Thursday, November 08, 2007

Planes, Trains & Snowmobiles

Winter is approaching, and delays due to frozen switches, ice and salt jammed in doors and various other cold weather woes will bring delays to GO Transit's railway network. It almost seems fitting that GO's board of directors is poised to approve Bombardier, the company that invented the snowmobile, as the new operator of trains running on the CN lines.

This past summer, GO announced that due to a rash of cancellations stemming from CN train crews calling in sick on fridays, they would be terminating their contract with the railroad and seeking a new operator. The new deal, at $23.9 million per year, is supposed to save millions, and a penalty clause for crew shortages should eliminate the cancellations that started this whole mess. Hopefully customer service won't be compromised, but that another was a problem with CN crews that was only recently solved. CP crews aren't affected by this change.

interestingly, CN did not bid on the new contract, confirming my suspicions that they haven't really been interested in passenger rail since April 1, 1978 - the day VIA Rail Canada was born.

All in all, this is a positive step. While it won't mean more frequent service, we should see fewer delays in the summer, when mechanical problems aren't as frequent. However, winter will continue to be winter, and people will continue to complain. Case in point, a lady named Diane, who was quoted by 680 News saying "I got home one time, I live in Brampton, at 8 o'clock. It stopped one stop away from my stop and we had to get a bus or find another form of transportation." It sounds like Diana rode the 1845 train, which runs to Bramalea Station. The bus connection arrives in Brampton at 7:45 PM - causing her to likely arrive at home at 8:00. 

Congratulations, Diane from Brampton, you've managed to find a way to complain about a service which was delivered as advertised.

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