What we’re asking for:

We’re asking for the government to authorize up to $170 million in capital investment for the “Ocean” train service between Montreal and Halifax, to provide:

  • 27 new sleeping cars, including accessible sleeping cars (up to $108 million)
  • Three new dining cars (up to $12 million)
  • Restoration of sixty miles (100 km) of track in New Brunswick to 60 mph (100 km/h) standards ($50 million) 

The need for new equipment

The British-built Renaissance equipment used on the Montreal-Halifax “Ocean” service is life-expired and will have to be withdrawn before 2022. Some of the equipment has already been scrapped due to damage that is uneconomical to repair.

VIA Rail Canada therefore needs to replace all 27 sleeping cars, three dining cars, and six service cars that were originally assigned to the service.

If the accessible sleepers in the Renaissance fleet have to be withdrawn before replacements are purchased and delivered, the government would be placing VIA Rail, a Crown Corporation, at risk of breaching its legal obligations and court-ordered mandate to provide accessible service.

Heritage stainless steel cars that will be released from the Quebec-Windsor corridor in 2021 are being refurbished and are expected to replace the Renaissance economy coach cars, and the new equipment should be technically inter-operable and visually compatible with VIA Rail’s heritage stainless steel and “park” and “skyline” dome cars.

There are not enough spare heritage stainless steel sleeping cars in the VIA Rail fleet, and no accessible sleepers, to cover the shortfall in equipment. New, modern equipment that is purpose-built for Canadian weather conditions will also help the train serve more passengers more cost-effectively, by meeting demand for more affordable single berth or “couchette” style accommodation, family cabins, and double bedrooms to accommodate cruise ship connections.

The need for track repairs

Sixty miles of track on the Newcastle Subdivision between Rogersville and Bathurst has been downgraded to 30 mph (50 km/h) and needs to be restored to a good state of repair for 60 mph (100 km/h) operation to ensure timely and reliable service between Moncton and Campbellton.