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Chaleur Trip 2010:

Chaleur Trip 2010:




††††††††††† When I rode the Chaleur in 2009, the train only made it as far as New Carlisle which wasnít quite half the distance between Matapedia and Gaspe. I eventually decided I would try again to go to Gaspe in 2010. If the train didnít make it to Gaspe, I would go in 2011 and so on until I made it to Gaspe.


††††††††††† I decided to go in early/mid April. My original plan was to ride VIA train 60 to Montreal and ride train 16 to Gaspe. From there, I would turn around and head home on trains 17 and 57.


††††††††††† However, I changed the plan for two reasons. First, I wanted to ride train 66 or 67 with Renaissance cars. I also wanted to film the train pulling in.


††††††††††† The other factor that changed my plan was that on February 25, 2010, my favourite VIA F40PH-2 suffered major damage in an accident. I wanted to see the unit at VIAís Montreal Maintenance Centre. The trip unfolded as follows.


April 13, 2010:


††††††††††† I got to Finch station just before 3:00 pm. I bought a ticket for the 3:15 GO bus to the Oshawa GO train/VIA station. I then went to but a hot dog from the cart. I had a minor run-in with another customer who didnít get what he asked for. I ended up telling him off and waited for my bus. When it arrived, I photographed it.



††††††††††† I got on the bus and we soon left. The bus soon got on highway 401. A little while later, we passed the Cullingford Coach garage which had ex GO and ex TTC New Flyer D40s. As the bus passed near the Pickering GO station, I looked for any signs of damage from a CN derailment two weeks earlier.


††††††††††† An eastbound CN train derailed 9 cars and a couple ex GO Transit F59PHís that were being hauled east; most likely to the Montreal area. No one was injured, but the derailed cars came extremely close to the parking lot.


††††††††††† Shortly after, I filmed a westbound VIA train which was most likely train 61.


††††††††††† The bus stopped at Ajax and Whitby.After we left Whitby, I saw VIA train 46. We got to Oshawa just as 46 departed, so I was unable to photograph it.


††††††††††† When I got off the bus, my bag strap got caught on the fare box, but I soon freed it. I then went inside and checked my suitcase to Montreal. I then went outside.


††††††††††† Moments later, I heard an announcement that VIA train 45 was arriving soon. I filmed it pulling in and then photographed it. I noticed the unit leading 45 was P42 #913 which had a third headlight.



††††††††††† I filmed train 45 leaving. I then photographed a couple GO buses and Durham Region Transit buses including Orion 5 #8130 which I believe to be one of DRTís oldest buses.



††††††††††† I then went back to the platform. I took some photos of some CP power on a bridge above the CN line and a GO train pulled by an F59PH. The CP power included a Genset and a GP9 still lettered for the St. Lawrence and Hudson.






††††††††††† Meanwhile, an eastbound CN freight passed, and I photographed it.





††††††††††† Soon, I heard an announcement that train 66 was due in. I filmed the train pulling in.



††††††††††† I then climbed on board. I was seated in Renaissance coach #7216. Even though I had an economy class ticket, the coach was a VIA 1 coach! This is the third time since my Kingston trip and my New York trip that I got a business type coach though I had an economy class ticket.


††††††††††† Train 66 left on time. Shortly after it left, I heard the Renaissance coachesí suspension mechanisms which I had mostly heard in sleeping cars. When my ticket was taken, the conductor saw my other tickets and commented I was going to Gaspe. I told him about what happened last year. He said Iíd make it this time because the track was better which may have played a role in why my train was terminated in New Carlisle last year in addition to the trainís lateness.


††††††††††† I also saw that VIA had changed their comfort class menu so the sandwiches were wraps again which I found good.


††††††††††† After dinner, I tried to go into the lounge one car back. However after a few minutes, the conductor said I had to leave since the lounge was for business class (formerly VIA 1) passengers. However, the lounge was empty at the time, but I left anyway and returned to my seat. As a result, I didnít get to film the Memory Junction railway museum as we raced past.


††††††††††† The train raced through Kingston. Train 67 passed, but I was unable to film it. East of Kingston, I saw the trainís shadow and just like when I rode the Texas Eagle on my Arizona trip, I could see the wheels.


††††††††††† The sun went down. Train 66 stopped at Dorval; the only stop between Oshawa and Montreal.


††††††††††† Train 66 arrived into Montreal 8 minutes early. Once I got off, I took some photos.






††††††††††† I then went upstairs and to claim my suitcase. My suitcase was about the fifth one to emerge. When I boarded in Oshawa, I saw I was the only one checking a bag on the train from there!


††††††††††† I then went to the subway. I bought a two ride ticket from the Opus card machine. I rode the Orange line to Mont Royal station and then waited for the first route 11 or 97 bus to take me to my hotel. When the bus arrived, I saw it was 1st generation Nova LFS #16-107. I photographed the bus.



††††††††††† I rode the bus to Parc Avenue. I was once again staying at the Hotel Parc Avenue. I checked in and was given a key to the room right beside the room I stayed at the last time. I then phoned home and let my mom know I had arrived. I charged my Ipod. I then tried to charge the batteries for my digital camera, the charger died. I decided I would have to buy some more batteries and a new charger; most likely at a Wal-Mart.


††††††††††† I then went to nearby gas station and bought some milk. I watched TV for a little and called it a night.


April 14, 2010:


††††††††††† I got up shortly after 9:00 am and got dressed. I saw the first STM Classic since I arrived in Montreal the previous night and photographed it.



††††††††††† I had breakfast at the same restaurant I ate at on my 2008 Adirondack trip. While I was in the restaurant, I saw two of STMís new Nova LFS articulated buses similar to the demo unit I rode in Quebec City. However, I was unable to photograph them.


††††††††††† After breakfast, I walked back to my hotel and finished packing. I then checked out and caught a bus on route 535 to Place des Arts metro station. I rode the green line to Lionel-Groulx and then the orange line to Bonadventure. I then went to Central station and paid $3 to leave my suitcase there. The person thought my suitcase was too big, but I was able to prove him wrong. For some reason, VIA employees seem to try to encourage people to check bags whenever possible. Amtrak doesnít seem to do that. Fortunately the employee there was a little smarter than the ones there about a year earlier.


††††††††††† I then left the station and bought a day pass at Bonadventure station. They no longer had paper passes, so I bought an Opus card for an additional $3.50, but I still got a full day of unlimited travel. I would make it pay for itself in no time.


††††††††††† I then rode the orange line one stop east to Square-Victoria and waited for the route 168 bus. I didnít have to wait long. I saw STM 3rd generation Nova LFS #29-083 laying over. I photographed it.



††††††††††† 29-083 soon pulled up and I got on. I rode the bus to the intersection of des Moulins Ouest and Pierre-Dupuy. This is the closest I could ride transit to the south side of VIAís Montreal Maintenance Centre. When I got off, I took some photos of the bus.





††††††††††† It was a fair walk to where my favourite VIA F40; #6400 was being stored. I walked under the Victoria Bridge. Moments later, I saw the equipment from VIA train 23. It had three LRC coaches pulled by rebuilt VIA F40 #6417. I took some photos.




††††††††††† I filmed 6417 and its train heading off the bridge. 6417 was the first extended carbody rebuilt that I had got some decent shots of. A few weeks earlier, I had seen rebuilt 6452 on the Canadian, but I didnít have my camera on me.


††††††††††† A short time later, I saw rebuilt 6444 switching coaches. I photographed 6444 as well.



††††††††††† I continued walking until I saw 6400. I noticed 6400 was parked in front of wrecked VIA F40 #6430. I took some photos.




Click here to see a brief tribute to VIA 6400: VIA 6400 tribute.



††††††††††† VIA 6430 was wrecked on November 23, 1999 near Bowmanville, Ontario. That day, 6430 was leading VIA train 68 to Montreal. Ahead of train 68, a westbound CN freight struck a tractor-trailer on the tracks and derailed as it pushed the truck along. 6430 with train 68 ran into the debris and derailed. 11 people suffered minor injuries in the accident, but 6430 was determined to be a write-off.


††††††††††† 6400 was wrecked earlier on February 25 of 2010 while leading the Ocean. 6400 was leading rebuild 6457 and seven Budd coaches when it derailed at a switch and the train slammed into a house, destroying two cars in a garage. 6400 landed on its side. 6457 and three or four of the Budd coaches suffered far less damage. However, I have heard a comment that 6400 suffered frame damage and is a write off which I find to be sad.


††††††††††† 6400 was my favourite VIA F40 because it was not only the first F40 built for VIA, but it was the prototype rebuild locomotive should VIA get funding which it did. I even made a model of the rebuilt 6400 on my electric train set.


††††††††††† However, if 6400 didnít crash, it would have eventually have been rebuilt again with an extended carbody.


††††††††††† When I saw 6400, it had a black tarp over it as seen in the photos. This is similar to what VIA did with another F40 write off: 6423.


††††††††††† VIA 6423 was wrecked in spring of 1999 while leading train 74 from Windsor to Toronto. A track maintenance worker had left a switch open and the train was traveling too fast for the switch and derailed. 6423 landed on its side and slammed into some parked freight cars killing the two men in the cab. However, the engineers died as heroes. In the moments before the crash, they shut the engine down and warned an oncoming VIA train which stopped short of crashing into the wreckage. There is a plaque at Union station dedicated to the brave crew of train 74.


This is the plaque dedicated to the brave crew of 6423 on train 74.


††††††††††† After photographing the units, I went further and photographed ex BC Rail observation car Pavilion, some wreck damaged Hep1 coaches and an ex GO Transit F59PH in the background.


Note the ex GO Transit unit at the center of the photo.



††††††††††† While the F40s are being rebuilt, VIA and AMT are leasing a few ex GO F59PHs. The units still wear GO colours minus the logos and have had 18000 added to the original GO numbers. They have been used mostly on the trains that run from Montreal to northern Quebec. Plus at least one of the ex GO units was used in the rescue train that moved the equipment that was damaged in the derailment 6400 was involved in back to VIAís Montreal Maintenance Centre.


††††††††††† I took a couple more photos of 6430 and 6400 as well as a passing CN freight.





††††††††††† I then walked back to the intersection of des Moulins Ouest and Pierre-Dupuy. Along the way, I photographed the equipment I believe to have been from VIA train #32 from Ottawa.




††††††††††† I then waited for my bus. Several minutes later, a Nova LFS hybrid bus showed up. I photographed it before I got on.



††††††††††† I rode the bus to a few blocks north of Central station. I got off and photographed the bus pulling away.



††††††††††† There was an entrance to an underground mall. I wandered through there until I found the McGill Metro station. I rode to Lionel-Groulx, then transferred to the orange line and rode to Namur.


††††††††††† After I got off at Namur, I had lunch at the nearby Wendyís. I then walked over to the Wal-Mart and bought a new battery charger and some lithium batteries for my camera. After I left, I headed back to the metro and rode to Angrignon even though I knew STM Classic #60-013 was retired. I was hoping to ride a few Classics and the older the Classic, the better.


††††††††††† It wasnít long before I saw the first Classic; STM 14-017. I photographed it before I got on.




††††††††††† The driver asked me {in French} why I was taking pictures. I told him that I like buses and he was okay with that. I took a short ride on 14-017 before I got off and filmed the bus pulling away. I then caught a Nova LFS back to Angrignon.


††††††††††† A little while later, I saw Classic #13-019. I photographed it and went for a ride on it as well.



††††††††††† After I returned to Angrignon, I decided to ride to Vendome. When I boarded the subway, I found a $20 bill!


††††††††††† When I got to Vendome, I saw a couple AMT commuter trains. One consisted of ex GO Transit single level coaches being pushed by a leased ex GO F59PH that was still in GO colours minus the GO logos. The F59PHís were originally delivered to GO Transit as the single level coaches were retired from service, so there was little opportunity for the units to haul the single level coaches in GO Transit service.


††††††††††† AMT is also buying some ex GO F59PHs. They are painting them into the livery worn by their ex Amtrak F40s.


††††††††††† I also filmed a train with ex CP Galley commuter coaches.



††††††††††† Meanwhile, Classic 13-024 showed up on route 90. I photographed it before I got on.



††††††††††† I rode 13-024 a short distance. I tried to photograph it, but my camera screwed up and I missed the shot. I caught a Nova LFS back to Vendome.


††††††††††† Shortly after I got back to Vendome, I saw Classic 13-083. I photographed it before I got on.




††††††††††† I had a small ride on 13-083. I got off and took some more pictures of it before I filmed it pulling away.




††††††††††† I then walked back to Vendome. Along the way, I saw another AMT commuter train consisting of ex GO coaches being pushed by an ex GO F59PH that was still in GO colours.


††††††††††† I decided to try to find a Nova LFS articulated bus. I rode back to Place des Arts station and waited. I photographed the Green line train I rode on.



††††††††††† I then went to street level and photographed some STM buses and a Nova LFS from University Concordia.












††††††††††† While I was waiting, I saw some Nova LFS articulated buses going north in the distance. Unfortunately, none came south by the time I had to leave.


††††††††††† I got back on the green line and rode to Lionel-Groulx. I filmed the train pulling out and then I rode the orange line to Bonadventure where I filmed that train departing. I walked to Central station and retrieved by suitcase. I then lined up to wait to board the train.


††††††††††† Boarding began after 6:00 pm. I took some pictures of the Ocean and Chaleur as well as VIA train 39.













††††††††††† I was seated in Hep1 coach #8132, an ex Amtrak coach. Shortly after I got on, I filmed VIA train 69 departing with a Chateau sleeping car and a refurbished Manor sleeping car on the rear. VIA often uses trains 68 and 69 to deadhead equipment between Montreal and Toronto. In the past, Iíve observed a Chateau, Manor, Park car, and even an RDC on 68.


††††††††††† VIA is refurbishing the Manors. The Manors are keeping their interior plan, but VIA is modifying eight Chateau sleeping cars and four Park cars to make them all bedroom sleepers for use on the Canadian.


††††††††††† I also filmed an extra long AMT commuter train with brand new bi-level coaches that can board at high-level platforms. As a result, AMT has retired the ex GO Transit single level coaches previously assigned to the line.


††††††††††† The train left on time. As we passed the Alstom facility, I photographed some equipment parked in front including some leased locomotives from New Jersey Transit and some of the retired AMT ex GO single level coaches.





††††††††††† When my ticket was taken, I had a short conversation with the conductor who said the train would make it to Gaspe. I hoped he would be right. I filmed VIAís Montreal Maintenance Centre and then went to the dome car. As we crossed the St Lawrence River, we took the secondary bridge that the Adirondack took when I first rode it in 2007. I took some photos.






††††††††††† The train stopped at St. Lambert. We had to make a triple stop because of the trainís length. Just east of the station, we passed the inbound Adirondack led by Amtrak P42 #91. I managed to get a video of it though the view was obstructed by a CN stack train.


Since I rode the train last year, VIA officially dropped the Chaleurís name and cut the kitchen staff in the diner. Some people have said that the new diner service on the train is worse than Amtrakís diner-lite service. The food selection for dinner time wasnít as good as the year before. Plus, I had to wait 25 minutes for my dinner.


††††††††††† Residents along the line have not been happy with VIA with these changes and have protested that VIA restore the Chaleurís name and return the dining car staff to what it was like before. However, VIA has announced they plan to restore the later in the near future; or at least during the summer.


††††††††††† The sun went down as we stopped at St. Hyacinthe and Drummondville. East of Drummondville, we stopped to let VIA train 27 pass. Later, we stopped in Charny which is a smoke stop. I used the time to photograph the train. I noticed the train was being led by F40PH-2 #6412. This is the fourth time Iíve crossed paths with that unit since 2006. However 6412 now has a third headlight.





††††††††††† The train reversed out of Charny to continue on towards Matapedia and points east. I stayed in the dome car as we passed through the CN yard south of Charny station. I stayed there as we passed through the town where 6400 and the Ocean derailed back in February. I went to my coach and after getting a pillow and blanket, I called it a night.


Click here for part 2: Part 2