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Timmins Trip 2006:

Timmins Trip 2006:

 

Prologue:

 

††††††††††† After my trip to Timmins in 2005, I contemplated going back to Timmins once again to ride their ex GO Transit fishbowls. I also learned that I could have picked up VIAís Canadian in Gogama, Ontario instead of Sudbury, but there was a 9 minute gap if both bus and train were on time. However, going up, there was a 1 hour and 45 minute gap in Gogama if both train and bus were on time.

 

††††††††††† I also learned during the winter, Timmins Transitís ex GO fishbowls were starting to have mechanical and structural problems due to age, so that also prompted me to go sooner rather than later. I decided to go the first week where I had Tuesday through Friday off. While I would only plan to go for three days, I hatched a contingency plan if by chance I missed my connection in Gogama. When I saw my work schedule for the first full week of July, it was perfect to go. The dates I ended up going were coincidentally the same dates I went on my trip to Timmins in 2005! My plan was to ride VIAís Canadian to Gogama and switch to a bus on Tuesday, spend Wednesday riding the buses around Timmins, and come home on Ontario Northlandís Northlander passenger train on Thursday.

 

July 4, 2006:

 

††††††††††† I got up at 7:00 am, realizing I had overslept by 15 minutes. After having breakfast, my dad drove me to Langstaff GO station to pick up a GO Train to Union. Unfortunately, GO only had one person selling tickets and I missed my GO train. Fortunately, my dad hadnít left yet, and I got a ride to the subway. I was able to get to Union in plenty of time, though the Canadian had already begun to board. I found a seat in Hep1 coach #8101. While waiting for my train to depart, I filmed a VIA train backing out of Union heading for the Toronto Maintenance Centre. I also took a picture of a GO Transit bi-level commuter coach wrapped for the movie ďPoseidonĒ. While I was waiting, I saw the puny consist of VIA train 85 backing into Union station. It consisted of F40PH-2 #6420, one of two F40PH-2s to get a third headlight and the lead unit of the Ocean when I rode it back in April. Train 85 that day consisted of a single Hep1 car and a Hep2 car which is typical for that train.

 

††††††††††† The Canadian left on time. Unfortunately, coach passengers werenít allowed to go in the dome car until all tickets were taken, and the three coaches were pretty full. The Canadian took its typical route up the Newmarket sub, then reversed onto the York sub and headed east to the Bala sub. The coach attendants announced that if anyone couldnít find them in the coach, to head to the sleeper behind the Skyline car. I had moved into the car behind me as we passed railway crossing on Green Lane that I had often filmed the outbound Canadian. As we passed, I saw my friend Jason and the older man who comes out every time the Canadian leaves town and waves to the people on the train who I had met several times in the past. Unlike my trip to Washago, the train crew didnít announce to look out for this man prior to arriving at the railway crossing on Green Lane.

 

††††††††††† One thing about VIAís Hep1 coaches, inside the coach cars, (not sleepers, diners, domes, or baggage cars), are HO scale model locomotives. I filmed each of the models. I finally got to the dome car after we left Richmond Hill. As we went around some curves, I saw that the train consisted of three F40PH-2ís, (including one still in the Spiderman 2 advertising livery), and 22 coaches, including three Chateau type sleepers which have been appearing on the Canadian more frequently with the Ocean getting the Renaissance cars. I also noted a map of VIAís network in the Skyline car. The map was out of date with two examples. The first was that they showed the ďAtlanticĒ route which ran from Montreal to Halifax through the U.S. state of Maine, even though the route was discontinued over ten years earlier! They also showed the BC Rail line between Prince George and Vancouver which was discontinued in 2002.

 

††††††††††† The Canadian stopped at Washago. Because the train was so long, it had to make a double spot to allow passengers to board the sleepers further behind the coaches. I remembered how in October of 2005, I rode to Washago on the Canadian and how the station was situated on a tight curve near a railway crossing. As a result, it was the noisiest place I ever railfanned with train wheels squealing around the curve and the trains blowing their whistles for the crossing.

 

††††††††††† After we left Washago, I headed to cafť in the rear of the Skyline car for lunch, where I had a grilled cheese sandwich. I looked behind me to see a kid with the kids menu for the Canadian which featured a VIA F40 with a face. I silently made the remark, ďExhibit A in the Thomas the Tank Engine paternity caseĒ.

 

††††††††††† We were by now running almost and hour late. I hoped there wouldnít be any further delays. At one point, we passed a CN freight train with five locomotives. The Canadian stopped in Parry Sound after crossing a large trestle. I believe the Canadian takes a different route into Parry Sound when it comes from Toronto than it does when itís coming from Vancouver. We left and we soon in the countryside. I spend the time between my coach seat and the Skyline car three cars back. Seated near me was a family from New Zealand, and one of them was a toddler. The toddler kept whining most of the time which really got on my nerves!

 

††††††††††† The train stopped in Sudbury Junction after making up more then half the time; we were now 25 minutes late. I figured if there were no significant delays, I would get to Gogama with time to spare and not have to resort to my contingency plan. We soon left. I knew that this was the first time I would ride the portion of the Canadianís line between Sudbury Junction and Gogama.

 

††††††††††† The next stop was Capreol, which was 22 km away. Just before we got to the station, I saw a railway museum with CN steam engine #6077, and old caboose, and an old baggage car, which I photographed.

 

 

 

††††††††††† We soon arrived at Capreol station. This was a stop where the locomotives would be fueled. This was a smoking stop which I used to photograph the train.

 

 

 

††††††††††† We departed Capreol running about 20 minutes late. I reluctantly went to the first dinner seating in the Skyline car. While waiting for my food, the coach attendant asked if anyone in the dining area was going to Gogama. I raised my hand. He told me to see him after I had eaten. I wasnít sure what time weíd arrive in Gogama, so I became impatient. Finally, my food came. After I paid for dinner, I found the coach attendant. He just asked if I was traveling with anyone. I told him I was by myself. He said that was all.

 

††††††††††† I went back to my coach. The toddler was whining again. At one point, the toddlerís mother changed the kidís diaper right in the coach, even though the washroom was a few steps away. I turned away before I could really see anything disgusting fortunately. I was reminded of a story I heard a couple weeks earlier about pop singing sensation Britney Spears changing her babyís diaper on the floor of a Victoria Secret store and then asked an employee to dispose of the dirty diaper! However, in this case, the mother of the toddler didnít ask a VIA employee to dispose of the diaper.

 

††††††††††† Shortly after that incident, I headed back to the Skyline car. The Canadian took a siding and came to a stop. I went into the sleeping car behind the Skyline and asked the train crew how long until Gogama. They told me that we werenít almost there and that theyíd tell me about 10 minutes before our arrival. I headed back into the dome and paced around since the train still wasnít moving. Finally, a Southbound CN intermodel train passed and we were soon underway. We were running at least 30 minutes late.

 

††††††††††† At one point, the coach attendant mentioned that Italy won the semi-finals in the World Cup soccer tournament. Later, I saw the coach attendants heading towards my coach and when they arrived, I asked if we were nearing Gogama. They told me that this was Westree, the stop before Gogama. The train made a quick stop in Westree before continuing on. I kept checking the time. Soon, the train crew announced we were 30 minutes away from Gogama. I also saw there were about four other people also getting off at Gogama. I grabbed my stuff and we soon arrived running just over 50 minutes late; I was still going to make my connection without having to resort to my contingency plan.

 

††††††††††† Upon getting off, I saw the train crew had offloaded the baggage car with the luggage belonging to the other people who got off in Gogama. I wondered if they had just dropped it onto the ground. I walked over to the front of the train and photographed the engines. Seconds later, I filmed the Canadian pulling out of Gogama. As the three Chateau sleepers rolled past, I noticed one of them, Chateau Cadillac, was in the Oceanís consist when I rode it back in April.

 

 

††††††††††† After the Canadian had departed, I walked over to ďLe Randez VousĒ restaurant about a block away and bought a bus ticket to Timmins. The bus was scheduled to arrive at 9:05 pm. However, when the time came, the bus didnít show. The time became 9:10, then 9:15. Meantime, I saw a northbound CN freight pass through Gogama. When the bus finally arrived, it was 25 minutes late. I boarded the bus and soon we were off.

 

††††††††††† On the bus, there was a woman seated behind me who kept throwing up into a bag. That wasnít the most pleasing thing! Fortunately, I didnít smell anything.

 

††††††††††† After awhile, we finally arrived in Timmins. I watched the city pass by which was nice to see. Timmins didnít change much in the time that passed since I was there last. I also noticed gas cost $1.14 per liter, (ouch!) However, since I wasnít driving, it didnít affect me. The bus arrived at the bus terminal after 10:30 pm.

 

††††††††††† After getting off the bus, I walked to the Bon-Air motel which I had a reservation, but when I got there, I learned they had given my room away at 5:00 pm since I didnít confirm it with a credit card and that there were no more rooms available. When I had booked, I told them Iíd be there around 10:30. It wasnít fair they had given it to someone else who didnít reserve sooner.

 

††††††††††† The staff told me there were rooms at the Days Inn a few blocks away, so I walked over, and was able to get a room for $213.00 which was more than what I would have paid at the Bon-Air motel, but at that point, I just wanted a non-smoking room, and after checking in, I called home to let my parents know where I was staying.

 

††††††††††† After dropping my stuff of in my room, I logged onto MSN Messenger on the computer in the lobby for guests. I chatted with my friends Mark and Jason. Mark told me he had seen the Canadian I was on. I had looked for him as we went though the area he was working, but I didnít see him. I also learned that the space shuttle had launched while I was on the Canadian.

 

††††††††††† After I left the computer, I went to a convenience store across the road and bought some milk which I kept in the mini-fridge in my room and called it a night.

 

July 5, 2006:

 

††††††††††† I got up at 8:00 and went to the continental breakfast which was free for hotel guests. The food selection was much better than the one at the hotel I stayed at in Tucson, Arizona. After, I went back to my room and called the supervisor of Timmins Transit asking for a garage tour that afternoon, which I was able to get.

 

††††††††††† After, I stopped at a TD Canada Trust to deposit some cheques. After, I headed to the Timmins Transit terminal. On the way, I saw Timmins Transit bus #74, their lone El Dorado low floor bus, which I was surprised to see because I thought that Timmins Transit had gotten rid of it as well as buses 79 and 80, which I would see later in the day. Perhaps with the ex GO fishbowls starting to become unreliable, theyíre holding onto those buses for the time being.

 

††††††††††† Shortly after I got to the terminal, I saw Timmins Transit fishbowl #71, which was one of the ex GO Transit buses in service in Timmins. I took some photos of that bus and some videos of other fishbowls.

 

 

††††††††††† After taking some photos, I rode 71 to Timmins Square Mall. After getting off, I took two videos of the bus pulling away. Next I went into the mall and eventually bought a large Pepsi from the New York Fries in the food court because I was very thirsty. After, I went outside I saw that there were once again setting up the carnival in the parking lot. I made another funny remark, ďItís been a year and they still havenít set it up yet!Ē

 

††††††††††† I soon rode another fishbowl, #78 back downtown.On the way, the bus pulled into a plaza with a gas station. I jokingly said, ďFill her up!Ē

 

When I got back downtown, I took some more photos until lunch. After buying lunch at a Wendyís I went back to the bus terminal. At one point, some drivers asked me what I was doing. When I told them, they said I couldnít take pictures, but then one driver started splashing other drivers with water from a water bottle, which prompted me to take more photos of buses since unless them, I wasnít hurting anyone (or in this case getting other people wet!) They also commented that they remembered me from the year before. After, I boarded fishbowl #42 and rode it for a couple minutes before getting off near the Ontario Northland bus station. The bus station is on the former site of the Timmins train station, but the track into Timmins was ripped out long ago. However, thereís still part of the platform and an overpass above Algonquin Road which is now a pedestrian bridge.

 

This platform and bridge in the distance is a reminder of where the railway used to come into Timmins.

 

††††††††††† After taking a couple photos, I walked back to the Timmins Transit bus terminal a couple blocks away.

 

††††††††††† Soon, I waited for Timmins Transit bus route 32 to take me to the Timmins Transit bus garage. When the bus arrived, it was another fishbowl, #76. By chance, #76 was the first fishbowl I rode in Timmins in 2005. As the bus headed off, I saw ex Stratford #7323 in the driveway like last year, but this time, I didnít get off the bus to photograph it.

 

††††††††††† Route 32 had been rerouted so the bus garage was a block away on the new route. I got off and walked over to the garage and took some photos. Many of the out of service buses I photographed last year were still in the back. I also noticed that two of the ex GO fishbowls that ran in service with Timmins Transit were also parked in the back as well as an ex London, Ontario Orion 6.

 

 

††††††††††† After, I went into the reception room after taking two photos of fishbowl #78. Soon, David Onodera, the superintendent of Timmins Transit showed up to give me the tour. Before my trip last year, I had emailed him that I was coming, but he said that he would be away and told me to call Percy Beaudoin which I did.

 

††††††††††† David took me to the covered bus storage area where some buses were including 73, the ex GO Transit fishbowl Percy gave me a private charter on for free last year.

 

 

††††††††††† We then headed out into the yard where I photographed ex TTC Flyer D800B #8257 and ex GO fishbowl #1119, still in its GO Transit livery.

 

 

 

††††††††††† I learned from David that 1119 is operational and in the past was driven around the garage, but Timmins Transit never considered putting it in service. When I told David about my favorite GO fishbowl was 1122, he told me some upsetting news; 1122 is in bad shape and may be scrapped.

 

††††††††††† Continuing on the tour, he pointed out Oakville fishbowl #724, which is part of the Canadian Transit Heritage Foundationís bus collection along with sister 720, Oakville Transitís first bus ever. I asked if 720 was intact, and David said no; its engine was now in 724.

 

††††††††††† We then headed to the part of the yard where the out of service vehicles including four other ex GO fishbowls that were stripped of parts which I saw in 2005 when I visited. I mentioned the ex London Orion 6, and was told it was only as a parts bus and couldnít be used because itís a natural gas bus and Timmins Transit doesnít have the facilities to operate natural gas buses. I also heard that they are expecting a couple more London Transit Orion 6s that will suffer the same fate. I saw buses 70 and 72 in dead storage, but heard that 70 might return to service since it has the best body.

 

 

 

††††††††††† At one point, David told me that when Timmins Transit bought the ex GO fishbowls, they had to buy them in a set of 9 since the dealer didnít like selling buses at $500 each. However, Timmins Transit only planed to refurbish four of them. Four more were used for parts and 1119 is operational, but would not be used in service. One more thing I learned was that Timmins Transit would soon dispose of the retired buses in the near future.

 

††††††††††† When the tour ended, I thanked David and left. I felt a little sick to my stomach thinking of the fate 1122 might suffer because it was my all time favorite fishbowl. I caught fishbowl 76 again and headed downtown. Upon arriving downtown, I transferred to Timmins Transit bus #85, a brand new Nova LFS bus which I rode to South Porcupine and transferred to fishbowl #84, which Timmins Transit had bought a few months ago from North Bay. The bus was still in the North Bay Transit livery, but lettered for Timmins Transit. After riding 84, I got off and wandered over to a mall to buy a bottle of Coke since I was thirsty.

 

 

Upon getting out, I missed the bus to get back into Timmins. I went back to where I got off 84 and waited. Eventually, fishbowl #78 showed up and I rode it back to Timmins. After getting off, I walked over to the Ontario Northland bus station and bought my ticket for the Northlander that I would be taking the next morning. I then walked back to my hotel. I began charging the batteries in my digital camera. I then photographed some fishbowls from my hotel room.

 

 

††††††††††† I went to an A&P grocery store and bought some Fruit Loop cereal bars, much like the year before. I then went to the convenience store across the street from my hotel and bought some milk. I also bought a Bonus Cash for Life lottery ticket and WON-$4.00, which is equal to the cost of the ticket, so no, I am not a millionaire, otherwise Iíd ensure 1122ís survival.

 

††††††††††† I then bought dinner at a Subway restaurant. After, I walked back to the terminal and as I photographed Timmins Transit lone El Dorado bus, #74, the driver yelled at me saying I couldnít take pictures of buses with the drivers. I seriously believe that is just rubbish. I went back to photographing buses as I remarked that that driver is a {slang term for a female dog}. Even if security is getting tighter following events like the London bombings and the foiled terrorist plot in Toronto, photographing buses and stuff is STILL LEGAL, especially from public property.

Can you see the bus driverís face? I donít think so. This was where the driver yelled at me that ďI canít take pictures of buses with the drivers.Ē Rubbish.

 

I found fishbowl #71 again and took some photos of it when the driver was away. I even took a close up of near the roof with peeling paint revealing its former GO colours.

 

 

††††††††††† When the driver got back, she asked why I was taking pictures. I told her that I was taking pictures of the buses because I like buses, and itís just like some people take pictures of birds because they like birds. I boarded 71 and rode to my hotel. I savored the ride because this could be the last time I ever ride an ex GO Transit fishbowl. When I got off, I took another picture of 71 and filmed it and another fishbowl pulling away from the stop.

 

 

††††††††††† I then went back to my hotel room and watched from the window for 71 to return. When it did, I took one last picture of it as well as a video of the bus.

 

 

††††††††††† I then went back to the computer in the lobby and chatted with some of my friends for a little while. I eventually called it a night after requesting a wake up call from 6:50 am.

 

July 6, 2006:

 

††††††††††† I got up at 6:45 am, five minutes before my wake up call, which didnít come until 6:53 am. By then, I was getting ready and I had eaten a cereal bar that I had bought the day before.

 

††††††††††† After checking out of the hotel, I walked to the Ontario Northland bus station. On the way, I took a photo of fishbowl #76.

 

 

††††††††††† I got to the terminal early. While waiting for the bus that would take me to Matheson to connect to the Northlander passenger train, a couple buses passed by, including fishbowl #34.

 

††††††††††† My bus soon arrived and we were underway. We stopped at South Porcupine where some people got on, including one woman with several suitcases. (Okay, she doesnít travel light!) I hoped that the kid who annoyed me on the bus to Timmins last year wouldnít show up. Fortunately, he did not.

 

††††††††††† We left South Porcupine and as we left, I noticed some railway tracks that ended just before the road; more remnants of railway service to Timmins. We encountered some construction work, but we still ended up getting to Matheson 10 minutes before the Northlanderís scheduled arrival. When the Northlander arrived, I filmed the train pulling in.

 

 

††††††††††† When the Northlander pulled in, I noticed the generator car behind the GP38 was former GO Transit auxiliary power unit #801, renumbered 205. The two coaches and lounge were ex GO Transit single level cars that were rebuilt into long distance cars. That is typical equipment used on the Northlander.

 

††††††††††† We soon left Matheson and I settled in for a long ride. I noticed by the windows there were signs that told how to flip the seats. I didnít try it though. We stopped in the towns of Swastika and Englehart. As we left Englehart, I filmed former Temiskaming and Northern Ontario 4-6-2 #701. I had filmed that engine last year, but this time, there were no kids saying, ďThat looks like a Thomas train.Ē

 

††††††††††† After leaving Englehart, we were soon in the forest. I wondered if the derailed boxcars that I saw last year on my way up to Timmins were still there, but I found out that they were removed. I then had lunch and had a conversation with a young single mother who was going to North Bay. After lunch, I returned to my coach seat.

 

††††††††††† Continuing on, the Northlander stopped at New Liskeard, Cobalt, and Temagami. I noticed how once again, the ride was rough. We soon stopped in North Bay. Just before we got to the station, we passed ONR GP40 #2200. At North Bay, I wasnít sure how long weíd be there, so I leaned out of the door and took a couple photos.

 

 

††††††††††† We departed North Bay. We were running 30 minutes late by now. As we left, I kept eye for the northbound Northlander. After awhile, I went to the cafť car. We passed the Northlander, but I missed filming it. That train was led by the last GP38 to still wear Ontario Northlandís older scheme.

 

††††††††††† I then took a small nap between North Bay and South River. We raced through the small town of Burkís Falls non-stop. Soon, we arrived in Huntsville. Before we got to the station, we passed a GP9 on a side track. Shortly after we left, we stopped. The train crew announced we were waiting for a freight train. When the train passed, I noticed it was CNís Test Train, which I was unable to film. We soon left and stopped in Bracebridge and Gravenhurst. I decided to go to the cafť car again. When I was walking, the train hit a rough spot and for a split second, I was weightless.

 

††††††††††† The next stop was Washago. At Washago, some people got on, but the train just sat there and we waited and waited and waited. Finally, the train crew made an announcement that the crew was waiting for a clearance! We eventually left. By now, we were over an hour late.

 

††††††††††† At one point, I had another short nap. Soon, we were in Richmond Hill. When we passed the Langstaff GO train station, we stopped at a signal to wait for a northbound commuter train. I wished I could just be let off the train there since I live a few minutes away. Soon we were underway again and we slowed to a crawl as we went over the diamond on CNís York subdivision. We also passed another GO Train. The rest of the trip was uneventful and we arrived into Union station at 7:36 pm, 66 minutes late. Upon disembarking, I took a couple photos of the Northlander before heading down to the arrivals level.

 

 

††††††††††† I phoned home from a payphone. My mom said that I had to take the bus from the subway to get home since she didnít have access to a car. I then bought dinner from the McDonaldís inside Union Station before heading onto the subway. When I got off the subway, I got on a York Region Transit New Flyer D40LF bus on route 99, which is what became of the route I rode the GO fishbowls on almost everyday coming home from high school. After I got off, I walked three blocks to my house.

 

Conclusion:

 

††††††††††† Despite the rough start and the Bon Air Motel giving away my reservation, this trip was pretty good. I was sad to learn about what may happen to my favorite GO fishbowl #1122. Sadly, 1122 was scrapped in March of 2007. I donít fault David for telling me, otherwise Iíd be ďshooting the messengerĒ. t1122.htm

 

 

This trip was basically deja-vu as Timmins was mostly the same as it was last year. One restaurant where I stopped at last year was closed though, and I rode an ex GO fishbowl in service as opposed to a private charter. About a month after my trip, all the ex GO fishbowls in service with Timmins Transit were retired. However in September of 2006, one of the ex GO fishbowls in Timmins, (#73) was reactivated and used in service because of a bus shortage. The driver of bus 74 annoyed me saying I couldnít take pictures of buses, but Iím 99.9% sure she was making it up and I think she should be retrained.

 

††††††††††† My trip on the Canadian was good except for not being able to get into the dome car sooner and the toddler whining for most of the way. The ride on the connecting bus to Timmins from Gogama was interesting to say the least with the woman constantly throwing up. The ride on the Northlander was okay but rough. Right now of the odd people I met this time, Iím not sure if I prefer them or the kid who annoyed me last year.

 

††††††††††† Two last notes are that while I wish I could have filmed the northbound Northlander and the CN Test Train, but the day after I returned, I filmed the Northlander coming into Toronto and it appeared to be the same consist. Also, fishbowl #73 was re-retired in December of 2007. Until next timeÖ