Wednesday, September 29, 2021

VIA's New Siemens Trainsets Through Kingston

Thanks to an early morning OS from fellow VIAphile Matt Soknacki, I headed out to Collins Bay to catch VIA's new Siemens Charger SC42 locomotive, Venture cars and cab car heading east from Toronto as CN train No 698 on September 29, 2021. Based on the train's speedy transit east from California, I knew it would be spritely. If not for the trains I encountered as I waited, it probably would have been sooner. Arriving at Belleville shortly after 1130, I was predicting 1215. The deadhead movement was running at track speed, with few delays en route aside from refuelling or recrewing. I took up my position on Kingston's Railfan Walking Trail, planning to take video on my point & shoot with tripod, and stills on cellphone.

VIA No 63 Eng 905 went west (above) and CN No 518 (below) with ailing CN 4789 and GMTX 2284 carrying about 10 KIMCO scrap loads on the south track. With only one engine online and 4789 not loading, the KIMCO cars were all the Little Engine That Could could handle up the hill at Mi 178. Their lift at Ernestown was made off the main to eliminate the need to lift the whole train up and out. CN No 271 took it easy with 518 occupying the south track just ahead!
Five hours from Sarnia to Toronto, with a normal freight train transit time of 10 hours. Only 24 hours from Chicago. And we thought only hogs could clear That Toddlin' Town without changing trains! CN 8869 had taken over at Battle Creek, MI and departed Flint at 2315 on Tuesday night. Elmer Ogden's  granddaughter was called for the train out of Toronto at 0800. CN 5638-2204 led CN No 271 at 1238 coming up on CN No 518 lifting at Ernestown, taken from the south side of Bath Road (below). I could not scan the train - I had to keep my eyes on the wheels of cars on CN No 271, concerned that 698 might slip by. Worse than not getting a photo would have been not knowing the short train had sneaked by me, obscured by the all-encompassing auto racks! 
VIA No 40 was eastbound on the north track before 698 appeared on its block, also on the north track. (CN No 368 was following 698.) A break in road traffic and ETU squawks alerted me to 698's presence in time for me to cross Bath Road with tripod and all without being flattened.
Siemens Cinema! Watch my my Youtube video of 698.

The consist: locomotive 2200, Business Class/Classe Affaires cars 2600 and 2700, coaches 2800 and 2900, cab car 2300 (with no cab car cab-side numbers) and locomotive 2201.   Youtube video (33:33 mark) here. Business Class car 2700 is at right (below). Notice the Business Class cars have slightly darker grey paint. Good luck to railfans trying to find the car numbers on these CTC (Caved-in Tin Can) cars!

The train continued east to Montreal. Railfan reports: Whitby 0915, Darlington 0945, Clarke 1000, Belleville 1130, Kingston 1300, Prescott 1425, Cornwall 1525, Dorval 1630. Since the Business Class lounge at Ottawa station was just reopened, I can't imagine the new trainset will spend much time in Montreal before heading to Ottawa for a photo op with a plethora of politicos.

This preview of new VIA Rail Canada technology cast my mind back to the debut of the LRC! VIA quickly posted this photo sans CN 8869 at VIA's Montreal Maintenance Centre. Reporting marks SIIX 2200 and classification SC-42 showing. They've ordered 32 of the new consists. CN 8869 returned west on a more pedestrian assignment, CN No 369 about 24 hours later, accompanied by 'BC Rail' 4648 in the blue scheme.


I'll endeavour to keep a running total of sets delivered showing the date each set travelled through Kingston, locomotive and cab car numbers. Interestingly, since locomotive 2201 was delivered coupled to Set 1, each set's cars' last numeral matches the cab car's, not the locomotive's. While it may have been intended for each last numeral to match every part of the Set, this has not been the case, except for Set 1.
  • Set 1: Sep 29/21 2200*-2300 (and 2201)
  • Set 2: Aug 6/22 2202-2301
  • Set 3: Jan 30/23 2203-2302
  • Set 4: Apr 19/23 2204-2303
  • Set 5: Jun 6/23 2205-2304
  • Set 6: Jul 10/23 2206-2305
  • Set 7: Aug 5/23 2207-2306
  • Set 8: Sep 5/23 2208-2307
  • Set 9: Oct 7/23 2209-2308
  • Set 10: Nov 9/23 no loco-2309*
  • Set 11: Dec 13/23 2210-2310**
  • Set 12: Jan 12/24 2211-2311
  • Set 13: Feb 18/24 2212-2312
  • Set 14: Mar 17/24 2213-2313
  • Set 15: Apr 17/24 2214-2314
  • Set 16: May 8/24 2215-2315
*mated with 2200 on first test run west from MMC April 29, 2024
**note new correlation of last two digits of delivered sets henceforth.

Lots o' video links of Set 1:

As of January, 2024 and with the delivery of the twelfth Siemens Venture set, I've split this post, with deliveries here and Siemens Venture sets in service here.
[My original language - Until a separate post is required, I'll endeavour to keep track of subsequent Siemens set delivery progress below, along with other implementation updates and test runs]

SET 2: UP 5275 led Set 2 east, OS Kingston 0300 on Saturday, August 6, 2022. A full set of six units by VIA 2202 with cab coach 2301 on the tail-end. West of Sarnia symbolled P623, then L533 east of there. Bayview at 2025 August 5, Belleville 0235 August 6, Coteau 0600. 

SET 3: UP 5736 led Set 3 east out of Sacramento, CA. A full set of six units behind SIIX 2203, cars ending in -02, cab car 2302. Slow progress, with UP 6279 leading through Rochelle, IL on January 28, 2023. CN 3061 took over at Battle Creek, down the Kingston Sub eastward as train E276 on the morning of January 30, 13 days after starting its journey, making it here from Sarnia in eight hours. At Belleville (below - image courtesy Railstream, LLC):
SET 4: UP 8686 led Set 4 (leader 2204/cab car 2303 with no cab car cab-side numbers!) east, through Nebraska on April 16, 2023; Chicago on April 18; Lansing MI early on April 19; now symbolled P276 led by CN 3087; Sarnia 1330; Toronto around suppertime, then Montreal at 0700 April 20. There was some drama around Belleville when 3087 was found to have low water and CN 2324 from a westbound was to be donated.

SET 5: UP 7902 is leading Set 5 (leader 2205/cab car 2304) with three Amtrak Midwest Venture cars tagging along, is heading east across Nevada on June 1; Kearney NE on the evening of June 2, Homewood IL on June 4 evening, Griffith IN webcam at 1900 behind CN 8961 (below), the Amtrak cars not in the consist - predicted Battle Creek MI by 0500 as symbol P276 June 5, Toronto in the evening of June 5, passed through Kingston 0030 on June 6. I'm going to officially call them Venture consists, not Siemens consists from now on!

SET 6: UP 6519 departed California with Set 6 (leader 2206, cab-car 2305) July 6, reaching Cheyenne, WY July 8, Rochelle IL July 9, Durand MI at 0700 as CN P276 Eng 8012 and Bayview Junction at 1530 July 10, Oshawa 1840 before being held at Belleville 3 hours due to crew-ordering problems, through Kingston at 2240 on its way to a Montreal early on July 11.

SET 7: UP 3093 leading Set 7 (leader 2207, cab-car 2306 with no VIA logo on nose), through Wyoming and into Iowa August 2-3; Wheaton IL evening of August 3; into Indiana August 4; as CN No P276 Engs 5675-8956 London 0900 August 5; Georgetown 1130; Port Hope 1420; Kingston 1700 (below); Brockville 1755. Video at Kingston.
SET 8: UP 6263 (thanks, Zackery Boyd) led Set 8 (leader 2208, cab-car 2307), as CN No P276 Engs 5688-3155 (elephant-style) OS Brantford 0440, Oshawa 0730, Belleville 1040, Kingston 1135, Coteau 1450.  
SET 9: UP 8178 led Set 9 (above - leader 2209/cab-car 2308), through Kearney, NE at 0900 on October 5. As CN No P276 through Flint, MI at 2300 October 6, with no plan to replace the UP unit with a CN unit. OS Aldershot 0430; Snider 0630; Liverpool 0900; Oshawa 0920; Darlington 0925; 1115 Belleville; 1155 Kingston; Brockville 1250; Dorval 1500. (UP 8178 was sent back on October 8's auto rack train CN No 271.)

SET 10: UP 5476 led Set 10 (cab-car 2309 but NO LOCOMOTIVE possibly to be mated to 2200 or 2201/cab-car 2300), through Auburn, CA on October 31. Nebraska Nov 2 evening (above - Virtual Railfan webcam image); Rochelle noon November 3; Charlotte, MI 0500; Flint 0900; as CN No P276 still led by UP 5476; Sarnia 1100 delayed there by brake/mechanical issues, tied down 1355, until at least November 5 and leader replaced with CN 2243; planned trip was 14 hours Sarnia-Taschereau. 
Restart! Set 10 through Ingersoll November 9 1245; London 1530; Kingston around 2130 behind CN 2673. Video (44:00 mark). Rob McClintock kindly shared this photo of the cab-less tail-end of Set 10 on arrival at Sarnia: 
As many railfans had longed for, VIA 2200 was added to locomotive-less Set 10 and made a test run west over the CN Kingston Sub on the afternoon of April 29, 2024, symbolized CN P267 (possibly 627)! On May 1, Set 10 was in service as VIA No 61/46.

SET 11: (leader 2210/cab-car 2310 - first synchronized numbered set!) through Laramie, WY on Sunday morning, Dec.10 behind UP 8649; Kearney NE that evening; Rochelle, IL Dec.11 at 1400; Valparaiso, IN 0600 Dec.12; Battle Creek, MI 0900-1100+; Port Huron, MI 1935; Paris Jct 0140 Dec.13; Belleville 0630-0800+; Kingston 0845:
UP 8649 returned west the next day on CN auto rack empty train CN No 271.
Here are two views of Set 11 from the Charlotte, MI webcam. Thanks to Jesse McLaughlin for the link. I kept these because it appeared Set 11 would pass here nocturnally!
SET 12: Reported already in Ontario Jan. 12/24 CN P276 (leader 2211/cab-car 2311) by UP 2598 Sarnia at 0900; Paris Jct. 1225; Aldershot 1330; through Kingston at 1930. (Set 12 made a run to London on March 11.)

No deliveries in February yet, so here's an interlude - three photos from the Trackside Treasure collection of a Venture set at MMC with the cab-car removed:
The red is grease. I can't account for the kindling wood, however!

SET 13: (Leader 2212/cab-car 2312) reportedly lifted by UP 6628 from Siemens in California Feb.13; through Kearney NE at 1730 Fri. Feb.16; Charlotte MI Sat. Feb 17 at 1411, Flint at 1530, Sarnia 1700-2000; CN P276 then Equipment Move 4142 delivered to TMC (that's a first!) by the UP unit at 0200 Feb.18. Excellent photos kindly shared by Lion Liu (below). It's there for training and because space is tight due to already-stored sets and construction at MMC. Set 13 reportedly coupled to VIA 901 as an HEP source at TMC on Feb. 21. Still at TMC as of April 19/24, heading east as VIA No 636 on April 25; testing from Ottawa to Montreal via Brockville as "No 668" May 7.
SET 14: (leader 2213/cab-car 2313 has no cab side numbers!) led by UP 5041 through Mishawaka IN at 1815 Mar.16; Battle Creek, MI 2200; still in Port Huron 0300; arr Sarnia 1050 Sun Mar 17/24; London 1310; Tansley on Halton Sub 1600; Belleville 2130; Kingston 2300, symbolled CN P276. Later reported entering service on May 4 on VIA No 24.

SET 15 (leader 2214/cab car 2314) led by UP 5875 (UP=Unwashed Power!) left Siemens' California plant 0400 Sunday April 14. Terry Allan kindly shared this image from the Roseville, CA webcam (below) and the train had two Amtrak grey/red Siemens cars on the tail-end; UP 5875 'died' and was replaced by CN 8955 at Homewood, IL early Tues. Apr. 16; arriving Battle Creek 0710; Charlotte MI 1130; approaching Flint 1400; Sarnia 1500; London 2000; Mac Yard 2300, Kingston 0300 then MMC 0630, symbolled CN P276.
Crew change at Snider behind CN 8955 - photo kindly shared by Lion Liu:
SET 16: (Leader 2215/cab car 2315) led by UP 7048 through North Platte, NE May 5; through Iowa and Illinois evening of May 6; CN P276 planned 0600 May 7, Homewood, IL; East Lansing, MI 0945 May 7 behind CN 8809; Sarnia 1600; London 1740; Kingston 0200 May 8, Montreal 0500.

Running extra...

It's a little unusual to find two contemporary, not retro, posts on Trackside Treasure. Ripped from the headlines of today! I can't help myself. These two recent railway-related events just happened to occur in and around Kingston. To observe each one, I had an hour to spare during my grandson's midday naptime. So conveniently-scheduled!

This is going to take some getting used to: VIA getting new equipment! Not recycled, not refurbished, not second-hand. And a poorly-kept secret, photographed and video'd by railfans across North America and along CN's Kingston Sub. I'm sure if 698's crew had been playing Railfan Bingo, they could have won with a Full Card! Malcolm! Andre! Paul! Zack! Of course the middle spot on the card would be decorated with crossbucks!

Speaking of poorly-kept secrets, CP 8757 makes its debut today, mysteriously wrapped and not-so-surreptitiously transported to Calgary (the wrap blew off in the wilds of Alberta!) in honour of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:


Shane Stewart said...

Hi Eric,

I'm building an older style CN ballast hopper ( 300000/301000 series ) and was wondering if you might have a good photo of the hatch.


Eric said...

Hi Shane,

I don't have a lot of closeup photos. The photos I do have are in my 'Ballast Trains' posts.

This photo has nice under-lighting:

Shane Stewart said...

Thanks Eric,

That will certainly help.


Michael said...

Great shots, Eric. I really scratch my head at the paint scheme on the Charger, with the middle slash, but seeing it with the full consists allows me to see the vision more clearly. Can't say I'm a huge fan of the new scheme, but I do think the coaches are at least orderly looking in their stripes. No more of these waves and slashes on the coaches, in my humble opinion. I guess I'll get used to it. Can't wait to see this new set in Ottawa.

Anonymous said...

By "Doncaster" do you mean "Darlington"?

Eric said...

Michael, keep your eyes peeled because I sense a photo-op in Ottawa! VIA paint schemes are extremely jumbled and we should not expect any uniformity whatsoever between equipment types. Or even within equipmqne types - I know you've seen the current LRC consists! It does match the colour palette VIA publicized on its website for electronic and printed documents.

A, thanks for that revision. It shows my clear misunderstanding of any geography in the GTA. Isn't it really all one big city from Cobourg to Niagara Falls?

Thanks for your comments!

Robert Archer said...

I guess I haven't been paying close enough attention to VIA, especially during the Pandemic.
If they are getting new equipment, are they retiring old equipment?
I see GO running trial trains to at least London and Stratford which was VIA up to now.
Will VIA end up running these new train sets, or is it just locomotives, between Montreal and Toronto or do they plan to send them as far as Windsor?
Who will be riding these trains if business travel softens from Work At Home and ZOOM?

What we need is a Commission of some sort to establish which passenger trains should be run by whom and which passenger railway will be responsible.

Eric said...

It was pretty easy to miss this deadhead VIA move, Robert, so don't feel bad.
I don't have the skinny on which equipment is being retired. Most railfans say the 900-seris P42's are going, locomotive wise. Some of the LRC cars have not been redone. Some of the HEP2 cars have also been redone. GO is extending their service but it's a long haul. Not sure abou service to Windsor.

From what I've seen of VIA travel in both classes, it's almost back.

The Royal Commission on passenger trains should be made up entirely of railfans because we have the best ideas, theories and even conspiracy theories!!

Thanks for your comment,

Anonymous said...

Great photos, Eric, thanks for sharing them! :)

Your mention of the LRC's debut reminds me of when MLW was doing road testing on them. I was living in Trois-Rivieres near CP's Montreal to Quebec City line which afforded me an excellent view of the railway. The daily RDC had an LRC locomotive and coach attached to it. This was 1974 or 1975, I think and they may have run it for one or two months. Unfortunately, I was still in high school so I didn't get to see it on a regular basis.

I thought, wow, we're going to get upgraded passenger service from CP but that didn't happen lol! :)


Eric said...

My pleasure, Chris. That must have been the demo locomotive and coach you observed. It made its way out to Manitoba and Alberta, as well! It was somewhat different in appearance than the actual ones VIA received.

CP could not tap-dance and soft-shoe shuffle their way out of passenger service fast enough! They had a long history of doing their best to downplay, discourage and destroy their once proud, though later money-losing, passenger tradition!

Thanks for your comment. We've lived long enough to see a progression in passenger transportation!


Unknown said...

Hi Eric,

I was surprised to see a link to my video of 698, the new VIA fleet, flying through Brockville posted in your blog. It is an honour to be considered in this manner. Please feel free to use any of my other material in the future as you see fit.

Joerg Seiler aka Brockville Railfan.

Eric said...

Hi Joerg,

It was great to come across your video while researching the post. Thanks for the offer. I normally include others' photos with permission, though I will link freely in the 'lots o'links' section of selected posts. These are not only for my future reference but also to further the interest and researching done by faithful Trackside Treasure readers. The only downside is sometimes these links go dead over the years.

Thanks very much for your comment,

Terry said...

Hello Eric,

Thanks for the update at the new Via Venture set! I have been trying to "chase" the new set but was not successful at all. Haven't been able to see the real thing once! LOL

Anyway, will travel to Ottawa and Montreal in the upcoming weekend (July 15/16) any clue or insight when will the venture set been spotted in the weekend? or maybe I should buy a ticket myself! Thanks again for such a informative website!


Eric said...

Hi Terry,

I've read several discouraging accounts of potential Siemens Venture passengers missing their opportunities, instead riding Ren or LRC sonsists. Knowledgeable folks have said that VIA's reservation system cannot fully integrate the Venture trains, and with delays to training and shop construction, this situation might continue for awhile. So last-minute consist substitutions seem to be the norm perhaps until the fall.

Providing some tentative information on Venture implementation, I've had questions asked of me when VIA changes its mind (apparently often), so I'm holding off posting any other information that I might have as a result.

It appears to be catch-as-catch-can right now. Safe travels, and lucky ones, I hope!

Thanks for your comment,