Quantcast

Churchill Line Sold/VIA to return service Dec. 2

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Urban Sky

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 23, 2018
Messages
78
Location
MTR
Anyone going the greater distance to Winnipeg for a hospital stay etc is probably already there by air ...not spending an additional 13 hrs on the train.
“Heart patient's death on Greyhound bus leads to calls for more flights, better service in northern Manitoba

[...]

Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Chief Marcel Moody said cancer patients and other First Nations people are being forced to take long bus rides for medical help.

“There's incidents like this happening on a weekly basis,” he said in an interview with CTV News.

Moody said more flights south and better health services in the north should be available.

"If we can avoid another death in a similar circumstance I think we have to try our best to help our people as best we can,” Moody said.

[...]

Indigenous Services Canada said based on the most cost effective mode of travel, the bus is the normal mode of transportation, taking the client's medical condition into consideration.“

https://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/mobile/heart-patient-s-death-on-greyhound-bus-leads-to-calls-for-more-flights-better-service-in-northern-manitoba-1.4135349
 
Last edited by a moderator:

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,581
Location
Nova Scotia
Perhaps VIA can run a few excursion trains during the time tourist want to visit……but IMHO a First Nation run service geared to the needs of the isolated communities is much more practical than catering to tourists.
 

Urban Sky

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 23, 2018
Messages
78
Location
MTR
Perhaps VIA can run a few excursion trains during the time tourist want to visit……but IMHO a First Nation run service geared to the needs of the isolated communities is much more practical than catering to tourists.
I’m not Canadian and have only lived here for 6 years, but my grasp of indogenous history in this country is that it is usually better to listen to their communities’ demands than to second-guess their needs. I believe they have been very vocal about their desire in restoring the Status Quo prior to the wash-outs and their wishes have finally been granted...
 

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,581
Location
Nova Scotia
I’m not Canadian and have only lived here for 6 years, but my grasp of indogenous history in this country is that it is usually better to listen to their communities’ demands than to second-guess their needs. I believe they have been very vocal about their desire in restoring the Status Quo prior to the wash-outs and their wishes have finally been granted...

I know…a good portion of my work is in First Nations and also at isolated Indigenous Communities in Labrador.  
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,852
Location
Ithaca, NY
It gives me some perspective on the misbehavior of Amtrak management when I realize that VIA would kill to have Amtrak's long-distance services.  The mandated services which VIA has to run to remote communities have truly low ridership and revenue; VIA's "Corridor" is more comparable to Amtrak's long-distance services financially.

The Churchill service is an example.  I hope the Canadian government eventually finds a dedicated funding stream for services like this, separate and apart from VIA's general operations.
 

fairviewroad

Conductor
Joined
Jan 13, 2011
Messages
3,353
There is a sizable First Nations community in Winnipeg. Granted, not all of them are from northern communities served by this rail line. But a fair number are. I don't think it's accurate to characterize this service as serving only tourists and people with hospital appointments.

Flights between the northern communities and Winnipeg can be very expensive. In my observations at the Winnipeg airport, many times those flights have a not-insignificant percentage of passengers being American big-game hunters and government workers. People who live in those areas, or have family ties there, could certainly use an affordable rail link.
 

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,581
Location
Nova Scotia
There is a sizable First Nations community in Winnipeg. Granted, not all of them are from northern communities served by this rail line. But a fair number are. I don't think it's accurate to characterize this service as serving only tourists and people with hospital appointments.

Flights between the northern communities and Winnipeg can be very expensive. In my observations at the Winnipeg airport, many times those flights have a not-insignificant percentage of passengers being American big-game hunters and government workers. People who live in those areas, or have family ties there, could certainly use an affordable rail link.

A Remote or Essential Service is just that: A link from isolated communities to a larger centre when other services or transportation options are available. I have no problem with my tax dollar funding transportation to get someone from these isolated communities to The Pas or Churchill but once there…you are on your own. We could provide an “affordable rail-link” to everyone in this county but at what cost to the taxpayer?
 

Urban Sky

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 23, 2018
Messages
78
Location
MTR
A Remote or Essential Service is just that: A link from isolated communities to a larger centre when other services or transportation options are available. I have no problem with my tax dollar funding transportation to get someone from these isolated communities to The Pas or Churchill but once there…you are on your own. We could provide an “affordable rail-link” to everyone in this county but at what cost to the taxpayer?
Have you ever had a look into what ongoing transportation options you have once you arrive in The Pas (Population: 5,368) without a car?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,581
Location
Nova Scotia
Have you ever had a look into what ongoing transportation options you have once you arrive in The Pas (Population: 5,368) without a car?

Yes…As I said. A remote or essential service is to get you to a community when you have options and at The Pas you have a road network/car, air, bus and train.   
 
Last edited by a moderator:

fairviewroad

Conductor
Joined
Jan 13, 2011
Messages
3,353
Yes…As I said. A remote or essential service is to get you to a community when you have options and at The Pas you have a road network/car, air, bus and train.   
Yes, The Pas is connected to Winnipeg by paved highways. It's a 625 km drive to Winnipeg, most of which passes through a remote wilderness. In winter? Well, good luck. There do appear to be car rental options in The Pas...bearing in mind of course, that many of the isolated communities are not part of the road network...do people living there even have drivers licenses, much less any kind of practical experience driving a car over long distances?

Yes, there's an airport in The Pas with commercial airline service. Calm Air, with its fleet of small prop planes, flies a couple of times a day between The Pas and Winnipeg. Fares are generally about $500 or more above the price of a train ticket. Clearly out of reach of many in the remote communities.

As far as the bus, Greyhound no longer serves western Canada. There does appear to be a local outfit that provides an overnight run from The Pas down to Winnipeg. I can't find any price info. But it's something. Is it sustainable over the long run? Who knows.

To your earlier comment, I don't believe anyone is suggesting that Canada provide an affordable rail-link to everyone in the country. This is a case where the infrastructure already exists. Why not use it? Are you suggesting VIA scrap every rail line that doesn't turn a profit?
 

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,581
Location
Nova Scotia
The service should be turned over to a Indigenous group to operate... just as VIA did with the Pukatawagan trains going to Keewatin Rail.

I travel to Indigenous Communities in Labrador. No Rail service there but you fly in on Air Borealis.....a partnership between PAL and the Innu First Nations it serves. Just as Air Creebec.....owned by the Cree Nation serves those communities of Northern Quebec.

First Nations meeting their needs.....not just a stop  along the way at  2:45am by a VIA train catering to tourists.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,705
Location
South Carolina
What really perturbs me about VIA is the fact they market all of their trains as tourism products minus the corridor.

You have the "Great Western Way" which is the Canadian providing service to multiple cities and towns along the way.

Then there is the "Maritime Way" which is the Ocean providing service to several smaller towns plus Halifax, and Moncton.

After that are the "Adventure Routes" which encompasses the Rural Quebec service, Skeena, the Ontario RDC, and the Hudson Bay. Even though I will make a bet hardly any tourists use the Rural Quebec, and the RDC service.

And one thing I've noticed on my VIA segments it's mostly patronized by Canadians and not tourists. When I was in the Ocean the train was mostly Canadians.

The Canadian when I was on it I remember two groups of tourists that I talked to. But for the most part everyone was Canadian and for the most part traveling from Point A to Point B not doing it as the sole part of their vacation but as a method of transportation. Of course CN's abysmal handling of the train makes it hard to use the utility of transportation on the train. But there are still several people using it for transportation.

And then you have the bland "corridor" which is mostly geared as regular transportation which is what the other trains really all are still.

Now maybe NS Via Fan can help me figure something out. What all of the former Corridor Train Names were. And which number went to which train. Me personally I prefer trains with names instead of the bland "corridor".
 

Urban Sky

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 23, 2018
Messages
78
Location
MTR
What really perturbs me about VIA is the fact they market all of their trains as tourism products minus the corridor.
I don't think that local communities which depend on non-Corridor train service rely on any targeted marketing. However, any new user which becomes aware and uses the train decreases the per-rider subsidy and therefore helps to preserve the service.

Now maybe NS Via Fan can help me figure something out. What all of the former Corridor Train Names were. And which number went to which train. Me personally I prefer trains with names instead of the bland "corridor".
The train names were abandoned when VIA Rail's timetable design changed from leaflets to booklets in November 1997. Here a list of train names from the 1997-05-05 timetable:

image.png 
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,277
Location
Palm Beach County
Looks like by that time, the overnight Montreal/Toronto trains were already gone...IIRC, they were 'The Cavalier', Nos. 58 and 59....I had my first, and so far only ride in an Upper Berth on that train... :cool:
 

Urban Sky

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 23, 2018
Messages
78
Location
MTR
Looks like by that time, the overnight Montreal/Toronto trains were already gone...IIRC, they were 'The Cavalier', Nos. 58 and 59....I had my first, and so far only ride in an Upper Berth on that train... :cool:
"The Cavalier" fell victim of the January 1990 bloodbath, but was briefly revived as the "Enterprise" (trains 50/51) between January 2000 and October 2005, first using HEP and then Renaissance equipment, as described in this interesting report.

However, we might be getting a bit off-topic here...
 
Last edited by a moderator:

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,581
Location
Nova Scotia
Yes, The Pas is connected to Winnipeg by paved highways. It's a 625 km drive to Winnipeg, most of which passes through a remote wilderness. In winter? Well, good luck. There do appear to be car rental options in The Pas...bearing in mind of course, that many of the isolated communities are not part of the road network...do people living there even have drivers licenses, much less any kind of practical experience driving a car over long distances?

Here’s the Innu community of Natuashish in Labrador. The highway ends at Goose Bay 175 miles south but there are roads. If you want a car…it can be brought in by Coastal Boat and probably no different than bringing a car in by rail in Manitoba. When we are working there...there's no Hertz…so the Band Office supplies us a vehicle. And I would say a lot do have licenses as they don’t spend all their lives in isolated communities. In the first photo below...the main road runs from the wharf inland to the airport about 10km.

Natuashish is at 56deg N latitude the same as Glasgow Scotland. Churchill is at 59 deg. 



 





 
Last edited by a moderator:

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,581
Location
Nova Scotia
What really perturbs me about VIA is the fact they market all of their trains as tourism products minus the corridor.
Now maybe NS Via Fan can help me figure something out. What all of the former Corridor Train Names were. And which number went to which train. Me personally I prefer trains with names instead of the bland "corridor".

When VIA eliminated most train names I believed the ‘Canadian’ was retained for marketing as it was well known. The ‘Ocean’ was approaching its 100 birthday and could also be used in marketing. A co-workers GF and their little fellow are regular travelers to Campbellton but she just calls it ‘The VIA’. The only time she’s heard of the Ocean is when I call it that and that is probably the same for most others……it’s just the Halifax or Montreal train.

It was nice having trains named in the corridor at one time but they probably meant nothing to the majority of riders, Don’t imagine too many called ReserVIA asking for  a seat on the ‘Simcoe’  ‘York’  'LaSalle’ or ‘Laurier’…..They just selected a train time that was convenient. Same as I do today on my app.     
 

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,581
Location
Nova Scotia
"The Cavalier" fell victim of the January 1990 bloodbath, but was briefly revived as the "Enterprise" (trains 50/51) between January 2000 and October 2005, first using HEP and then Renaissance equipment, as described in this interesting report.

However, we might be getting a bit off-topic here...

The Cavalier was a product of the CN post Pool era (October 1965)

End of the Pool

Sleeper traffic was so heavy back then...that on Sunday nights the Cavalier was ‘Sleeping Cars Only’ and coach passengers were handled on a extra separate train.

>>>>>>>>>>>> 

And continuing with train names: Skeena, Hudson Bay, Abitibi etc are all from the VIA era. CN didn't use a name for the Jasper-Prince Rupert train but it was sometimes referred to as the ‘Rupert Rocket’

The ‘Lake Superior’ name for the Sudbury-White River RDC was a bit of a misnomer as it never comes within sight of the Lake And you could almost say the same for the ‘Ocean’….. unless you crank your head around on the last couple of thousand feet approaching the Halifax Station, look through piles of containers…you might get a glimpse of the Atlantic. The Ocean does skirt the Gulf of St. Lawrence, upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy and Bedford Basin which are technically part of the Ocean. But it's more to do with the region it serves and Nova Scotia is "Canada's Ocean Playground".....as our license plates say. 
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,705
Location
South Carolina
You're making me wonder if there is still a sleeper market between MTRL-TRTO. I could see where there might be one actually.
 

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,581
Location
Nova Scotia
You're making me wonder if there is still a sleeper market between MTRL-TRTO. I could see where there might be one actually.

Anecdotal only…but NO.

I rode the Enterprise numerous time between 2000-2005. [SIZE=11pt]There were numerous discount coupons for a sleeper on the Enterprise one-way and return by fast afternoon train in VIA-1 (Business) Class but it didn’t seem to work. The only times the trains were full were on Fri and Sun evenings and this was usually only in the coaches. On days the Enterprise connected with the Canadian....you did have a few more in the sleepers, but not many.[/SIZE]

The Enterprise was extensively marketed but with the faster daytime trains....people just want to be home in their own beds at night. Not in a hotel room....let alone a sleeper.
 
 

Urban Sky

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 23, 2018
Messages
78
Location
MTR
You're making me wonder if there is still a sleeper market between MTRL-TRTO. I could see where there might be one actually.
For further reading:

Throughout Europe, the number of night train services has greatly reduced over the past 50 years. After the World War II, the advent of air travel, high-speed rail services and the rise of private car ownership have collectively phased out night trains from circulation.

As of last year, only 11 [out of 28] EU Member States retain their domestic night train services.

[...]

Eastern Europe and Russia still retain the largest number of services, while in Central Europe, Austria has by far the most prominent network, mainly due to its geographical layout. The major population centers in Austria lie on a single, 1,000km-long east-west corridor, on which ÖBB operates a number of night trains that also reach the surrounding countries.

[...]

The challenges faced by this antiquated mode of transport are multi-faceted. Firstly, infrastructure capacity constraints are cited as the main reason for many closures.

“Night trains may not be viable practically,” the report stated, “either where they impose additional costs on the infrastructure manager, or where they compete for restricted capacity with other services of greater economic, social or environmental value.”

[...]

With the liberalisation of intra-EU air services in 1993, the cost of air travel has plummeted, and cheap air fares are now within reach for many budget travellers.

Even for those who prefer rail travel, some journeys formerly served by night trains can now be made by day trains with journey times as short as two to three hours. Equally, there is also a vast choice of coach services, some of which directly threaten even Austria’s night services in the long run.

In addition, financial factors such as high unit manufacturing costs for cars of couchettes, beds and toilet facilities, longer and antisocial staff working hours and more fuel, energy and emissions per passenger space, all contribute to higher operational costs than normal daytime services.

[...]

For die-hard fans of the sleeper train, the future is not looking too bright. Unless more EU governments unexpectedly decide to move away from their high-speed investments and fund the resurrection of the night train instead, it might soon be the end of the line for this loved but antiquated means of transport.
https://www.railway-technology.com/features/featureis-the-end-near-for-europes-passenger-night-trains-5885394/

Full report: here

Quote from the report:

In 1958, travel between London and Manchester had taken four hours, with only just over six hours before the first arrival and the last departure. In contrast, day trains now operate between London to Manchester every 20 minutes for most of the day, with a journey time of less than 2 hours 10 minutes. It is possible to be in Manchester by 08:28 and to stay until 21:15, allowing a working day visit of 12¾ hours, twice as long as in 1958.
To make a similar point about Toronto-Montreal:

 

Anderson

Conductor
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,585
Location
Virginia
To be fair, of the 28 member states, at least seven have no plausible reason to run overnight services of their own due to size and/or location (Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, and Denmark), the last three because it really makes more sense for said operation to be handled by (in theory) DB or another operator.  Three more (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) have a dysfunctional rail setup that (I think) partly dates back to the way the system was set up during the Cold War.  So we're down to 11 of 18 states that would plausibly have a reason to run such trains.

Going down the list (and speaking from experience in a bunch of cases):
-France still has these services but really threw in the towel on them years ago.  Mind you, due to a variety of issues, I would think Paris-Nice/Marseilles should be long enough to be viable (and marketable with some effort), but the equipment was such crap that I can't blame folks for deserting it.
-The UK still does a solid job with the Caledonian.
-The Nightjet network (which is really a more complex tangle involving the Czechs as well) is also solid.
-Sweden does a good job with their services.

I wish I could offer a solid commentary on Finland, but there was a badly-timed strike that foiled my attempts there.  Norway was out of my way as well.  So that's six of the eleven.  I think Spain and Portugal are also on the list, as is Italy.

Worth noting is that Thello operates their own sleeper service from northern Italy (Milan/Venice) to Paris.  In general, what I would say is that while some of the "old" city pairs don't really work anymore, there would seem to be cities in the 600-900 mile range where sleeper trains would still make sense (since even a well-run HSR system is going to be hard-pressed to get over about a 150 MPH average speed), and that range is well within the capabilities of a conventional network (12 hours at an average speed of 60 MPH gets you 720 miles; at an average speed of 80 it gets you 960 miles).  The problem there is that you invariably end up with clunky pads in the schedule or bad tracks somewhere in the mix that it really isn't worth anyone's bother to fix.  As an example, the Thello trains run from Venice to Paris in 14 hours...which gives an average speed of around 50 MPH.

Of course, in some respects this is also similar to the "state-supported routes" problem: It's one thing to get VA and NC on board with something, but try to get four or five states to agree on an operational package?  Good luck, even if the plan would make sense.  Trying to get an intermediate state to "play ball" for a train that just "runs through" their territory in the middle of the night can't be any easier than getting Ohio enthusiastic about Amtrak.
 

slasher-fun

Train Attendant
Joined
Jan 17, 2016
Messages
48
Location
Paris, France
-France still has these services but really threw in the towel on them years ago.  Mind you, due to a variety of issues, I would think Paris-Nice/Marseilles should be long enough to be viable (and marketable with some effort), but the equipment was such crap that I can't blame folks for deserting it.
Night train services are all state-supported in France, and SNCF tried as hard as they could to make sure people would not be willing to used them: old unrefurbished rolling stock, random cancellations "due to track work", opening the booking only a few days before departure, removing all the service on board, etc. In the last years of the Paris-Nice, they rented a new sleeper car from RZD (russian railways), a huge improvement, but... never advertised for it!

Most last were discontinued last year, it only remains now Paris-Briançon, Paris-Rodez, Paris-Toulouse-Latour de Carol, Paris-Toulouse-Cerbère.

-The UK still does a solid job with the Caledonian.
And new rolling stock will be put in service in 2019: http://newtrains.sleeper.scot/

-The Nightjet network (which is really a more complex tangle involving the Czechs as well) is also solid.
Not only the Czechs, but also the Germans, the Swiss, the Hungarians, the Italians. ÖBB (Austrian national rail company) took over supposedly loss-making CityNightLine ran by DB (German). ÖBB is actually making a profit on these lines, and plan to expand them to the Netherlands (they want it too), Denmark, maybe France.

And they also ordered new rolling stock as well, expected by 2021: https://www.nightjet.com/en/ausstattung/nightjetzukunft.html

-Sweden does a good job with their services.
Better service, demand rises, so does offer there.

I wish I could offer a solid commentary on Finland, but there was a badly-timed strike that foiled my attempts there.
.Finland also renewed their rolling stock a few years ago, rail in general is more and more popular in Finland following an average ticket price reduction 3 years ago.
 
Top