Author: David Thomas

Station locations and the potential Chicago-Detroit-Toronto routing (yellow) are illustrative. Light blue lines denote proposed new corridors; dark blue lines denote existing Amtrak service. (Amtrak Map)

Amtrak-VIA Rail May Return to Detroit River Tunnel

Canada’s VIA Rail confirmed Nov. 14 that it is engaged with Amtrak and other rail operators in discussions aimed at extending Amtrak’s existing Chicago-Detroit Wolverine service to Toronto’s downtown Union Station. Amtrak

The Canadian at Jasper. VIA Rail photo

Canada to Create Separate Railway for Corridor HFR (Updated November 11)

Transport Canada confirmed Oct. 31 that state corporation VIA Rail Canada has been shunted aside from its own project to construct and operate an electrified “High Frequency Rail” (HFR) service along the Corridor linking Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto—the only profitable route VIA currently covers.

Alstom is supplying REM with not only 212 vehicles (106 trains) based its Metropolis platform, but also its automated and driverless Urbalis 400 communication-based train control (CBTC) system, an Alstom Iconis control center, as well as platform screen doors and depot equipment.

Standoff Amputates REM Eastern Leg

Public opposition to the notion of a railway on stilts slicing through downtown Montreal has killed a key portion of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) commuter network to be constructed, and directly operated for profit by the province’s public pension fund.

A proposed 150-kilometer Calgary-Banff passenger rail service could include seven stops—Calgary International Airport, downtown Calgary, Calgary Keith, Cochrane, Morley (Stoney Nakoda), Canmore and Banff—along a dedicated line built within the existing Canadian Pacific right of way.

Hydrogen Hinted for Calgary-Banff Passenger Scheme

Flush with cash, as its vast tar sands oil field suddenly lurched from environmental pariah to savior of western civilization, the Alberta government is looking more favorably upon a scheme to build a new, independent passenger railway, connecting Calgary International Airport (YYC) to the Rocky Mountain’s global tourist destination, Banff National Park.

In September 2021, VIA Rail Canada took delivery of the first of 32 new Siemens trainsets, and on Nov. 30, revealed it to the public; testing started in December. (Photograph Courtesy of VIA Rail Canada)

Canada Commits to Passenger Rail Revival With HFR Certainty

Canada’s public passenger railway VIA Rail has been pulled back from pandemic-induced oblivion by a federal government now framing the scheme for a dedicated, electrified right-of-way linking Quebec City and Toronto as a certainty for the first time since the project was first revealed in 2015.

“Ukrainian National Railways is ready to provide trains for the evacuation of civilians if the Red Cross negotiates safe passage and humanitarian corridor,” the railway reported on March 3.

Ukrainian National Railways Appeals for Red Cross Protection

Ukrainian National Railways appealed to the International Red Cross March 3 to demand that invading Russia guarantee the safety of evacuation trains for civilians trapped in cities under siege. Most urgent is the city of Volnovakha in the Russian-occupied Donbass region at the eastern edge of the country.

  • News

For VIA Rail, an Existential Crisis

Battered by COVID-19 lockdowns, fatigued rolling stock, fierce competition for station slots and the ubiquitous adoption of alternatives to physical travel, Canada’s publicly owned intercity passenger system is mired in an existential crisis over which it has little or no control. That is the depressing message in VIA Rail’s 2021-2025 Corporate Plan, dated Nov. 5 2021 but never officially announced by way of news release. It resides in an obscure page of the company’s website.