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Very late running of Via's Canadian


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#1 greatwestern

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 04:18 PM

Does any one know why the Canadian is having such a very bad timekeeping record recently?

 

As of now Train 1 (Toronto departure Sat 13th Jan) is over 24 hrs late at Jasper having departed Toronto "just" 4 hours late. I presume that freight congestion is the prime problem but at 24 hrs and counting, does anyone know of any other reasons.

 

Later this year I am taking train 1 from Toronto to Vancouver where I will overnight before taking the next day's early morning Cascades service from Vancouver to Seattle (and then Seattle to Washington DC). On the sort of performance that I am currently seeing for the Canadian, I will arrive in Vancouver long after my Seattle service has departed!!



#2 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 04:32 PM

Many discussions about the late running of the CANADIAN here and other forums.  Main reason for delays is single track mostly across the country with priority given to freight trains because of the length of freight trains being too long to pull over in the holding track.  Of course, Winter conditions add further delays plus when a freight train breaks down the CANADIAN has no choice but to poke along behind it or even just be stuck waiting for freight to be repaired and moved.  I will be traveling on #2 in February and reserved two nights in Toronto after the trip before flying home.  I strongly advise you to plan at least one overnight or over 24 hours in Vancouver before attempting any mode of connecting transportation.  The situation does not get much better in Spring or Summer and count on the CANADIAN being reliably late year round.



#3 greatwestern

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 05:14 PM

Thanks for your comments Tennessee Traveler.

 

Unfortunately I am committed to just 1 night layover in Vancouver before moving to Seattle (then SEA - CHI - WAS) before my flight back to the UK so I am left to look at other back up plans such as bailing out at Edmonton if very late and using Greyhound (or flight) to get to Vancouver (considerably less journey time than train). Would just have to take the financial hit for "last minute" booking of those options. (One plus point if I ended up on Greyhound is the great scenery Calgary through to Kamloops which I have driven on several occasions).

 

My "failure" to add additional padding to my time in Vancouver was not helped by the fact that until recently I had not found anywhere to track the performance of the Canadian and also that last time I travelled Toronto to Vancouver (2 years ago) we departed over 2 hours late and arrived 45 minutes early into VAC !!!



#4 OBS

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 05:40 PM

Thanks for your comments Tennessee Traveler.

 

Unfortunately I am committed to just 1 night layover in Vancouver before moving to Seattle (then SEA - CHI - WAS) before my flight back to the UK so I am left to look at other back up plans such as bailing out at Edmonton if very late and using Greyhound (or flight) to get to Vancouver (considerably less journey time than train). Would just have to take the financial hit for "last minute" booking of those options. (One plus point if I ended up on Greyhound is the great scenery Calgary through to Kamloops which I have driven on several occasions).

 

My "failure" to add additional padding to my time in Vancouver was not helped by the fact that until recently I had not found anywhere to track the performance of the Canadian and also that last time I travelled Toronto to Vancouver (2 years ago) we departed over 2 hours late and arrived 45 minutes early into VAC !!!

Unfortunately, this horrendous performance has greatly increased in the last 6 months, due to increased traffic on CN as well as a variety of mechanical issues related to Via equipment, track repair issues, and possibly a deliberate attempt by CN to rid itself of the train completely....



#5 chakk

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 05:43 PM

Even if on time at Edmonton, you run the risk of major delays from there westward to Vancouver.  So at least be prepared to fly from Vancouver to  Seattle to catch up with your next train if you can't reach it in time via ground transportation from Vancouver to Everett


Edited by chakk, 17 January 2018 - 05:44 PM.


#6 MikefromCrete

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 07:52 PM

Canadian National is under no legal or contractual requirement to run the train on time, so they don't. 



#7 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 09:33 PM

Chances are you will arrive in Vancouver the same day as schedule morning arrival. It could be during daylight hours or 3AM.  If you miss the first Amtrak in the morning, they do run several thruway buses to Seattle that would connect with the 4:40 PM Empire Builder.  If worse come to worse you could fly Vancouver to Spokane the catch the Empire Builder around 2 AM. Just be sure to notify Amtrak and have ticket adjusted so that you won't have your reservation cancelled as a no show departing Seattle.



#8 greatwestern

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 06:08 AM

Thanks for all your responses. I now appreciate the factors affecting the schedule problems a little better (and perhaps appreciate even more the passenger rail services which we have here in the UK).

 

I will certainly be travelling over to Canada/USA armed with flight/Greyhound/Amtrak schedules of alternative options of getting to Vancouver/Seattle/Everett/Spokane in the event that "my" Canadian journey is heavily delayed.

 

Looks like I could exceed my airline weight limit with all the added documents I will be carrying !!!!!


Edited by greatwestern, 18 January 2018 - 07:07 AM.


#9 Trogdor

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Posted 18 January 2018 - 07:08 PM

Flying from Vancouver to Seattle can be expensive (just checking now, a one-day advance booking on Orbitz is $259).

 

If you do, note that you have to arrive approximately 2 hours before your flight to pre-clear customs & immigration (for most Canada-to-US flying, it's done on the Canadian side, before departure; arrival in Seattle will be like arriving on a domestic flight, no border formalities).  The flight itself is only going to be 30-40 minutes long, but factor in taxi times on each end and they're typically blocked at 50 minutes to an hour.  From the train station in Vancouver to the airport is about 35-40 minutes on SkyTrain (take their Expo Line to downtown, and transfer to the Canada Line, both run very frequently; but note only half the Canada Line trains go to the airport).  Driving/taxi will probably take about as long, and is subject to traffic variabilities depending on the time of day (there aren't any expressways in Vancouver, which is a good thing, but it also means that any trip from downtown to the airport is going to have to stop at every traffic light on the way).

 

Driving (or taking the bus) from Vancouver to Seattle is, from what I remember, about 3.5 to 4 hours, but is subject to the variability of the border crossing.  Taking the bus can be particularly frustrating because, IIRC (unless things have changed recently), there is only room for one bus at a time at the specific border facility (and there are numerous buses, from various companies, operating across the border every day so there's no way of knowing if you'll be the only bus there or not), and when your bus is there, it must wait for everyone to clear before continuing onwards.  This means that if one person is having some kind of difficulty getting proper clearance (or if they simply need to fill out more paperwork due to their particular status), you can sit there for a long time.  I should clarify that this info is based on my memory of taking that bus a number of times years ago.  I probably haven't been on a transborder bus in 8 or 9 years, so it's entirely possible that things have changed since then.

 

I should also note (in case you didn't know) that, if you do take your original train (and we all hope you do), you should still arrive 30-45 minutes (or more) early, because they do pre-clear at the station in Vancouver just as they do at the airport.


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#10 greatwestern

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 08:33 AM

Thanks Trogdor for the details of the practicalities surrounding my alternative options should my arrival into Vancouver be heavily delayed.

 

Anything less than about 22 hour lateness should mean that I would not have a major problem in meeting my connection (although costing me some more funds).

 

Fortunately I have experienced both bus and flight options from Vancouver to Seattle and am familiar with the connections around Vancouver and from Seattle airport, but your details have definately served to refresh my memory and I will factor all the points into my forward planning.

 

I am not travelling until early June and now that I have found the site that allows me to track the Canadian I will keep monitoring its performance and will hopefully be able to put in place any necessary contingency plans.



#11 Dakota 400

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 05:20 PM

greatwestern,

 

Not sure how helpful this suggestion may be to you, but to help alleviate a financial hit if there are connection problems in Vancouver, maybe a travel insurance policy of some type might be a wise investment for you to consider.



#12 OBS

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 07:16 AM

greatwestern,

 

Not sure how helpful this suggestion may be to you, but to help alleviate a financial hit if there are connection problems in Vancouver, maybe a travel insurance policy of some type might be a wise investment for you to consider.

Good suggestion...



#13 greatwestern

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Posted 24 January 2018 - 08:07 AM

Insurance might be an option but online investigation (for a policy here in the UK) has not turned up anything that would cover the situation that I could find myself in. (I do of course have insurance which covers flight delays/medical etc).

 

A financial hit in being able to arrange suitable (and successful) maintenance of my service out of Seattle (whilst annoying) is something that I am prepared to accept and, fortunately, I can handle if necessary.

 

I was lucky enough to snag a fare SEA - CHI - WAS at half the rate of the days just before and after my travel date so if I do end up incurring additional cost I will probably still be "quids in" over what I was originally expecting to pay !



#14 Lonestar648

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 09:01 AM

I have read that there is little or no cell service so contacting anyone that you might longer than planned is nearly impossible, like if the train is 18 - 24 hours late..  This makes planning either end, arrival  or departure difficult at best, with the Train departing 12 hours or more late, and arriving 18 - 24 hours late.



#15 jis

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 09:10 AM

You should have cell service at the various largish towns though. So if you are 12 hours late, unless you are stuck in the boonies for all that time, you should be able to get an opportunity to inform folks at some point within those 12 hours one would imagine.



#16 Bob Dylan

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 10:13 AM

You should have cell service at the various largish towns though. So if you are 12 hours late, unless you are stuck in the boonies for all that time, you should be able to get an opportunity to inform folks at some point within those 12 hours one would imagine.

This is correct IF your phone plan allows you to call. Using email shouldn't be a problem if your phone doesn't allow calls to the US or other Countries.( lots of internet cafes in Canadian Cities and your smart phone should do emails anywhere there's service)

Edited by Bob Dylan, 22 February 2018 - 12:56 PM.

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#17 willem

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 12:53 PM

This is correct IF your phone plan allows you to call. Using email shouldn't be a problem if your phone doesn't allow calls.

 
I had no idea that I could send email if I couldn't make a call. Thanks—if it's true. Wouldn't this vary by provider?

 

Before signing up with VirginMoblieUSA (for a year of service for $1!), I confirmed that it offered an international plan. It turned out the international plan would allow me to call non-US numbers, but would not allow me to make or receive calls while out of the US. Before reading your posting, I would have expected that no-service would extend to email.



#18 jebr

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 01:33 PM

 

This is correct IF your phone plan allows you to call. Using email shouldn't be a problem if your phone doesn't allow calls.

 
I had no idea that I could send email if I couldn't make a call. Thanks—if it's true. Wouldn't this vary by provider?

 

Before signing up with VirginMoblieUSA (for a year of service for $1!), I confirmed that it offered an international plan. It turned out the international plan would allow me to call non-US numbers, but would not allow me to make or receive calls while out of the US. Before reading your posting, I would have expected that no-service would extend to email.

 

 

It almost certainly would not work to send an email if your cell provider doesn't offer international roaming. The only exception would be if you're connected to wi-fi, which some of the larger stations have. Then email would go through when calls would not (unless you have wi-fi calling or equivalent.)

 

That being said, if you have an unlocked phone you can get a prepaid Canadian plan to use while in Canada. I did that once and it worked out okay, though it was on the expensive side. I used 7-11 Speak Out Wireless, which can be purchased at pretty much any Canadian 7-11 store. I think for a plan with unlimited texting, 100 minutes within Canada, and 500MB of data I paid CA$35 plus tax. That was good for 30 days. I paired it with a calling card with a Canadian number to dial (so I could call the US without paying higher international calling rates) and it worked out pretty well.



#19 zephyr17

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 01:56 PM

T-Mobile is completely free of roaming charges for both data and voice in Canada. It is just like using my phone in the US.

It is something i take frequent advantage of.

Also, heading into Vancouver i had cell service in Kamloops,there is in and out coverage in the canyon and consistent coverage from Hope on. Into Toronto, service pretty much from Sudbury Jct on in.

Edited by zephyr17, 22 February 2018 - 02:03 PM.

Pre Amtrak: SP Coast Daylight, AT&SF San Diegan, AT&SF Super Chief, D&RGW Rio Grande Zephyr; Amtrak: Southwest Limited/Chief, San Diegan/Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, Cascades, California/San Francisco Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited (LA-ORL), Desert Wind, Pioneer, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited (NY Section), Cardinal, Hoosier State (Amtrak),  Hoosier State (Iowa Pacific), Ann Rutledge, Adirondack, Maple Leaf, NE Regional, Capitol Limited, Crescent, Acela Express, Lake Shore Limited (Boston Section)
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#20 willem

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 02:31 PM

That being said, if you have an unlocked phone you can get a prepaid Canadian plan to use while in Canada. I did that once and it worked out okay, though it was on the expensive side. I used 7-11 Speak Out Wireless, which can be purchased at pretty much any Canadian 7-11 store. I think for a plan with unlimited texting, 100 minutes within Canada, and 500MB of data I paid CA$35 plus tax. That was good for 30 days. I paired it with a calling card with a Canadian number to dial (so I could call the US without paying higher international calling rates) and it worked out pretty well.

 
Good to know. I do have an unlocked phone and will try to remember what you said when it becomes relevant.

 

Please tell me more about how "a calling card with a Canadian number to dial" works. I'm guessing that you call a Canadian number from your Canadian number on your CA$35 SIM, which counts against your 100 minutes within Canada, and once connected, you dial a US number, which counts against your calling card minutes. If so, how much was your calling card and how many minutes did it get you? What number would a person you call see on caller ID?

 

As far as you know, would a similar strategy work for European countries? Thanks.






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