space located at the confluence of the Red and the Assiniboine rivers.

From the Forks Market Tower I was able to get a good view of the arriving eastbound Canadian. Here are some photos of VIA train No. 2 arriving at Union Station.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

VIA Extends Long-Distance Train Suspensions

September 29, 2020

VIA Rail Canada has indefinitely extended the suspension of two long-distance trains due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Toronto-Vancouver Canadian and Montreal-Halifax Ocean had been set to resume operations on Nov. 1.

But in an announcement made last week VIA said the suspensions have been extended to an unspecified date due to due to a rise of COVID-19 cases in some regions of Canada and the recommendations of health authorities.

The carrier also said sleeping car service on its Winnipeg-Churchill route will remain suspended.

In a news release, VIA said it is working on a safe resumption of service plan.

“The authorities indicate that this situation is worrisome as we are heading into autumn and winter, which are seasons presenting a high risk for respiratory diseases,” VIA said in a statement.

“Current sanitary conditions would thus not allow for a safe service offering, especially given the duration of these trips and the close proximity between employees and passengers.”

VIA is continuing to operate some corridor service between Quebec City and Windsor, Ontario, via Toronto and Montreal.

A VIA spokesperson told Trains magazine in mid September that the passenger carrier is reviewing “ventilation systems, classes of service, schedules, and food and beverage, in order to offer a safe travel experience.”

He said the close proximity between employees and passengers and the duration of long-distance trips made it difficult to offer a safe environment.

The VIA news release cites “recent bulletins by authorities show that a second wave of the pandemic has begun in some regions of the country.”

In some regions of Canada travel restrictions limit travel to residents of the same or an adjacent province.