Transport Canada Says VIA Can Run Without ‘Buffer’ Cars

Last fall, VIA began adding “buffer” cars to protect the older stainless steel Budd equipment. Photo by Otto Vondrak.

Transport Canada Says VIA Can Run Without ‘Buffer’ Cars

By Justin Franz

Transport Canada officials said this week that VIA Rail Canada no longer needs to add “buffer” cars to the rear of the Canadian and other trains that use vintage stainless steel Budd Company equipment. 

The former Canadian Pacific cars have been in service since the mid-20th Century, but an engineering report last fall found that there were major structural weaknesses in the cars’ frames. Those weaknesses could be exposed in a wreck and as a result, Transport Canada told the railroad to add buffer cars. In this instance, the buffer cars were unoccupied stainless steel cars or unoccupied LRC cars. The cars were put at the front and rear of the consist, meaning the iconic round-end observation car was covered. 

But on Wednesday, Transport Canada issued an order stating that after a series of tests and inspections, VIA found that the cars “are still compliant with structural design standards for crashworthiness.” 

VIA plans to eventually replace the cars with new long-distance equipment. 

This article was posted on: May 19, 2023