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On 11/11/2020 at 12:20 PM, InfiNorth said:

Before anything else, how does VIA Rail manage to operate their summer Vancouver-Edmonton train if they don't have enough rolling stock for a third Canadian consist? Do they operate one of the trains on a Toronto-Vancouver-Edmonton-Vancouver-Toronto rotation?

Regarding making VIA Rail work for long-distance trains... let's start with any legislation. It boggles the mind that 42 years down the line, we still don't have a VRCA. I'm all for high-frequency rail, and frankly, if the Canadian dies off... well, I will probably literally be in tears that day, but I will immediately turn my attention to the corridor and the Ocean to see if the freed-up funding is used for making massive improvements where they are needed. More routes to serve more communities in the dense Ontario-Quebec area would be a dream come true. The density of that region far surpasses what is needed to support passenger rail and yet we can't figure it out.

Penalizing private, for-profit railways when they hinder passenger movement because of their own internal mismanagement would be a good place to start in making the Canadian viable(ish).

Is their a reason Via hasnt looked at reinstating a train via  to Calgary and Winnipeg? Pretty sure it could be done if they wanted and a bit better route. Also route the Canadian Vancouver-Whistler-Prince George-Jasper-Edmonton-Saskatoon-Winnipeg. Then just run the skeena from Prince George to Prince Rupert exclusively. Could combine the Calgary-Winnipeg and Edmonton-Winnipeg trains in Winnipeg to continue East.

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20 minutes ago, roeco said:

Is their a reason Via hasnt looked at reinstating a train via  to Calgary and Winnipeg? Pretty sure it could be done if they wanted and a bit better route. Also route the Canadian Vancouver-Whistler-Prince George-Jasper-Edmonton-Saskatoon-Winnipeg. Then just run the skeena from Prince George to Prince Rupert exclusively. Could combine the Calgary-Winnipeg and Edmonton-Winnipeg trains in Winnipeg to continue East.

Always begin with an end in mind: what is the problem you are trying to solve?

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2 hours ago, InfiNorth said:

You talking about the D40LFs? Victoria. People in the BC Transit Victoria thread talk about the Novas approaching their end-of-life after a dozen years while the Novas was well beyond it. That's all. I digress.

I tend to disagree that "that's all".

The D40LF's in Victoria are 1998's. 22 years old, going on 23, no where close to 30 years old as you claimed. And as you say it's just been "talk" about Nova's approaching their end of life, and there is lots truth to replacing after 12 years. Those policies vary agency to agency. MiWay has even retired D60LFR's after 10 years as they were approaching the end of their economical life cycle.

You just made a poor comparison between rail vehicles and buses, and you had your facts wrong about the buses. Not trying be a dick, but, it helps to have your facts straight.

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15 hours ago, InfiNorth said:

You talking about the D40LFs? Victoria. People in the BC Transit Victoria thread talk about the Novas approaching their end-of-life after a dozen years while the Novas was well beyond it. That's all. I digress.

Last I checked, the tulips in my backyard don’t sprout in February like yours do.

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20 hours ago, M. Parsons said:

I tend to disagree that "that's all".

The D40LF's in Victoria are 1998's. 22 years old, going on 23, no where close to 30 years old as you claimed. And as you say it's just been "talk" about Nova's approaching their end of life, and there is lots truth to replacing after 12 years. Those policies vary agency to agency. MiWay has even retired D60LFR's after 10 years as they were approaching the end of their economical life cycle.

You just made a poor comparison between rail vehicles and buses, and you had your facts wrong about the buses. Not trying be a dick, but, it helps to have your facts straight.

I think you need to take into consideration the amount of mileage the bus travels and the duty cycle between cities. I'm sure that a bus in Mississauga has a lot harder duty cycle than in Victoria.

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I guess I'm mistaken, thanks for pointing it out. I am still bewildered that stainless equipment that is older than my parents is expected to outlast equipment from only forty years ago. I guess in the end I shouldn't look at it as a marker of poor quality in more modern equipment, rather as a marker of exceptional quality on the part of the stainless Budd equipment. You guys are right - it's mostly survivorship bias. 

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On 11/14/2020 at 5:18 PM, Urban Sky said:

Always begin with an end in mind: what is the problem you are trying to solve?

Well Via said they have issues with Canadian and ridership and track issues. So if they re routed the Canadian to a non busier track would it not make a massive difference in timing on the old bcr line then Pg to Jasper to Edmonton.  

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27 minutes ago, roeco said:

Well Via said they have issues with Canadian and ridership and track issues. So if they re routed the Canadian to a non busier track would it not make a massive difference in timing on the old bcr line then Pg to Jasper to Edmonton.  

The biggest issue with this is that the Pacific Central Station terminus in Vancouver isn't easily accessible from BC Rail - they would need to reverse over 8km to access the tunnel that leads to the Second Narrows rail bridge, unless VIA Rail would want to invest in an entirely new station in North Vancouver. To my knowledge the North Vancouver BCR Passenger Station is very much abandoned (if it's even still standing) and its platform was built to handle RDCs, not 20+ car transcontinentals. Don't get me wrong - I would kill to see the Canadian take the PGE route, maybe even stopping in Whistler and landing itself some novelty local traffic and provide transportation to BC communities that otherwise are quite disconnected. I do like the idea of the Canadian running on CPR trackage via Kamloops and Calgary, with a renewed Super Continental operating via BCR to Prince George and Edmonton. That would be somewhat reminiscent of the brief Panorama service.

I also personally wouldn't be too upset being able to get to the Cariboo by train like my dad could when he was growing up there. 

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11 hours ago, roeco said:

Well Via said they have issues with Canadian and ridership and track issues. So if they re routed the Canadian to a non busier track would it not make a massive difference in timing on the old bcr line then Pg to Jasper to Edmonton.  

First of all, thank you very much for putting forward and explaining your suggestion! That said, I’m afraid that improving the utility and viability of the Canadian becomes less obvious the better your understanding of the underlying data and constraints becomes.

In terms of punctuality, you are proposing to replace a single-tracked and congested segment (Jackman - Ashcroft) through another one (Tête Jaune - Prince George) which is just as single-tracked and congested, while replacing a segment which is extremely fluid thanks to directional routing (Ashcroft-Vancouver) with one which is single-tracked (Prince George-Vancouver).

In terms of ridership, you are proposing to replace Kamloops and views of the Pyramid Falls, Fraser Canyon and the Cisco bridges with Prince George (which is already served by the Skeena) and an admittedly spectacular, but very short glance at the Pacific. There is of course Whistler, but ski enthusiasts rarely travel with their skies on a transcontinental train, especially not for a resort town which is only a leisurely drive of less than 2 hours away from Vancouver.

Concerning reviving non-Corridor services like the traditional CP route of the Canadian, you seem to believe that VIA calls the shots in what gets funded. However, the guardians of federal taxpayer dollars (which are to be spent on things like VIA’s operating funding) are the federal government with its institutions and if they saw value in maintaining two parallel transcontinental passenger rail services running across Western Canada, don’t you think they would have kept both when imposing the January 1990 cuts (just like they did with the Ocean and the Atlantic)?

I’m not trying to dismiss your idea, but I hope that I was able to show you a glimpse of the considerations and challenges which need to be addressed when trying to change the route of a train like the Canadian...

PS: I joined VIA five years ago, because I thought just like you that they just lacked the imagination and analysis to do what appeared as obvious fixes to me. However, I had to quickly acknowledge that most things are like they are for very good reasons, because the picture painted by the data and constraints was much more complex than what I could see when I was still an outsider...

Edited by Urban Sky
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9 hours ago, Urban Sky said:

First of all, thank you very much for putting forward and explaining your suggestion! That said, I’m afraid that improving the utility and viability of the Canadian becomes less obvious the better your understanding of the underlying data and constraints becomes.

In terms of punctuality, you are proposing to replace a single-tracked and congested segment (Jackman - Ashcroft) through another one (Tête Jaune - Prince George) which is just as single-tracked and congested, while replacing a segment which is extremely fluid thanks to directional routing (Ashcroft-Vancouver) with one which is single-tracked (Prince George-Vancouver).

In terms of ridership, you are proposing to replace Kamloops and views of the Pyramid Falls, Fraser Canyon and the Cisco bridges with Prince George (which is already served by the Skeena) and an admittedly spectacular, but very short glance at the Pacific. There is of course Whistler, but ski enthusiasts rarely travel with their skies on a transcontinental train, especially not for a resort town which is only a leisurely drive of less than 2 hours away from Vancouver.

Concerning reviving non-Corridor services like the traditional CP route of the Canadian, you seem to believe that VIA calls the shots in what gets funded. However, the guardians of federal taxpayer dollars (which are to be spent on things like VIA’s operating funding) are the federal government with its institutions and if they saw value in maintaining two parallel transcontinental passenger rail services running across Western Canada, don’t you think they would have kept both when imposing the January 1990 cuts (just like they did with the Ocean and the Atlantic)?

I’m not trying to dismiss your idea, but I hope that I was able to show you a glimpse of the considerations and challenges which need to be addressed when trying to change the route of a train like the Canadian...

PS: I joined VIA five years ago, because I thought just like you that they just lacked the imagination and analysis to do what appeared as obvious fixes to me. However, I had to quickly acknowledge that most things are like they are for very good reasons, because the picture painted by the data and constraints was much more complex than what I could see when I was still an outsider...

So they how about shorter trains between key destinations? Rather than one train that cannot meet it's schedule. Then the issue is if you miss your connection and the next train is in a week, you're kinda SOL. 

The key to resolving some of these issues is to put in legislation to allow VIA to have fair treatment, and there should be financial consequences if they are not treated fairly. 

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14 hours ago, InfiNorth said:

I guess I'm mistaken, thanks for pointing it out. I am still bewildered that stainless equipment that is older than my parents is expected to outlast equipment from only forty years ago. I guess in the end I shouldn't look at it as a marker of poor quality in more modern equipment, rather as a marker of exceptional quality on the part of the stainless Budd equipment. You guys are right - it's mostly survivorship bias. 

Well....

 

Don't kid yourself about the "exceptional quality", either. There is lots of Budd equipment that has fared quite poorly from a similar generation to the ex-Canadian Pacific fleet. Hell, even the HEP 2 cars are structurally in far worse shape, and they are "only" 5 to 10 years older - but in many cases, have seen fewer years in actual service than the ex-CP cars. And honestly, the service that the ex-CP cars have served in since the 1960s and 1970s is far less intensive than they when they operated as new.

 

There are a lot of moving parts to it. A lot of it can probably be chalked up to maintenance practices - CP took very good care of their equipment early on, and VIA has done very well with its limited resources since its inception, whereas a lot of the US roads did little more than a clean and wash, and sent the cars back out. And the HEP2 rebuilds were extremely thorough, pulling the cars apart to bare steel before putting them back together again.

 

But despite all that, at the end of the day, they won't be here forever. Eventually it will simply become too expensive to operate them - their mechanical equipment will become too old and outdated, their ancient structures will require too much work to keep up to good shape, their interior configurations not conducive to the requirements of the modern traveler, etc. VIA can keep throwing money at them, or they can try and get something modern and reliable.

 

We may not be there yet, but that day is coming.

 

Dan

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2 hours ago, Shaun said:

So they how about shorter trains between key destinations? Rather than one train that cannot meet it's schedule. Then the issue is if you miss your connection and the next train is in a week, you're kinda SOL. 

The key to resolving some of these issues is to put in legislation to allow VIA to have fair treatment, and there should be financial consequences if they are not treated fairly. 

As I’ve laid out on Urban Toronto, VIA has addressed the severe OTP issues by adjusting the only lever they command (increasing scheduled travel times and layovers at the destinations), which has basically brought these issues back under control (at least at the train’s end-points, which are the most critical for keeping its tour operators happy, and with Train 1 now being more likely to arrive early than late into Vancouver):

1585528055049-png.238789

1585528155032-png.238794

1585528216375-png.238795

 

However, the price of doing so was to exploit the coincidence that the third frequency was temporarily suspended east of Edmonton, which means that you can’t return to three frequencies all the way to Toronto without either introducing a fifth consist (for which there is no equipment) or reverting to the old pre-2019 schedule (which would reduce timetable stability).

In any case, musing about running “shorter trains between key destinations” is a moot point for as long as VIA lacks the legislation you mention, as it will remain impossible to adequately serve any intercity markets in Wester Canada with an acceptable travel time and punctuality under the current legal framework...

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51 minutes ago, smallspy said:

Well....

 

Don't kid yourself about the "exceptional quality", either. There is lots of Budd equipment that has fared quite poorly from a similar generation to the ex-Canadian Pacific fleet. Hell, even the HEP 2 cars are structurally in far worse shape, and they are "only" 5 to 10 years older - but in many cases, have seen fewer years in actual service than the ex-CP cars. And honestly, the service that the ex-CP cars have served in since the 1960s and 1970s is far less intensive than they when they operated as new.

 

There are a lot of moving parts to it. A lot of it can probably be chalked up to maintenance practices - CP took very good care of their equipment early on, and VIA has done very well with its limited resources since its inception, whereas a lot of the US roads did little more than a clean and wash, and sent the cars back out. And the HEP2 rebuilds were extremely thorough, pulling the cars apart to bare steel before putting them back together again.

 

But despite all that, at the end of the day, they won't be here forever. Eventually it will simply become too expensive to operate them - their mechanical equipment will become too old and outdated, their ancient structures will require too much work to keep up to good shape, their interior configurations not conducive to the requirements of the modern traveler, etc. VIA can keep throwing money at them, or they can try and get something modern and reliable.

 

We may not be there yet, but that day is coming.

 

Dan

In the end, new equipment for long distance trains is required.  

The easiest thing would be to tack on an existing order. 

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24 minutes ago, Shaun said:

In the end, new equipment for long distance trains is required.  

The easiest thing would be to tack on an existing order. 

Agreed, but which one(s)?

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58 minutes ago, Urban Sky said:

Agreed, but which one(s)?

Someone can correct me if i'm wrong but Superliners where not originally considered for the VIA fleet because they where too tall to fit through some of the tunnels? Now that double stack trains can pass through is this still an issue? 

In North America other than the Siemens cars, what other passenger rolling stock is in production? Or are there any future orders pending production in the near future?

Viewliner

Siemens Venture 

Superliner

Talgo - Likely not suitable. 

Anything else?

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3 hours ago, Shaun said:

Someone can correct me if i'm wrong but Superliners where not originally considered for the VIA fleet because they where too tall to fit through some of the tunnels? Now that double stack trains can pass through is this still an issue? 

In North America other than the Siemens cars, what other passenger rolling stock is in production? Or are there any future orders pending production in the near future?

Viewliner

Siemens Venture 

Superliner

Talgo - Likely not suitable. 

Anything else?

Who would VIA cooperate with for procuring long-distance equipment? The only two large passenger rail operators in North America are Amtrak and VIA. Superliners were last produced 25 years ago, and rail regulations have changed since then (the CEM BiLevel cars for GO Transit being an example of regulatory change you may be more familiar with).

Regardless, if VIA were to procure new equipment replacing all of their current long-distance equipment, it would be a sizeable enough purchase to not need to pair with another agency to obtain any sort of favourable bulk purchase discount. There may also be some restrictions that prevent VIA from teaming up with an Amtrak purchase, including the amount of domestic content (Amtrak will need majority or full production to occur in the US under "Buy America" legislation to get federal funding, while the Canadian government would likely want a percentage of the cars/their components to be built in Canada).

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3 hours ago, Articulated said:

There may also be some restrictions that prevent VIA from teaming up with an Amtrak purchase, including the amount of domestic content (Amtrak will need majority or full production to occur in the US under "Buy America" legislation to get federal funding, while the Canadian government would likely want a percentage of the cars/their components to be built in Canada).

No, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union explicitly forbids either side from enacting anything equivalent to a "Buy American" legislation:

Quote

The extensive CETA restrictions on procurement are also disappointing given the scale of public spending that will be needed to fully meet the challenge of climate change and the necessary transition to a cleaner economy. A key tenet of Green New Deal proposals is that massive public spending on the transition to a zero-carbon economy can both protect the environment and stimulate local economic development. The multiplier benefits of spending in the community or region are substantial and enhance opportunities to provide a just transition for displaced workers in carbon-intensive industries, and redevelop economically disadvantaged regions. While certain provinces took reservations to protect their ability to apply local preferences (local content and hiring quotas, for example) to hydro and public transit procurement, most, along with the federal government, did not.[33] For example, in December 2018, when Via Rail chose Germany’s Siemens over Canada’s Bombardier Inc. for a 989-million-dollar contract to build more energy-efficient rolling stock for the Windsor–Quebec rail corridor, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau claimed his hands were tied by trade agreements, including CETA.[34] Siemens will build the locomotives and passenger cars in its California facility. The company has pledged to provide »up to 20 per cent Canadian content in supplies and services,«[35] but such commitments are purely voluntary and unenforceable under the terms of CETA.

[33] CETA’s procurement commitments go well beyond what Canada offered in the GPA. For example, Via Rail is covered by Canada’s GPA commitments (Annex 3 – Other entities). But under Annex 7 of Canada’s GPA schedule – General Notes, Canada excluded »urban rail and urban transportation equipment, systems, components and materials incorporated therein as well as all project related materials of iron or steel,« as well as »procurement of transportation services that form a part of, or are incidental to, a procurement contract.«

[34] Canadian Press, »Via Rail places $989M train order with Germany‘s Siemens instead of Bombardier,« Dec. 12, 2018. https://www. cbc.ca/news/business/via-rail-german-siemens-bombardier-contract-1.4942956.

[35] VIA Rail Inc, »VIA Rail‘s fleet replacement program: Siemens Canada launches procurement process,« Canada Newswire, Feb. 15, 2019. See: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/via-rail-s-fleet-replacement-program-siemens-canada-launches-procurement-process-882145889.html.

https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National Office/2019/10/Taking Stock of CETA.pdf (p.12)

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4 hours ago, Articulated said:

Who would VIA cooperate with for procuring long-distance equipment? The only two large passenger rail operators in North America are Amtrak and VIA. Superliners were last produced 25 years ago, and rail regulations have changed since then (the CEM BiLevel cars for GO Transit being an example of regulatory change you may be more familiar with).

Regardless, if VIA were to procure new equipment replacing all of their current long-distance equipment, it would be a sizeable enough purchase to not need to pair with another agency to obtain any sort of favourable bulk purchase discount. There may also be some restrictions that prevent VIA from teaming up with an Amtrak purchase, including the amount of domestic content (Amtrak will need majority or full production to occur in the US under "Buy America" legislation to get federal funding, while the Canadian government would likely want a percentage of the cars/their components to be built in Canada).

In a way it ensures the taxpayers get the most for their dollar. And ensures that Canadian companies don't win just because they meet the minimum requirements.  Just because it has Canadian content doesn't mean that they are the best product.

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8 minutes ago, Shaun said:

In a way it ensures the taxpayers get the most for their dollar. And ensures that Canadian companies don't win just because they meet the minimum requirements.  Just because it has Canadian content doesn't mean that they are the best product.

I still remember when YDS announced at a press conference at MMC that the three key priorities in the procurement process had been the cost, quality and speed of the delivery and that Siemens had submitted the best offer on all three counts “by a margin” and how Bombardier still insisted that they ought to have been the chosen supplier - without ever contesting that claim...

 

PS: I also remember the countless times I heard people in forums like this one or the comments of newspaper articles voiced the suspicion that whole tendering process was just a show as the contract would inevitably be handed over to Bombardier...

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11 hours ago, Shaun said:

In the US host railways must adhere to keeping Amtrak on schedule 80% of the time or higher. https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2020/11/16-fra-publishes-final-rule-setting-amtrak-performance-standards-for-host-railroads

This is what we need in Canada. 

A law like this would definitely help, but we also need executive power to apply these rules.

It's interesting if we take a look at Amtrak report card over the years. CP always gets on top while CN is always near the end of the list. Is CN just bad at keeping a schedule or they just don't care about passenger trains (which wouldn't be a big surprise)?

I wonder if VIA as a host railroad comparison too. It will be different, since Sudbury-White River is the only route running only on CP rails (as far as I know), and CN is the biggest host by far.

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22 hours ago, Shaun said:

Someone can correct me if i'm wrong but Superliners where not originally considered for the VIA fleet because they where too tall to fit through some of the tunnels? Now that double stack trains can pass through is this still an issue?

The height of the equipment was never the concern with the Superliners.

 

The cost of the order was.

 

19 hours ago, Articulated said:

Who would VIA cooperate with for procuring long-distance equipment? The only two large passenger rail operators in North America are Amtrak and VIA. Superliners were last produced 25 years ago, and rail regulations have changed since then (the CEM BiLevel cars for GO Transit being an example of regulatory change you may be more familiar with).

Regulations have changed and been upgraded in the intervening years, sure - but there was and is no regulatory requirement that specifically requires CEM in either Canada or the US.

 

It may be churlish to forego it in this day and age, however.

 

19 hours ago, Articulated said:

Regardless, if VIA were to procure new equipment replacing all of their current long-distance equipment, it would be a sizeable enough purchase to not need to pair with another agency to obtain any sort of favourable bulk purchase discount. There may also be some restrictions that prevent VIA from teaming up with an Amtrak purchase, including the amount of domestic content (Amtrak will need majority or full production to occur in the US under "Buy America" legislation to get federal funding, while the Canadian government would likely want a percentage of the cars/their components to be built in Canada).

Precisely. An order to replace the entirety of the long-distance fleet on VIA would be close to the size of the current order to Siemens for the corridor stock - about 160 cars. That is not insignificant, and is larger than any single long-distance railcar order since the early 1980s.

 

Dan

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A couple of random questions....

1. How quickly was the "Canada" lettering and flag added to the locomotive and passenger car fleet? 
Since it's a tough decision since I can't afford to buy all variations of the livery out already (LRC cars) and in the future (F40's and Canadian cars).
So far with the LRC cars I've decided to go without the logos added.

2. Why didn't the RS-18m's fitted by CN with HEP equipment for the Tempo cars ever end up in the VIA fleet? It seems they kept pulling the Tempo cars well into the VIA era.

 

Thanks in advance!

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7 hours ago, smallspy said:

The height of the equipment was never the concern with the Superliners.

 

The cost of the order was.

I have always thought they were too tall for the Winnipeg trainshed. Still, I am glad that VIA never went with Superliners. Just today I saw a ex-CP sleeper that would have been gone had the Superliner order gone through.

4 hours ago, M. Parsons said:

1. How quickly was the "Canada" lettering and flag added to the locomotive and passenger car fleet? 
Since it's a tough decision since I can't afford to buy all variations of the livery out already (LRC cars) and in the future (F40's and Canadian cars).
So far with the LRC cars I've decided to go without the logos added.

As to your first question, I could be wrong but I think the Canada lettering was applied in the mid-90's. F40PH's 6429-30 and 6447 never received the Canada lettering. With the latter two engines, they were retired before receiving the Canada lettering - 2000 and 1997 respectfully - whereas 6429 had advertising from the time the Canada lettering appeared to when it was rebuilt. The Canadian cars might have gotten the Canada mark on them after getting HEP'ed.

I don't know the answer to your second question.

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58 minutes ago, Viafreak said:

As to your first question, I could be wrong but I think the Canada lettering was applied in the mid-90's. F40PH's 6429-30 and 6447 never received the Canada lettering. With the latter two engines, they were retired before receiving the Canada lettering - 2000 and 1997 respectfully - whereas 6429 had advertising from the time the Canada lettering appeared to when it was rebuilt. The Canadian cars might have gotten the Canada mark on them after getting HEP'ed.

The lettering I gather started to appear around the 1998-1999 timeframe. I meant to include that in my original post and forgot.

https://rapidotrains.com/master-class/diesel-locomotives/f40ph-2d-master-class
"All 59 units carried the original paint scheme shown here from 1986 until 1998. At that time, the revised "Canada" scheme was born and started to be applied to the F40PH-2Ds and passenger cars."

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