VIA timetables?

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Siegmund

Service Attendant
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Nov 19, 2018
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Is there any repository comparable to www.timetables.org for VIA timetables, especially from the early years?

My own collection doesn't go back before 1990, and streamlinermemories.info has one from 1988... but the ones I'd be most interested in seeing are the ones before the first big round of cuts.
 

jiml

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Feb 27, 2019
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There's no online library that I'm aware of, such as exists for Amtrak. Several sites have key historical timetables available, but they can be hit-or-miss and not always great quality scans. Canadian Railway Observations (.com) is one possibility. I have a box of them:), but that really doesn't help you.
 

Siegmund

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What a find! Glad I asked!

Would be nice if we could find a more visible location to host these, perhaps even make it part of the same site as the Amtrak collection.
 

Siegmund

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Nov 19, 2018
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...and having had a chance to browse these a little bit... I am amazed at how much service was still running in Canada in the late 70s.

I didn't know that Edmundston-Quebec survived until 1979, or that Chicoutimi and Senneterre service had been daily until 1981. I didn't know that Saskatoon to The Pas had EVER run, nor that there had been 2 routes from Winnipeg to The Pas both with service until 1981.
 

jiml

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...and having had a chance to browse these a little bit... I am amazed at how much service was still running in Canada in the late 70s.

I didn't know that Edmundston-Quebec survived until 1979, or that Chicoutimi and Senneterre service had been daily until 1981. I didn't know that Saskatoon to The Pas had EVER run, nor that there had been 2 routes from Winnipeg to The Pas both with service until 1981.
IIRC (and will check those timetables against some of my own) the Senneterre service used to extend to Noranda/Rouyn where you could connect to Ontario Northland's long-gone overnight service to/from Toronto. You could create an interesting 2-day loop trip through some pretty remote country. It wasn't for an inexperienced rail traveller, but was certainly on my wish list when I was much younger.
 

Siegmund

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Nov 19, 2018
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Apparently the loop via Rouyn-Noranda was possible until 1981, the loop via Cochrane until quite recently.

I had always wanted to see that part of the world too but never have. I actually had a student from Chicoutimi in my class when I was teaching in Alaska. I learned I'd been pronouncing it wrong all my life...but she was quite amazed I knew where it was and had an interest in the area.

The amount of enroute switching these northern services did is amazing to me -- that patchwork of through cars was something that had ended a good 30 years previously on most US runs.
 

jiml

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railiner

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That was awesome. Nice shout-out to EPA too. I've still considered doing the 601 to Jonquiere and back, but that's a long way without food service on the train. Also not an easy sell to the Mrs., who likes sleeping and dining cars for long trips.
I rode that train last year, when they were running a dome car...
But even without the dome, IIRC, the coach did have a limited meal service available...
https://www.viarail.ca/sites/all/files/media/pdfs/menus/111137761-1_VIA_5633-15_Menus_Corridor_Cosmetique.pdf
 

jiml

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I rode that train last year, when they were running a dome car...
But even without the dome, IIRC, the coach did have a limited meal service available...
https://www.viarail.ca/sites/all/files/media/pdfs/menus/111137761-1_VIA_5633-15_Menus_Corridor_Cosmetique.pdf
Interesting. I was not aware they'd had a dome on either of those routes so recently. That would explain the ability to serve food, since otherwise that's the standard corridor menu - not seeing how they'd supply refrigeration, ice for drinks, etc. in a single coach. As recently as 2010 the two didn't run as a "J train", but rather as a regular train that was re-assembled in Hervey (lead loco moved to siding to wait for mid-section to leave, then attached to last couple of cars). At that time consist was usually loco, loco, bag, coach, lounge (occ. Skyline in summer), coach, bag. Not sure which branch the lounge continued on, but my bet would be Senneterre due to length. For years now though it hasn't been possible to pass from one train to the other.
 
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railiner

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If you read down, there are some photo's posted by another rider...that's yours truly wearing the Royal Caribbean cap...:)
 

jiml

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For those of you down South complaining about the heat and humidity, here's a video about the recent discussion on this thread. Before the "J train":
 
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jiml

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Urban Sky

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Aug 23, 2018
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Here’s a great site with just about every VIA timetable since April 1976…..when originally launched as CN’s passenger marketing department ‘VIA CN’

(I believe this link was originally provided on another site by ‘Urban Sky’ who also posts here….Thanks!)

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6pzlmwfqm7huiwj/AADsbVzmMEPIQyJtQjZLO7Uka?dl=0
It’s a shame you didn't tag me, as I also have a CN/CP collection:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1rriwxrhmll3lmr/AAB5P4McatYTnsEYzbLG5kK2a?dl=0

What a find! Glad I asked!

Would be nice if we could find a more visible location to host these, perhaps even make it part of the same site as the Amtrak collection.
I’d be more than happy to have them hosted somewhere else than on my private Dropbox account. If you know a more accessible place, please let me know...!
 

Seaboard92

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sttom

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Jan 23, 2019
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It's really sad to see how badly Via Rail has been cut over the years. It's....something to see how what is for the most part a tourist railway was somewhat useful at the beginning. I say somewhat because I have a hard time reading the old schedules compared to when you could get a printed Amtrak system schedule.
 

NS VIA Fan

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Sep 24, 2011
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It's really sad to see how badly Via Rail has been cut over the years. It's....something to see how what is for the most part a tourist railway was somewhat useful at the beginning......
Certainly not “for the most part a tourist railway”

VIA has an extensive corridor operation.....and what could be considered tourist trains are only a small portion of the total number of passengers carried. BTW....on a per capita basis....VIA carries more passengers per year than Amtrak does in the US (covid aside!)
 

sttom

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Jan 23, 2019
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Canada has a different population distribution than the US. Most of our population isn't in one easy to serve strip. Comparing states with halfway decent services is a more applicable comparison since whole corridors that would make sense don't exist due to our inane way of funding Amtrak. According to the Rail Passenger Association, California on its own puts Via under the table with 11.6 million trips in 2018.

Still, none of this takes away how dismembered Via has been over its existence. And that is frankly heartbreaking to me.
 

Dayliner381

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I believe the 11.6 million figure incldes both arrivals and departures within the State of California.

A more meaningful comparison would be between the three Amtrak California corridor services and VIA's seven Ontario and Quebec corridor routes. The daily number of trains are similar , but train miles are likely higher in Canada because of distances. (Both the Capitol Corridor and the Pacific Surfliners south of LA are relatively short routes.) Car miles may be lower, as VIA trains tend to be sorter, reflecting the lower population density in Canada: about 22 million persons in Ontario and Quebec combined versus 40 million in California..

The California traffic is about 5.6 million passengers annually versus somewhat more than 4 million on the Via corridors.

The overall conclusion is that both markets are well served and well used by rail travellers, certain.y by NA standards outside of the NE Corridor, which is at a entirely different level in terms of market density..
 

jiml

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Certainly not “for the most part a tourist railway”

VIA has an extensive corridor operation.....and what could be considered tourist trains are only a small portion of the total number of passengers carried. BTW....on a per capita basis....VIA carries more passengers per year than Amtrak does in the US (covid aside!)
People tend to judge VIA by the Canadian, although even it serves a number of remote communities and I'm surprised some stripped-down version is not running in its place for this reason. The other remote services are running for the most part, albeit some at reduced frequency except for the Ocean.

Our corridor is not that different from the NEC for business travellers. I used to travel frequently to Montreal and Ottawa when I lived in the Toronto area, and it was possible to beat or tie air travel times easily. An hour to the airport, an hour ahead of flight time, security, then the flight vs. a 4-hour train ride. (I used to aim for the Turbo when it was working. ;)) Now I have a choice of mid-route stations, the ride is even shorter and getting to the airport takes quite a long time.
 

jiml

Conductor
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Feb 27, 2019
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I believe the 11.6 million figure incldes both arrivals and departures within the State of California.

A more meaningful comparison would be between the three Amtrak California corridor services and VIA's seven Ontario and Quebec corridor routes. The daily number of trains are similar , but train miles are likely higher in Canada because of distances. (Both the Capitol Corridor and the Pacific Surfliners south of LA are relatively short routes.) Car miles may be lower, as VIA trains tend to be sorter, reflecting the lower population density in Canada: about 22 million persons in Ontario and Quebec combined versus 40 million in California..

The California traffic is about 5.6 million passengers annually versus somewhat more than 4 million on the Via corridors.

The overall conclusion is that both markets are well served and well used by rail travellers, certain.y by NA standards outside of the NE Corridor, which is at a entirely different level in terms of market density..
Good analysis, but I'd make a few additional points. Not sure there's seven actual corridor routes on VIA. There's Quebec City - Ottawa via Montreal (many trains are run-throughs), Ottawa - Toronto and Montreal - Toronto. The southwestern trains are not really competitive in a corridor sense, although VIA has traditionally referred to them as such. Even then Sarnia, with one train a day and no business service, is hardly a corridor. Don't hold your breath waiting for the new Seimens trainsets on those routes. The provincial government has mused about taking over Toronto - Windsor and running it under the GO umbrella (adding Detroit).

On the subject of train length, VIA suffers from the same problem of Amtrak - lack of equipment. When they dramatically increased the frequencies between Toronto and Ottawa a couple of years ago (normally 20 daily), the trains got noticeably shorter. It's a numbers game. Like Amtrak, on holidays you can see some of the most interesting consists as they add equipment.
 
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