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VIA Rail fleet renewal program for Quebec City - Windsor corridor


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I just learned that VIA Rail will be replacing its rolling stock on the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. The new trainsets will come into service starting in 2022. The current fleet is over 35 years old.

On June 18, 2018, they announced the names of the shortlisted applicants that will participate in the Request for Proposals to manufacture the new rolling stock. Companies have until October 5, 2018 to submit their proposals.

They are:

  • Bombardier Transportation Canada Inc.
  • Siemens Canada Limited
  • Stadler US Inc.
  • Talgo Inc.

The new trains will have improved comfort and amenities, improved accessibility, the engines will be more fuel-efficient with less air pollution, bi-directional trains to increase operating efficiency and capacity for passengers.

Overall facts are 9100 passenger seats, in 32 bi-directional trainsets. And the capability of trainsets to operate in push or pull direction to reduce turnaround times.

This is great news. 

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I'd also like to point out that they are also looking for dual mode locos that will be able to take advantage of electrification where it exists, another nice feature to have should HFR get built.

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Yup.  It was originally put forward as part of their HFR plan, but the government decided to split the two proposals as the need for new equipment was urgent.  Here is the press release from last June:

https://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/media-room/latest-news/44012/18-june-2018-via-rail-announces-trainset-manufacturers

Personally I am hoping they go with Siemens.  Brightline (in southern Florida) recently purchased their equipment and it looks really nice.

Here is a video of someone riding it opening day, showing a tour of the train:

 

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Wow that train looks great inside. I particularly like the automatic sliding doors between cars.

They mention bi-directional trains, I take it then that the current rolling stock can only operate in one direction. In that case, where do trains complete a turn around in Ottawa?

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26 minutes ago, Shane said:

Wow that train looks great inside. I particularly like the automatic sliding doors between cars.

They mention bi-directional trains, I take it then that the current rolling stock can only operate in one direction. In that case, where do trains complete a turn around in Ottawa?

When most recently refurbished, they configured the LRCs for bi-directional operation (half the seats are facing backwards), but that still doesn't solve the issue of only have a cab at one end of the train (they don't have enough locomotives to have one at each end  of every train, though I have seen the occasional one configured this way).  I often thought they should have refurbished the old LRC locomotives as cab cars.

In many cases trains from Montreal continue on to Toronto and vice versa, but when they do need to turn trains around, there is a wye just east of Tremblay Station.

image.png.f896bba7fcb523db0804dd831d97405c.png

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On 8/31/2018 at 5:54 AM, Shane said:

I just learned that VIA Rail will be replacing its rolling stock on the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. The new trainsets will come into service starting in 2022. The current fleet is over 35 years old.

On June 18, 2018, they announced the names of the shortlisted applicants that will participate in the Request for Proposals to manufacture the new rolling stock. Companies have until October 5, 2018 to submit their proposals.

They are:

  • Bombardier Transportation Canada Inc.
  • Siemens Canada Limited
  • Stadler US Inc.
  • Talgo Inc.

The new trains will have improved comfort and amenities, improved accessibility, the engines will be more fuel-efficient with less air pollution, bi-directional trains to increase operating efficiency and capacity for passengers.

Overall facts are 9100 passenger seats, in 32 bi-directional trainsets. And the capability of trainsets to operate in push or pull direction to reduce turnaround times.

This is great news. 

I'd also like to point out that they are also looking for dual mode locos that will be able to take advantage of electrification where it exists, another nice feature to have should HFR get built.

I do feel like Siemens is kind of a shoe-in in this case however, BBD does have its ALP-45 locos that NJ Transit and EXO have used for Commuter Rail so we will see. Nonetheless, I'm sure anything will be better than the current stock.

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14 hours ago, reecemartin said:

I'm sure anything will be better than the current stock.

Agreed for the Renaissance and HEP2 ("Galley" club and Corridor coach cars) cars, but the refurbished LRCs are nice.  They only have about 10 more years life before then need to be retired though (they had to be refurbished every 15 years and can't be refurbished again).

One other thing, this procurement will only be for corridor services.  VIA has yet to publish a review of its "Long Haul and Regional and Remote Services Fleets" (as stated on pg 51 of VIA Rail's Summary of the 2016 – 2020 Corporate Plan.  The HEP1 equipment used on Western services was recently refurbished, though is very antiquated and doesn't provide many  amenities people expect today (the cars have shared showers on the overnight trains for example).  The Renaissance cars used on The Ocean (Montréal-Halifax train) are likely in the same state as their sister cars on the corridor fleet and will need to be refurbished or replaced soon.

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21 hours ago, reecemartin said:

Vias Long Haul Services are mostly tourist trains so I'm not sure we should really be spending on them

That is mostly true for The Canadian (even still there are some small communities that rely on its service though), but less so for the other routes, which while they do have a tourist component (what train doesn't) but also provide a vital link to the  communities they serve.  This is especially true for the Winnipeg-Churchill train as there are no roads to Churchill (though the train has been suspended indefinitely as the tracks were damaged by a flood and the owners claim they can't afford to fix them).  The Ocean is also popularly used as a form of transportation and it is the one that uses Renaissance cars.

VIA could once again and try to cancel The Canadian and use its equipment elsewhere, but the last time that was threatened (in the late 80's early 90's), BC politicians objected saying that the railway was part of why they joined the confederation and the train couldn't be abandoned.  Personally I would like to see it broken up into a bunch of shorter routes with mostly daytime service to better serve the local communities that currently only have trains in the middle of the night.  It would also make it more reliable as delays wouldn't accumulate as badly.

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4 hours ago, Roger1818 said:

That is mostly true for The Canadian (even still there are some small communities that rely on its service though), but less so for the other routes, which while they do have a tourist component (what train doesn't) but also provide a vital link to the  communities they serve.  This is especially true for the Winnipeg-Churchill train as there are no roads to Churchill (though the train has been suspended indefinitely as the tracks were damaged by a flood and the owners claim they can't afford to fix them).  The Ocean is also popularly used as a form of transportation and it is the one that uses Renaissance cars.

VIA could once again and try to cancel The Canadian and use its equipment elsewhere, but the last time that was threatened (in the late 80's early 90's), BC politicians objected saying that the railway was part of why they joined the confederation and the train couldn't be abandoned.  Personally I would like to see it broken up into a bunch of shorter routes with mostly daytime service to better serve the local communities that currently only have trains in the middle of the night.  It would also make it more reliable as delays wouldn't accumulate as badly.

Churchill line has been bought out and will be repaired, eventually

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14 hours ago, reecemartin said:

Churchill line has been bought out and will be repaired, eventually

Thanks for the update.  Last I heard they wanted to buy it but it wasn't official.  I found an article with more details.

Railway to Churchill, Man., sold — repairs to begin 'immediately'

My point is that not all of ViA's Long  Haul  Services are tourist trains.  I do agree that VIA should stop focusing on providing tourist experiences and instead focus on providing transportation solutions.  If tourists also want to use the trains, that is great, but the focus should be on the locals.

If you look at the schedule for The Canadian, someone can fly to Vancouver or Toronto, catch the train the same day, stay on the train all the way across the country and then fly home.  There are few opportunities for them to spend money in Canada (other than the train ride itself) so it is doing little to stimulate the local tourism industry, yet their train ticket was heavily subsidized.  By having a series of daytime trains, it forces people to stay overnight in various cities across the country and spend money while in town.  As a result, even if the train is still heavily subsidized, it is at least stimulating local spending.  More importantly, it is providing better service to the communities it travels through.

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