VIA Rail – 2014 and pre-2011 Transportation Service Agreements

pre-2011 COMPLETE — 2014 TSA Request COMPLETE – but pending Complaint see below

I’ve initiated two separate Access to Information Requests to VIA Rail to obtain the Transportation Service Agreements for the passenger service on the Island Railway / E&N that was in effect between VIA Rail and the various operators of the Island Railway in the past 20 years.  It includes a proposed schedule and details of the cars used!

2014 Request:

The text of the original request is:

“Please provide the Transportation Service Agreement signed between VIA Rail and Southern Railway of Vancouver Island and the Island Corridor Foundation in 2014.

Also please provide any written or electronic correspondence between VIA Rail and the signing parties in relation to completion of the above agreement that occurred since the Malahat rail service was suspended in 2011″

December 2, 2014:  In accordance with the request and in compliance with the Act, VIA Rail has sent the 2014 Train Service Agreement as promised.  There are some sections and some monetary figures that have been redacted as is allowed under third party and trade secret rules of the ATI Act (sections 18.1 and 20).

You can download the complete TSA here including the sections of the Act that govern the redactions.


There are two entire sections, 7.3 and 7.8 redacted from the document, both under the general article 7 “Compensation”.

This is new from the last ATIA request where the only redactions in the original TSA were the specific monetary values scattered throughout the document.  It is much more interesting that they have instead redacted whole sections including even the title so there is no indication whatsoever what the redaction actually entails.

I am considering filing a complaint based on the amount of redactions in the document being unreasonable, I have 30 days to file my complaint with the Office of the Information Commissioner.

Important Information!

Right from the top, the document makes clear many important historical and informational points.

  1. the infrastructure was assigned to the ICF from CP on April 13, 2006
  2. the operating agreement with SVI started June 16, 2006
  3. the previous TSA was terminated by VIA August 8, 2011since the Infrastructure was no longer in appropriate condition for VIA’s train service“.
  4. The present TSA was signed by VIA, SVI and the ICF and sealed on June 27, 2014.
  5. VIA acknowledges that a TSA was required in order for the ICF and SVI to pursue infrastructure work.
  6. VIA agrees to redesigning the passenger schedule with a maximum allowed funding for the operation (amount redacted).
  7. The TSA will only come into force if and when VIA determines the infrastructure is in appropriate condition for the service.
  8. SVI is allowed to attract other corporate support for the operation of the passenger service.
  9. SVI must maintain “to the extent within its control”, the infrastructure to a standard acceptable by VIA for running of the Passenger trains and if not, VIA is allowed to withhold its funding.
  10. VIA and SVI can partner on improvements to the Infrastructure (which does not include stations) and those improvements would be owned by the ICF.
  11. It does, interestingly, make mention of “Other Trains” belonging to “other railway companies”.  This would seem to cover off the possibility of other agencies operating rail equipment on the same track (between Courtenay and Victoria) as SVI and VIA at the same time.
  12. The agreement renews annually after the date of commencement (which can only happen once the tracks are agreed to be suitable)
  13. The agreement terminates if the Federal Minister of Transport (or other proper authority) orders the service shut, or if the ICF is no longer owner of the railway, or if the operating agreement between ICF and SVI comes to an end.However, the Agreement can also be assigned to a subsidiary of SVI, or be assigned to the ICF itself…  this point is stated to be an “essential consideration of this Agreement, one without which SVI would not have entered into upon such terms and conditions….”

The Schedule!

The agreement includes in depth details on the nature and schedule of the initial passenger service.  It will run from Nanaimo to Victoria and back again twice daily during the week and will run to Courtenay on the weekends.  It will use a maximum of 3 RDC rail cars and a crew compliment of 1 conductor and 1 engineer.

The new schedule times included in the 2014 Train Service Agreement.
The new schedule times included in the 2014 Train Service Agreement.
The weekend service is adjusted slightly for later service and includes service all the way to Courtenay with return service to Nanaimo from Victoria by 7PM.

Rolling Stock that will be provided will be VIA RDC-3 #6105 seen below in White River, Ontario in October last year.

6105 in White River courtesy
6105 in White River courtesy

VIA RDC-3 #6219 seen below at Jasper, Alberta in November 2013

VIA RDC 6219 at Jasper, Alberta in November 2013. Courtesy
VIA RDC 6219 at Jasper, Alberta in November 2013. Courtesy

and the RDC-4 #6251 (baggage – and bike rack – car) also seen below at Jasper last year (and is in the picture above as well)

6251 Baggage Car - courtesy rail
6251 Baggage Car – courtesy rail

That is the meat of the agreement!  Any other insights folks might have would be greatly appreciated.

October 24, 2014:  VIA Rail has informed me the request has been processed and they will require until December 4 to produce the new TSA.  This is to give time to consult with 3rd parties, as is allowed for under the Act.

For the second part of the request, VIA has indicated it would take approximately 78 hours, costing $730 for that portion of the request to be complete.  I could likely enlist the help of a local news organization to make that happen, but given other time and life pressures,  I will let this request lapse.   My main purpose was to obtain the new TSA, and that appears to be likely to happen without too much trouble.

pre-2011 Request

The pre-2011 request is complete.  Click here to download the Train Service Agreement that was in force between 1990 and 2010.

On August 16, 2013 I submitted a request for the Transportation Service Agreement (aka. the TSA) previously in force between VIA and Southern Rail of Vancouver Island or the Island Corridor Foundation or other parties.  The actual request was for:

The most recent Train Service Agreement to be in force between VIA Rail Canada, Southern Rail of Vancouver Island, and the Island Corridor Foundation or other parties, as well as any previous Train Service Agreement between VIA Rail Canada and past owner/operators of what is colloquially known as the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway to run the passenger server on that railway since 1980.

About the TSA:

#1: Some information has been redacted.  Specifically it appears as though monetary values were concealed.  Southern Railway of Vancouver Island and the Island Corridor were consulted by VIA, in compliance with the Act, to determine whether the TSA could be released.  This appears to be the only information not released (either on the request of VIA or SVI or ICF, that has not been determined).  I will not be filing a complaint to obtain that information.

#2:  According to correspondence I’ve filed with VIA there has existed only one TSA in the history of the service.  This was signed in 1990 and was in force when the service stopped in 2010.  Whether it remains in force today or not is still unclear.