VIA Rail Canada on Oct. 30 announced a $19.5 million program for the reconfiguration of 12 of the passenger cars used on its western transcontinental train, the Canadian, to increase its accessibility and market appeal. The work is being funded from the $407 million allocated for passenger rail improvements under the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan.
"It gives me great pleasure to announce the complete redesign and rebuilding of these cars," said VIA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Côté.
VIA has awarded the contract for rebuilding eight Chateau sleeping cars and four Park sleeper-dome-lounge cars to Avalon Rail, Inc., of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Avalon Rail specializes in remanufacturing passenger rolling stock of all types. The company is expected to use various Canadian engineering, design and supply firms for a portion of the project. The cars are slated to be delivered in 2011.
The work involved in the project is extensive.
The eight Chateau sleeping cars will be reconfigured with an all-new arrangement of six "upscale" cabins designed to accommodate up to three passengers each. Each sleeping cabin will be completely self-contained and will include an en-suite washroom plus a separate shower. The new cabins will also feature wood paneling, sofa seating, a widescreen television and controls to enable passengers to raise or lower the beds whenever they desire.
In the Park cars, the existing bedrooms will be replaced by two large "upscale" cabins. One will be identical to those in the rebuilt Chateau cars. The other will be an extra-large, fully-accessible cabin. It will provide separate, fully-accessible washroom and shower facilities. Each Park car will also have an onboard wheelchair lift.