TORONTO — A trainset of VIA Rail Canada’s new Siemens-built equipment made a circuit of corridor stations in Ontario stations April 13-14, 2022, testing track geometry and passenger loading and unloading.
Running as special train No. 649, the Charger locomotive and full set of Venture cars stopped at all station between Ottawa, Brockville, Ont., and Toronto. It then ran to VIA’s Toronto Maintenance Centre for a unique “emergency rescue test” coordinated by VIA and Ontario transit agency Metrolinx. GO Transit MP40PH-3C No. 654 was coupled to the trainset’s cab car, SIIX No. 2300, to test mechanical compatibility for potential emergency rescues. The train was also shoved around the east leg of the wye at the maintenance facility. While its use will not be required because of the push-pull configuration of the trainsets, this is the tightest-radius curve on the VIA network and provided a test of mechanical and electrical connections between the cars on tight curves.
Once done at the TMC, the train continued west via Brantford and London to Windsor and back, covering 550-plus miles in one day.
On April 14, VIA’s crew came on duty in London, Ont., and tested the Guelph subdivision, running on VIA’s slowest corridor track, with 30-mph speed limits and jointed rail, arriving in Toronto in time for the afternoon GO rush. The train was returning to Montreal late Thursday, completing a total journey of almost 1,000 miles.
The tour was not publicized in advance, but area photographers who learned of the move were out in force to see the Siemens equipment moving under its own power for the first time in Southern Ontario.
VIA Rail will continue to put the Siemens equipment through acceptance testing under all weather conditions before it can formally accept the equipment for service. A total of 32 trainsets, with a total cost of more than C$989 million, are expected to be delivered by 2024.