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Surprise Niagara Falls trip

Surprise Niagara Falls trip




            Shortly after my trip to Quebec City, I learned that my friend Bill who I met on the Lakeshore Limited in 2005 and again on my Arizona trip would be coming to Toronto. He was supposed to arrive into Toronto on January 5th on the Maple Leaf and we were planning on spending the next day riding around Toronto. Bill was planning on heading off to Montreal on the 7th.


            Unfortunately, it didn’t quite happen. Bill was picking up the Maple Leaf in Schenectady where as a result of the slow elevator in the station that I have encountered on both Adirondack trips and my Boston trip, he missed it and had to wait 24 hours leaving little time to ride around Toronto. Shortly after I found out, I hatched a plan where I would head down to Niagara Falls and pick up the Maple Leaf there and go from there.


January 6, 2009:


            I got to Finch subway station at 12:48 pm. I was planning on taking a bus to Niagara Falls so I could sleep in instead of riding the Maple Leaf there. I got on a class H-5 subway train and rode to Dundas. After I got off, I filmed the train departing. I then went into the food court at the Eaton’s Centre and bought lunch. I then rode CLRV #4102 on route 505 west one stop to the bus terminal and bought a ticket for the three pm bus to Niagara Falls.


            After I bought my ticket, I walked outside and photographed some streetcars on Dundas. One of the cars I photographed was CLRV #4134 which is equipped with LED lights on the front and rear.




            After photographing a few streetcars, I walked back to the bus terminal. I saw the bus I would be riding on pull up. I photographed it.



            I then lined up for boarding. Boarding commenced a few minutes later. The bus left three minutes late. As we drove down Bay Street, I filmed a TTC fishbowl as we passed. We soon got on the highway.  Soon, we were running beside the GO Transit Lakeshore line which is also used by VIA. We were passed by a 12 car GO train led by MP40 #610.


            The traffic was fairly heavy, but soon, we were clear of it. A little while later, we were outside of Grimsby. I called Julie to find out the status of train 63. I was disappointed to learn it was running well over an hour late.


            The bus stopped at Grimsby and soon we stopped at St. Catherines. When we approached the bus terminal, I noticed a New Flyer DE40LFr in the St. Catherines Transit livery. I photographed it and some Orion 5s at the bus terminal from the bus.




            We soon left St. Catherines and a little while later we were back on the highway. We were soon approaching Niagara Falls. A few minutes before we arrived at the bus station, I saw a Greyhound bus being towed. We arrived at the bus terminal at Niagara Falls 9 minutes late. Once I got off the bus, I photographed it.



            The bus station in Niagara Falls is next door to the Niagara Transit bus garage and across the street from the train station. The Maple Leaf wasn’t in the station, so I walked over and photographed Niagara Transit Classic #8833 parked retired in the back.



            I then walked back to the train station. I called Julie who said train 63 was over two hours late. I sighed which Julie tried to interpret! I then called home. I bought a bottle of Pepsi from a vending machine in the station.


While I was waiting for the train, I saw a Niagara Transit Orion 7 pull up that was still wrapped for Christmas. On the rear where the red brake light is a picture of Rudolph with his nose represented by the round brake light! I didn’t photograph the bus though.


            The Maple Leaf then arrived about 15 minutes later led by P42 #24. As it arrived, I filmed it pulling into the station. Just like my last trip, it had a P42, an Amfleet 1 coach, three Amfleet 2 coaches, and a café/business class car. I saw Bill in Amfleet 2 coach #25065. I also noticed coach 25040, the same coach whose door was open when I rode the Maple Leaf to Syracuse on my Boston trip this summer, but this time, the door was closed. I then walked to the end of the station and photographed the train.



            I then photographed each of the train’s coaches.







            I decided not to hang around 25065 while Canadian customs did their thing as I didn’t want to distract Bill and get him in trouble with Customs, so I walked the train a few times. I heard there were 62 passengers on board. While I was waiting, I talked with a VIA employee and a couple other people on the platform.


            I heard that one passenger was going to be denied entry into Canada. Moments later, I heard some shouting. I wasn’t sure if it was from the train or not, but it was pretty loud. I made a remark, “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” as it seemed like something out of the Jerry Springer show were guests often shout, swear, fight, and sometimes throw chairs at each other.


            At one point, one of the customs agents exited the train. I asked her if the yelling I heard was coming from the train. She paused, but said “no.”


            Soon, the passenger who was denied entry as well as one disembarking passenger got off the train. The VIA crew then got on. I asked if I could get on the train as well, and was told I could I boarded the same coach Bill was in which is a refurbished coach. I showed him the photos I took on my Sudbury trip.


            I found out why the Maple Leaf was late. Outside of Rochester, a freight train had derailed at least three cars so the train had to stop for awhile before it could get by. It could have been worse though.


            The Maple Leaf departed just over an hour late. Shortly after my ticket was taken, I went to the café car for dinner. Bill and I talked about trains. The portion of the Maple Leaf between Buffalo-Depew to Toronto was all new trackage for Bill. Outside it was dark, so we couldn’t see much. I told him about how a taxi company in Cleveland made me miss the Lakeshore Limited and as a result, I took a make-up trip two months later.


            We passed over the Welland Canal and I told Bill of in 2001, the freighter Windoc was clobbered by a lift bridge in August of 2001. Fortunately no one was killed. The train stopped at St. Catherines.  Shortly after we left, VIA train 95 raced past.


            Bill asked if the Maple Leaf goes near the shore of Lake Ontario. I told him not really except by Burlington Bay and when we get close to Toronto. We stopped at Grimsby and passed through Hamilton before stopping at Aldershot.


            Bill brought out some of his Canadian money including a $2.00 bill which hasn’t been in circulation since 1996 when the Toonie was introduced. I lent him $10 for a TTC day pass.  At one point a westbound GO train passed us pushed by an MP40.


            The train stopped at Oakville. Soon, we passed the Long Branch streetcar loop which happen to have two ALRVs in it. As we passed VIA’s Toronto Maintenance Centre, I saw the Northlander and the Canadian preparing to back out to Union Station for its 10:00 pm departure.


            The Maple Leaf arrived into Toronto 70 minutes late. I saw VIA train 65 in the station led by F40PH-2 #6425. I got off the Maple Leaf and took some photos of it.




            I then walked over and photographed the Maple Leaf.



            I then went downstairs and showed Bill where to go to the subway. He bought a day pass and picked up two maps. We then rode an H-5 train to Dundas. The H-5s and the older H-4 trains are to be replaced in the next year or so by new trains. So Bill was happy to ride an H-5.


            After we got off at Dundas, I filmed the train pulling out. We then went out to pick up an eastbound route 505 streetcar. CLRV 4121 pulled up and we rode it to Dundas and Jarvis. We then walked three blocks to the hotel where Bill was staying at. Bill checked in while I phoned home.


            A little while later, we headed out. We boarded CLRV 4035 and rode to Broadview station. I told Bill a bit about the TTC’s streetcar and subway fleet. At Broadview station, I took a photo of 4035.



            We then went downstairs to ride an eastbound subway train. I was hoping to ride an H-4, but a T-1 pulled in. We got on. I told Bill that the DART light rail cars sound just like the T-1s. I also told Bill a brief history of the eastern half of the Bloor-Danforth subway.


            As we approached Warden Station, I saw an H-4 pulling out. Bill said that he was happy to at least see an H-4.


Here’s a H-4 subway train seen at Warden back in early October.


            I told Bill that the section of subway between Warden and Kennedy is the longest stretch of line between stations. We soon arrived into Kennedy where we got off and had a brief chat with the operator of our train. We then went upstairs to ride the Scarborough RT. There was already a train in the station and I photographed it before Bill and I got on.



            When the Scarborough RT was built, the TTC was originally planning on running CLRVs on the line, but the government stepped in and made them buy the Mark 1 trains which they currently use. As a result, the line had to undergo major changes. Once such change the TTC made was the elimination of the loop at Kennedy station. The loop was tight and resulted in one minor derailment. The TTC made the Kennedy station a single track station afterwards. However, I did ride around the loop when I was young.


            The Mark 1 cars are used on the Skytrain in Vancouver. (See my Western Canada trip report.) They are also used on an elevated line in Detroit. The RT is the only TTC rail operation to run on the standard railway gauge while the other three subway lines and the streetcar lines run on the TTC’s wider track gauge of 4 feet 10 7/8 inches.


            The Scarborough RT has proven very popular to the point it’s beyond capacity and as a result, the TTC has run express buses to try to capture the excess riders. The line’s future may be in doubt as the cars are to reach 30 years old in 2015 and need replacing. If the TTC was to buy Mark 2 cars which are used on the Skytrain, they’d have to rebuild the approach to Kennedy station as the Mark 2s can’t make the tight turn just before the station.


            Bill and I rode the line in its length and then rode one station back to Scarborough Centre. There, I filmed the train pulling out. We then went downstairs to wait for a bus that would take us to the Don Mills station on the Sheppard subway.


            Bill commented that the TTC has pretty good ridership compared to other systems he’s been on such as MARTA in Atlanta.


            We got on Orion 7 Hybrid bus #1127 on route 190 and rode to Don Mills. I told Bill a little bit about buses. By now it was snowing pretty hard, so the bus was driving slower than usual. We passed underneath the main CP line and a CP intermodel train was passing overhead. We passed Orion 7 hybrid #1109 which was broken down.


            We soon arrived at Don Mills. When I got off, I photographed the bus.



            We then went downstairs and boarded a T-1 train on the Sheppard Line. The Sheppard Line uses four car trains while the Yonge-University-Spadina and Bloor-Danforth lines use six car trains.


            I told Bill that in 2007, the TTC was facing a budget crunch and was considering axing the Sheppard line as well as other routes because it wasn’t carrying as many people as anticipated. Fortunately, the TTC got some funding which spared routes from being cut.


            We arrived at Sheppard/Yonge station where we went downstairs to pick up a northbound Yonge-University-Spadina train to Finch. While waiting, I saw a subway train operate on the stretch of track connecting the Yonge line to the Sheppard line.


            Two southbound trains arrived before our northbound train arrived. We rode two stops to Finch. This is where we parted ways. I told Bill I would see him in two weeks. I then headed upstairs and caught a VIVA bus home.




            I would have liked that Bill and I had a full day in Toronto as there is so much to ride. The trip would have been better had we ridden an H-4. I know I can ride one almost anytime, but not Bill. However, if Bill had not missed the train, I would not have done this trip.


            I don’t usually write trip reports when I go transit riding within GO Transit territory, but this is an exception.


            My next trip will be in two weeks when I head to Dallas to finish my quest to visit the 19 PCCs that were mothballed in 1995. I plan to meet up with Bill again on the Lakeshore Limited on the way down. Until next time…