News & Reviews News Wire VIA Rail Canada to begin second ‘Ocean’ round trip on Dec. 8

VIA Rail Canada to begin second ‘Ocean’ round trip on Dec. 8

By Trains Staff | November 9, 2021

| Last updated on April 4, 2024

Third round trip set to return in June 2022

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Stainless steel dome-observation on passenger train
VIA’s eastbound Ocean heads towards Halifax, near Rogersville, New Brunswick, in February 2014. Bob Johnston

MONTREAL — VIA Rail Canada will add a second weekly round trip of its Montreal-Halifax train, the Ocean, beginning Dec. 8.

“The return of this second frequency of the Ocean is good news for our passengers who now have more travel options in time for the holiday season,” Cynthia Garneau, VIA president and CEO, said in a press release. “We are excited to be welcoming our passengers and employees back on board, and we could not be happier to be able to finally proceed with this next phase of our gradual return to service in this region.”

VIA says it has confirmed all details of the service with infrastructure owner Canadian National. Eastbound trains will depart Montreal on Wednesdays and Sundays, with the westbound return trip departing Halifax on Sundays and Wednesdays. VIA’s website says a third weekly round trip will be added in June 2022.

Service on the route resumed Aug. 11, after having been suspended since March 2020 [see “VIA’s Ocean to resume once-weekly round trips,” Trains News Wire, July 12, 2020].

7 thoughts on “VIA Rail Canada to begin second ‘Ocean’ round trip on Dec. 8

  1. if the Ocean can’t be turned in Halifax anymore. Why don’t they use a Park car at each end? While VIA is short on Skyline cars there should be enough Parks available.
    I don’t know which type of baggage cars they use on that train? But European build ones typically have a side corridor for passengers to walk through.

  2. Of course this second weekly departure improves the OCEAN situation–but it remains inadequate. The obviously unserved market is weekend riders and historically that was central to ridership on the line. There needs to be a Friday train from each terminal and ideally a Monday return trip from Halifax. For westbound (to Montreal) riders Sunday at least allows one night in Quebec or Montreal for Maritime riders. But truthfully this route is sad evidence of the incompetency of VIA management. Running six days per week (as it did for decades) the OCEAN actually required less subsidy than it now does operating in theory three times per week (at least before COVID and supposedly again from June, 2022). VIA cut back OCEAN frequencies tied to the promise of the restoration of regional trains (supposedly RDCs) from Moncton respectively to Halifax and Campbelton, but nearly a decade later there is clearly no genuine intention to ever implement this offer. Instead VIA remained passive when it lost access to the loop used to turn the OCEAN’s equipment in Halifax–which is why there is now no-longer “Park” dome car on the train–despite the photo used in this piece. VIA could use one of its “Skyline Dome” cars, which don’t have to be on the end of the train–but of course has not done so. Vermont’s AllEarth Rail managed to outbid VIA for the (ironically former VIA) RDCs made surplus on Trinity Rail Express–but those cars sit idle in Barre, VT because there is no will in Vermont to run the regional service AllEarth envisioned. VIA could (and should) approach AllEarth about a lease (or outright purchase) of several cars–but VIA in truth has no RDC car shortage. It already owns not only the three RDCs used on the isolated Sudbury-White River service, but has more cars that are stored (formerly used on Vancouver Island). And the Siemans cars on-order for the Ontario/Quebec Corridor, would be perfect for such a regional operation where their lack of leg-rest seats would not matter.

    1. I still want those RDCs to extend service from Fitchburg to North Adams. Better still, to Williamstown.

    2. I totally agree that any revived service thru the Hoosic Tunnel should continue to Willamstown, with a built in college and museum clientele and a much stronger economic base than North Adams, which of course would still be a stop enroute to Williamstown.

  3. The twice weekly frequency of The Ocean’ is worse than the triweekly schedule of ‘The Sunset Limited’.
    By the way, ‘The Ocean’ is due for new equipment from Siemens and return to its former glory possessed under CN in the 1960s.

    1. Sadly none of the Sieman’s trainsets being delivered to VIA are designed for use on the OCEAN. The British-built Renaissance cars that are in use are more likely to be replaced by the 1955 (but still superb) Budd sets.

      Sieman’s does have overnight sleeper (and diner) service car designs to be used on Austria’s extensive Night Jet network. VIA certainly could (and should) order such cars for the OCEAN and other long-distance routes. But as of today no such order exists.

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