On Tuesday November 30th, 2021, VIA Rail and Siemens unveiled their new passenger train sets for numerous services departing Toronto, and I was there to take it all in. Come along as we see these wonderful new trains that should be carrying passengers within the next year!
The new trains are pulled by a slick new Siemens Charger locomotive, basically the de facto standard new intercity rail locomotive in North America. VIA's charger is a variant known as the SC-42 and does have a distinct design that looks better than most we've seen. The train is also capable of high speed operations of up to 200 kph or 125 mph — now while VIA won't be operating these at those speeds on current services largely due to track quality, they will be upgrading in service speeds by about 5% which should reduce trip times.
Trains will also be able to turn around at end stations much faster thanks to a new cab car similar to those seen on GO trains, that allows operation in "reverse".
On display was the standard train arrangement in which the 32 trains that VIA has ordered will arrive as. Each train has a locomotive, a cab car — which provides economy class seating — and two more economy and business class cars in the middle.
Fortunately all the service levels have the same seats, though business has a 2+1 arrangement while Economy is a 2+2. Business class also gets you more plugs and space for food and drink.
New to VIA with these trains are large accessible washrooms, similar to but larger than those seen on recent GO train cars. These are a big improvement on the cramped spaces currently available on trains which are more similar to a plane lavatory.
Baggage accommodations have been made more flexible for the new trains, with space that can form a tall open cabinet, store bikes, or convert to be more similar to VIA's current multilevel storage.
The trains also feature a number of new technical features, like touchless doors, LCD displays across the train, improved internet, extensive cctv cameras, and greener locomotives and electrical systems.
There is also significantly improved accessibility across the trains. Better announcement systems that work with the new display screens, more push button operated functions, and wider and more accessible spaces for mobility device users.
All in all the set is an impressive achievement for an agency whose fleet still has among it train cars manufactured well over 70 years ago. The trains are modern, more sustainable and more technically capable and should become a mainstay on the rails in Toronto and beyond in coming years.
In the meantime, you can find more in UrbanToronto's dedicated Transportation Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.
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This story has been republished with the video added to it.
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