VIA Rail is reporting positive results from the 2016-2017 Christmas/New Year’s holiday season. VIA issued a press release on Jan. 12 claiming “record” results, though it’s admittedly not at all clear what their frame of reference is to declare these records (best numbers ever? In the past decade? In the past 5 years?)
Putting aside the hyperbole, the message is still a positive one. VIA has been promoting their trains as an ideal way to travel at that time of year (in particular), and more people seem to be getting that message.
Overall, VIA reported a 16% system wide increase in passenger totals when compared to last year, and a 20% increase in revenues. Increases in the Corridor were consistent with these numbers (16.8% increase in passengers), while both the Canadian (13.8%) and Ocean (2.7%) saw positive changes as well, and small positive trends (1.1%) were found on other regional services.
It might seem a bit early to be thinking about holiday travels, but the Christmas season is just over two months away, and VIA has added additional departures of the Ocean into their reservations system to give people in the Maritimes more travel options during that busy time. In keeping with what VIA has done in each of the last two years, there will be three additional round trips added into the schedule, along with a rescheduling of the Sunday departures that would have left on Christmas day.
Also good news for railfans and those in the travelling public who prefer the older Budd-built stainless steel “HEP” equipment, a full set of HEP cars will be added in to supplement the normal two Renaissance trainsets, facilitating the additional departures. Unlike last year, where equipment cycling meant that the HEP equipment only operated on two round trips, this year three trips each way will be HEP equipped.
The return of this equipment means that additional accommodation types will be available on those trains, including “Cabin for 1” (traditionally known as roomettes), upper and lower berths, and drawing rooms that can be booked for 3 travellers (“Cabin for 3”). If past years are to be the example, there will also be a full diner with more meal components cooked on board, and a Skyline car to provide take-out food service and a lounge and scenic dome for coach passengers. Continue reading “Extra trains for Christmas”→