The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

VIA Rail reliability

A new report finds that between January and March, 47% of VIA passenger trains arrived late. In March, over half of all trains were late; while on the popular Toronto-Ottawa route, nearly three quarter of trains arrived one or more hours late.

During the same period of time, 0% of VIA passenger trains derailed or otherwise were involved in accidents.

Almost every community in the Windsor-Toronto-Ottawa/Montréal rail corridor had record or second-to-record winter snowfall, virtually all of which fell between January and March. Yet despite this weather hammer, every single one of the VIA passenger trains which left a station during this period of time did arrive safely -- and despite Ottawa's over four metres of snow and new snowstorms every four days, a quarter of all March trains still managed to arrive on time.

It is true enough that from a high point of popularity in the 1960s and 70s, Canadian train services have been suffering from falling government support and general neglect ever since. New locomotives are desperately needed, infrastructure needs to be overhauled. For now, VIA Rail is refurbishing the locomotives it does have; and for the first time in far too long, this summer will see major track repair initiatives by CNR. (VIA Rail has released revised schedules [effective June 1] to compensate.)

Trains are still among our most energy-efficient forms of transportation. Let's appreciate what we have, and build on it to make it even better.

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