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Canadian delayed almost 48 hours - potential new schedule coming.

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I was watching #1 coming into Vancouver this weekend that was almost 48 hours late. Then I read that VIA canceled two departures to try to recover, give crews needed rest, and crews time to fix mechanical issues, and try to get departures back to leaving on time. Not able to confirm, but heard that VIA maybe redoing the schedule to build in more time for delays in an attempt to have more on time arrivals.

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The solution is not schedule lengthening, but consist shortening or siding lengthening. The Canadian freight trains are simply too long, longer than the US counterparts, that they just won't fit the sidings.

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There have been rumors about the schedule being changed and/or the train being re-routed through upper Ontario for some time. I wouldn't put a lot of stock in them...especially since no amount of schedule tweaking is going to fix a 48-hour delay.

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It does indeed look like a new schedule for The Canadian may be in the works. According to their President & CEO:

 

“At VIA Rail, nothing is more important than the safety and security of our passengers and employees. That is why we are currently working with our infrastructure partner on a new schedule, to start during the peak summer period, that will provide a longer but more predictable travel time,” added Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano.

 

I am personally wondering how much they will lengthen the schedule by. Last April I rode westbound and we were more or less on time until a broken rail delayed us 6 hrs just east of Vancouver. When I rode eastbound this past April we consistently lost time and arrived in Toronto 12 hours late.

Edited by MSP_Train_Hopper

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What VIA needs is the statutory power that Amtrak has over the freight railroads for priority. That alone would give them a legal right t force CN to play more fair. Lengthening the schedule does nothing but harm the train itself. And rewards CN for poor behavior.

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Is a 48 hour delay pretty much unheard of there? I know that 12 or even 20 hour delays on the Canadian are not even remotely uncommon, but 48 hours just sounds ridiculous, even by VIA's standards.

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Is a 48 hour delay pretty much unheard of there? I know that 12 or even 20 hour delays on the Canadian are not even remotely uncommon, but 48 hours just sounds ridiculous, even by VIA's Canadian National's standards.

Correcting to point out the actual culprit.

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Is a 48 hour delay pretty much unheard of there? I know that 12 or even 20 hour delays on the Canadian are not even remotely uncommon, but 48 hours just sounds ridiculous, even by VIA's Canadian National's standards.

Correcting to point out the actual culprit.

 

I wasn't talking about who's actually to blame. Just talking about the Canadian's OTP, which isn't exactly stellar.

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Is a 48 hour delay pretty much unheard of there? I know that 12 or even 20 hour delays on the Canadian are not even remotely uncommon, but 48 hours just sounds ridiculous, even by VIA's Canadian National's standards.

Correcting to point out the actual culprit.

 

I wasn't talking about who's actually to blame. Just talking about the Canadian's OTP, which isn't exactly stellar.

 

What do you think I was referring to? The Canadian's OTP problem is due to Canadian National's dispatching. Via has no control over the on time performance of the Canadian on the road. Via would love to run on time, their standards are fine, they just can't do much about them except beg CN.

 

And, no, a 48 hour delay is far from unheard of, especially this last year.

Edited by zephyr17

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There is not a lot that a dispatcher can do if the railroad mandates extremely long trains. And when two of the monsters are on the subdivision, something's got to give, and it's going to the be the train that fits in a siding. That's always VIA. As someone above pointed out, the train lengths on the CN are the real culprit here. VIA has put up with this nonsense for so long now that one has to wonder whether it really cares about on time performance of not.

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Well, yes, train length is a huge issue, I was talking about dispatching in a very general sense, inclusive of the operating philosophy, not the individual dispatcher (or RTC in Canadian parlance). Although I can give you an example of some pretty poor indiviual dispatching that stabbed the Canadian. I am thinking particularly of a time when I was not on the train, but had the opportunity to fan a 15 hour late #1 north of Kamloops. The dispatcher put the Canadian in the first siding north of Kamloops, only a few miles from the North Kamloops yard, and let the already late train sit for 45 minutes waiting for a maid-of-all-work manifest freight with a lot of empties. They couldn't have held the freight in the yard for 15 more minutes to let the Canadian clear?

 

The thing is is that CN can't handle just 4-6 passenger trains a week anywhere close to on time. So their freight operations also must be hugely snarled by the same issue. I understand it is catching up to them, shippers are growing unhappy, and they are starting to invest in longer sidings, but that takes awhile.

 

Another little mentioned issue besides the train length and being held forever in a siding while multiple trains are fleeted by, is sometimes the Canadian takes forever to negotiate yards. Edmonton, I'm looking at you.

 

Via doesn't have a whole lot of choice in the matter about putting up with it. Amtrak has at least a few levers at its disposal that it can use to pressure the host railroads and has used them (I seem to remember Amtrak suing UP a few years ago for instance). Via pretty much has nothing and is truly at the mercy of CN, unless the Canadian Parliament steps up and finally gives Via a statutory foundation that would include some teeth as to operating precedence (unlike Amtrak-NRPC, Via was not established by legislation, but was created by the Canadian equivalent of an executive order). Via's only option, aside from putting up with it, is really is not to run at all, a decision which would be greeted with joy by CN.

 

I am gratified to hear that they are at last in negotiation with CN on a new schedule. However, note that Via already extended the schedule by like 12 hours a few years ago to make the train more reliable, so now CN will get more slack and in few years it'll be hours late on the new extended "reliable" schedule, again.

Edited by zephyr17

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BTW, I am planning to ride it again in late October. I ordinarily would book about now, but based on the news there may be a new schedule I am going to hold off and see if the new schedule gets released some time soon. I was planning to leave a three day layover in Toronto as buffer for a days late train, but depending on the new schedule, I may not and only put in my usual overnight layover. It also depends on whether or not they add another whole night to the schedule rather than just going to a significantly earlier departure from Vancouver and a significantly later arrival in Toronto and how whatever they do affects the rest of my travel plans.

 

I also think that CN will somewhat adhere (within 10 or 12 hours anyway) to a new schedule, at least for a while.

Edited by zephyr17

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I am planning to travel late January, was going to commit later in June but wonder how much the schedule will change? like departure days, etc. I would enjoy the extra time on the train, but the recent extreme delays on both ends makes planning difficult for a fun and relaxing journey.

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BTW, I am planning to ride it again in late October. I ordinarily would book about now, but based on the news there may be a new schedule I am going to hold off and see if the new schedule gets released some time soon. I was planning to leave a three day layover in Toronto as buffer for a days late train, but depending on the new schedule, I may not and only put in my usual overnight layover. It also depends on whether or not they add another whole night to the schedule rather than just going to a significantly earlier departure from Vancouver and a significantly later arrival in Toronto and how whatever they do affects the rest of my travel plans.

 

I also think that CN will somewhat adhere (within 10 or 12 hours anyway) to a new schedule, at least for a while.

CN will do whatever it wants to do. Neither VIA or anybody else can make them cooperate. VIA needs Parliament to make new laws to force CN to do the right thing.

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Reading all these horror stories about the CN stabbing the Canadian, had me expecting the worst, on my overnight excursion to Jonquiere last week. But I was pleasantly surprised by how well they treated our trains, at least on that line, which is no where near as busy, I suppose. They even held a freight on the main, to let us go around it thru the yards, on the return trip. Amazing! :cool:

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Reading all these horror stories about the CN stabbing the Canadian, had me expecting the worst, on my overnight excursion to Jonquiere last week. But I was pleasantly surprised by how well they treated our trains, at least on that line, which is no where near as busy, I suppose. They even held a freight on the main, to let us go around it thru the yards, on the return trip. Amazing! :cool:

Yes the handling of the Canadian is an embarrassment.....but it is only 4 to 6 departures per week (depending on the season) of the 500 other trains VIA operates each week which generally run close to or on time......and most of these are dispatched by CN. As I write this.....both the e/b and w/b Oceans are ontime in eastern Quebec.

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Maybe it's time to simply drop the funny papers they call a "schedule" and simply "run it when we run it".

 

If you are pre-booked, say for a given Run#, you will get notified with hopefully a 24 hour "window" as to when your train will show.

 

Right now, it is probably costing VIA "a loon or two" lodging passengers who showed up on time, but the train is anything but.

 

Finally, I realize this sounds a bit like in service and being "deployed" overseas. Very simply, they tell you when you are leaving. There is no calling up and saying "hello Pan Am, when can I get a flight to Saigon...."?

Edited by GBNorman

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The problem is that CN is trying to put too many trans on not enough tracks. Most of the passlng sidings are too short to handle CN's long trains. The railroad needs to invest in longer sidings and expansion of two track sections. Of course CN is more interested in its low operating ratio and feeding big profits to its Wall Street masters.

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Until the CN customers start being unhappy, finding alternate shippers, CN has no incentive to improve its infrastructure. Of course the Canadian government could get involved, but that could go badly too, if they say it is easier to eliminate the train since it is mostly a tourist train.

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Isn't the Canadian an essential service train that happens to carry tourists too? ;)

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Until the CN customers start being unhappy, finding alternate shippers, CN has no incentive to improve its infrastructure. Of course the Canadian government could get involved, but that could go badly too, if they say it is easier to eliminate the train since it is mostly a tourist train.

I read that that is actually happening, shippers getting unhappy with delays, and CN has announced a program to increase siding lengths and some double tracking. But that will take awhile.

 

The Canadian does provide essential service in areas that are not road served, particularly in northern Ontario. It is not classed as an "essential services" train though, like the the Sudbury-White River run, to my knowledge. However, it is an icon, and there is support for it, so I think getting rid of it entirely would at stir some controversy. Not many countries put a picture of a specific passenger train on their money (the $10 note has the Canadian on the reverse side).

Edited by zephyr17

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The Ocean benefits from having a route where it's the only train for a very long distance. Of course that could cause a problem if any part of that line were to wash out or have an issue.

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I keep vacillating about booking The Canadian. I almost was ready to do so, then recent stories of more and longer delays. Don't mind being delayed in route, but it is "the what does one do at the destination and for on-going travel plans" for such prolonged delays?

 

Are customers being lost by VIA Rail? If so, might that not encourage them to prod the Canadian Parliament to "do something" for the benefit of Canadian tourism?

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I don't know if the delays had anything to do with it, but I noticed that a number of sold out departure dates this summer now have full availability.

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