'Canadian' trip facing epic delays

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TORONTO — VIA Rail Canada’s Canadian is notorious for delays. But a trip this week from Toronto to Vancouver is proving to be spectacularly late, even by VIA standards.

The CBC reports that as of Thursday afternoon, the westbound Canadian was some 45 hours behind schedule, after leaving Toronto 26 hours late. While VIA has apologized to the passengers,  it also said it will not be offering any compensation for those whose plans are disrupted by the schedule. Out-of-town passengers were provided hotel rooms and meals for the day-long delay in departure.

"We understand the impact this major delay has on our customers and we apologize for the inconvenience they cause," said spokesperson Mylène Bélanger, in an emailed statement to the CBC. She also noted, “These delays are beyond our control.”

At the time of VIA’s statement on Thursday afternoon, the CBC said, the train was near Valemount, British Columbia. It should have been there on Tuesday, and was due into Vancouver at 9:42 a.m. Wednesday.

The delays occur because, unlike Amtrak, VIA has no statutory right of preference over freight trains, meaning it can and often is delayed when Canadian National freight trains are given priority. It is not a new problem; News Wire reported last year on a Canadian that arrived more than 24 hours late. [“’Canadian’ passengers suffer timekeeping woes this summer,” News Wire, Aug. 10, 2017.]


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