VIA yard ops?

I’ve thought about this question before and between swimming events this morning I’m wondering about it again.

At VIA’s larger stations they have dedicated yard power. In Montreal it’s their sw1000’s and until last year it was the last F-unit in mainline service, VIA’s #6400 in Vancouver. When Halifax had a maintenance they used the power from whatever train came in or borrowed something from CN. I don’t know what they use on Toronto but they must have something.

Has anyone ever documented the typical train operations in major Canadian coach yards like these? Do VIA consists change much between trains and how much operational interest could that generate on a model railway? I remember some articles in Trains and Model Railroader magazine describing activities in similar terminals.

I think, when I get back home, I’ll start mapping out some typical movements and their consist changes. Eric Gagnon’s superb book will be a tremendous for this work.

Stay tuned.



  1. My experience with the Canadian and the Hudson Bay especially is that they do not change very much. The Hudson Bay can run with exactly the same consist two or three times in a row, and even then only a car or two gets switched out at a time. The Canadian is much the same.

    The engines themselves change frequently on the Canadian. There are several engines assigned to Winnipeg for the Hudson Bay, so it is quite common to see the same engines on the Hudson Bay over and over.

    You can use my sighting database to compare consists as well as Eric’s excellent book.

    To search for VIA 693:

    To search for VIA 1:

  2. Chris, I would say that early in my railfanning era there was definitely a role for switchers in VIA passenger operations. Locomotives were locomotives and cars were cars. Locomotives went to the roundhouse. Cars went to the coach yard.

    Once the LRC came online, the VIA maintenance centres were specifically built to handle entire consists/trainsets. Trainsets travelled from stations to the maintenance centres. Having said that, sometimes they were coupled together with each other, other locomotives, or single cars – some variation.

    As Steve has noted, this pattern has pervaded VIA, with routes using trainsets. Switchers may be used to remove bad order cars, re-position cars to other tracks at the maintenance centres etc. As Jason Shron has mentioned, at Toronto a fleet of S-13’s were kept busy assembling/disassembling consist at Spadina, and variations of this happened elsewhere. A steam generator-equipped GMD-1 was used during the pre-HEP era to switch passenger cars and consists.

    In fact, you might be interested in the car cycles of the Canadian starting November 1981 when it was running on the Kingston Sub, comparing the westbound consist with the eastbound one returning a few days later, as one example.


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