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Reason for low average speed on Canadian?


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#1 GlobalistPotato

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 11:04 PM

Okay, so I did a little math on the Canadian's route, and I found out that the average speed of the train is about 33 mph.
GML wasn't lying...

But why so slow? Long layovers, slow track? It can't be blamed on the Rockies, as the California Zephyr gets 47 mph average and Empire Builder 50 mph average.

By comparison, if the Canadian had those same average speeds, it would have a schedule of 59 and 55 hours, respectively to the other Rocky Mountain trains south of the 49th parallel.

Now, this probably doesn't matter too much, as the Canadian is pretty popular as it is and it doesn't need too much improvement. Other than the idea of it going daily... :lol:

But one complain I've heard from some Canadians, especially those up in Vancouver, is that the Canadian, being more of a "vacation train" than a practical train, is too high for their price range and doesn't have good connections to other trains in Via Rail's system.

The idea I have is to run a more "economical" train between Vancouver and Toronto, a la how "El Capitan" was Santa Fe's economical train in comparison to the luxury "Super Chief".

And on that, like how the "El Capitan" ran with the bi-level cars, this certain train would be most suitable for some sort of bi-level passenger car, probably similar to that of the Superliners used by Amtrak.

Of course, even though it is an economy train, it should still have good customer service, and comfortable seats. ;)

Generally, the train would arrive and leave Vancouver at a time that allows connections with Amtrak Cascades (most likely a extended version of #509 and #500), and...

I have to get off now... >.<

#2 AlanB

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 12:04 AM

VIA tossed in a ton of padding about 3 or 4 years ago. It used to make the trip in 2 nights/3 days, now it's 3 nights/4 days.

IIRC, the main reason given was to keep the train on time.
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#3 Anderson

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 03:27 AM

I think part of it is those long stops, too...every major stop lays over for a couple of hours. Pull those out and you'll improve the speed average at least somewhat.

As to the trains themselves...well, I think the big rub is that they're still using the original consists 55 years after the order was delivered. From what I've heard about 20-odd car trains in the summer, they've probably got at least half of CP's original order still running (20*4 plus what's in use on the Ocean). On the bright side, that's probably enough cars to keep some sort of servicing contract in place/keep in-house operations economical...but I don't think they want to risk losing the old fleet, particularly as that fleet is a major selling point of that train.

Amtrak mileage to date: Somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 miles...I /really/ need to run all of my trips through a calculator sometime.

...and no, I am not /that/ Anderson...;-)


#4 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 05:16 AM

I read some posts somewhere that claimed VIA changed the scheduling to allow for more daytime viewing of the natural beauty of the route. That sounds just as good to my ear as any of these other theories.

.


#5 MikefromCrete

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 10:06 AM

Everything west of the Quebec-Ontario corridor on VIA is a "cruise train." People ride those trains to enjoy the scenery, not to actually get anywhere in a reasonable time. The Canadian is geared toward the tourist trade, there are only a couple of coaches and flag stops require something like two days advance notice. The Skeena stops overnight, so through local riders are discouraged. The Hudson Bay is a "back country" train that serves places without any transportation alternatives and the Vancouver Island service, well there doesn't seem to be a reason for it to exist anymore. One RDC leisurely treading non-maintained track doesn't seem to serve any purpose.

#6 GlobalistPotato

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 02:21 PM

I would find all of that to be true. But hey, the Canadian is fine as it is anyway. Except if you're trying to travel as an actual traveler, not a vacationer. Posted Image

I looked at the Streamliner Schedules website, and it is true that even the original pre-VIA Canadian had a trip time of about three days between Toronto and Vancouver. Of course, today's Canadian operates over the old Super-Continental route, but they were just as fast (or slow...)

http://www.streamlin...dian195607.html <--- Old Canadian

http://www.streamlin...cont195607.html <--- Super-Continental

Even though it took some 36 less hours to travel that distance back then, the trains still had an average speed of around 40 mph. That's slow by both streamliner and modern schedules.

And yes, those trains did go over the Canadian Rockies in the middle of the night. Not exactly a California Zephyr.

#7 Train2104

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 09:28 PM

Everything west of the Quebec-Ontario corridor on VIA is a "cruise train." People ride those trains to enjoy the scenery, not to actually get anywhere in a reasonable time. The Canadian is geared toward the tourist trade, there are only a couple of coaches and flag stops require something like two days advance notice. The Skeena stops overnight, so through local riders are discouraged. The Hudson Bay is a "back country" train that serves places without any transportation alternatives and the Vancouver Island service, well there doesn't seem to be a reason for it to exist anymore. One RDC leisurely treading non-maintained track doesn't seem to serve any purpose.


And the Vancouver Island service is suspended until further notice, because there is not enough money to conduct the massive tie replacement and bridge repairs necessary to keep passenger service at current speeds.

And don't forget the Sudbury-White River run.

Edited by Train2104, 09 June 2011 - 09:28 PM.


#8 fairviewroad

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 12:52 PM

The Canadian is geared toward the tourist trade, there are only a couple of coaches and flag stops require something like two days advance notice.


Not to mention the (bizarre, IMO) fact that the train makes some station stops only in one direction, but not the other.

Abbottsford, BC for instance is only served by the westbound train. Whereas Mission, BC (across the river) is only served by the eastbound train.
In other words you would either have to be dropped off/picked up or try to rustle up a taxi to get back to your departing station. Why VIA thinks
that Abbottsford, which is large enough to boast an international airport, only deserves a station stop in one direction is beyond me.

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 02:25 PM

Not to mention the (bizarre, IMO) fact that the train makes some station stops only in one direction, but not the other.

Abbottsford, BC for instance is only served by the westbound train. Whereas Mission, BC (across the river) is only served by the eastbound train.


It’s called directional running.

From Abbotsford/Mission BC to near Ashcroft BC the eastbound Canadian is on CP and the westbound Canadian is on CN. The tracks of each railway are on opposite sides of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers so there are different stations in different communities on each railway. Sometimes the stations are several kilometers apart…..sometimes quite close....North Bend is just across a bridge from Boston Bar and less than a half kilometer apart.

Same in Ontario: from near Parry Sound to south of Sudbury.....The w/b Canadian is on CP and uses the CP Station in Parry Sound and the e/b Canadian uses the CN Station there.

And look at old Western Pacific and Southern Pacific timetables across Nevada......the e/b and w/b California Zephyr for example used different stations in several communities.

#10 fairviewroad

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:08 PM

It's called directional running.

From Abbotsford/Mission BC to near Ashcroft BC the eastbound Canadian is on CP and the westbound Canadian is on CN. The tracks of each railway are on opposite sides of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers so there are different stations in different communities on each railway. Sometimes the stations are several kilometers apart…..sometimes quite close....North Bend is just across a bridge from Boston Bar and less than a half kilometer apart.

Same in Ontario: from near Parry Sound to south of Sudbury.....The w/b Canadian is on CP and uses the CP Station in Parry Sound and the e/b Canadian uses the CN Station there.

And look at old Western Pacific and Southern Pacific timetables across Nevada......the e/b and w/b California Zephyr for example used different stations in several communities.


Thanks for the explanation...I didn't know that. Is the "directional running" done at the insistence of the freight railroads? But even if the stations are close,
it doesn't change the fact that you arrive and leave from different stations..making it a logistical challenge to take the train to/from those communities. I guess
if the alternative is no station stop at all, well this is better than nothing. But I'm guessing those communities along the olden-days Zephyr route were served
by more than one train? Maybe you could get back to your original station on a "local" or something like that? In the Canadian's case, there is no (rail) alternative.

I'm not aware of any train in Amtrak's current system that only stops at a station in one direction. I suppose directional running appeals to rail fans who can collect
more "mileage" but it certainly reinforces the notion that this is not real transportation, just a tourist excursion. (IMHO)

#11 NY Penn

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:41 PM

I'm not aware of any train in Amtrak's current system that only stops at a station in one direction.


The northbound Adirondack at the Canadian border does, if that counts :lol:.
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#12 AlanB

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 05:35 PM

Thanks for the explanation...I didn't know that. Is the "directional running" done at the insistence of the freight railroads? But even if the stations are close, it doesn't change the fact that you arrive and leave from different stations..making it a logistical challenge to take the train to/from those communities.


It's not just the Canadian that does directional running, the freights do it too. Both CN & CP are playing nice, if you will, with each other by doing directional running for their freights. This has the effect of increasing total capacity since you don't have to put trains into sidings to allow them to pass each other. It also means that you don't have to build many sidings or even consider costly double tracking to increase capacity.

The Canadian is really just going with the flow as it were.

I'm not aware of any train in Amtrak's current system that only stops at a station in one direction. I suppose directional running appeals to rail fans who can collect more "mileage" but it certainly reinforces the notion that this is not real transportation, just a tourist excursion. (IMHO)


I don't think that there are any current Amtrak stops like that, but a few years back there was some directional running on the Texas Eagle. I'm thinking that it had to do with track work and that it lasted maybe 6 months or so. I'm not positive on that though.
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Posted 26 July 2011 - 04:18 AM

Thanks for the explanation...I didn't know that. Is the "directional running" done at the insistence of the freight railroads? But even if the stations are close,
it doesn't change the fact that you arrive and leave from different stations..making it a logistical challenge to take the train to/from those communities.

Sure there are some that might walk to a station or park their car at one and have to get back from the other……but I would imagine the majority of passengers boarding/detraining at these stops have someone drive or meet there so the stop being on one side of the river or the other, doesn’t really matter.

#14 fairviewroad

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 11:23 AM

I would imagine the majority of passengers boarding/detraining at these stops have someone drive or meet there so the stop being on one side of the river or the other, doesn't really matter.


But that's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn't it? Yes, people who have that option will use it. And people who don't have that option won't.
Ergo
the only people who use those stations are people for whom directional running is not a problem.

That said, I highly doubt there's a bean-counter in VIA HQ's saying "Why the bloody heck won't more people board at Abbotsford?"
They have obviously found something that works for them and their tourist clientele.

#15 MikefromCrete

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 08:30 PM


I would imagine the majority of passengers boarding/detraining at these stops have someone drive or meet there so the stop being on one side of the river or the other, doesn't really matter.


But that's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn't it? Yes, people who have that option will use it. And people who don't have that option won't.
Ergo
the only people who use those stations are people for whom directional running is not a problem.

That said, I highly doubt there's a bean-counter in VIA HQ's saying "Why the bloody heck won't more people board at Abbotsford?"
They have obviously found something that works for them and their tourist clientele.

The Canadian is a tourist-orientated train. There's no doubt about that. It only runs with a couple of coaches and flag stops have to be requested several days in advance. Using directional running in B.C. and Ontario is the only practical way to run this train, given the physical situation of the rail lines. It makes everything more efficient. These small towns probably don't have any public transit, so I would imagine everyone would drive to the station, anybody who's actually interested in getting to these small, non-tourist towns, that is.




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