Monday, July 25, 2016

VIA Rail Returning to CPR Tracks Along Lake Superior? Trains Columnist Says it Could Happen

Wouldn't it be great if this postcard view could happen again?

In the report, I cited an article in Railway Age which indicated that VIA Rail CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano was open to the idea.

I heard nothing more about it until today, when I read Don Phillips’ column in the July, 2016 issue of Trains.

According to Phillips, it has a chance of happening.

“A spectacular re-route of the Vancouver-Toronto Canadian may take place in the next year,” he wrote.

The reason? That stretch of CPR trackage along Lake Superior—the former and traditional route of the Canadianis under-utilized since the railway is now sending most of its trains through Chicago.

“With little hope for traffic growth,” said Phillips, "[Hunter] Harrison has approved switching the Canadian to the route.”

VIA Rail in Thunder Bay.

Added Phillips: "Harrison would likely gain a lot of revenue from VIA, which is the reason he approved the plan in the first place."

Such a move would not only take VIA Rail off the more heavily-used CN route to the north, it would also permit VIA Rail to serve more communities, including Thunder Bay—not to mention providing passengers which a much more scenic journey along the lake.

“The re-route is not yet a solid agreement,” said Phillips. “But it seems to have a better than even chance.”

I searched the Web for additional verification for the re-routing, but could only find an item from a Q & A at VIA Rail’s annual meeting in March, 2015.

In the meeting, the question was asked if VIA Rail would ever return to the Lake Superior route. The answer wasn’t no.

VIA Rail is currently considering this route,” came the reply. “Track availability and track state are some of the operational considerations that are being reviewed prior to making a final decision.”

It's been 26 years since VIA Rail ran that route along the lake. Maybe, just maybe, it will happen again. 

One can only hope!

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