Monday 18 December 2023

Wow, The Via Rail Train is Actually on Schedule

    A remarkable thing happened over the last few days; Via Rail, Canada’s passenger rail line had trains that actually ran on time, actually ahead of their scheduled arrival and departure times.  This was a extraordinary, and I think it happened because there has lately been a decline in freight trains.  

    Every year just before Christmas, my wife gets on the train to Jasper, Alberta to visit friends.  Normally the train is late in arriving at McBride, and late when it arrives in Jasper, sometimes by as long as an hour.  It is ridiculous, and certainly no way to run a railroad, and the results are predictable:   Very few passengers use it.  Going to Jasper, my wife said there were only three passengers on the train.

    The reason for Via’s variance from its schedule is simple:  In the contract that Via Rail has with CN Rail, who own the tracks, freight trains have priority over passenger trains, so every time one of the many freight trains is coming, the Via Rail passenger train, has to get onto one of the side track and wait until the freight train goes by.  These waits can happen more than once during a trip, and sometimes these waits occur within minutes, outside of the passenger train’s destination.

    In the United States, the law gives passenger trains priority over freight trains, and that is certainly something Canada needs to also establish.  Taylor Bachrach, who grew up in McBride, is now an MP in Canada’s Parliament, and is fighting for such a change in Canada.  We sure hope that his attempt is successful.  It would be so easy to travel by train, instead of fighting the mountainous snowy highways.

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