To support its new fleet of Siemens Venture trains for the Windsor to Quebec City corridor, VIA Rail is upgrading both the Toronto and Montreal Maintenance Centres. While preparatory work had already begun in the spring, the formal ground breaking ceremony for the project in Toronto was held on July 10, 2023.
The announcement was made by VIA Rail’s newly-appointed President and CEO, Mario Peloquin, together with federal Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra and Françoise Bertrand, chairperson of VIA Rail’s Board of Directors, with other members of the board in attendance. Minister Alghabra noted that between the new corridor fleet and other projects, plus work towards the High Frequency Rail project, the federal government has invested $3.5bn over the past eight years, and reiterated their long term commitment to supporting passenger rail in Canada.
The new building, which will replace part of the current structure at Mimico, will have two full length services tracks, including one that provides safe access to the roof of the train to access equipment like the air conditioning modules. There will also be a free-standing wheel lathe building, and upgrades to the fueling and stabling tracks.
The modernized facility will receive data from the Vehicle Equipment Measurement System (VEMS) on board the trains, which will allow VIA Rail to detect potential fault conditions early and undertake proactive maintenance swiftly, reducing fleet downtime.
Construction is being undertaken by Woodbridge-based contractor Buttcon Limited, with up to 475 people working on the project, and is expected to be complete by early 2026.
In addition to the maintenance centre modernization, and repairs to stations along the corridor, a lot of other work has been going on behind the scenes to prepare for the full commercial launch of the 32 trains purchased for VIA Rail’s Fleet Replacement Program with funding provided in the 2018 federal budget. This includes implementation and integration of various information technology systems as well as the transformation of maintenance processes, and of course training crews on the new equipment.
Before the ceremony, Minister Omar Alghabra and Mario Peloquin toured the expanded locomotive engineer training facility inside the Toronto Maintenance centre, with the minister taking the controls of “2233” for a run to Toronto Union Station in a recently-installed state-of-the-art simulator.
The first two of the new Venture trains, led by locomotives 2202 and 2203, are already in service on trips between Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City, and it is expected that some journeys to from Ottawa or Montreal Toronto will begin to be operated by Venture trains as more sets arrive and are accepted into service before the end of the year. Locomotive 2204 and its consist were on display at the the announcement, and completed a run to Windsor afterwards before returning to Montreal the following day. 2205 and 2206 have already been delivered and are also in acceptance testing, with subsequent sets expected to arrive every few weeks.
For details of the work and notice during construction, see: