Extra trains for the Holidays once again

VIA Ocean departs Halifax in the snow
One of the extra trains during the 2015-16 holiday season departs Halifax with a stainless steel consist in tow.

The Maritimes will be seeing extra passenger trains for the Christmas holiday season once again this year. It might seem early to be thinking about Christmas, but VIA is clearly trying to make sure that people have extra options when they look to book their Christmas travel, which many will do well in advance.

Similar to last year, there will be 3 extra trains in each direction, plus rescheduled trains from both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (which fall on Sundays this year, so the trains that would run those days are cancelled), meaning that there will be a total of 5 trains each way running on unusual days of the week. 

Also in keeping with past years, a set of HEP (Budd-built stainless steel) equipment will be running on 3 departures in each direction. This equipment should include a Skyline dome car, a full dining car, and sleeping cars with upper and lower berths, roomettes, and double and triple bedrooms. 

The dates of operation from Dec. 20th to January 5th are listed below. Unusual dates of operation are in bold. Again, three of those are added departures, and two are rescheduled dates. The type of equipment (Renaissance of HEP) is also indicated for each trip.
#14 Montreal-Halifax
Wednesday, Dec. 20  Ren
Thursday, Dec. 21  HEP
Friday, Dec. 22  Ren
Saturday, Dec. 23 Ren
Tuesday, Dec. 26 HEP
Wednesday, Dec. 27 Ren
Friday, Dec. 29 Ren
Saturday, Dec. 30 HEP
Monday, Jan. 1 Ren
Wednesday, Jan. 3 Ren
Friday, Jan. 5 Ren
#15 Halifax-Montreal
Wednesday, Dec. 20  Ren
Friday, Dec. 22  Ren
Saturday, Dec. 23 HEP
Tuesday, Dec. 26 Ren
Wednesday, Dec. 27 Ren
Thursday, Dec. 28 HEP
Friday, Dec. 29 Ren
Tuesday, Jan. 2 Ren
Wednesday, Jan. 3 Ren
Thursday, Jan. 4 HEP
Friday, Jan. 5 Ren
These extra trains will provide nearly daily service during that period, and will hopefully make it easier for more people to use the train for their holiday travels.

VIA reports positive holiday ridership

The rear end of two stainless-steel trains, with dome-observation cars, at a station platform
A pair of Ocean train sets in Halifax just before Christmas. Extra departures for the holidays meant this sight was once again common for a couple weeks. (Photo – Tim Hayman)

 

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.

Given VIA’s decision to run extra trains on the Ocean over the holidays (3 extra trips in each direction over a 2 week Continue reading “VIA reports positive holiday ridership”

Extra trains for Christmas

A shiny VIA train in the snow under sunny skies
VIA Rail Train 15, The Ocean, departs Halifax with a stainless steel HEP consist in tow at the end of the 2015-16 Christmas season. (Photo – Tim Hayman)

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”