VIA long distance fleet replacement

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Mailliw

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It looks like VIA is finally starting the process of replacing its long distance (eg Ocean, Canadian, etc) routes. This is exciting news and the time frame seems to line up with Amtrak so maybe we could see them work together on a joint order? Mostly the requirements would be the same, with VIA being more likely to order experiencial touches like observation cars.
 

JWM

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I thought from the VIA site that they were refurbishing the Budd cars yet again. They can't turn the "Ocean" in Halifax apparently so an observation car would be useless one way. At 70, I remember really great sleeping cars like the NCL's domes with Duplex Single Rooms.
I never liked the Viewliners and Superliners as well, but that's all we have. If you have a link, please post it.
 

jis

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Here is the link that appears in the OP under the first "VIA" which was not clear to some:


The 2021-25 Five Year Corporate Plan that is linked to the above is a PDF document that can be found here:


This document among a lot of other stuff says that they expect the new LD fleet to arrive ten to fifteen year from now, which puts it definitely well past the Amfleet I replacement and possibly even past Amfleet II replacement. Currently their plan appears to be yet another refurbishment of the existing fleet to tide over until the new equipment arrives mid next decade.
 

JWM

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Here is the link that appears in the OP under the first "VIA" which was not clear to some:


The 2021-25 Five Year Corporate Plan that is linked to the above is a PDF document that can be found here:


This document among a lot of other stuff says that they expect the new LD fleet to arrive ten to fifteen year from now, which puts it definitely well past the Amfleet I replacement and possibly even past Amfleet II replacement. Currently their plan appears to be yet another refurbishment of the existing fleet to tide over until the new equipment arrives mid next decade.
Thanks for the link and post. Siemens is building the OBB's "Nightjet" sleeping and couchette car entering service apparently later this year. The sleeping cars could easily be adapted here but are single level. I don't know if that Thunder Bay plant has improved, but the TTC streetcars were years late. I also have no doubt that the Canadian unions will insist on Canadian built, but who knows. The "Ocean" is in a bad situation due to track conditions and, apparently, Via is unable to turn the consist in Halifax because it is being denied access to a loop track in the Port of Halifax. In my opinion, the "Canadian" needs to go back to its original CPR routing and speeded up with priority over freight trains. The current setup takes way too long and is way too expensive. Time will tell, but i wish them luck.
 

zephyr17

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Well, 10 or 15 years sounds good to me. When the Budd consists go, especially the domes, I'll stop riding it if I am still around.

Good luck on getting priority. Legally VIA is in a much worse position than Amtrak. There is federal law requiring Amtrak be given Amtrak both access and priority. While enforcement mechanisms have been lacking (hopefully the new FRA/STB authority on timekeeping standards will improve that), Amtrak ultimately had that in it's back pocket and has very occasionally used it (sued UP a few years ago and UP straightened up somewhat).

VIA has nothing of the sort. Its very existence is based on the Canadian equivalent of an executive order (the actual term escapes me. Order in Council?) the Prime Minister could disband the whole thing tomorrow if he took a mind. It has nothing like the statutory framework that Amtrak enjoys.

PS, my understanding is the situation in Halifax is worse than just being "denied access" to the loop track. That could be worked out as long as the track exists. IIRC, the loop track is being physically torn out as part of a container terminal expansion.
 
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JWM

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Well, 10 or 15 years sounds good to me. When the Budd consists go, especially the domes, I'll stop riding it if I am still around.

Good luck on getting priority. Legally VIA is in a much worse position than Amtrak. There is federal law requiring Amtrak be given Amtrak both access and priority. While enforcement mechanisms have been lacking (hopefully the new FRA/STB authority on timekeeping standards will improve that), Amtrak ultimately had that in it's back pocket and has very occasionally used it (sued UP a few years ago and UP straightened up somewhat).

VIA has nothing of the sort. Its very existence is based on the Canadian equivalent of an executive order (the actual term escapes me. Order in Council?) the Prime Minister could disband the whole thing tomorrow if he took a mind. It has nothing like the statutory framework that Amtrak enjoys.

PS, my understanding is the situation in Halifax is worse than just being "denied access" to the loop track. That could be worked out as long as the track exists. IIRC, the loop track is being physically torn out as part of a container terminal expansion.
Thanks and I post a section of Wikipedia regarding Via Rail below.

"While Via remains an independent federal Crown corporation mandated to operate as a business, it is hindered by the fact that it was created by an Order in Council of the Privy Council, and not from legislation passed by Parliament. Had Via been enabled by legislation, the company would be permitted to seek funding on the open money markets as other Crown corporations such as CN have done in the past. It is largely for this reason that critics say Via—like Amtrak in the United States—is vulnerable to federal budget cuts and continues to answer first to its political masters, as opposed to the business decisions needed to ensure the viability of intercity passenger rail service"
 
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Some of the Budd cars (ex-Amtrak) have been recently refurbished and are in service both in VIA's corridor and on the Ocean. They are referred to as HEP-2. They have different exterior striping than VIA's "older" Budds.

I will be very surprised (if I live long enough) to see any future sleeping car purchases by VIA once the Budd and Renaissance cars are retired. Long distance coaches and food-service cars perhaps, but the only sleeping car train that is mandated by government is the northern Manitoba service to Churchill. All the others could be served by day trains modelled after the Rocky Mountaineer and VIA's own Skeena, with overnight hotel stays breaking up the routes.
 

jis

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I will be very surprised (if I live long enough) to see any future sleeping car purchases by VIA once the Budd and Renaissance cars are retired. Long distance coaches and food-service cars perhaps, but the only sleeping car train that is mandated by government is the northern Manitoba service to Churchill. All the others could be served by day trains modelled after the Rocky Mountaineer and VIA's own Skeena, with overnight hotel stays breaking up the routes.
Wow! Things are really that bad in Canada?
 
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Wow! Things are really that bad in Canada?
Not bad per se, it's just that long-distance trains are not a priority for this government nor any opposition that may possibly replace them. I think long-distance services will last as long as the current equipment lasts, but this country has incurred major debt as a result of the pandemic and that bill will eventually take priority over many infrastructure projects. Remember how few overnight long-distance trains there are at present. Any cut will be severe.
 

TheMalahat

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Via doesn't have procurement authority yet - right now they're basically in the step of testing the market so that the Corporation can develop a list of requirements for future cars. These requirements get approved by Via internally, and then in principal by the Federal Government. Following that is a competition to bid against that list of requirements.

While I've really simplified the process, that's how it works at a very macro level. When there's a new large scale federal purchase, which I'd suggest these future long distance cars fit into, it is about three to four years to get from Day 1 (which we aren't even at yet) to delivery day. The Request for Proposal (RFP) will most assuredly be launched on or very near April 1 of whatever year (Id guess 2024 but to be clear that's 100% a guess) and close on December 31 of the same year. That allows the contract to awarded before April 1 of the next calendar year - which is the same financial year as the RFP. Then add about four years for delivery and acceptance and that's about eight years. Generally these projects are timelined on the last delivery date. For comparison, where we are today with long distance equipment replacement is where we were with the new corridor equipment in Spring 2016. (Which went to RFP in 2018, awarded 2019, delivery starting 2021/2022).

Anyways that's a long preamble to get to a disagreement with the previous post. So far, and this absolutely can change, Via is not requesting a change in capability. It's so early in the process almost anything is possible, but Via has essentially said to the market, "what does a one for one replacement of our capability look like with what's available today?". So that means sleepers and diners. Day only trains with overnights would trigger a different start to this process. I say this as someone who has sadly been apart of many large procurements for the Federal Government.

The real test of leadership at Via, IMO, will be whether they use this process as it evolves to challenge the ridiculous service level from freight carriers for the Canadian. I suspect if we don't see a change of government that might actually occur. But who knows what even tomorrow holds at this point.
 
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@TheMalahat I have no argument with anything you said, however I believe that funding for new sleeper equipment will not be a priority for the current government if and when the process you've outlined ever reaches the approval stage. Whatever appetite they have for passenger rail is focused on the corridor services, and I don't see the situation improving if they are replaced by one of the other parties. That's not what I want to see, but fear that's the reality.
 

TheMalahat

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Oh I certainly share some of your cynicism. Hopefully, we're both being too cynical and something will work out here! My jaw pretty much hit the floor when I read that there was actually the first steps of a replacement project going on for the long distance equipment.
 
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Tom Booth

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Well, 10 or 15 years sounds good to me. When the Budd consists go, especially the domes, I'll stop riding it if I am still around.

Good luck on getting priority. Legally VIA is in a much worse position than Amtrak. There is federal law requiring Amtrak be given Amtrak both access and priority. While enforcement mechanisms have been lacking (hopefully the new FRA/STB authority on timekeeping standards will improve that), Amtrak ultimately had that in it's back pocket and has very occasionally used it (sued UP a few years ago and UP straightened up somewhat).

VIA has nothing of the sort. Its very existence is based on the Canadian equivalent of an executive order (the actual term escapes me. Order in Council?) the Prime Minister could disband the whole thing tomorrow if he took a mind. It has nothing like the statutory framework that Amtrak enjoys.

PS, my understanding is the situation in Halifax is worse than just being "denied access" to the loop track. That could be worked out as long as the track exists. IIRC, the loop track is being physically torn out as part of a container terminal expansion.
Amtrak's priority has been next to useless for the almost 50 years. This summer's OTP has been dreadful on the LDs in the West. Having clout only counts if it shows up in results.
 

zephyr17

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Amtrak's priority has been next to useless for the almost 50 years. This summer's OTP has been dreadful on the LDs in the West. Having clout only counts if it shows up in results.
VIA's OTP was much, much worse than Amtrak's. The Canadian was routinely over 24 hours late for awhile. CN messed with VIA in a way not even UP and CSX messed with Amtrak. I cannot help but think the statute might have been in the back of their minds to keep them from getting that egregious.

Amtrak hadn't had a real remedy available for on time performance under the statute, except convincing DOJ to sue, which only happened once. Running consistently over 24 hours late might have been enough for DOJ to take some cases.

That situation is now changing, the STB was finally able to publish passenger delay metrics and rules in December 2020 under authority granted by 2008's PRIIA act. The railroads fought that for 12 years, going to the Supreme Court twice before they exhausted all legal recourse. There were waiting periods that ran and a requirement that schedules had to be renegotiated in light of the metrics before any enforcement actions could be taken by the STB. We are only now at the point where Amtrak could file complaints with the STB. The question now is if they will.

BTW, the CN just filed a 400 page rebuttal to an Amtrak proposal, under PRIIA and the new STB passenger delay authority, that Amtrak take over dispatching on any line where passenger delay does not meet the 80% on time mark for 4 consecutive quarters. While what the result of that will be is unknown, just having the legal framework to file something like that is something VIA can only dream of.
 
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Whatever happened to Via's Chateau cars? I take it they were never included in the last refurbishment from a few years ago, at least for the purposes of The Canadian. That's a shame; they were good cars as well.
Some of the Chateaus were rebuilt into the Prestige sleepers, a few are used on secondary routes (e.g. Churchill) and they're crew dorms on others. Several are stored (based on 2 year-old information).

They had the added benefit of a drawing room accommodation - something only the Park cars have now. It's ideal for couples who don't like to climb ladders. I believe the drawing room is used as the train manager's office on the crew car.
 
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