I'm quite concerned about the future of VIA's Chaleur train. The Chaleur has been terminating at Matapedia, Quebec for more than a month.
First the bridge over the Grand-Pabos River in Chandler was condemned on December 14, forcing the Chaleur to turn at New Carlisle. Then the bridge at St. Jules / Cascapedia was condemned on December 22. That's this bridge, by the way.
That bridge is between Matapedia and New Carlisle, so since December 22 the Chaleur has been terminating at Matapedia and passengers have been bused the rest of the way. There's a VIA press release about this.
Did you know there are 95 bridges on the route? When I was last there I would bet that at least 80% of them had a 10 MPH slow order on them. That gives you an idea of the condition of the line.
The Gaspésie Railway (Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie), owners of the line from Matapedia to Gaspé, have asked all levels of government for additional funding to repair the railway, to the tune of $19 million per year for the next five years (press release, news story).
This article says the bridges should be fixed by mid-February at the latest. There is an interesting photo in the article showing three Rio Tinto passenger cars led by an ex-NBEC RS-18 being brought to Gaspésie Diesel for work.
The odd thing is that VIA is booking coach and sleeper space on the Chaleur on ReserVIA. They do have a note that the train will be replaced by bus between Matapedia and Gaspé on February 2 and 3.
Special thanks to VIA Guru Tom Box for all his informative posts on CanPassRail!
From happier times, here are some photos of the Chaleur provided by Bob Liming, who had the opportunity to ride the train twice, in October and November 2011. Just in time!
Here's VIA 6457 at the station in Gaspé in October.
And from the rear...
Now this is November with VIA 6426. Note the masts behind the train from the marina.
You may remember that some idiot tried to burn the station down back in early 2011. VIA has been using a trailer for the station since then. It's just visible on the right.
Here's Bob himself standing in front of the station. Thanks for the photos!