Update: VIA Rail Train Accident in Burlington, Ontario
Reports of numerous passenger injuries – Three crew fatalities
26 February 2012 | Via Rail | Link
Montreal – VIA Rail Canada train number 92, en route from Niagara Falls to Toronto, was involved in an accident at approximately 3:30pm local time today. The incident occurred in the Aldershot, Ontario area.
There were 75 passengers on board the train at the time of the accident. There are reports of several injuries to passengers and three fatalities, all VIA crew members who were in the locomotive at the time of the accident.
There were one locomotive and five cars on the train, all of which derailed. Emergency services were on the scene shortly after it occurred and are attending to those requiring their assistance.
Three passengers were airlifted to hospital with serious injuries. 42 other passengers and one crew members were also taken to local hospitals.
All other passengers have been removed from the train and are either en route to Toronto or will be shortly.
The cause of the accident is not known at this time. VIA will collaborate fully with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, which is investigating.
Anyone seeking information about passengers who may have been on this train may call a special number set up for this purpose, at 1-888-842-6141.
Other VIA trains will be affected due to the tracks being blocked at the scene of the accident. Passengers travelling in southwestern Ontario later today can check on the status of their train at 1-888-VIA-RAIL (888-842-7245) or at viarail.ca.
Further details will be provided as they are known.
Via Rail to adjust service, Cut 200 jobs
Wednesday, Jun. 27 2012 | The Globe and Mail
There will also be a number reductions in southwestern Ontario, where GO Transit and other services are available to commuters. London, Aldershot, Kitchener, Niagara Falls and other cities will see reduced Via service
Yes. They are cancelling route 86 (6:30AM departure from Kitchener, arriving at Toronto at 9AM, which overlaps the GO service quite a bit) and route 89 (10:10PM departure from Toronto, arrival in Kitchener at midnight). Route 89 is very useful for coming in from Montreal on the 5 o'clock train from Montreal, and it's hard (but possible) to replace it with GO bus service. Not cool.
Here's the press release from VIA...
VIA Rail continues its modernization and takes action to better meet customer demand
June 27, 2012 | VIA Rail Canada | Link
VIA Rail Canada announced today, as part of its ongoing modernization, that it is taking action to better meet customer demand. VIA is introducing significant improvements to its operations, including to tracks, stations and trains, better interconnectivity with other carriers, enhanced customer experience and e-services. This next phase of VIA's modernization includes adjusting frequencies on specific routes to better reflect customer demand, while maintaining service on all current routes. This is necessary to allow VIA to focus resources on improving service and attracting more customers on routes where demand is strong and growing.
VIA President & CEO Marc Laliberté said these service adjustments will unfold from July to end of October and are part of VIA's many steps to modernize Canada's national passenger rail service. The travel market is evolving and service providers must keep up. Laliberté explained the changes that are unfolding are fostering the VIA of tomorrow, including services that match market demand, safe, efficient and reliable passenger rail transportation and value to customers and taxpayers.
"By the end of the year, we will complete work to expand track capacity between Montréal and Toronto, where demand for more rail service is high," Mr. Marc Laliberté said. "We will begin operating a completely refurbished fleet of modern, high-efficiency locomotives coast-to-coast. We will start introducing vastly improved passenger cars offering more accessibility for Canadians with disabilities. We will be opening new and renovated passenger stations at key points across our network, and offer e-services so that passengers can better connect in the transportation network and work while on board our trains. Adjusting our services to better align with customer demand is an important step of our modernization – making sure we offer the right level of service to meet customer needs today, and building capacity to serve more customers in markets where demand will grow in the future."
"Where the demand varies dramatically by season, we need to adjust frequencies in order to remain efficient," Mr. Laliberté added. "In growing markets, we are adding more frequencies to meet customer demand. In addition, mandatory services in regions where there are limited transportation alternatives will remain. We are not eliminating rail service on any routes where we operate today and we are maintaining the flexibility to adjust service levels in the future, as customer needs evolve."
As part of aligning services to customer demand, VIA is partnering with other passenger services, including those of other publicly-funded providers, to better harmonize schedules and to sell fares in an integrated way on VIA's website. These changes not only contribute to an interconnected national passenger transportation system, but it is also expected to further reduce costs and increase revenues for the corporation.
Over the past two years, VIA has been working to improve both its operations and financial performance and to increase service reliability. As a result, over that period, it has required $30 million less in government funding for operations (before pension costs). Relying on an extraordinary pool of dedicated talent, VIA intends to continue delivering significant improvements to passenger rail services, for its customers and taxpayers.
As a result of this announcement, VIA's unionized workforce is expected to be reduced by some 200 full-time positions, a decrease of about 9%. Over the last three years, VIA Rail's annual attrition rate has been, on average, 8%. Since 2009, VIA has reduced its management workforce by 15%.
BACKGROUNDER: THE MODERNIZATION OF PASSENGER RAIL
Capital Investment: Modernizing Trains, Track and Stations
With funding from the Government of Canada, VIA is completing a $923 million investment in:
VDetailed information on capital investment projects is available online at http://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-r...tal-investment
- Locomotives: improving efficiency, reliability, and environmental performance, and reducing maintenance costs.
- Passenger cars: Improving comfort, reliability, accessibility of passenger cars used in all parts of cross-Canada network.
- Track: increasing capacity in the Quebec-Windsor Corridor for faster, more frequent trains.
- Passenger facilities and stations: renovating and expanding existing stations, building new stations where needed, to improve comfort and service to customers.
To improve the efficiency of its operations, VIA has adopted a lean management focus – streamlining operations to increase productivity and customer value, and eliminate waste. At the same time, key investments in technology will improve service to the customer, including:
For more information on recent initiatives, see VIA's 2011 Annual Report at http://www.viarail.ca/about-via-rail...-annual-report. VIA's latest quarterly reports are available at http://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-r...rterly-reports
- New electronic ticketing services, with anywhere/anytime mobile phone access;
- Real-time, GPS enhanced train arrival and departure information;
- Integrated schedules and ticketing with other public transportation services;
- Improved operational efficiency through automation, including on-board services automation.
Adjust services with market demand
Better integration and alignment with markets will allow VIA to focus energy and resources on delivering more value to more customers, in markets where demand is high and growing. VIA will reconfigure and monitor the performance of services:
- To better match passenger rail capacity on all routes with the demand for service on those routes;
- To partner with other passenger services by aligning our schedules and selling their fares on VIA's website; and;
- To make service adjustments that most effectively reduce costs and increase revenues.
The Canadian: The Canadian currently provides three round trips per week, year round, between Toronto and Vancouver. Demand for this service is strong and growing during the summer months; VIA has invested more than $55 million to improve service along this route, and is upgrading equipment to meet customer needs.
Demand for this service during the off-peak season, however, is much lower, and has fallen steadily for the past 15 years. Three round trips per week during the off-peak season are no longer needed to meet demand. Beginning this November, The Canadian will offer two round trips per week during the off peak season.
The Ocean: The Ocean currently provides six round trips per week between Montréal and Halifax. VIA has invested more than $25 million to improve this service, and will continue to improve the value of this service to customers.
However, the current schedule, which has been essentially unchanged since 1990, no longer reflects current ridership or foreseeable market demand – ridership has dropped consistently for 15 years as other travel options (highways, air and bus services) have improved. Beginning this November, The Ocean will operate three round trips per week year round.
Quebec – Windsor Intercity Trains
The Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto triangle, where the demand for efficient intercity transportation is high and growing, is VIA's busiest market. In January 2012 VIA added new frequencies, including express services, between Montréal, Ottawa and Toronto. More frequencies will be added this year, and faster trains will reduce overall trip times.
The Southwestern Ontario market includes some of VIA's poorest-performing train services, where customer demand is very low. At the same time, new air services, and expanding commuter rail services in the Greater Toronto area, are further reducing the need for some weekday and weekend VIA services. Accordingly, VIA is reducing frequencies on some routes in Southwestern Ontario and will provide better integration with other public transportation services.
Montréal-Quebec City is a high demand market, and VIA hopes to add an additional frequency on this route later this year to meet the needs of customers.
Summary of Schedule Changes and e-Ticketing
What's happening in my region?
IN THE CORRIDOR
- Montréal-Ottawa: trains 630 & 631 are cancelled (Saturday only)
- London-Windsor: train 70 will originate at London on Sat and Sun; train 75 with terminate at London on Fri and Sat
- Aldershot-Toronto: train 740 is cancelled (daily except Saturday)
- London-Toronto: train 686 is cancelled (Friday only)
- Toronto-Niagara Falls: train 92 is cancelled on Sat and Sun; train 95 is cancelled on Fri and Sat
- The London-Sarnia segments of trains 85 and 88 are cancelled
July 29, 2012
- Frequencies or segments being eliminated are the poorest performers in terms of ridership and revenues (except for mandatory services).
- New frequencies are being added where demand for intercity service is strong or growing.
- VIA’s operating and cost structure is designed for intercity service, not commuter service.
- By eliminating services that duplicate those offered by commuter operators, VIA can focus on its core mandate: intercity service.
- In Southwestern Ontario, the ridership from cancelled trains can be absorbed by GO Transit services.
- We are working with other service providers like GO Transit and AMT to create seamless intermodal connections.
- Aligning VIA’s service offering with those of other publicly-funded service providers represents a more efficient and effective use of taxpayers’ money.
- Toronto-Niagara Falls: train 90 is cancelled; train 95 remaining frequencies (Sun-Thurs) are cancelled
- Toronto-Kitchener-London: trains 89 and 86 are cancelled
End of October 2012
- New round-trip express train between Ottawa and Toronto
- Additional services in the Quebec-Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor
End of 2012To be determined
IN THE EAST
- The Ocean will be reduced from 6 to 3 round trips per week, year round.
- The Montréal-Gaspé service will remain at 3 round trips per week; the schedule will be adjusted to coincide with the new Ocean schedule.
End of October 2012
- Ocean ridership has dropped by 50% over the past 15 years, despite improvements to the quality of the service.
- Other transportation options have evolved in this region; better highways and air service are changing this market.
- The reduced frequency of the Ocean reflects current ridership levels, and will allow for better use of VIA’s rolling stock.
- We remain committed to the eastern transcon, and are investing in equipment and stations for that reason.
VIA Rail Public Community Forum
Region of Waterloo | Link
As someone interested in transportation issues in Waterloo Region, we invite you to participate in an upcoming town hall meeting on Oct. 25, 2012 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Region of Waterloo.
You will learn more about the VIA Rail-Passenger service cuts, and will have an opportunity to provide your suggestions on how VIA Rail can be reformed to sustainably provide the rail-passenger service you want to see and will support through your taxes and ticket dollars.
For more information, please read the invitation below. You can also learn more, and register for this event at
"I have always believed that what is originally an abuse does not cease to be one by having become customary."
Last edited by 1231; 12-09-2012 at 01:53 PM.
VIA is a huge mess. A combination of the wrong right of ways, a powerful union who doesn't care, and a string of conservative governments which are ideologically opposed to public transit.
Last edited by BuildingScout; 10-26-2012 at 05:57 PM.
QUESTION; How does that impact the future plans for the "hub"...or does it?
The track from Toronto to Silver Jct is in good hands with GO. And the portion from Silver Jct to Kitchener to London is finally getting centralized traffic control and upgraded sidings - which is a joint VIA Rail and RailAmerica project. It won't be double-tracked, but it's still an upgrade.
As for the service itself: assuming VIA doesn't quickly reinstate these trains, the track upgrades may change the operational situation sufficiently that VIA will bring the trains back. But GO will certainly be expanding service. And there is definitely the possibility for other operators to get into the picture, assuming the market conditions and/or funding is right.
The fact that the intermodal station is still on the books gives me hope that VIA service levels will soon return to normal or increase. I'm assuming that they are involved in the project to some degree besides tenancy; they wouldn't be committed unless they expected to get long-term use out of it.
One interesting piece of trivia I learned recently, that hasn't been publicized like it should be, is that VIA began stopping at Malton GO station in January. Assuming there's a decent bus connection between Malton and Pearson Airport (I don't think there is), a Kitchener resident can now theoretically take transit all the way to Pearson. This long overdue change to the schedule also gives me hope.
In the longer term I'd also hold out hope that if the Finch LRT extension ever gets moving it will be routed up Airport road as far as Malton. Aside from the GO connection it looks to me like by far the cheapest option (there are some other possibilities that are more direct, but all involve some combination of much more extensive tunnelling and/or routing through highway corridors). With any luck by the time this gets to be a serious possibility any Metrolinx concerns about such a connection diverting from the ARL express will have receded.
Speaking more broadly, there is also a pretty good connection from Square One to Pearson by MiWay.
I wonder how long it might be before we see a consortium of municipalities and employers get together to offer a connecting service between Georgetown and points west (Kitchener, Stratford etc)? If the tracks west of Georgetown are typically quiet most of the day, I don't see why it can't happen. I see that the Stratford Festival is launching a bus service between Toronto and Stratford for plays.
The idea is possible in principle. But the infrastructure would need to be better (this is partially happening) and it really would need to be either publicly owned or much more accessible to outside entities.