Canada's grain transportation system is under review. A report with recommendations will be issued by December 31st. Some organizations that have been heard, want the Canadian Wheat Board to get out of the transportation business and only market the grain once it has reached ports on the Pacific coast. Others want to stop railways from abandoning short lines, or have them compensate road authorities for increased road wear and tear. Grain transport is one of the Canadians railways' biggest businesses. (August 10th, 1998)

Eight cars of a CN Rail freight derailed on Friday the 10th in Manitoba (west of Ontario), spilling toxic chemicals into a creek and forcing area residents to flee. The train's two crew members were not injured. (July 23rd, 1998)

RaiLink Ltd. has commenced operations on May 3, 1998 on 1,040 km of Canadian National's former rail network in Northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. RaiLink and its 26.7% owned affiliate, Quebec Railway Corporation, now operate eight regional railways covering 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) of track in Alberta, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. (May 27th, 1998)

Canadian National is selling 2 087 kilometres of track to short line operators this year. "CN's objective is to create a low-cost, growth-oriented feeder network of short line railways," said CN President and CEO Paul Tellier. (May 12th, 1998)

Canadian Via Rail will be less than 50% subsidized this year, if everything goes according to plan. Revenue is projected at C$204 million, and subsidies will be C$178 million. Subsidies have declined from C$389 million in 1992, and revenue has increased 31%. Despite this, CEO Terry Ivany is resigning. "I am very proud of the accomplishments VIA has made during my time as president," he said. Transport Minister David Collenette said that "VIA has now started to turn the corner with an increase in both ridership and revenues. I understand Mr. Ivany's desire to return to private industry where his skills will be of considerable benefit." Government-owned Via inherited the passenger services of the commercial railways in 1977. (May 16th, 1998)

Selling pollution credits may be a way of financing high-speed rail projects, says the director of the Montreal - Toronto high speed rail project. Pollution credits are used in the USA and considered a success. Instead of prohibiting pollution, government distributes credits to companies which may either use them up for pollution, reduce emissions and sell the credits to companies unable or unwilling to clean up their act. The number of distributed credits is continually reduced, raising the price over time. (May 19th, 1998)

Bombardier touts Montréal - Toronto TGV

13 kbA Montréal - Toronto HST would be a great idea, say some Québec companies. They want the provincial and federal governments to help finance a new line which would allow trains to attain 320 km/h. The Montreal-Toronto trip would take 2hrs21min, against four hours today. SNC-Lavalin wants to project the route, and Bombardier wants to build the trains. Bombardier owns the North American licence to build GEC Alsthom-designed TGVs. Media commentary has been lukewarm at best. Apart from The Globe and Mail, both the Toronto Star and the Montreal Gazette put the story on the front page.

1.5 kb Unfortunately, the federal government is looking to reduce, not increase, its involvement in the transport sector. It hopes that VIA will attract private finance. The three governments did a study in 1991 on Bombardier's HST proposal, and found it would be profitable in operation but would require a lot of government money to start up. Interestingly, Pearson airport in Toronto is planning to add not one but three new runways. (May 8th/9th)

Canadian National has formed a marketing alliance with Illinois Central, which it is buying, and Kansas City Southern, in order to take advantage of the growing north-south traffic flows resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement. Under terms of the marketing alliance, the companies will coordinate sales and marketing, operations, fleets, and information systems, but not for traffic movements where any two of them provide the only direct rail service. Interchange will happen in Jackson, Mississippi, and Springfield, Illinois (see map). In Jackson, there will be joint operation of yards, terminals, transload and intermodal facilities. This deal is not subject to Surface Transportation Board approval. CN's purchase of IC is, however. (May 4th, 1998)

The Canadian Wheat Board has dropped service complaint against CN which had been filed under the Canada Transportation Act. CN has payed compensation to the CWB. (May 4th, 1998)

Following the accident in Biggar, on the Canadian Prarie, a safety review of Via Rail Canada was commissioned by Via itself which looked into the safety routines of the whole company. The review recommended that training for equipment maintenance procedures be revisited. A national council on safety, health and environment will be formed. The council will bring together senior company officials, union representatives and safety personell four times per year. The Biggar accident occurred in September. One woman died and two engines and 10 of 19 cars left the track. (April 8th, 1998)

Paul Tellier, boss of Canadian National, has said in a speech that Illinois Central will retain its logo and identity after being bought by CN. The merger is subject to approval from the Surface Transportation Board. Mr Tellier also noted that north-south rail traffic is growing three times faster than east-west, but that CN would continue to invest in east-west lines. (March 22nd, 1998, more here)

Via Rail's planned expansion of passenger services between Montréal and Toronto must take into account freight services, Canadian National's boss Paul Tellier warns. All progress must be achieved within a commercial framework, he says. (March 21st/12th, 1998, more here and here)

Open access could solve capacity problems on Canada's railways, says Murray Fulton, an agricultural economics professor at the University of Saskatchewan, when speaking to the Canadian Wheat Board's annual Grain World conference. (March 9th, 1998, more here)

Illinois Central will be bought by Canadian National for US$2,3 billion. The merged railway will stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Standard and Poors has put CN on CreditWatch with negative implications. S&P says the deal could double CN's debt load. Ratings agency Moody's did the same. (February 11th, 1998)

Passengers rebelled against crew on a train that got stuck in the ice storm in Canada, on January 9th. The train trip from Ottawa to Toronto took 18 hours, instead of 3hr20min according to the time table. (January 22nd, 1998, more here)

Railways in Québec, the storm-stricken province in Canada, are doing well given the circumstances. (January 18th, 1998, more here)

Freezing rain in eastern Canada literally stopped trains in their tracks. Wednesday's overnight Montréal-Halifax Via train got as far as Drummondville, about 100 km from Montréal. 300 passengers took the bus back to Montréal. Downed trees and power lines blocked the track. Thursday's train in the other direction got to Moncton, New Brunswick, where passengers were stranded as highways and roads were closed. By the weekend, Via had closed services between Toronto and Québec City, its most heavily frequented corridor. More on the storm. (January 13th, 1998, sources: The Halifax Daily News, The Globe and Mail, and CBC News)

The Quebec Railway Corporation is taking over 485 km of former Canadian National rail line in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Québec. QRC owns four short-line railways and hauls about 50 000 cars annually. (January 8th, 1998, more here)

200 new cars for Canadian National's paper transports for the Stora paper mill in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, Canada, are on order. Each car carries 100 metric tonnes of heavy supercalendered paper, which requires special handling. (January 8th, 1998, more here)

Both major Canadian railways may end up serving a planned Union Carbide polyethylene plant in the province of Alberta. CN already has tracks to the site, and CP wants to build a 12 km long new line to it. (January 8th, 1998, more here)

60 cars derailed in Canadian Pacific's spiral tunnel in British Columbia on Tuesday, but no-one was hurt. Trains are rerouted via Canadian National's line further north, which delays them 24 hours. Service on CP's line will return to normal by the weekend. The cars were loaded with grain, which spilled, and is now attracting hungry animals. (December 4th, 1997, more here)

Canadian Pacific has ordered 161 diesel-electric engines from General Electric and General Motors Electro-Motive Division. They are powered by alternating current, as opposed to direct current, which is more common in North America. They have radially adjustable axles and three new engines will be able to pull trains that currently take five engines. (November 12th, 1997, source Altamont Press Newsline)

Several safety routines were overlooked in the VIA Rail train that derailed on the Canadian Prarie, killing one woman. The Transportation Safety Board says that passengers were not briefed on safety, safety kits weren't in their proper places, and windows did not function well as emergency exits. (October 15th, 1997, source: TRAINS Newsline)

Canadian Pacific has a new logo which may be seen on their homepage. The logo harks back to the company's history, which is intimately tied to Canada's history. No engines have been repainted, but they will look like this. (September 18th, 1997)

Via Rail has taken a number of steps to review its safety routines in the wake of the fatal crash on the Canadian prarie on September 3rd. Together with the manufacturer of the faulty locomotive, Via will go over the parts and assembly of axles as a way of ensuring maintenance practises are up to scratch. Via will select a company to review practices and management processes related to maintenance. (September 18th, 1997, more here)

A faulty axle indicator had been disconnected before the train crash in Canada on Wednesday, Via spokesman Paul Coté said, and confirmed that a broken axle caused the crash. The indicator consists of a wire to a device which detects overheating. It had been disconnected by a maintenance foreman in Kamloops, in the Rocky Mountains, after a conversation with a Vancouver maintenance shop. The axle then failed on the praries where the train runs faster. (September 6th, 1997, sources The Saskatchewan Star and The Halifax Daily News)

The Canadian, a tourist train, derailed on Wednesday night with 222 people on board and one American woman died. Two engines and 10 of 19 cars left the track. The accident happened on the prarie in Saskatchewan near the small town Biggar, whose hospital has 12 beds. If the accident had happened in the middle of nowhere, the consequences would have been worse. (September 4th, 1997, more here, with aerial view photo)

The Canadian Pacific Railway has opened an office in Beijing, China. Trade between China and North America is growing quickly and a lot of the goods arrive by boat in containers, and continue on by train. To cope with growing volumes, the CPR is building a C$40 million terminal in Vancouver and a $29 million one in Calgary. Both will be opened in 1999. The CPR already has offices in Japan and Korea. (August 21st, 1997, more here)

Canadian National took delivery of the first of 300 73-foot centre beam railcars designed for lumber transport, on Monday. (August 16th, 1997, more here)

OmniTrax will get C$34 million from Canadian provincial and federal governments for buying the Port of Churchill and 1100 km of Canadian National rail line in the province of Manitoba. In return, OmniTrax will invest C$50 million in the line. CN also gets C$16 million from the federal government for selling the line to Denver-based OmniTrax. Manitoba Member of Parliament Lloyd Axworthy is happy with the deal. "We could have been facing a major shutdown of the northern Manitoba rail system", he said. (August 14th, 1997, source: Canadian Press)

Last week's fire in the Toronto subway is proving to be expensive for the Toronto Transit Commission. Apart from C$500 000 worth of repairs, ventilation shafts and fans which proved to be inadequate will be doubled in number. To pay for the improvements, other planned investments -- such as elevators for the disabled and new cars -- will be put off. Also, the TTC accepts liability for the fire since the under-rail rubber pads that burned were stored in the wrong place. However, the source of ignition is not yet known. Some of the victims of the fire are still at the hospital. (August 13th, 1997, source: paper edition of The Globe and Mail)

3 kbA new LRT line in Toronto running along the waterfront and north along Spadina Avenue was opened at the end of July. This picture shows Spadina Avenue in Chinatown on July 23rd 1997, facing south with the CN Tower in the background. Photo: Erik Sandblom.

Canadian Pacific and its unions have replaced a pay system based on distance with one based on productivity. The system is unique in North America. The old system could pay workers more if trains were late. (July 21st, 1997)

The Canadian Pacific Railway is selling three prarie rail lines this summer, a 34-km (21-mile) line between Zinger and Major, a 46-km (28-mile) line between Astum and Smiley, and an 11-km (seven-mile) line between Pivot and Schuler. Bids must be made by August 15th or the lines will be offered for sale to governments. (June 21st, 1997)

Canadian Pacific and Canadian National are calling for tenders to maintain their locos and car brakes. Proposlas are welcome till mid-July. The railways' shops in Calgary and Winnipeg have excess capacity and will be closed. Only last February did CN publicly try to buy all of CPR's assets east of Winnipeg. There was no deal. (June 19th, 1997)

VIA has reached agreement with two shortlines in eastern Québec for running trains on these lines. Canadian National has sold the lines to other interests. This is probably the first time passenger services run on shortlines in Canada. (June 4th, 1997)

VIA will be continuing commuter services Kingston-Toronto, a service initiated in October 96 to test Danish Flexliners/IC3s. VIA says they liked the trains but stressed the need for lower operating costs. The Flexliners, built for Isreali Railways and loaned to Amtrak, will be returned to Amtrak on Monday, when tilting LRC equipment will replace them. VIA hopes the service will become profitable within a year and has received so much positive feedback that management will personally thank customers for their patronage. (May 3rd / April 17th, 1997)

Canadian National is starting a new intermodal service Boston-Halifax in collaboration with the New Brunswick Southern Railway and Guilford Rail System, CN announced Wednesday. The new train, called the "New England Clipper Service", cuts 24 hours off current timings and offers customers delivery the second morning after shipping. The train links the year-round ice-free Port of Halifax with industrial New England. (May 3rd, 1997)

VIA Rail Canada is offering 75% off for students until May 10th -- if the reservation is done by internet! VIA says they were first with reservations by internet when their service started in February. (April 25th, 1997)

The CPR is ridding itself of 1700 km of lines in the next three years, on top of the 7000 km previously announced. CPR guesses that all but 800km will be discontinued, but the Canada Transportation Act requires all of the track to be offered for sale to private companies or one of the three levels of government. This brings CPR's network to about three quarters of its former size. (April 23rd, 1997)

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