The Rocky Mountaineer is a Canadian rail-tour company based in Vancouver that operates luxury scenic trains on four rail routes in British Columbia, Alberta, Colorado, and Utah.

Via Rail Canada

The Rocky Mountaineer concept was created by Harry Holmes, (CN Locomotive Engineer) and Pat Crowley (tourism entrepreneur) both of Jasper, Alberta, together they developed a business plan which they presented to Via Rail prior to Expo 86. Designed as an all daylight sightseeing train pulled by the steam locomotive retired CNR 6060 (Bullet Nose Betty class) in the Canadian Rockies. Originally in 1988 it began as a once-weekly Via Rail Canada daytime service between Vancouver and both Calgary and Jasper. The first departure was on May 22, 1988, with a special train for the travel industry and for the traveling public on June 9, 1988, called the Canadian Rockies by Daylight.[1] To maximize scenic views, this service operated only during the day, with an overnight stop in Kamloops. These were express services, with no intermediate stops.[2] On June 4, 1989, Via began its second season of the service, renaming the service the Rocky Mountaineer.[3] The final summer Rocky Mountaineer under Via branding departed Calgary and Jasper on October 12, 1989, and arrived in Vancouver on October 13.[4] Rocky Mountaineer was removed from schedules and marketing in May 1990.[5] After two financially unsuccessful seasons there was to be a change in approach. The Federal Government decided to see if the private sector could do a better job. The then Minister of Transport and the Minister of Finance Michael Wilson decided to sell of the route, equipment, branding and book of business in the fall of 1989. In early November 1989 advertisements were taken out in a number of newspapers soliciting interest in the Rocky Mountaineer.

Private operation of the Rocky Mountaineer

The federal government curtailed the subsidies to Via Rail in 1989, dramatically reducing services, especially the transcontinental service. The Rocky Mountaineer was a tourist service, and as such the government felt the funds could be better spent on other priorities. They asked then Via Rail and CN Rail CEO Ron Lawless to organize the sale of the route, equipment and book of business to the private sector. The marketing of the Rocky Mountaineer sale started November 12, 1989. The sale process was run by recently retired CN Executive Charles Armstrong. Submissions of interest demonstrating financial and operational capabilities were required by January 15, 1990. Initially there were 20 interested parties, after phase one of the bidding process, that group was reduced to three parties left to make a financial bid. One bidder was Westours Holland America, subsidiary of Carnival cruise line. The other two were a group of Via Rail executives and a Western Canadian entrepreneur.

After the end of the bidding process, in March 1990, the route's equipment, book of business, 12 coaches, two baggage cars, plus assorted equipment and some branding was sold to Vancouver businessman Peter R.B. Armstrong's Armstrong Hospitality Group Ltd. It ran its first train on May 27, 1990.[6]

^ Greenlaw, Christopher (2007). Via Rail. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing. pp. 116–121. ISBN 9780760325292. ^ Via: Canada's passenger train network. System Timetable. Montreal: Via Rail Canada. May 1, 1988. p. 51. ^ 1989 Via Rail Annual Report (PDF). Ottawa: Via Rail Canada. December 31, 1989. p. 14. Retrieved February 2, 2019. ^ Via National Timetable (Summer–Fall ed.). Montreal: Via Rail Canada. April 30, 1989. p. 51. ^ Via National Timetable. Montreal: Via Rail Canada. May 27, 1990. pp. 24–25. ^ Johnston, Bob (February 2016). "It takes more than scenery". Trains. Vol. 76, no. 2. p. 50.
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