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For context: VIA Rail currently only offers one round-trip per week (rather than the customary 3 per week) and only sells approximately half of available seats (to facilitate Social Distancing), which means that capacity is only one-sixth of what is usually offered (assuming that train lengths are the same).

In case you wonder what services are currently offered at VIA:
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Compiled from: official VIA Rail timetable (effective 2019-06-03), temporary schedule (effective 2020-06-02) VIA Rail's most recent Travel Advisory and overview over the preventive measures addressing CoVid-19.

Edit: The MPP’s letter explains the problem quite well:
 
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Just a quick update about the HFR situation. It seems that Quaker Oats is done with rail service. They haven't recieved a rail car for months. This is due to the track condition. Supposedly, it is temporary, but given what happened to other industries in Peterborough, notably United Canadian Malting, it seems likely that rail service won't actually return. This means that there are no rail customers left in Peterborough. This also means that the only two customers left on the line are IKO and Covia. Unfortunately, Covia just filed for bankruptcy.

Read here: https://www.worldoil.com/news/2020/...files-bankruptcy-plans-to-continue-operations

This year is when the Nephton mine closes. Who knows how long the Blue Mountain mine will last? This line is on the ropes. If VIA wants it, they better act fast.
 
Just a quick update about the HFR situation. It seems that Quaker Oats is done with rail service. They haven't recieved a rail car for months. This is due to the track condition. Supposedly, it is temporary, but given what happened to other industries in Peterborough, notably United Canadian Malting, it seems likely that rail service won't actually return. This means that there are no rail customers left in Peterborough. This also means that the only two customers left on the line are IKO and Covia. Unfortunately, Covia just filed for bankruptcy.

Read here: https://www.worldoil.com/news/2020/...files-bankruptcy-plans-to-continue-operations

This year is when the Nephton mine closes. Who knows how long the Blue Mountain mine will last? This line is on the ropes. If VIA wants it, they better act fast.
Not sure where the urgency is, since any railroad has to list a line as for sale in its Triennial Plan and wait for offers from railroads interested in taking over the assets before they can abandon it and start removing the tracks...
 
If I sound obsessed with trip time.... well, I am. I'm very concerned that there are marketability thresholds - if trip times do not improve significantly over auto timings, and again if trip times do not approximate office to office air travel times. I sure hope VIA has the same obsession. "It's only a few minutes more" has been the common factor in too many service downgradings in VIA's history.

I would be a lot happier if the business case was framed as "We need this trip time to be optimally marketable, and here's what it will take to get there" rather than "prove we need to aim higher". A $5B HFR might be a waste, but a $6B HFR might be a huge success. Let's not do this on the cheap.

You put it well. Been trying to express the same idea. Albeit in a less articulate fashion.

I think VIA has to balance turning two knobs: travel time and fares.

There should be a target of close enough in Toronto-Ottawa to negate the justification to spend on air fare. Downtown to downtown is a little less than 3 hrs with air on that corridor. If the train made that same trip in 4 hrs (including LRT ride into downtown Ottawa), so about 3.5 hrs on the train, would see enough business travel go to rail that VIA would have a business case.

On the other hand, with Ottawa-Montreal, Quebec City-Montreal and Toronto-Montreal, they can't beat air, but they should be beating anything by road and doing it at a cost that truly ensures no need to take the car for all but multi-person trips. I would argue that VIA is really pushing it with 1.5 hrs for Ottawa-Montreal, 2 hrs for Montreal-Quebec and 4:45 for Montreal-Toronto. At those travel times, fares need to be dirt cheap to really get bums in seats. Optimally, I would think they need to get those down by 10-15% at least.
 
Just a quick update about the HFR situation. It seems that Quaker Oats is done with rail service. They haven't recieved a rail car for months. This is due to the track condition. Supposedly, it is temporary, but given what happened to other industries in Peterborough, notably United Canadian Malting, it seems likely that rail service won't actually return. This means that there are no rail customers left in Peterborough. This also means that the only two customers left on the line are IKO and Covia. Unfortunately, Covia just filed for bankruptcy.

Read here: https://www.worldoil.com/news/2020/...files-bankruptcy-plans-to-continue-operations

This year is when the Nephton mine closes. Who knows how long the Blue Mountain mine will last? This line is on the ropes. If VIA wants it, they better act fast.

Is it a good or bad thing? For Via, the fact that freight will not need to be be scheduled into their operations is a good thing. For the local communities, the potential loss of jobs can be huge.
Does anyone know if any freight traffic exists on any of Via owned ROW?
 
On the other hand, with Ottawa-Montreal, Quebec City-Montreal and Toronto-Montreal, they can't beat air, but they should be beating anything by road and doing it at a cost that truly ensures no need to take the car for all but multi-person trips. I would argue that VIA is really pushing it with 1.5 hrs for Ottawa-Montreal, 2 hrs for Montreal-Quebec and 4:45 for Montreal-Toronto. At those travel times, fares need to be dirt cheap to really get bums in seats. Optimally, I would think they need to get those down by 10-15% at least.
How would 1:30 for OTTW-MTRL or 2:00 for MTRL-QBEC (which by the way would be an extremely ambitious average speed of 140 km/h) not be competitive against the airplane?
 
Just a quick update about the HFR situation. It seems that Quaker Oats is done with rail service. They haven't recieved a rail car for months. This is due to the track condition. Supposedly, it is temporary, but given what happened to other industries in Peterborough, notably United Canadian Malting, it seems likely that rail service won't actually return. This means that there are no rail customers left in Peterborough. This also means that the only two customers left on the line are IKO and Covia. Unfortunately, Covia just filed for bankruptcy.

Read here: https://www.worldoil.com/news/2020/...files-bankruptcy-plans-to-continue-operations

This year is when the Nephton mine closes. Who knows how long the Blue Mountain mine will last? This line is on the ropes. If VIA wants it, they better act fast.

There has been some recent maintenance on the line including tie replacement. Example here.

Isn't there a transload customer in the Havelock Yard? See the description here:

Also, it looks like this industry still has an active siding.

1594219726998.png
 
How would 1:30 for OTTW-MTRL or 2:00 for MTRL-QBEC (which by the way would be an extremely ambitious average speed of 140 km/h) not be competitive against the airplane?

They would be competitive against the airplane. But the main competition on those sectors is driving I would think. Depending on origin and destination in each city, it's faster by car. Those trips need about 15 mins taken off. And costs kept reasonable (<$15 in economy one way). I'm thinking about total trip time and cost including station access.
 
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They would be competitive against the airplane. But the main competition on those sectors is driving I would think. Depending on origin and destination in each city, it's faster by car. Those trips need about 15 mins taken off. And costs kept reasonable (<$15 in economy one way). I'm thinking about total trip time and cost including station access.

All modes compete with each other. Where they really compete is the total trip time door to door. That is why seeing Via try to compete better with flying and driving is a good thing.
 
Just a quick update about the HFR situation. It seems that Quaker Oats is done with rail service. They haven't recieved a rail car for months. This is due to the track condition. Supposedly, it is temporary, but given what happened to other industries in Peterborough, notably United Canadian Malting, it seems likely that rail service won't actually return. This means that there are no rail customers left in Peterborough. This also means that the only two customers left on the line are IKO and Covia. Unfortunately, Covia just filed for bankruptcy.

Read here: https://www.worldoil.com/news/2020/...files-bankruptcy-plans-to-continue-operations

This year is when the Nephton mine closes. Who knows how long the Blue Mountain mine will last? This line is on the ropes. If VIA wants it, they better act fast.

I sent this to a local Peterborough railfan. Here is their reply.

Covia was broke 2 years ago. Quaker needs repairs to the concrete. Cavan, IKO, SSAB, Covia Blue and Nepthon are all still customers. I'm being told by employees that it's likely the mines will just stay open as usual. Company will pay whatever and then keep going.

They also just spent a ton of money replacing thousands of ties, and rebuilding crossings THIS WEEK after they filed for bankruptcy. I'm being told they are gonna keep on going. Quaker I known for taking 6 month breaks from rail service. NEPTHON MINE IS NOT CLOSING. People aren't educated. And they forget the Blue mountain mine will eventually expand to handle combined operations between both mines. They will just process everything at the same facility.
 
I don't know specifically about Quaker Oats but it is not usual for mills to accept local supply via truck during grain harvest season which, for southern Ontario, is coming up.
 
I have been looking over some of the Montreal Central Station maps and don't seem to understand where the REM entrance will be. There seems to be an entry point in the main concourse, but also one at the far right side (east). Where do those eastern stairs lead?
 
I have been looking over some of the Montreal Central Station maps and don't seem to understand where the REM entrance will be. There seems to be an entry point in the main concourse, but also one at the far right side (east). Where do those eastern stairs lead?
Saint-Antoine Street West/Ouest, I believe...
 
All modes compete with each other. Where they really compete is the total trip time door to door. That is why seeing Via try to compete better with flying and driving is a good thing.

Kinda why I want to see trip times improve.

Also, competition is very different on shorter sectors. The flight traffic is substantially less O-D. There's a higher proportion of feeder traffic which is going to be harder to pull. So the gains have to come from drivers on these segments. And in that case the trip time comparison is transit-VIA-transit, usually from a larger chunk of the city on both ends.
 

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