VIA Rail and bilevel cars

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Mailliw

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Hypothetical scenario; Amtrak selects a bilevel car to replace Superliners, would it be feasible for VIA Rail to get in on the order to replace the heritage cars on the Canadian? I know they considered buying Superliners 30 years ago, but ended refurbishing the heritage cars instead because of budget cuts. Would running bilevels on the Canadian be an issue? I would assume not since it was considered in the past.What about the Winnepeg-Churchill or the Ocean; any clearance issues there that would preclude bilevels?
 
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Double-stack freight trains run on most of these routes, so bi-level cars should be fine on the Canadian. Not sure they'd fit into Montreal station for the Ocean. (The local commuter agency uses the same squashed bi-levels as some Eastern US commuter roads - not ideal for a sleeping car, but not impossible.)

Winnipeg - Churchill is a money-loser that VIA would not run if it did not have to. Only its length and speed of travel make sleeping and food cars necessary. The track is also not great, so Superliner equivalents are likely too heavy. At best its a seasonal service if not deemed "essential" by the government.
 

MikefromCrete

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VIA has never shown any interest in bi-level cars. It's doubtful they're interested now. They'll run the old CP cars on the Canadian until they fall apart and then abandon the whole operation.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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Double-stack freight trains run on most of these routes, so bi-level cars should be fine on the Canadian. Not sure they'd fit into Montreal station for the Ocean. (The local commuter agency uses the same squashed bi-levels as some Eastern US commuter roads - not ideal for a sleeping car, but not impossible.)

They managed to fit an F40PH (4.76 m in height) judging by this picture (http://www.railpictures.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/AMT_808_08mars2013.jpg) but the Bombardier GO Bilevels are 4.85 m so I'm not too sure. Meanwhile the superliners are 4.93 m. They're gonna have to raise the roof of Gare Centrale (which would involve a considerable level of rebuilding; such a thing would work best by doing it in tandem with building a new Mount Royale tunnel to connect to the Saint-Jérôme line)
 
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VIA has never shown any interest in bi-level cars. It's doubtful they're interested now. They'll run the old CP cars on the Canadian until they fall apart and then abandon the whole operation.
That's not entirely accurate. They did test Superliners loaned by Amtrak on more than one occasion. There were also sleeper and diner versions of the Bombardier commuter cars considered. It was simply a question of money - less to rehab rolling stock they already owned. However, your statement about them running the CP cars into the ground is bang-on.
 
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They managed to fit an F40PH (4.76 m in height) judging by this picture (http://www.railpictures.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/AMT_808_08mars2013.jpg) but the Bombardier GO Bilevels are 4.85 m so I'm not too sure. Meanwhile the superliners are 4.93 m. They're gonna have to raise the roof of Gare Centrale (which would involve a considerable level of rebuilding; such a thing would work best by doing it in tandem with building a new Mount Royale tunnel to connect to the Saint-Jérôme line)
There is catenary above some of those tracks too.
 

NS VIA Fan

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VIA has never shown any interest in bi-level cars. It's doubtful they're interested now...…..

VIA was interested in the Superliner equipment......it's just that the Federal Cabinet wasn't!

For several months in the fall and winter of 1984-85, VIA leased an Amtrak Superliner consist and used them on the Panorama between Winnipeg and Edmonton. At that time the Panorama was a through train between Winnipeg and Prince Rupert but I’ve never seen anything to indicate the Superliners ran to Prince Rupert so a change of cars was probably required in Edmonton.

Here's the consist of VIA #3 the Panorama arriving at Edmonton on Sept. 28, 1984

Amtrak 319 F40
Amtrak 31041 Superliner Coach-Baggage
Amtrak 34030 Superliner Coach
Amtrak 38025 Superliner Diner
Amtrak 32019 Superliner Sleeper
VIA 15301 HEP Generator Car
 

NS VIA Fan

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There is catenary above some of those tracks too.

A Superliner is 16'-2” and a Park Car is 15'-10”. When VIA started operating Domes at Central Station back in the late '70s the electric catenary had to be removed over several tracks to provide clearance.
 

railiner

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A Superliner is 16'-2” and a Park Car is 15'-10”. When VIA started operating Domes at Central Station back in the late '70s the electric catenary had to be removed over several tracks to provide clearance.
What about the old CP Canadian Vickers 'gallery' bilevel's....did they ever operate into Central Station, or did they finish their service at Windsor Station?
 
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Hypothetical scenario; Amtrak selects a bilevel car to replace Superliners, would it be feasible for VIA Rail to get in on the order to replace the heritage cars on the Canadian? I know they considered buying Superliners 30 years ago, but ended refurbishing the heritage cars instead because of budget cuts. Would running bilevels on the Canadian be an issue? I would assume not since it was considered in the past.What about the Winnepeg-Churchill or the Ocean; any clearance issues there that would preclude bilevels?
The Superliners are 50 years old. Frequent problems with plumbing/bathrooms. Frequent problems with ventilation/cooling/heating. Frequent problems with seats and beds that don't fold properly. Generally not as comfortable for passengers as the heritage cars. Superliners have come to the end of their useful life. And while recycling may be good for the environment, there will need to be some innovation if rail travel is to move ahead in North America.
 
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What about the old CP Canadian Vickers 'gallery' bilevel's....did they ever operate into Central Station, or did they finish their service at Windsor Station?
I'll defer to @NS VIA Fan, who is a much better historian than I am, but pretty sure they only went to Windsor. (I know it's been renamed at least once, but like sports venue naming old habits die hard. ;)) I had an excellent platform view from my hotel room the last time in Montreal and was surprised how infrequent the service is.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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The Superliners are 50 years old. Frequent problems with plumbing/bathrooms. Frequent problems with ventilation/cooling/heating. Frequent problems with seats and beds that don't fold properly. Generally not as comfortable for passengers as the heritage cars. Superliners have come to the end of their useful life. And while recycling may be good for the environment, there will need to be some innovation if rail travel is to move ahead in North America.

40 years old, actually. But yeah they are desperately in need for a replacement. Maybe we can have Stadler make a new bilevel car design taking cues from the Caltrain KISS (for a comparison the budd hilevels that inspired the superliner are 4.7 m whilst the Caltrain KISS is 4.84 m)

I'll defer to @NS VIA Fan, who is a much better historian than I am, but pretty sure they only went to Windsor. (I know it's been renamed at least once, but like sports venue naming old habits die hard. ;)) I had an excellent platform view from my hotel room the last time in Montreal and was surprised how infrequent the service is.

They only went to that terminal as it belonged to CP (Gare Centrale belonged to CN)
 

sttom

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The Superliners are 50 years old. Frequent problems with plumbing/bathrooms. Frequent problems with ventilation/cooling/heating. Frequent problems with seats and beds that don't fold properly. Generally not as comfortable for passengers as the heritage cars. Superliners have come to the end of their useful life. And while recycling may be good for the environment, there will need to be some innovation if rail travel is to move ahead in North America.
Considering the last time the Superliners got a major refresh was sometime between 2005 and 2009, having equipment failure isn't out of the question. HVAC systems have a 15 to 20 year life span, which puts them right at the earliest they could start having problems due to age. Water pumps last about 10 to 15 years, which puts them well into the range of failure due to age. Which means the Superliner 1s and the 2s will need a major refresh soon given that it could take nearly another decade to get replacement equipment.

As for replacing them, the most likely outcome would be either Siemens adapting the Viaggio Twin into a Superliner compatible variant or Stadler adapting the Rocky Mountaineer cars into a Superliner compatible variant. I personally don't think Amtrak or Via Rail will want a "brand new design" when an existing design is going to be close to what the customer wants.

I don't know if Via would want bi level cars. They would make sense if there are no issues with clearance because they give higher views and higher capacity over single level equipment. Which makes sense given that the Canadian and Ocean are more or less run for tourism reasons and to at least look like they perform a public transit function.

Kind of an off topic question, but is there any big push to reverse the cuts that Via has sustained over the years or have most Canadians resigned themselves to Via's fate?
 

zephyr17

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VIA was interested in the Superliner equipment......it's just that the Federal Cabinet wasn't!

For several months in the fall and winter of 1984-85, VIA leased an Amtrak Superliner consist and used them on the Panorama between Winnipeg and Edmonton. At that time the Panorama was a through train between Winnipeg and Prince Rupert but I’ve never seen anything to indicate the Superliners ran to Prince Rupert so a change of cars was probably required in Edmonton.

Here's the consist of VIA #3 the Panorama arriving at Edmonton on Sept. 28, 1984

Amtrak 319 F40
Amtrak 31041 Superliner Coach-Baggage
Amtrak 34030 Superliner Coach
Amtrak 38025 Superliner Diner
Amtrak 32019 Superliner Sleeper
VIA 15301 HEP Generator Car
Yeah, my understanding is that VIA seriously considered piggybacking onto the Amtrak Superliner II order from Bombardier. They elected to refurbish and HEP the ex-CP Budd fleet instead.

Thank God.
 
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Considering the last time the Superliners got a major refresh was sometime between 2005 and 2009, having equipment failure isn't out of the question. HVAC systems have a 15 to 20 year life span, which puts them right at the earliest they could start having problems due to age. Water pumps last about 10 to 15 years, which puts them well into the range of failure due to age. Which means the Superliner 1s and the 2s will need a major refresh soon given that it could take nearly another decade to get replacement equipment.

As for replacing them, the most likely outcome would be either Siemens adapting the Viaggio Twin into a Superliner compatible variant or Stadler adapting the Rocky Mountaineer cars into a Superliner compatible variant. I personally don't think Amtrak or Via Rail will want a "brand new design" when an existing design is going to be close to what the customer wants.

I don't know if Via would want bi level cars. They would make sense if there are no issues with clearance because they give higher views and higher capacity over single level equipment. Which makes sense given that the Canadian and Ocean are more or less run for tourism reasons and to at least look like they perform a public transit function.

Kind of an off topic question, but is there any big push to reverse the cuts that Via has sustained over the years or have most Canadians resigned themselves to Via's fate?
Excellent post on all counts. In answer to your last question, they don't know or don't care. Other than a few markets passenger trains are a lost cause here. If you live in one of those markets or are a railfan they're important. We told friends that we went to Halifax on the train last fall and the most common response was "There's a train to Halifax?"
 

NS VIA Fan

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I'll defer to @NS VIA Fan, who is a much better historian than I am, but pretty sure they only went to Windsor. (I know it's been renamed at least once, but like sports venue naming old habits die hard. ;)) I had an excellent platform view from my hotel room the last time in Montreal and was surprised how infrequent the service is.

The last time I rode a Vicker's Gallery Car was on a St. Jerome train from Gare Lucien L'Allier about 10 years ago but I saw them still in storage in the EXO yard at Pointe St. Charles as recently as a year ago.

The Gallery Cars first entered service in April 1970 and would have originally stopped under the old Bush Train Shed at Windsor Station. Around that time the tracks at Windsor were being relocated to a new alignment outside of the train shed about 100 metres or so back from the original bumper posts......then you had to walk along the old platform to reach your train but the tracks no longer entered the train shed.

Article on the Galley Cars here: (see page 30 for the cars under the old train shed)


The relocated platforms at Windsor in July 1972:



And then in the '90s the Molson Centre (now Bell Centre) was built and the bumpers and platforms were pushed back a further 100 metres + to where they are today at gare Lucien L'Allier.
 
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railiner

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That link to exporail was a great read, thanks for that and the rest of your post.
There was a couple of errors, I noticed in the link...they said the short domes carried 26, but most of the ones I have seen carried 24, or less.
They also stated that the North Western introduced gallery cars to Chicago in 1954, but neglected to mention that the Burlington was first with them, in 1950.
North Western does get credit for introducing the "Push-Pull" control cab cars.

I wonder if the Budd Company got royalties from Vickers, for the design?
 

the_traveler

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Windsor. (I know it's been renamed at least once, but like sports venue naming old habits die hard. ;)) I had an excellent platform view from my hotel room the last time in Montreal and was surprised how infrequent the service is.
I’ve only have been to Windsor once, back when the Adirondack departed from there before they switched to Gare Central. It was depressing - I think there were only 1 or 2 tracks!
 

NS VIA Fan

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I’ve only have been to Windsor once, back when the Adirondack departed from there before they switched to Gare Central. It was depressing - I think there were only 1 or 2 tracks!

There are 8 tracks at Windsor Station....and basically for commuters. The Adirondack was the last intercity train using Windsor when it was moved to Gare Centrale in 1986. By then.....VIA had already moved the xCP Rail Quebec City Dayliners to Central.





When the Molson Centre....now Bell Centre was built....the bumper-post for those tracks was moved even further west and the station renamed Gare Lucien l'Allier. After AMT....now EXO added the Saint-Jerome line service......it's busier now (Covid aside!!) than it's been in years.









The original Windsor Station along with the former Concourse is still there but no longer Canadian Pacific's Headquarters.


Hadfield[/url], on Flickr







 
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JP1822

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I just re-read an article from PTJ on Sunday that laid out how VIA was basically "on the brink" in 1984 and 1985. Transport Canada was investigating and trying to "figure it out" for VIA. Passenger ridership was heavily declining and the subsidy provided from the crow was heavily increasing, with not a lot of reliability in the system. They quoted how the equipment was heavily worn out, and even the new equipment of LRCs were not living up to expectations (experiencing a lot of failure at the time). VIA also was taking criticism for retiring its turbo trains, which were a LOT newer than the ex-CN equipment that the report hated. The VIA Board was even completely replaced in this time period cause the government (or Transport Canada) thought things were so bad. New equipment was seen as the answer.

Yet, even after having the Superliners tested on the Winnipeg-Edmonton route, nothing really dramatic with equipment came about till five years later in 1990 when VIA made the decision to CUT a lot of routes and refurbish its ex-CP stainless steel equipment, which the Transport Canada report of 1985 did favor overall. I hadn't realized how bad VIA had gotten in the mid-80s till I re-read this article the other day. And it quoted how successful Amtrak was against VIA's problems. Ironically post-1985 was sort of the beginning of the end for VIA's passenger rail footprint. The railroad tremendously re-trenched starting then, let alone the massacre that befell in the early 1990s.

I do think VIA will look into some sort of long distance replacement fleet (again), but it will be single level. I say "again" because a lot was banked on the Renaissance Fleet and that basically backfired....The Renaissance Fleet, I feel, are hitting early retirement. Its too bad they can't get more out of the Sleeper and Service Cars specifically. Overall, it was a large fleet of cars that were acquired, with only a portion put in service, and the remaining "shells" and "kits" sent to Thunder Bay for storage and final disposition a few years back I believe. Whether VIA goes in with Amtrak's order (if developed as it is supposed to be), they should, but time will tell, but it would make a bit of sense if they did.
 
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I do think VIA will look into some sort of long distance replacement fleet (again), but it will be single level. I say "again" because a lot was banked on the Renaissance Fleet and that basically backfired....The Renaissance Fleet, I feel, are hitting early retirement. Its too bad they can't get more out of the Sleeper and Service Cars specifically. Overall, it was a large fleet of cars that were acquired, with only a portion put in service, and the remaining "shells" and "kits" sent to Thunder Bay for storage and final disposition a few years back I believe. Whether VIA goes in with Amtrak's order (if developed as it is supposed to be), they should, but time will tell, but it would make a bit of sense if they did.
It's amazing to me that the Renaissance fleet worked out as well as it did, considering that they were built for a totally different environment (the Channel Tunnel) and not for Canadian winters.
 
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Renaissance cars are/were not without their advantages. They look good, have contemporary internal features and ride well - even at high speed. (A quick look at their trucks and suspension speaks volumes about the smooth ride.) However that has to be balanced against the well-known corrosion problem and, to quote someone in the know, they are "maintenance cochons". (Rough translation = maintenance heavy.:D) The latter problem is partly due to their unique features when compared to existing stock - something that more recently might be solved by a contract with the manufacturer (see Talgo, Siemens, etc.), but the corrosion issue is serious. Whether they are too far gone to be of value to someone in a warmer climate or at least one with less fluctuating temperature extremes remains to be seen.
 

Mailliw

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If Francois Rebello were to ever get his hotel train between Montreal and NYC running I think the Renaissance cars would do well (assuming the FRA granted a dispensation). Not going to happen though.
 
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