marquisofmississauga wrote:For the past several years my wife and I have taken a transcontinental trip on the Canadian in November. At that time, other than the first few days of the month, it is rare for there to be more than the one Skyline car and a second dining car would only be run if there are more than six or seven sleepers. About four years ago I was on one consist in mid-November that had six sleepers (due to a large British tour) and an extra Skyline car for Silver & Blue was operated ahead of the diner. But on most of my trips - and observations at Toronto Union - the average November consist is baggage, coach, Skyline, diner, three Manor sleepers and Park car. As others have noted, VIA will add a sleeper upon inducement. They may add or drop cars in Jasper but I have seen that only once in my last dozen trips through the mountains.I've been afraid of the fact that the "new" four night scheduled Canadian may not be as scenic from Winnipeg to Toronto. The four night schedule definitely must add extra labor costs in the winter with smaller consists as the norm - now more than ever before. I just wonder how this four-night schedule may have affected patronage in general, aside from those on tours. Surprisingly, all my winter trips, and I've done practically one or two a year for the past several yers, we've added or subtracted cars in Jasper. Course this has typically been on the eastbound runs I've taken, leaving Jasper on a Monday. I found that a lot of folks from Vancouver took the "Friday evening train up to Jasper for an extended weekend vacation in Jasper" - returning to work upon arrival into Vancouver on Tuesday. I always found the westbound to be on-time during the winter or off-period for the most part when on the old schedule. Course on-time performance of the Canadian seemed to go down hill fast after the last winter I was onboard, or it was just pure luck to arrive into Vancouver early to on-time.
By November 22 (I was on the Canadian last year on that date) it will be dark most of the time. Passengers will have breakfast and dinner in darkness, although there may be a glimmer of light at the last call for breakfast. With the return to the four-night schedule, the only two really scenic parts of the Winnipeg-Toronto portion are traversed overnight, although there is a chance of seeing some of Muskoka coming into Toronto as the train is often late. I have met friends three times off the Canadian this past winter and spring and it was between five and eight and a half hours late on those days. But this summer has seen many on-time arrivals in Toronto. When the Canadian was previously on the four-night schedule I rode it many times on the Toronto-Winnipeg portion and I doubt if I ever want to do it again. Sorry VIA, but I will be flying from Toronto to Winnipeg and/or return. I've already done that this spring on a Vancouver-Winnipeg trip on which we arrived in Winnipeg just under two hours early.
In the off-season, the Activity-Coordinator's position has been merged with the Park car attendant. The only exception would be if there was an extra Skyline car in the consist. VIA has been trying to trim labour costs and this was seen as one way to do it according to the SM. They really can't cut much more. There are two sleeping car attendants for the three Manor sleepers and the diner is run by just four people. On the subject of souvenirs, there were plenty of goods for sale on my trips (they even advertised Christmas shopping is available on November and December trips) but given what someone was told by VIA maybe this has been eliminated now that the Activities crew-member has to look after the Park car.