VIA Rail has repositioned three recently refurbished Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) to the region to begin compatibility testing with Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) signalling with grade crossing protection equipment on routes in Southwestern Ontario. The first series of tests is scheduled to take place on Saturday February 20th between Chatham and Thamesville.
Should the tests be successful, the additional equipment may provide the capacity needed for VIA Rail to reverse some of the 2011 cuts to Sarnia and Stratford services.
RDCs usually operate in pairs, with a driving position at each end so that they do not have to be turned at the end of each run, and would be an ideal way to economically supplement services until VIA Rail receives the investment needed to replace its oldest passenger cars with new equipment.
Canadian National and VIA Rail regularly used RDCs on London-Stratford-Kitchener-Toronto services up until the service cuts made by the Mulroney government in the early 1980s. CTC signalling has recently been installed on both the Chatham and Kitchener routes, hence the need for thorough compatibility testing before returning RDCs to service in the region.
The eight RDCs remaining in the VIA Rail fleet have all been rebuilt with more environmentally friendly engines, improved passenger seating, and new heating and air conditioning equipment. Some of these units are in regular service between Sudbury and White River in Northern Ontario.
Photo: Walter Pfefferle / Railpast.com