Slower, ruder rail: Working together to…uh… never mind


Canada’s Via Rail and France’s SNCF sign an agreement to… well… OK, I’m stumped. But certainly, once you combine Via’s outdated, rickety rolling stock and the SNCF’s legendary reputation for labour interruptions and Torquemada-on-crack customer service, well, a juggernaut is what you’ll have, isn’t it? The two rail companies’ chief executives are positively chuffed:

“We are very pleased to be signing this agreement with SNCF International, which has an excellent reputation in the rail sector. This collaboration will allow us to share our respective know-how, and confirms that VIA Rail is a model to which other countries turn concerning questions of passenger rail,” declared Paul Côté, VIA’s President and CEO.
The Chairman and CEO of SNCF International, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, for his part affirmed:
“VIA Rail has a great deal of expertise in the delivery of passenger train services, and will certainly be an added value to help us open doors to new business opportunities.”

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Slower, ruder rail: Working together to…uh… never mind

  1. So your saying this is a dumb move. When I heard this annouced last night I thought you might actualy have somthing with substance to say. But then again this is a blog.

    What about the other stuff they annouced. I can’t remeber what the 2 other deals where but I thought I heard one about education.

  2. The only part I’m stumped about really is what could possibly VIA have to offer. I’ve worked for them and expertise and Via Rail do not belong in the same sentence. I’ve also lived in France, and as noted the SNCF do not have much to offer in terms of customer service and labour relations, they do have the TGV, and a rail network which outshines anything we have to offer. I just don’t get what SNCF could possibly get out of this agreement.

  3. Perhaps together they can find Calgary on the map.

  4. The only thing VIA has ever been able to offer me is a newfound passion for taking the bus.

    I love trains, I’d love to take them more often, but I tried going from Vancouver to Edmonton and back last Christmas, and the trip — which takes 90 minutes by plane, 12 hours driving, and 16 hours on a bus — was scheduled to take 24 hours, and actually took 30. The train was stopped for hours at a time, and the staff, while nice, had no real idea what the problems were.

    On the other hand, I hear that Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal service is much better, and that they don’t really care about other lines… which I could certainly believe.

    Despite my highest hopes, the return trip also took about 30 hours.

  5. Given that SNCF has been in the high-speed rail business for decades, doesn’t it make sense for them to sell their expertise to VIA in time for a future election announcement regarding the Windsor-Quebec corridor?

  6. I am quite surprised by this Blog post. If anything, SNCF’s expertise is something that should be admired. I completely agree with Brian, what exactly is SNCF gaining from this?

    Labour disputes and disruptions happen in every sector in France.

    The SNCF leads Europe in innovation and efficiency, when their employees are not on strike that is.

  7. Wow, an agreement to talk to each other. Not about anything in particular, just to dial each other up on the phone once in a while like old friends, to exchange pleasantries and talk about the weather in each others’ countries. How nice.

    These types of press releases are very common in the high-tech startup sector, where the whole idea is to get the company name into the news. They try to make it look like there is some real business going on, so that the startup is more likely to be bought by a giant comglomerate. Behind the scenes, nothing is actually happening.

    Paul is dead-on. This is an advertisement, not an agreement.

  8. Oh the cynics are out in force again. Why on earth is everyone so anti-VIA rail? Every time I’ve taken the train it’s been a pleasant experience. The rolling stock is clean and kept in good shape and the staff are polite and friendly. The issue is one of frequency and on-time performance. Both of these are hindered by the fact that they have to lease track time from CN and CP. Meanwhile the SNCF and TGV have full access to track whenever they want it. What we really need is a high-speed passenger rail service between Quebec City and Windsor via Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and London. That would free up space for CN and CP and get both cars and trucks off the road.

    Unfortunately Canadians are too busy being cynical about the benefits of rail transport – making up excuses while countries with lower population densities than the Quebec – Windsor corridor go full speed ahead and upgrade their economic competitiveness at our expense. Take a trip to Europe – in particular Switzerland – and see how these issues can be overcome.

    And SF – these types of press releases are common in ALL sectors to try and get names in the news. It’s certainly not just a few internet start-ups and rail companies.

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