NS VIA FAN wrote:
I live about mid way between Halifax and Sydney and I can say from personal observation there would be no market for an overnight train between those points. The overnight train that did exist at one time was gone by June 1967 but the day trains were very well used and lasted until the VIA cuts of January 1990.
3) Putting the Bras'd'Hor from Halifax to Cape Breton (Sydney) back in service, rather than having this as a tourist train model. VIA may find it best to operate as a late evening departure overnight train from Halifax to Cape Breton to help the time go by until the more scenic portions of the trip come to be and to also allow intermediate stops. It may be best to operate as a seasonal train - three days a week. It almost came to be (after a hiatus) as a two day per week train
Probably the better option is a revived Bras d’Or. Retain the “Tour Train” features but with local stops and local traffic permitted unlike the previous operation in the early 2000s. The new Bras d’Or would also have to be timed to connect with the Ocean at Truro as this was a big market for the trains prior to January 1990.
It’s probably going to take awhile to regain local traffic since it’s been nearly 20 years since the trains were originally cut. In that time a 4-lane highway has been constructed nearly half the distance between Halifax and Sydney with the remainder a Super-2. Currently you could probably drive between Sydney and Halifax in about half the time a train would take.....The track between Sydney and Port Hawkesbury was subject to abandonment a couple of years ago but is now subsidized by the province and would probably require a lot of work to permit the speeds the RDCs once reached. Port Hawkesbury to Truro is in better condition and Truro to Halifax is CN mainline trackage.
I would agree to any train that would restore train service between Halifax and Sydney - with intermediate stops.
I mentioned the overnight train bit for Bras’d’Or largely so it could travel from Halifax to Truro and further to a point south of Port Hawkesbury so train travelers could “sleep” part of the way and then enjoy day-time scenery from at least 8 a.m. to say 3 p.m. on its travels to/from a point just south of Port Hawkesbury to Sydney – making local stops along the way. I forget how long the trip – by train – from Halifax to Sydney actually is, but I am sure an overnight schedule from Halifax (departure around 8 or 9 p.m.) and then arrival int sydney at say 3 p.m. would be way more time than the train needs to travel over the route.
Perhaps the train could stop somewhere enroute to ensure an arrival into Sydney around 3 p.m. (like the overnight Montreal-Toronto Enterprise used to). To me, an arrival, at 3 p.m. would be key, as this would allow people to get rental cars and head off to their respective restaurants or hotels for the evening. This would at least allow a late dinner option, breakfast and lunch to Sydney and then something similar on return. to Halifax. The scenery didn’t really get that spectacular until the area around Port Hawkesbury and north. However, in addition to some museum near or along the rail ROW out to Cape Breton and even some towns with descent population, one would hope VIA could capitalize on these types of markets. Some extended station stops like aboard the Jasper-Prince Rupert train (Skeena) would be nice, although perhaps less ideal for “local passengers.”
I hated the drive from Halifax up to Port Hawkesbury. Once crossing at Port Hawkesbury to Cape Breton, it was a much more pleasurable drive. I kept saying on the drive up to Port Hawkesbury (and back) - I’d rather be on a train.
I just thought having part of the trip on the Bras’d’Or overnight aboard (sleeping cars en-tow), that VIA might win more of both tourist and local passengers, thus establishing
- a tourist train mindset on the Bras’d’Or
- a local train mindset on the Bras’d’Or to serve local communities
- operate tri-weekly and seasonally
A schedule for the Bras’d’Or something along the lines of departing Halifax around 8 p.m., but stopping shortly after leaving Halifax along the ROW (that CN would allow) so the train could offer dinner while on a “scenic siding” and then arrive into Sydney at 3 p.m. Or perhaps passengers would have the option of boarding for dinner (those in Tourist Class) and have dinner while on the train at the Halifax train station, before the train departs say at like 9:00 p.m. One could go with just the opposite schedule leaving Sydney OR it could be timed to have the same “daylight scenic scenery offered as the northbound journey to Sydney” as southbound to Halifax (arriving by 9 a.m.). Thus this would allow for a same day connection with the Ocean. I realize I must have just added a ton on “padding” to the schedule!