• The Ocean & VIA1 To Toronto

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by NS VIA FAN
 
I rode VIA’s Ocean from Moncton, New Brunswick to Montreal last weekend then on to Toronto in VIA1. Here’s my trip report:

I would be returning from Toronto by air so my first stop was at the Moncton Airport to drop of my car then I took a taxi downtown to the VIA Station. The Ocean arrived on time from Halifax at 5pm. Today’s train would be one of the “Renaissance” consists:

VIA #15 OCEAN w/b Moncton, NB
March 31, 2006
6407 F40
6416 F40
7009 Baggage
7228 Coach
7231 Coach
7311 Lounge Service Car
7402 Diner
7314 Lounge Service Car
7501 Sleeper
7526 Sleeper
7522 Sleeper
7503 Sleeper <I’m here.

I had a Double Bedroom in a Ren Sleeper and I was looking forward to this after a recent trip in a Budd Chateau sleeper which was in need of a refurbishing after nearly 15 years since a rebuilding in the early ‘90s. The Ren Double bedroom has a full length sofa across the car which converts into the lower bed (a bit narrower than a Budd but a bit longer) An upper berth folds down. The toilet annex is large and contains a sink. A Ren Deluxe Bedroom also has a shower. There are nice wood finishes and the lighting is soft compared to the florescent lights in the Budds.

http://www.viarail.ca/classes/en_serv_v ... _ocdo.html

We leave OT at 5:20pm but stop just past Gordon Yard to meet an e/b CN freight and loose about 20 minutes. At Pacific Jct. We diverge from CN’s eastern transcontinental main and head north on the New Brunswick East Coast Railway. We roll north on the fast straight track to Rogersville. I have my GPS with me and can see our route as we maintain a steady 80+mph.

I have a dinner reservation and sit in the lounge car until the second call at 6:30. The Ren Diners are full length with a serving area in the centre. Seating is arranged with four on one side and two on the other. Nice lighting, real plates, silver and linen! (No paper and plastic here!) The meals are prepared in the Service Cars attached at each end of the diner. The service cars also contain the lounge space for the sleepers (rear car) and coach (forward car) The food is prepared elsewhere then heated and plated on board but unless you knew this it would be hard to tell. The meal was excellent: Garden Salad, several passes with a basket of hot rolls, Chicken & Ribs with garlic mashed and corn then Maple Mousse Cake for desert.

I spend a bit of time in the lounge car after diner. The seating is now much more comfortable than when the Ren cars first entered service and rumor has it that the stand-up bar area will also be replaced with seats. As a railfan I miss the dome car especially in the evening north of Bathurst when the lights of the Gaspe Peninsula come into view across the Baie des Chaleurs. But from conversations I’ve had most don’t care if there’s a dome or not as long as there is a lounge. (the domes will be attached to the Renaissance consists again on May 1 for six months of the year in “Easterly Class” service)

We don’t make up any of the lost time through several stops in northern New Brunswick and then have a 15 minutes servicing stop in Campbellton where I get off for a few pictures. At Matapedia just west of Campbellton we cross into Quebec and enter the Eastern Time Zone. On Friday evenings, we don’t have to spend 20 minutes adding the through cars from VIA’s Chaleur so we are right on time out of Matapedia now running on the “Chemin de fer de la Matapedia et du Golfe” (roughly translated: Road of Iron of the Matapedia and Gulf. or just: Matapedia & Gulf Railway) which we will follow to near Riviere du Loup when we enter CN track again.

The Renaissance cars are very smooth riding compared to my recent trip on a Budd Ocean. So I don’t have much trouble sleeping. The next thing I sense is our backing into Charny at 4:40 am right on time (the stop for Quebec City) I get dressed and head for the lounge car to sit until the diner open for Breakfast. I always enjoy watching the traffic out on parallel Autoroute #20 as we pass everything at 90+mph.

The diner opens just after 6 and I go in for Breakfast. The new type meal service doesn’t allow for the usual bacon & eggs cooked to order so I settle for the Breakfast Muffin (similar to an Egg McMuffin) along with hashbrowns, toast, coffee and juice. Not my favorite breakfast but certainly acceptable. We continue on to Montreal arriving in Central Station 23 minutes early at 7:52am (scheduled at 8:15)

I could have made a direct connection to Toronto bound #57 but delay this until this evening so I can have a few hours to visit with friends and have lunch. Mid afternoon I’m on my own so decide to make a quick round trip to Deux Montagnes. This is the line out of Central Station through the 3 mile Mont Royal tunnel operated with Bombardier Electric MUs. Very scenic through the northern suburbs and crossing over several rivers. Takes about an hour and a half for the round trip then it’s nearly time for my train to Toronto.

I’m traveling in VIA1 First Class so I can wait in the Panorama Lounge. There’s newspapers available along with coffee, tea, pop and juice. If you want to use your lap-top, there’s also high-speed wireless internet (for a fee).

After a few minutes the train is announced and we board at 5:50 for a 6:15pm departure. This is the last train on a Saturday evening making nearly all corridor stops and taking nearly an hour and twenty minutes longer than the fastest schedule but it still offers VIA1 service.

VIA #69 w/b Montreal Central Station
April 1, 2006
F40
LRC VIA 1 <I’m here.
LRC Coach
LRC Coach

We leave right on time. Getting dark now and a bit of rain but a good view of the Montreal skyline. VIA’s excellent First Class service starts before we are even out of the station: a basket with a selection of chips and snacks is passed around followed by the bar cart and I have a Labatts Blue. As the attendant collects the tickets, she passes out to-nights menu and I select the Chicken Stir-fry.

http://www.viarail.ca/classes/en_serv_clas_via1.html

After a quick stop at suburban Dorval the dinner service starts: Hot towel to freshen up. A Salmon & asparagus appetizer along with a glass of white wine. Then the main course followed by Chocolate Cake for desert and coffee. A chocolate truffle and an Irish Cream liqueur to finish off an excellent meal!

We continue rolling along CN’s Kingston Subdivision at 90>95mph and a couple of minutes early at most stops. The Attendant comes through several times asking if there is anything you would like and I have another beer. I was going to get out my lap-top and log onto the wireless internet but it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the trip. We’re soon slowing for Guildwood just east of Toronto and I’m quickly in a taxi and at the Hotel in about 10 minutes.

Another great VIA trip!
Last edited by NS VIA FAN on Fri Apr 14, 2006 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by David Benton
 
Thanks for that report . good to hear the new cars are providing reasonable service . Via seems to have gotten a good deal there .