I posted a photo of a VIA Rail “Canadian” train to Instagram recently that featured the three locomotives on the head end. It sparked a discussion about the rarity of seeing more than two locomotives on the “Canadian”, even though its train length can often exceed 20 cars in the summer.
I dug my sightings list out and did a bit of analysis. I’ve recorded 169 “Canadian” consists between 2004 and 2019 where I have all the locomotive numbers that were on the train. There are a few where I only have the lead locomotive, so I left them out of the list.
What does the data show?
It turns out that it is indeed rare for the train to have more than two locomotives. 91% of the time that I saw the “Canadian”, it had two locomotives.
Here’s the data:
- 91.72% of the time, the “Canadian” had two locomotives
- In 7.69% of the sightings, VIA 1 or VIA 2 had three locomotives
- In only 0.59% of my sightings (one sighting), VIA 1 had four locomotives (that was the Coors Light Silver Bullet train)
Maybe you like the data in a pie chart?
While I had the statistics on hand, I did a little work in Microsoft Power BI Desktop and came up with a few little graphs.
First up – how often have I seen the “Canadian”? I moved to Winnipeg in 2009 and photographed VIA quite frequently for the first few years, then slacked off for a few years.
I see VIA 1 (Toronto to Vancouver) much more often than VIA 2 (Vancouver to Toronto). The reason is scheduling. Over the past 10 years, VIA 1 typically comes into Winnipeg in the morning and departs around noon, while VIA 2 comes into Winnipeg in the evening or night and departs late at night. The VIA 2 trains I’ve caught have either not been in Winnipeg or have been late.
Speaking of that, where have I seen the “Canadian”?
I don’t get out much, do I? 😉
Finally, I was wondering what the most commonly sighted locomotive was on the “Canadian”. The answer?
VIA 6410 wins by a hair.
So there you have it – 91% of the times that I’ve seen the VIA Rail “Canadian”, it had two locomotives.
Just One More Thing
Microsoft Power BI Desktop is a great tool for visualizing data like this. The best part – it’s free!
If you like playing with statistics and seeing what comes out, you’ll like Power BI. Check it out.