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Moncton trip report:

Moncton trip report:




            After VIA fully equipped the Montreal-Halifax Ocean train with Renaissance cars, there came a reason to overhaul the new coaches. As a result, a trainset of the older Budd built coaches returned to the Ocean. At first, a Park dome observation returned to the stainless steel cars, but in early 2007, it was removed to semi-conform to the Parkless Renaissance trains, though the Budd Ocean kept its Skyline dome.


            I had played with the idea of riding the temporary Budd Ocean since I returned from my Halifax trip. I assumed it would follow the previous Budd Ocean’s routine of leaving Halifax on Wednesdays and Saturdays and Montreal on Thursdays and Sundays, and I planned to go to Halifax.


However, that wasn’t the case at all; instead, the Budd ocean left Montreal on Wednesdays and Sundays and Halifax on Fridays and Mondays. I also wanted to ride the Budd equipped Ocean one way and the Renaissance equipped Ocean one way.


My eventual plan was to ride VIA train 60 to Montreal then ride the Budd Ocean to Moncton, New Brunswick. At Moncton, I would mess around for a few hours then ride back to Montreal on the Ren Ocean where I would change to 57. I booked a sleeper on both Oceans and VIA 1 on train 60 because I wanted to ride a VIA 1 class Hep2 coach and I had only ridden on VIA 1 class LRC cars. This would also be my first trip since I heard that my favorite GO fishbowl #1122 was scrapped.


March 28, 2007:


I got to Finch subway station around 9:30 am. When I boarded the subway, there was a delay because of a power cut a few stops ahead. I was worried I wouldn’t make it to Union in time, but the problem was soon fixed and I got to Union in plenty of time.


Once I got to Union station, I headed to VIA’s Panorama lounge. First class passengers at certain stations have their own private lounge to avoid the crowds. Toronto is once such station. Shortly after arriving in the lounge, I had a massage in the coin operated massage chair! Talk about luxury!


After awhile, VIA 1 passengers were allowed to board train 60.When I got to the platform, I saw my train on the left hand side and VIA train 44 led by F40PH-2 #6408 still in the Spiderman 2 livery.


I boarded Hep2 VIA 1 car #4002 and took my assigned seat. While waiting to depart, I photographed the last car on train 73.


Train 60 left on time. Shortly after we left, I filmed the TTC’s Greenwood subway yard and I noticed that former Gloucester units RT-34 and RT-37 were no longer parked at the south end of the yard. Train 60 is the only Toronto-Montreal day train to offer checked baggage service, so it stops at several stations along the way. We stopped at Guildwood and Oshawa. East of Oshawa, I could see the CP main line in the distance. At one point, I saw a train that consisted of a CP GP38 and a single gondola.



Meanwhile, they had begun serving lunch. In VIA 1, meals are included in the ticket price. After lunch, we stopped in Cobourg. After we departed, I got a video of the Memory Junction railroad museum in Brighton. Meanwhile, the person seated right behind me decided to take a nap and started snoring loudly, which I found to be annoying. At least the trip on this train wasn’t overnight.


At Kingston, I photographed one of their Classics and got some video footage of train 61 which consisted of P42 #903 and about 6-7 LRC coaches. We soon departed and stopped at Brockville and Cornwall.


After leaving Cornwall, I saw an ex CP RDC-4, an ex VIA RDC-9, and an ex CN caboose. Unfortunately, I was unable to photograph the pieces of equipment.


The train crossed into the province of Quebec. I photographed an AMT commuter train west of Dorval. When we stopped at Dorval station, I filmed another AMT commuter train arriving. The person behind me was napping again and was snoring.


After we left Dorval, I filmed train 67 passing. While other VIA corridor trains fronted into Montreal’s Central Station, train 60 was wyed and backed in. The delay cost us time, and we arrived about 18 minutes late. As the train backed in, I saw the Ocean which was combined with the Chaleur to Gaspe. There were four F40PH-2s on the train including VIA’s CBC unit as the third unit. After I got off the train, I took some photos.




I then went into the main terminal at the station. I first went to the Panorama Lounge, and was directed to a check in booth for the Ocean. One side was for the Ocean sleeping car passengers and the other was for the Chaleur’s sleeping car passengers. After checking in, I bought some snacks from a convenience store in the station. Eventually, it was time to board. Passengers boarding the Chaleur boarded first before the sleeping car passengers on the Ocean boarded. When I boarded, I went to room 1 in “Chateau Closse”. That car was in the consist of the Budd Ocean I rode from Halifax last year. Interestingly enough, in front of that car was Chateau Bienville, the very car I rode in!


Unlike my last trip on the Budd Ocean where I had an “Upper” roomette, this time, I had a “Lower” Roomette. The room was about the same size though, but I think I would have preferred an “Upper”.


After storing my stuff, I went to the Skyline car and photographed the last coach of VIA train 34 which had just arrived from Ottawa.


Trains 16 and 14 departed on time. Shortly after we left, I filmed Amtrak’s Adirondack from New York and got two photos of it.




As we passed near VIA’s Montreal Maintenance Centre, I took video of the equipment that was visible. One of the cars that I could see was former BC Rail lounge car “Glenfraser” which was once again in its regular VIA scheme after the past summer, the car was shrinkwrapped to look like a slot machine.


The train crossed over the St. Lawrence River and stopped at Saint Lambert where the train made a triple stop because the combined Ocean and Chaleur train was very long. I also photographed a CN freight train going the opposite way.


We soon left and I decided to have dinner in the dining car behind the Skyline car. While I was having dinner, we passed three teenage boys. As we went by, they threw rocks at the train! Fortunately, they didn’t break any windows. However, this is the first time that I had been on a train that was “attacked”! We soon stopped at the next station.


We passed an outbound AMT commuter train and as we passed the AMT yard east of St. Hilaire commuter station, I filmed the trains in the yard.


After dinner, I went into the dome. Downstairs, they showed the movie Marie Antoinette, which I wasn’t interested in seeing. At one point after dark, VIA train #27 passed us.


A few hours later, we stopped in Charny, which is a smoke stop. I used the time to photograph the train.




The train reversed out of Charny to continue on towards Matapedia and points east. I asked for a wake up call at 7:00 am and called it a night.


March 29, 2007:


I woke up at certain parts of the night. At one point, I peered out the window and saw we were at Matapedia and that the Chaleur had been disconnected. From my room, I took a picture of the last car on the Chaleur.



As we left, I watched the Chaleur in Matapedia station’s pocket track. The train had a single F40PH-2, a Hep1 baggage car, a Hep1 coach, Skyline dome #8503, and three Chateau sleeping cars. I was able to deduce that the CBC unit would be on the Ocean. I went back to bed.


At 7:00 am, I got my wake up call. I got dressed and went to the dining car for breakfast. While I was having Breakfast, the train stopped at Campbellton, New Brunswick. Campbellton is a smoking stop, but I was unable to get out.


Next to the station is a railway yard owned by the New Brunswick East Coast Railway. I watched a freight crew doing some switching. When the train departed, I saw the freight train’s engines. There were two SD40s, two Alco RS-18s, and one Alco C424. The Alcos wore the paint scheme of their former owner: CP Rail.


As we departed Campbellton, I saw there was a bit of snow on the ground. I knew I would be cold because I only had a spring jacket. This would be the second time I would be unprepared for snow, but at least it wasn’t as bad as what I dealt with in Buffalo on my last trip into the States!


As the train progressed, there became less and less snow. The train stopped at various towns and cities including Bathurst. As the train approached Miramichi, I took a picture of two NBEC Alco RS-18s from the Skyline car. Someone said that those were switch engines.


“Yeah,” I said, “but they’re Alcos.”



Sometime later, we stopped at Rogersville. I started talking with other people in the dome. One was a weightlifter on his way to a competition in Halifax. Though for awhile, I was talking to another man about the Canadian military and how Canada is mostly fighting the United States’ war in Afghanistan while the U.S. is struggling in Iraq. We also talked a bit about winter memories.


Soon, I went back to my room to pack. The train arrived into Moncton 14 minutes late. After I got off, I photographed each coach and locomotive in the consist. The train consisted of F40PH-2s #6413, 6419, 6403 (The CBC unit), baggage car #8619, coaches 8139 and 8132, Skyline #8512, diner Acadian, sleepers Chateau Roberval, Chateau Bienville, Chateau Closse, and Chateau Levis. The baggage car and two coaches were equipment VIA bought from the U.S. while everything from the Skyline car on back was all ex Canadian Pacific.


Click here to see a complete photo roster: Photo Roster of train 14.htm




I went to east of the station to film the train pulling out. I was standing near a mall parking lot next to the station. F40PH-2 #6413 was uncoupled and moved onto another track. This reminded me of how on my last trip, F40PH-2 #6425 was removed from the Canadian. 6413 was moved onto another track.



Meanwhile, it was windy and I was getting cold and impatient waiting for the train to depart. The train finally departed at 12:34 pm, 35 minutes late! As the train left, I videotaped it. I took one more photo before I headed into the Highfield Square Mall.



After I looked in a couple stores, I called home from a payphone; and got the answering machine again! I left another message. I then went to the food court for lunch.


After lunch, I walked back to the VIA station. F40 #6413 had been wyed and was at the west end of the station. It would be leading train 15 to Montreal sometime later. I took a photo of the engine by itself.



I saw a couple other railfans who I began to chat with. One of them used to work for CN and VIA. After, I went back into the station and checked one bag because VIA only allows one carry on for trains with Renaissance coaches. I called to find out the status of train 15 and found it was running on time. I also photographed a sign commemorating the Ocean’s 100th anniversary back in 2004.



After awhile, I went back to the mall and withdrew some money from an ATM. I then went out into the street and photographed a few buses.






I then went back to the VIA station. I phoned home again and got the answering machine. I left another message.


Sometime later, I called VIA again and got an update on train 15. It was now 20 minutes late. I went out onto the platform and soon photographed the first freight to pass through Moncton since I had arrived.



I headed back into the station and bought a bottle of Coke from a vending machine. I headed onto the platform and saw a local freight with a single CN GP38 leading. I photographed and filmed it.



Finally, the westbound Ocean arrived 14 minutes late. I photographed and filmed the Ocean when it arrived. As it arrived, I saw that the second unit, F40PH-2 #6401 was still in the Spiderman 2 livery.




I was in room 8 of Renaissance sleeper #7519, the last car on the train. The train departed after 6413 was tied onto the front. This would be the first time I had ridden on the Renaissance coaches since my friend Mark and I rode the Enterprise back in 2005.


A few minutes after we left Moncton, I heard the familiar sound of the Renaissance car’s suspension mechanisms that sounded like someone being choked to death! At some point, we passed a rail yard where I saw two SD70ACE’s on flat cars. The units looked like they were going to be exported somewhere. I was barely able to get a photo of one of the units.



Soon, it was time for dinner. I went into the dining car and saw that it had been remodeled from the Renaissance dining car that my friend Jason and I saw back when I took a trip on VIA’s Glenfraser lounge car. It looked much better. I took an interior shot of the diner.



Meanwhile, they showed the movie “The Terminal” in the service car in front of the dining car. Soon the sun went down.


At one point, I began to chat with the sleeping car attendant and told her I was a railfan. We talked a little about the Ocean and its equipment. I learned that VIA may sell the rooms in the Park car during the summer when Easterly Class, (First class on the Ocean) operates. Previously, the rooms went unsold. I told her I was planning on photographing the engines at Campbellton, our next smoking stop. She said it was fine and also told me that at Matapedia, we would combine with the Montreal bound Chaleur. We soon arrived at Campbellton and I got out and photographed the train.



To avoid the scare I got when I rode the Ocean last year, I boarded through the first open door between the second and third car. I found that on the coaches, the push button between the cars is stubborn and sometimes won’t open the door right away. I soon returned to my sleeper and let the attendant know I was done.


At this point, she told me to go see the coach attendant so I could photograph the combining of the Ocean and Chaleur. I walked down the platform and met with the attendant and so I temporarily downgraded to coach and took a seat in the first coach behind the baggage car for the 50 minute ride to Matapedia. The train soon departed, and we were held up for a few minutes by an eastbound NBEC freight. After, we headed out and soon arrived at Matapedia. I saw that the Chaleur was already there waiting. Our power disconnected and ran up to couple up to the Chaleur’s locomotive. I got out and took some photos.





I then walked over to the front of the Chaleur and took a photo of the locomotive and filmed the Ocean’s locomotives coupling up to the Chaleur.



I then walked to the end of the platform and snapped a photo of the Ocean’s locomotives.



I then headed back to the Ocean to wait for the Chaleur to couple up to the Ocean’s coaches. I stood in the doorway, staring at the last car of the Chaleur. It wasn’t moving. I stepped off the train and looked up into the sky and saw all the stars. The crew and I were getting impatient waiting for the Chaleur to couple up to us. One person said they couldn’t wait until the Chaleur and Ocean would run as a J-train so there would only be one coupling move.


Meanwhile, I walked back to the Chaleur to see what the crew was doing. After watching them climb into the cabs of some of the trailing locomotives, I also went inside the depot to get out of the cold. After I headed back onto the platform and as I started walking back to the Ocean, the Chaleur started moving. I hurried up and stood by the Ocean’s baggage car and filmed as the Chaleur backed up to the Ocean, then when the Chaleur coupled up to the Ocean.


I then boarded the Ocean. We departed shortly after 10:30 pm, running late. I asked for a wake up call for 7:30 am figuring we’d be 30+ minutes late into Montreal. I then got a glass of milk from the dining car then called it a night.


March 30, 2007:


I got my wake up call at 7:30 and found out we were 45 minutes outside of Montreal; we had made up a lot of time! I quickly dressed and headed to the dining car for breakfast. After breakfast, I filled out a customer survey ranking my trip excellent because it was. I then headed back to my room. The train stopped at Saint Lambert just as I finished. As the train passed VIA’s Montreal Maintenance Centre, I took a video and a photograph from my room.



I then changed my digital camera’s batteries. While I was getting the new ones, I missed filming Amtrak’s Adirondack. We soon arrived into Montreal two minutes late; not to shabby! As we arrived, I filmed an inbound AMT commuter train. After, I got off and took some pictures of the Ocean and the consist of train 57 which I would ride to Toronto. Leading train 57 was F40PH-2 #6412. That unit was on the Canadian on my last trip as well as on the Budd Ocean I rode last year.






I also saw Amtrak’s Adirondack, and took a picture. Unfortunately, it was blurry. I headed into the station and called home. Guess what? I got the answering machine again! I left one more message.


I then went to a Bell internet booth and used it for 10 minutes after paying a small fee. After, I bought a can of Pepsi from the variety store in the station I had visited two days earlier.


Train 57 soon boarded. I was seated in Hep2 coach #4101, an economy class coach. This was the only train I traveled in economy. I took a window seat on the left side of the train.


The train left on time. As the train departed, I tried to photograph the Adirondack, but again, the photo blurred. The train stopped in Dorval where I gained a seatmate. However, she didn’t stay long and moved to a new seat when we left Cornwall. I looked for the RDCs I saw two days ago, but I didn’t see them. One other thing was as we approached Cornwall, the conductor (who was new to the route) called out “Oshawa”!


Between Cornwall and Brockville, train 52 passed. I filmed it as it went by. When we got to Brockville, we ran past the platform then backed into the station.  Between Brockville and Kingston, VIA train 56 passed us. I bought some lunch from one of the vendors. As we approached Kingston, the conductor again called out Oshawa. However, he caught his mistake and announced Kingston. Some of the other passengers and I had a laugh.


            At Kingston, we arrived on the second track which I found to be unusual because westbound VIA trains typically arrive on the first track and eastbounds arrive on the second track. A few passengers got on and I once again gained a seatmate. However, this guy soon left for a seat in the last car which was two cars back because it was mostly empty.


            We soon departed and after a few minutes, we were passed by VIA train 42 for Ottawa. The train stopped in Belleville. The stop was a quick one and we were soon underway. Between Belleville and Cobourg, we passed the Memory Junction railway museum, which I filmed as we went past. At some point around Port Hope, train 60 passed, but I didn’t see it.


            We also passed train 44 for Ottawa. Soon, the train was approaching Oshawa. I took a few photos of some of the buses in the bus garage that’s visible from the train.


            Train 57 stopped at Oshawa and Guildwood. I filmed train 64 passing us. I then photographed the TTC’s Greenwood subway yard. The train crew made an announcement that people continuing onto Windsor on train 75 could stay aboard since train 57 becomes train 75 upon arriving in Toronto.


            Soon we were approaching Union Station. I filmed train 46 bound for Ottawa before we pulled into the station running about 13 minutes late. Once I got off the train, I took some photos.



            I went downstairs and waited at the baggage claim for the bag I checked yesterday at Moncton. It soon arrived and I phoned home for the last time. Like the four previous times I phoned home on this trip, I got the answering machine. I left a message before heading onto the subway to Finch where I caught a VIVA bus home. From the VIVA bus, I saw TTC’s new Orion 7 Hybrid bus #1122, but was unable to photograph it. I arrived home about 15 minutes later.




            This trip was enjoyable. My trip on VIA 1 was interesting, but possibly overrated. The sleeping compartments I had on both trains 14 and 15 were comfortable. Regardless of the equipment, I strongly recommend that train for railfans. I’ve found the crew to be friendly and professional. I especially recommend to ride the Ocean on days the Chaleur runs, especially during the off peak season when VIA combines it with the Ocean.


On May 2, 2007, the last Budd Ocean departed Halifax. Interestingly enough, just prior to my trip, the Supreme Court of Canada and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities ruled that the Renaissance coaches don’t meet their wheelchair accessible standards, so the cars will have to be modified. This means we may see Budd cars on the Ocean during the winter for some time yet.


            So far 2007 is shaping up to be a good year and my next trip should be in about a month when I visit New York with my family and take a side trip on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Until next time…