More passenger rail service cuts, information en temps réel

Bill Ackman and Hunter Harrsion are the new bosses
at Canadian Pacific Railway. Farmers, shippers and
employees (including management)  are sounding
the alarm. (Toronto Star photo)
News about TransLink sell-off, STM usagers, Minster should keep her nose out of CP railway strike, Keep the ONTC public, Aviation safety, Building rural transit et plus in this week's Transport Action Hotline.

Transport Action red alert, Via Rail cuts,  Winnipeg, May 29

Via Rail is expected to announce a series of foolish cuts at its Annual Public Meeting on May 29, 2012, at 13:00 local time at Winnipeg’s Union Station, 123 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 1A3. On May 17 Via Rail reported: "This forum provides an opportunity to learn more about VIA Rail Canada’s business, to be informed as to the latest financial results and speak directly with members of the Board of Directors and Senior Management Team of the corporation. Members of the public are invited to attend. Please register in advance by e-mail at or by phone at 514 871-6613. You may also participate via a live webcast available on VIA’s website."

May 28 note:

- the Via Rail cuts report is not based on inside information
- A read of the stories below can come to few other conclusions

Via Rail annoncera bientôt les réductions de service découlant du budget fédéral
Transport Action Canada: Hotline 1164, May 5, 2012

«Via Rail annoncera d'ici un mois les réductions de service qui découleront des compressions budgétaires récemment décrétées par le gouvernement conservateur. … Sans trop vouloir s'avancer sur les services qui écoperont, le dirigeant a indiqué que ceux pour lesquels la demande est plus faible étaient plus vulnérables. Des employés pourraient aussi perdre leurs postes» Sylvain Larocque a rapporté pour La Presse Canadienne le 2 mai.

Federal budget, Transport Canada hit hard
Transport Action Canada: Hotline 1159, April 2, 2012

"The transport portfolio was one of the hardest hit in the (budget) downsizing effort. In total, cuts in federal transportation-related activities will amount to $153 million, or 10.7 per cent of total annual spending, by 2014-15. Among the victims was Transport Canada, whose annual budget will be decreased by $62 million. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority will see its annual expenditures shrink by $60 million. At Via Rail, annual expenditures will be cut by $19.6 million. The savings at Via will come thanks to reduced maintenance costs and energy consumption, the government said," Andy Riga wrote for the Montreal Gazette on March 30.

"At the same time, Ottawa is giving Via Rail $105 million in 2012-13 to help the national passenger rail service improve tracks and signalling systems, repair stations and invest in new technologies," the Gazette reported.

VIA Rail devra se serrer la ceinture

« D'un côté, VIA Rail devra se serrer la ceinture. D'un autre, elle recevra 105 millions cette année pour divers projets d'investissements visant à accroître la sûreté et l'efficacité de ses activités. VIA Rail verra son budget diminuer de 6,5 millions cette année, de 15,1 millions l'année prochaine et de 19,6 millions annuellement par la suite. Le budget de VIA Rail a atteint 306,5 millions l'année dernière: on parle donc d'une compression à terme de 6,4%. » Marie Tison a écrit pour la Presse le 30 Mars.

STM, Améliorer la communication, Transport 2000 Québec 

"Le nombre d’arrêts de service dans le métro de Montréal a augmenté de façon marquée au cours des quatre premiers mois de 2012, par rapport à la même période l’an dernier. Le nombre d’incidents dus à des bris matériels est demeuré à peu près stable. Ce sont plutôt les usagers qui – souvent de façon involontaire – provoquent de plus en plus d’interruptions, explique Dominique Lemay, directeur principal du métro à la Société des Transports de Montréal (STM)," Émilie Clavel a écrit pour Métro le 24 mai 2012. 

Si les interruptions irritent les usagers, c’est surtout le manque de communication qui pose problème, pour Transport 2000 Québec, une association d’usagers du transport en commun. «Parfois, on ne sait pas qu’il y a interruption de service avant d’être à bord du métro, souligne le directeur général de l’association, Normand Parisien. Les usagers ont besoin d’information en temps réel.» Métro a rapporté.

Blue Sky Workshop on the Future of VIA Rail, May 26
Since its inception as a Crown corporation in 1977, VIA Rail Canada  has lived a fragile life, buffeted by politics, bureaucracy, hostile competitors and unwelcoming host railways. 

Today, armed with nearly $1 billion in fresh capital funding from the current government, it would appear that VIA is finally poised for a new era of growth and stability. But those same antagonistic forces that have conspired against our national passenger system are gathering steam in their crusade to stop VIA dead in its tracks.

Transport Action members are developing a blueprint for a best case plan for Via Rail.
Blue Sky Workshop on the Future of VIA Rail 
Saturday, May 26, 2012  
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Location: Room 484, Jorgenson Hall, 
Ryerson University, 300 Victoria Street, Toronto

Via Rail blue sky, The view from Vancouver Island

Jack Peake writes: "I have worked my butt off to try and save and revitalize the E&N Railway here on Van. Island. At the moment things are not going to well as the railway is mostly shut down save for a slow moving freight service a couple of times a week. I am very interested in the VIA train service having used it across Canada 3 times lately. I believe there are numerous opportunities to make this a truly inter City passenger service not just to try and get tourists on the train. 

Peake's blue sky includes: Upgraded equipment, but keep the old and use it for other services. Add trains and used both national rail lines. The price needs to come down more in line with Amtrak which is good and getting better all the time. We used Amtrak while in Arizona for the winter. Great rates, great service. Canada needs to take lessons from the rest of the world when it comes to train service. Use Vision and imagination in the Blue Sky Workshop on the Future of VIA Rail, May 26

TransLink property sell-off plan startles region’s mayors

"Facing plummeting gas-tax revenues and other financial woes, TransLink says it will likely be forced to sell off some of its property holdings just to cover operating costs over the next three years.  TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis startled mayors at their monthly meeting Tuesday,"  Frances Bula and Andrea Woo reported for the Globe and Mail on May 22, 2012.

Railway service standards and Hunter Harrison

"With the dust still settling from last week's housecleaning at the top of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Liberal MP Ralph Goodale has renewed his call for the federal government to introduce legislation giving shippers - including Saskatchewan farmers and potash mining firms - more clout in dealing with the country's two big railways," Will Chabun reported for Leader-Post on May 23, 2012.

"Goodale said Tuesday he's particularly worried what would happen if former CNR president Hunter Harrison becomes the new boss of the CPR. When Harrison was running the CNR between 2003 and 2009, "his approach to put customer satisfaction at the absolute bottom of his priority list so the company's financial bottom line improved, but there was huge angst among the shipper community about the attitude and approach," said Goodale, Liberal MP for the Regina-area riding of Wascana. "There was no sense of service to the customer at all," the Leader-Post reported.

Meanwhile CP supervisors are signing IBEW union cards.

Why Labour Minister should keep her nose out of CP railway strike

"It didn't take long for Canada's labour minister to start threatening to end the hours-old strike against Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. … It's true that the strike is being felt by industry across the country amid the halt to freight traffic, and companies are scrambling to put alternate plans into action. It's also true that this is a bad time for companies to be hit," Michael Babad wrote for the Globe and Mail on May. 23.

"But what's also true is that the best result will come from the collective bargaining process. For the government to take that away is to remove any attempt at a competitive and fair labour agreement, on both sides of the bargaining table. Canada has a good collective bargaining regime, one that does not envisage government interference," the Globe and Mail's business news editor wrote.

Le FESTIRAIL 2012 de Charny est en plein essor

Il aura lieu au Parc de la Rivière pour les activités familiales et au Centre communautaire Paul-Bouillé pour les activités ferroviaires. Le FESTIRAIL se tiendra cette année les samedi 25 et dimanche 26 août 2012.

Hot box detector failure, Oakville 

This week the Transportation Safety Board of Canada reported: "On 06 February 2011 at approximately 0930, eastward VIA Rail Inc. (VIA) passenger train 70, with 1 locomotive, 7 coaches, 106 passengers and 5 crew, passed over a wayside hot box detector at Mile 33.00 on the Canadian National Oakville Subdivision with no alarms noted. The train continued for a scheduled stop in Oakville, Ontario (Mile 21.40). While stopped at the Oakville station, the stationmaster observed smoke originating from the R4 axle on the fourth coach (VIA 4009). Subsequent examination determined that the R4 axle journal roller bearing was severely overheated and had failed. The coach was set out before the train was allowed to proceed.

Gov'ts support engineering study for Peterborough Commuter Rail Link

On May 22 the governments of Canada and Ontario announced funding to support a preliminary engineering study on a commuter rail link between Peterborough and Toronto. The study will include preliminary engineering design work and will determine the upgrades needed to existing railway track to operate a commuter rail service between Peterborough and Union Station in Toronto. The federal and provincial governments are each contributing 50 per cent of the cost of the study.

What is the Island Corridor Foundation's plan for the $15 million?

On May 16 the E&N Railway Action Group, a watchdog organization of railway professionals and advocates, calls upon the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) to reveal its complete plans for the $15 million in federal-provincial funds that it announced in April.,“Without transparency, it will be impossible to prevent the money from being misspent," says Jack Peake, the Action Group spokesman, and a founder of the ICF.  “The ICF has said the $15 million will replace 104,000 ties along the length of the entire railway between Victoria and Courtenay, as well as a limited amount of other track components, for 10 years of renewed railway operation.  In our judgment, this will spread the money too thin to bring rail service back to Vancouver Island.”

The 2012 FESTIRAIL of Charny

FESTIRAIL will be held at the Parc de la Rivière for family activities and to the Centre communautaire Paul-Bouillé for the railway activities. The FESTIRAIL will be held this year on Saturday August 25 and Sunday 26th, 2012. You are invited to participate and to hold a kiosk, ask us for more information... NOTE: Charny has now two new Lodges for those interested in passing a few nights.

Building rural transit, Ontario counties asked get on the bus

"A new report by the United Way of Perth-Huron's Social Research and Planning Council calls for a public transportation system between Stratford and Goderich on Hwy. 8 and recommends the two county governments help pay for the system through their provincial gas tax rebates. The 34-page report entitled "The Road Ahead" cites a need for improved transportation services in Perth and Huron counties," Donal O'Connor write for the Goderich Signal Star on May 8.

Keep the ONTC public, Northern mayors stonewalled 

"A delegation of Northeastern mayors were in Toronto Tuesday seeking concrete details about the provincial government’s plan to divest the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. They came away from the meeting knowing about as much as they did going in," Ron Grech reported for QMI Agency on May, 23.

Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains, “Derailed – The National Dream”

Northern municipalities affected by the Province‘s divesture of the ONTC are continuing to escalate the issue. Linda Savory-Gordon, a professor at Algoma University and a member of the CAPT group said, “I can’t believe how this government has gone about this process and how they are so quick to divest of something so critical to Northern Ontario as the ONTC, with no plan, and no involvement of northerners.”

On May 30th 2012, northern municipalities along with Cochrane Mayor and Council, and Sault Ste Marie are the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains (CAPT) will host the screening of Derailed: The National Dream, produced by documentary film maker Dan Nystedt. The film first screened on Sunday, March 4,2012 at the Grand Theatre, in Sault Ste. Marie as part of the Shadows of the Mind Film Festival. De-Railed: The National Dream, is a documentary examining the crumbling state of the Canadian railway system. Having lost more than 10,000 kilometres of track since 1990, why has Canada allowed its “ribbon-of-rail” to become so tattered?

Resolute First Air plane crash lawsuits filed in Iqaluit
Two lawsuits allege the crash that killed 12 was caused by negligence
CBC News Posted: May 17, 2012

Two polluted airports, Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate
Federal government helps Williams Lake, no help for Hamilton
Hamilton Spectator, Matthew Van Dongen, May 16 2012 

How safe are private aircraft?
Mid-air collision and 2 other crashes in Canada in a week
CBC News, May 14

Transport Action Canada

Hotline 1167, May 25, 2012
(formerly Transport 2000 / anciennement Transport 2000 Canada)
(613) 594-3290


May 26, Toronto, Transport Action, Blue Sky Workshop on the Future of VIA Rail, 

May 31, Toronto, Mobility pricing conference, Metropolitan Hotel

June 2, Toronto, Cycle and sole, 3pm  Rally at Queen's Park for pedestrian and cycling safety.

Aug. 25-26, Charny, FESTIRAIL, TRAQ