Discussion of Canadian Passenger Rail Services such as AMT (Montreal), Go Transit (Toronto), VIA Rail, and other Canadian Railways and Transit

Moderator: Ken V

  by chriskay
 
Hello all,

I'm planning a trip in January one-way on the Ocean to Moncton, and I'm trying to plan my voyage. I know that Renaissance equipment and Budd cars operate on different days... does anyone know which days? Or does it depend on the week and my best bet would be just to try booking and see what comes up?

Also, any comment as to which experience is better, considering there is no Easterly class? Is sleeper class better in Renaissance or Budd cars? I'm leaning towards the Budd cars just because those won't be around forever so I should take it in while I can.

Thanks,
-Chris
  by Tom6921
 
I know the Budd equipment leaves Montreal on Thursdays and Sundays. It leaves Halifax on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Budd equipment is better as you can get access to the Skyline dome car.
  by chriskay
 
They don't put a Park car on the Budd equipment when the Easterly class is not on, right?

Thanks so much for that info - I will plan my trip accordingly.
  by jp1822
 
Although this has been done in the past, has VIA actually pulled a Renaissance train set out of service yet? I often wonder if they could use another Skyline Dome car on this consist, as the Ocean can be a large train set at times - especially at the holidays. It doesn't necessarily follow the exact pattern of the Canadian for off peak and peak season travel (close but not always).
  by NS VIA FAN
 
jp1822 wrote:Although this has been done in the past, has VIA actually pulled a Renaissance train set out of service yet?........
Yes, a Budd consist is on the road right now. It departed Montreal last evening and is due in Halifax today (Nov 21)

An easy way to determine what equipment is being used is to go the VIA site, enter cities, travel date and sleeper class. If you are given the option of Double Bedroom or Deluxe Double Bedroom only, it’s a Renaissance consist. But if it shows: Upper/Lower Berth, Single/Double/Triple Bedroom, it’s a Budd consist.
  by jp1822
 
I went on VIA's website and sure enough the ex-CP Budd stainless steel cars were on the schedule. Ironically, the days I played around with in the system listed the Budd train set sold out in terms of double bedrooms, triple bedrooms, and roomettes. Only sections were available in sleeper class.

How is the Budd train set organizaed, for example, all coaches upfront, then Skyline Dome Car, Dining Car, followed then by all the sleepers? Again it would be nice to have a Skyline Dome car at the end of the consist for sleeping car passengers. Is the Diner open to all - or do coach passengers have their meals in the Skyline Dome Car?

Also I am considering riding also on the Ocean in the off season - perhaps in December. So with similiar but more detailed questions, how is the service on the Budd train set - compared to when it used to run on the Ocean full-time? Is the service at least the same, meals good (i.e. freshly prepared onboard to a degree etc.)? Is the Skyline Dome Car often filled? I am thinking about possibly heading out to Halifax in the off season and may consider taking the Budd consist at least one way and the Renaissance equipment the other. Course, I'll miss the Park Dome/Lounge car that used to operate on the Ocean year round!
  by chriskay
 
jp1822 wrote:How is the Budd train set organizaed, for example, all coaches upfront, then Skyline Dome Car, Dining Car, followed then by all the sleepers? Again it would be nice to have a Skyline Dome car at the end of the consist for sleeping car passengers. Is the Diner open to all - or do coach passengers have their meals in the Skyline Dome Car?
I haven't travelled on that train in a few years, but back then it was just as you described, except there was a Park car was on the rear, which now is only for Easterly class in season.

I can't answer the rest of the questions because I have not travelled that route recently. I know I will definitely miss the Park car. I used to spend a good portion of the trip sitting up in the dome.

-Chris
  by Ken V
 
For food on the Ocean during the off season, the dining car menu used on the Budd consist is the same as the one used on the Renaissance equipped trains and hence is mostly prepared off the train and heated on board prior to serving. The dining car is open to all passengers and the Skyline offers only a takeout snack service. Sadly, a Park car is not normally used on the Ocean when Easterly class is not available.
  by timberley
 
I'm actually in Halifax right now (I just got in last night for the weekend...we're buried in snow right now too!) Last night, when I got off the Acadian lines bus, I saw that the Montreal bound section of the Ocean was in the station being prepped. I stopped and tried to catch a few shots of it, since it was the Budd consist (unfortunately, my camera didn't do all that well....plus, they won't let you get up that close here).

So, the consist last night was:

2 F40PH-2 (I couldn't see numbers from where I was)
Baggage
1 Coach (I'm pretty sure, might have been two)
1 Skyline Dome
1 Diner
4 "Chateau" Sleepers

Now I'm working from my blurry pictures right now, so the number of coaches and sleepers might be one off, but I'm pretty sure this is right.

I will admit, it's the shortest consist I've yet seen on the Ocean. But I suppose at the moment it's getting into the off-season, and we're not quite to the Christmas rush yet (which is the only time I've ridden that train). I will likely be riding it 2 or 3 times between now and June, since it is the best way to get home to Ontario from school!

Hopefully I'll end up on the Budd cars for at least one of those, since I've only actually ridden the Renaissance cars on that train before.
On that note, in coach class, how do the Budd cars on the Ocean compare to the HEP-2 (and HEP-1, since I've ridden one of those) cars that are used in the Corridor??
  by jem
 
I just got back by air, having taken the Ocean Montreal to Halifax on Sunday-Monday. It was my first sleeping on the train experience but I had read up on these boards in advance. So yes it was the Budd. If there was a Park car it was nothing like I'd been led to expect. Just a few tables one or two of which had checkerboards. However there was a dome car and it was not crowded on Monday the two times my mother and I sat up there (couple of hours in the morning, and an hour in the afternoon). Dining car was never crowded. Could have fooled me that the food was made off-site. There was a cook and the meals were pretty good. I was concerned at the lack of vegetarian options for lunch and dinner. Yes one could get the chicken caesar sans chicken but that meant no protein at all! Would the cook have boiled an egg or scrambled some tofu to put on it?
  by NS VIA FAN
 
jem wrote:If there was a Park car it was nothing like I'd been led to expect. Just a few tables one or two of which had checkerboards. However there was a dome......
You were in a "Skyline Dome". A "Park Car" is a round-end dome observation on the tail end and only runs during the summer and fall when "Easterly Class" service is offered.

This is a Park Car:
Image
  by marquisofmississauga
 
The last time I was on the Budd-equipped Ocean, the food was indeed substantially cooked on board with a chef. On my Renaissance Ocean trio this summer, one of the sleeper staff was a chef who was, of course, not needed on a Ren. train. He indicated he would go back to being a chef on the one winter consist.

Although generally suspicious of reheated meals (or re-thermalised in VIA-speak!) I have to admit the cooked-on-board meals I last had were very disappointing. The reheated meals on Ren. were much better. As one service manager told me, a reheated meal can be as good as VIA or an airline wants to pay for. Most of the VIA 1 meals served on corridor trains and even airline meals in Executive First on Air Canada are excellent.
  by chriskay
 
Apparently the equipment is out for maintenance in mid-February. I am trying to finalize my plans that week, and it appears it's only ren equipment. Boo!

-Chris
  by marquisofmississauga
 
It appears from Reservia that the last departure with Budd equipment is from Halifax on Saturday 7th Feb. Over the years there has been much switching of equipment which causes passengers and VIA agents much concern. It has happened to me a number of times. If travelling alone, a passenger can do quite well with this deal as long as he or she likes both types of equipment.

If one books a berth or roomette on the Budd train, the passenger will be given exclusive use of a double Renaissance bedroom at no extra charge. If a passenger has booked single use of a Ren. bedroom (which is surcharged a mere 15% over what a roomette would cost as opposed to the 50% supplement required for a Budd double room) and the equipment is switched to Budd, VIA will try to put the passenger in a roomette and offer the 15% difference as a refund. But on three occasions when this happened to me I said: "No, I paid for a double bedroom not a broom closet" and I was accordingly given a Budd double bedroom at no extra charge. After all, as VIA agents admit, it was VIA's decision to swap equipment not the passenger's. I should point out that the equipment changes were all done well in advance so it was not a surprise.

There are, of course, advantages to each type of equipment but, if travelling in winter, the Renaissance train provides easy access throughout the train without risking one's neck negotiating mounds of snow and ice which usually gathers in the Budd vestibules.
  by chriskay
 
Thanks for that info. I hadn't booked yet, so this won't affect any existing ticket.
marquisofmississauga wrote:There are, of course, advantages to each type of equipment but, if travelling in winter, the Renaissance train provides easy access throughout the train without risking one's neck negotiating mounds of snow and ice which usually gathers in the Budd vestibules.
To be honest, this is part of the experience I enjoy on the Budd equipment.

-Chris