VIA Rail Canada today announced a $19.5 million program for the reconfiguration of 12 of the stylish stainless steel passenger cars used on its western transcontinental train, the Canadian, to increase its accessibility and market appeal. The work is being funded from the $407 million allocated for passenger rail improvements under the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce the complete redesign and rebuilding of these cars,” said VIA President and Chief Executive Officer, Paul Cote.
The contract for the rebuilding of VIA’s eight Chateau sleeping cars and four Park sleeper-dome-lounge cars has been awarded to Avalon Rail, Inc., of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Avalon Rail specializes in remanufacturing passenger rolling stock of all types. The company will use various Canadian engineering, design and supply firms for a portion of the project. The cars will be delivered in 2011.
Mr. Cote added, “Avalon Rail was selected for this demanding work through a competitive bidding process based on numerous factors. These included price, craftsmanship, a detailed knowledge of the equipment to be rebuilt and on-time completion of previous projects.”
“We are honoured to undertake this work for VIA,” said June Garland, president of Avalon Rail. “The Canadian is a living legend, offering thousands of travellers from around the world the ultimate in safe, stylish and sustainable rail travel every year for more than a half-century. I can think of no better showcase for the skills of Avalon’s dedicated craftspeople.”
The work involved in the modernization and major upgrading of this classic rolling stock is extensive. The eight Chateau sleeping cars will be reconfigured with an all-new arrangement of six upscale cabins designed to accommodate up to three passengers each.
Each sleeping cabin will be completely self-contained and will include an en-suite washroom plus a separate shower. The new cabins will also feature wood paneling, sofa seating, a widescreen television and controls to enable passengers to raise or lower the beds whenever they desire. This elegant new design has been selected to enable VIA’s Canadian to attract the growing clientele for more upscale travel experiences.
This program will also substantially increase the train’s accessibility for travellers with special needs. The four existing Park car bedrooms will be replaced by two large upscale cabins. One will be identical to those in the rebuilt Chateau sleeping cars. The other will be an extra-large, fully-accessible cabin. It will provide separate, fully-accessible washroom and shower facilities. Each Park car will also feature an onboard wheelchair lift.