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March 26, 2009:

March 26, 2009:


            At one point while I was trying to sleep, VIA train 15 passed. It had Budd coaches instead of Renaissance cars. I went back to sleep.


            A few hours later, I woke up after sunrise and made my way to the Skyline car. I could tell we were still west of Matapedia because the Ocean was still coupled to the Chaleur.


            We finally arrived at Matapedia and were separated from the Ocean. It took a few minutes before we were moved onto the side track. I took some photos as I headed to the dining area of the Skyline car.





            The HEP had been shut off during the uncoupling move, so it took awhile to have my breakfast ready. After awhile, power was restored and I got my toast. The train departed almost two hours late. As we departed, I filmed the Ocean in the station.


            My Chaleur consisted of F40PH-2 #6418, baggage car 8618, coach 8124, Skyline 8507, and sleepers Chateau Brule and Chateau Montcalm. The baggage car is ex Union Pacific while the rest of the coaches are all ex Canadian Pacific. This is the shortest the Chaleur gets.


            After breakfast, I changed and went back up to the dome. The train stopped at Carleton. At New Richmond, I saw a former NBEC Alco RS-18 coupled to a plow. We soon departed. We passed through some villages. At one point, I saw a pickup truck that was buried up to its hood in snow. The train stopped in Bonadventure.


            Soon, passengers were told that the train would be terminating in New Carlisle and passengers would be bussed the rest of the way. I had a feeling that would happen as the Chaleur is often terminated in New Carlisle to turn the equipment to allow it to return to Montreal closer to schedule.


            A couple months ago, this had been happening so much, a newspaper did an article on the Chaleur and shortly thereafter, the train ran to Gaspe, despite being late. However, VIA has seemingly reversed their decision on running the Chaleur to Gaspe if seriously delayed.


            I finished packing my bags prior to arrival. The VIA crew gave me the option of riding the bus to Gaspe and back, but I didn’t feel like an eight hour bus ride in place of a train ride and opted to stay in New Carlisle. When the train arrived, I photographed it and the bus to Gaspe.




Click to see the consist of VIA’s Chaleur:   Chaleur consist


            After the bus departed, I photographed the coaches in the train. The crew also took my suitcase (with my permission) and put it in the sleeping car I would be in later. I walked up a hill to a restaurant for lunch. I saw I didn’t have any cell phone reception and there were no payphones.


            After lunch, I looked around for a payphone to call home, but I couldn’t find one. I made my way back to the VIA station.


            The wye in New Carlisle is only big enough for the engine and 3 coaches, so they had to split the train apart. I took some photos during the wye moves.




            Meanwhile, a train unit passed through the station which I photographed.



            During the wye move, I saw the crew on the back platform of the engine. When I saw this, I thought, “That’s not going to happen for too much longer”.


            In 2006 VIA authorized the rebuild of F40PH-2 #6400. The unit was released towards the end of that year. The unit was painted in the livery worn by VIA’s P42s and was to serve as the prototype for future rebuilds should VIA get funding. I’ve only seen the rebuilt 6400 once.


            VIA did get the funding to rebuild the rest of their F40s, but they decided to make some changes. One of the changes was to extend the carbody of the unit and eliminating the back platform. At the time of the trip, one unit had been rebuilt with an extended carbody: #6402. 6402 has not been released back into the regular VIA fleet at the time of this trip and a second F40 had begun to be rebuilt as well.


            Soon, the Chaleur had been wyed and backed into the station.




            Meanwhile, the VIA crew was doing work on the HEP lines on Chateau Montcalm. It took them awhile, but they finished. I saw my cell phone had some reception that kept coming in and out, and I barely managed to phone home.


            It was a long eight hours in New Carlisle. I spent some time walking around to a convenience store and the area near the station.


            I took a few more scenic photos of the Chaleur. At one point, the crew let me put my bag inside my sleeping compartment.




            Eventually, I was able to board. I was in single bedroom #2 of sleeping car Chateau Montcalm. This was a “lower” roomette on the right hand side of the train. I saw the bus from Gaspe as it pulled away and passengers boarded.


            The train left on time. My ticket for train 17 had fallen out of my pocket, so it took some time before I found it in between the seat and the wall. Once my ticket was taken, I headed to the dome car.


            The train stopped in Bonadventure. I went to the dining area for dinner. After dinner, I went to the dome. The sun went down as we stopped in New Richmond. I noticed that the RS-18 and plow I saw in the morning were gone.


            As we approached Matapedia, I asked the conductor if I could step out to see the train combine with the Ocean like on my Moncton trip. He said it was okay. I went into coach 8124 until we arrived. When we arrived, we were close to on time. However, I heard that the westbound Ocean was 90 minutes late. I got off the train and took some photos.




            Unfortunately, we had to wait for the Ocean to arrive. I began to dread that I would miss my connection with VIA train 57. The Renaissance equipped Ocean arrived behind F40PH-2’s 6436 and 6440. I took some photos.




            From the back of my sleeping car, I watched the coupling move and filmed and photographed it.



            Soon, power was restored to the passenger cars and we departed. I held up hope that the train would be able to make up some of the lost time like on my Moncton trip as well as the Ocean arriving early on my Halifax trip. I called it a night.


March 27, 2009:


            When I woke up, the train was in Charny. I realized there would be a very slim chance of making it to Montreal in time. I got dressed and went to the Skyline car for breakfast. When I left my room, I saw that some snow had accumulated on the end of the Renaissance baggage car on the Ocean.


            Later, I went into the dome. I filmed VIA train 20 pass. I noticed that when we went around a corner, that there were two Renaissance coaches coupled to the last sleeping car on the Ocean. I wondered if they were two coaches that were damaged in a low speed collision last summer between the Ocean and two CN locomotives.


            The train stopped in Drummondville and Saint-Hyacinthe. Shortly afterwards, the VIA crew announced that we would be in Montreal shortly after 10:00 am and that passengers connecting to Toronto and Ottawa would miss their connecting trains but would be put on the next trains to our respective destinations. I phoned home first and let my mom know what was happening. I then called my friend Mark because we were planning on heading to the Canadian National Exhibition upon my arrival into Toronto to see a custom car show. Mark said that he had made other plans and that we wouldn’t be meeting up.


            The train stopped in St. Lambert and then crossed over the St. Lawrence River. I filmed VIA’s Montreal Maintenance Center and photographed some of the equipment AMT is leasing from New Jersey Transit.




            Trains 15 and 17 arrived into Montreal one hour and 53 minutes late. I got off and took some photos.




            I went upstairs into the station. I used the Bell internet kiosk at the station and got the details straight about riding VIA train 61 home. Even though I bought the cheapest ticket for train 57, I was bumped to 61 at no additional cost. I withdrew some money from an ATM and lined up for train 61.


            Boarding began around 11:20 am. I was seated in LRC coach #3327. I got a window seat on the left hand side of the train. The train was full with misconnected passengers and other passengers and I got a seatmate right away. I heard the conductor mention that the train was sold out.


            The train left on time. Shortly after we left, I filmed the consist of VIA train 23 as it was being wyed. At Dorval, I filmed a not too good video of VIA train 52 with Renaissance coaches. The train departed and we were soon in Ontario. We stopped at Cornwall. I also bought lunch when the VIA attendant came by.


            VIA train 56 raced past us, but I was unable to film it. Train 61 raced through Brockville non stop. We then stopped at Kingston where I filmed VIA train 60. Train 60 had the same consist as it did when I saw it in Central station two days earlier as I was boarding the Chaleur.


            Shortly after we left, VIA train 44 passed, but I was unable to film it. Train 61 raced through Belleville and Cobourg non stop. East of Oshawa, VIA train 64 passed by.  I took a picture of Durham Regional Transit’s Oshawa garage.



            We stopped in Oshawa. Shortly after we left, VIA train 46 passed, but I was unable to film it.


            Throughout the trip, I talked with my seatmate who was an older woman. At this point, she told me that she had a bad experience on the Renaissance equipped train 66. Her train had broken down near Oshawa, so the passengers were transferred to train 68 which was filled to standing room. And the train ended up arriving into Montreal around 2:00 am.


            Meanwhile, we raced through Guildwood. As we passed by the TTC’s Greenwood subway yard, I filmed it. As we approached Union station, I looked for the fishbowl I spotted three days earlier, but my view was blocked by several GO trains.


            Train 61 arrived on time into Toronto. As we arrived, I saw the Renaissance equipped train 66 boarding passengers. Upon getting off, I walked to the front of the train and took some photos.



            Awhile ago, I read on the Canadian Passenger Rail Yahoo Group that someone who had ridden the train earlier had found the crew to be railfan friendly. I found the crew was decent.


            I went downstairs and phoned home to let my mom know I was back in Toronto. I then headed down to the Canadian National Exhibition grounds to see the custom car show. I debated if I should take the GO train or the route 509 streetcar. I decided to take the streetcar because it was cheaper. I boarded a CLRV and rode to the Exhibition.


            It took me several aggravating minutes to find the show because there were no signs and I had to ask around before I finally found it. I paid $20 for admission and went inside.


            The reason why I went was because one exhibit is from the Canadian Dukes of Hazzard Museum near Windsor, Ontario. I am a fan of the old TV show and they would have John Schneider who played Bo Duke on the series there. However, when I found the exhibit, John Schneider wasn’t there. I took some pictures of the exhibit.



Here’s the General Lee.





            I filmed a radio controlled General Lee that had the Dixie horn. I asked around about John Schneider and was able to learn that he had missed his flight, but would be here the next day. I was also given a VIP pass that would let me get in for free.


            Meanwhile, I photographed a Trans Am from the show Knight Rider since it was nearby.



            I then left and caught a streetcar back to the subway and rode the subway to Finch. I then caught a TTC bus on route 60 to Yonge and Steeles and walked over to a nearby Taco Bell. Shortly I got off the bus; I saw two taxis from a company with the same name as the company that made me miss the Lakeshore Limited in Cleveland on my Washington-Cleveland trip. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or if this company is part owned by the same company as the lousy cab company in Cleveland. Either way, I went inside Taco Bell and had dinner.


            Shortly after I left, a cab from Royal cab pulled up and the driver asked if I needed a ride. By now, I was tired, so I decided to take the cab home. The driver pulled into my neighbors’ driveway by mistake, but I still paid him and gave him a tip. I then walked the rest of the way home.




            This was not one of my best trips with the wheel breaking on my suitcase, the Chaleur being short turned, and missing my connection in Montreal. I also wish John Schneider was at the Exhibition when I went and that I would have gotten a chance to ride STM Classic #60-013 in Montreal.


            However, there is a silver lining. As a result of being short turned and misconnected on the Chaleur, VIA gave me a voucher worth $255. That will come in handy this summer when I plan to go to Halifax.


            I also got to meet John Schneider the following day when I went back to the custom car show at the CNE. While I was there, I got John Schneider’s autograph.


            My next trip won’t be unit the end of May when I plan an overnight trip to Ottawa to attend a bus charter there. Until next time…


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