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Return to Halifax:

Return to Halifax:




            In 2005 VIA Rail began running an ex CP Park dome observation on the rear of the Renaissance equipped Ocean trainsets. VIA did so by converting three Renaissance sleeping car shells into walk-through gallery cars to connect the Renaissance coaches to the Park car. They also introduced Easterly Class service where passengers traveling in Easterly Class would have exclusive access to the Park car and meals included in the ticket.


            I slowly began contemplating riding to Halifax in Easterly class in late 2006 as the last trip in a series of trips I planned. The other trips as part of the plan were my Arizona make-up trip, my Western Canada trip, my Moncton trip, Washington-Cleveland, Sudbury, Quebec City, Boston, Dallas, and my Chaleur trip; though some were altered.


            In 2009, I began to fret that going to Halifax would be in jeopardy because of the cost of the train ticket. However, things slowly turned in my favor. First, on my Chaleur trip as a result of my train being short turned in New Carlisle and missing my connection in Montreal, VIA gave me a voucher. I was told the voucher would be worth $152.50. However, it ended up being worth $255! That plus a $50 gift card from my sister as a birthday present made this trip a reality.


            My final plan was to ride VIA train 60 to Montreal and connect to the Ocean. I would spend two nights in a hotel in the Halifax area before flying home. The trip unfolded as follows.


July 6, 2009:


            I got to the Finch station around 9:45 am. I got down to Union around 10:20. When my subway train pulled into Union, I saw a six car T-1 train heading the other way departing. The numbers of the cars are cars that are normally assigned to the Bloor-Danforth line; not the Yonge-University-Spadina line which I was riding!


            I left the station and headed up to the baggage counter and checked my suitcase to Halifax. The suitcase I checked was bought to replace the one whose wheel snapped on my Chaleur trip.


            I then walked over and peeked in through a door and photographed train 85. I also filmed VIA train #70 arrive. Its equipment would become my train 60 to Montreal. I saw that the second last coach was a Hep1 coach. I hoped I would be seated in that coach.


            I then lined up to board train 60. Unlike my 2008 trip on the Adirondack, I actually planned to ride train 60.


            Boarding soon commenced. I was seated in Hep2 coach #4100; the last car in the train; not the Hep1 car I saw. I took some pictures at platform level.




A Hep1 coach which occasionally shows up on trains 57/75 and 70/60.


            I found a seat and sat down. I gained a seatmate right away. The train left on time. As we left, I filmed 53 which arrived moments earlier. I also filmed Greenwood yard as we raced past. We stopped at Guildwood and Oshawa. I bought lunch.


            VIA train 43 passed, but I was unable to film it.  At one point, I went into the Hep1 coach and filmed the HO scale model railway equipment in the boxes on board. We soon passed through Port Hope and passed VIA train 57. We then stopped in Cobourg and after we left, we were paced by a CP freight consisting of a GP9 and a single freight car. As we approached Belleville, I saw the Belleville Transit garage with two retired Classics in the back.


            Just before Kingston, train 61 passed, I tried to film it, but only got a blur of the last two coaches. We stopped at Kingston. As we left, I filmed VIA train 45 arriving.


            We were soon underway and stopped at Brockville and Cornwall. VIA train 65 passed, but I was unable to film it. We soon crossed into Quebec and were once again running alongside the CP line and passed a westbound AMT commuter train. I filmed a Loram rail grinder train heading west on the CP line. In the consist of the grinder, I saw a coach that was painted just like the coach in the CN Test Train.


            We stopped in Dorval where my seatmate got off. I filmed train 67 passing. Soon, we were approaching Montreal. I could see VIA’s Ocean as we neared the station. I saw the train was being led by Spiderman F40 #6408; the unit that led the Enterprise when I rode it a month before it was discontinued.


            Train 60 arrived into Montreal 20 minutes late. When I got off, I took some photos.






            I also photographed the Ocean.




            I then saw the Park car. My Ocean had Park car #8704; Evangeline Park. I then photographed it before I went upstairs.



            I then checked in for train 14. Recently, VIA changed the name of the first class accommodation from Easterly Class to Touring Class. It is still has the same amenities. I would be in room 9 of the second last Renaissance sleeping car.


            I then walked over to a payphone and called home. After, I decided to call Osy whom I had met on my last trip at the hostel I stayed at in Ottawa. He had given me his phone number. I had done some research and it was a Montreal area phone number. When he called him, he remembered me. He told me he was in the process of moving. He talked about spirituality for a few minutes.


            I asked Osy if anything had come from the aftermath of his false arrest. He told me he had called one newspaper, but they never returned his call. I told him how on the STO charter I saw a police station at the intersection of Boulevard de la Carriere and Chemin du Lac-Lemay.  He was grateful to learn the address of a police station in Gatineau though I don’t know if it was the one he was taken to.


            After I hung up, I went to the Panorama lounge to await boarding train 14 to Halifax. While waiting, I had a massage in a massage chair. I heard a woman talking to an older woman who may have Alzheimer's or something because the first woman said to the older woman, “You’re waving at a video!”


            Soon, it was time to board train 14. I grabbed a can of Coke before I boarded Renaissance sleeping car #7525 and headed to my room. My Ocean consisted of F40s 6408 and 6428, 14 Renaissance coaches, and Evangeline Park.


            After I dropped my stuff off, I headed to the Park car. On the way, I passed through Renaissance transition car #7601 which has pictures of many provincial flags on the wall. I’ve wondered if VIA could have done something more with the space in the car because aside from a huge cabinet in the middle of the car, the car is wide open.


            When I got to the Park car, I saw a wooden lobster trap and two plastic lobsters. These are props for a presentation that certain VIA employees designated as learning co-coordinators use for presentations along the route. That is another feature in Easterly Class.


            I headed up to the dome. The lights in the car were off. People were whispering in the dome. After several minutes, I whispered, “Why is everybody whispering?” That got a couple reactions!


            Soon, the HEP was restored. Our learning co-coordinator, Jason began asking what time we would like to have dinner. I chose the first seating at 6:45 pm. The Ocean left on time. Shortly after we departed, I photographed the length of the train as we went around curves.



            The Park car is taller than the Renaissance coaches. We stopped outside a yard with some New Jersey Transit coaches and locomotives plus an ex CN GP9.




            We were soon underway again and I filmed VIA’s Montreal Maintenance Centre as we passed. As we crossed the St Lawrence River, we took the secondary bridge that the Adirondack took when I first rode it in 2007.


            I then left the Park car and photographed the interior of the transition car. I then went to the dining car. I saw it was #7402. I had now been inside all three Renaissance dining cars. I went inside 7400 when it was in display at Oakville the day I rode in VIA’s Glenfraser lounge car. I rode in 7401 on my Moncton trip.


            Dinner was good. While in the dining car, I filmed an AMT train deadheading westbound and the AMT yard at the end of the line at St. Hillarie.


            We stopped at St. Hyacinthe and Drummondville. East of Drummondville, we pulled onto a siding to let VIA train 27 pass. I saw that the train consisted of F40 #6420 and four LRC coaches instead of Renaissance coaches that usually run between Montreal and Quebec City. I photographed the train and filmed it as we passed.




            The sun soon went down. We soon stopped at Charny where I got off and photographed the train.






            I got back on the train. The train reversed out of Charny to continue on towards Matapedia and points east. I went back to the dome and saw lightning flashing in the sky.


            I later went to my room and called it a night. Once again, I could hear the Renaissance cars’ suspension mechanisms making the annoying sound that sound like Donald Duck being choked! Once again, VIA provided me with earplugs. I find it odd that the sleeping cars are the only cars to make the noise. When I rode between Montreal and Quebec City in 2008, I may have heard the noise only once!


July 7, 2009:


            I woke up briefly when the train was in Riviere-du-Loup. I went back to sleep until shortly after 7:30 am when we left Campbellton, New Brunswick. I got dressed and headed to the dining car for breakfast. After breakfast, I headed to the dome.


            As the train went around a curve to the left, I saw one of the service cars paint was off. From the dome, I couldn’t see for sure. The train stopped at various towns and cities including Bathurst. At one point, our Learning co-coordinator explained how lobster traps work using the plastic lobsters as part of his demonstration. As the train approached Miramichi; I filmed a couple Alcos being cut up for scrap.


            We soon stopped at Moncton. This was a smoke stop. I got off and walked to the front of the train as I walked along, I photographed the dining car and the service car whose paint was off. It turned out that one side of Renaissance service car #7316 has been graffitied extensively on one side. I don’t think it was like that when we departed Montreal, so it may have been tagged somewhere en route!




            I then got back on the train through the coaches and walked back to my sleeper. As I walked through Service car #7316, I saw that the movie “Bedtime Stories” was playing.


            I soon arrived back in my room. The train departed a little while later. I headed to the dome.


            Shortly after leaving Moncton, I saw an ex GO bus on a farm! I couldn’t tell what model it was though. There were also a couple fishbowls there.


            At one point, I was speaking to other people in the Bullet Lounge at the rear of the Park car about VIA’s Atlantic which used to cut through Maine on its way east until the train was discontinued in 1994. We also talked about experiences crossing the boarder.


            I told them of the anal customs agent who asked me if Wal-Mart said I could go into the States and they agreed that question was absurd.


            Just before 2:00 pm, I went to lunch in the dining car. We stopped at Sackville, New Brunswick and Amherst, Nova Scotia. I finished lunch and went to the dome.


            At one point, someone from the coaches entered the Park car. However the learning coordinator told him that the Park car was for Tourist class passengers (who pay extra for the amenities) and sent the coach passenger back to the coaches.


            We soon stopped at Truro. I photographed the murals on the station wall before I filmed them as we departed.



            I went back to my room and packed my stuff for when we would arrive into Halifax. I headed back to the dome.


            Awhile later we were nearing Halifax. I saw ships in the harbor. I saw some bus stops and wondered what kind of bus I’d see first. I first saw a D40LF, then a Classic, then a fishbowl! When I first came to Halifax, there were six fishbowls running around. Three years later, only three remain and they have been painted into a new livery.


            Also in the dome was a sailor with the Canadian Navy preparing to head out on a submarine.


            We soon approached the station. I could see a Carnival Cruise Lines ship at Pier 21. Now wouldn’t that be a nice vacation, though I wouldn’t be able to afford it unless Wal-Mart started paying me ten times as much as they do now. That is unlikely going to happen, though if it did, I’d take some more expensive train trips first! I photographed the ship.



            We soon were approaching the station. I saw train 15’s consist for the run to Montreal the next day led by F40s 6440 and 6432 leading. I photographed it.



            Train 14 arrived into Halifax 50 minutes late. I got off and took some photos of my train and the other train in the station.





            I saw sleeping car #7519 in the consist of the train that will depart the following day to Montreal. That was the sleeper I was in returning from my Moncton trip.





            I then photographed Kootenay Park on the rear of the train that would depart the following day.



            I headed inside to await my suitcase. It didn’t show up on the first wagon load of suitcases, but it came in the second load. I then left the station.


            I walked four blocks to the intersection of South Street and South Park Street. I picked up a D40LF on route 14 to Metro Transit’s Bridge Terminal. I then transferred to route 52 to my hotel which is the Days Inn in Dartmouth. My hotel it turned out was a block away from the Metro Transit bus garage.


            I then checked in and phoned home. I dropped my stuff in my room. I then called my friend Mike Cormier from SAIT whom I last saw on my Western Canada trip at the other end of the country! He was busy, but we decided to meet the next day.


            I then headed out on a bus back to the Bridge Terminal. I had dinner at a nearby Wendy’s. After, I looked around the area and got on an MCI Classic heading back to my hotel. I rode the bus beyond. It didn’t just go by the garage. It actually went through part of the yard! I filmed some of the buses and got off and took a picture of another part of the yard and the rear of an articulated Classic.




            I then walked back to my hotel, while I took a not so good shot of a fishbowl in the new Metro Transit livery at the garage.



            I stayed at my hotel for the rest of the evening though I did walk over to a nearby gas station for some snacks. I soon called it a night.


Click here for part 2: Part 2