VIA Rail has been upgrading many parts of its infrastructure. On April 19, 2012 it posted about its upcoming TSI+ system
What do you get when you combine trains with GPS technology? One of the most accurate up-to-the-minute Train Status Information Plus (TSI+) systems, that’s what!
Thanks to the existing WiFi system, which is the platform needed to support the GPS tracking, trains running within the Quebec City – Windsor corridor can now be followed through an online near real-time mapping system developed by VIA Rail.
The expected date for roll-out to the public is this fall: travellers will be able to check their train’s departure time, estimated time of arrival to destination and consult an en route live map.
There is no statement about whether this information will be available as raw, machine-readable data (open data), in addition to being shown on the TSI+ website.
VIA Rail is a Crown Corporation (or if you speak the obscure language of the bureaucracy, a Financial Administration Act - FAA - Schedule III Part 1 organisation; it is not part of the public service and Treasury Board is not the employer). Nevertheless, one would hope the principles of open government apply generally to all national government entities. In Canada's Open Government Action Plan it states that there will be an Open Government Directive and an Open Government License
The clear goal of this Directive is to make Open Government and open information the 'default' approach.
The purpose of the new Open Government License will be to promote the re-use of federal information as widely as possible.
Therefore it seems reasonable to ask VIA to make the TSI+ real-time data as well as the static schedule data available in standard open formats with an open license.
This is an opportunity to align with or exceed the current international best practices.
The French national train service is in the midst of its open data consultations at http://data.sncf.com/
In the UK, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) provides schedule data at http://data.atoc.org/
UPDATE 2012-04-27: The UK government announced in Autumn 2011 that national real-time rail and bus information would be made available as open data in 2012. ENDUPDATE
There is a discussion group for open transportation data at http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-transport
VIA Rail has a sophisticated and responsive social media presence; this posting was inspired by a recent tweet from @VIA_Rail:
If you're interested in VIA Rail open data I suggest you contact them. If you want a hashtag I suggest #viaopendata