A Weekend on the Ocean

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A Weekend on the Ocean

Postby NS VIA FAN » Wed Dec 03, 2014 4:59 am

A weekend on the Ocean to Montreal then onto Ottawa.

Work was going to have me in Ottawa for a couple of days so I decided to make it into a long weekend and head out Friday morning on VIA’s Ocean.

I would have to fly back so the first stop was to drop my car off at YHZ......the Halifax International Airport then catch the MetroX bus downtown to the VIA Rail Station.

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The Ocean departed Halifax on time at 11am with 5 boarding the sleepers and about 30 in coach. We had 3 F40s hauling 13 Renaissance Cars including a baggage car, 3 coaches, 2 service/lounge cars, a diner, 5 sleepers, a transition car and Assiniboine Park……a Dome-Observation bringing up the markers.

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I made my way back to the Dome for the departure from Halifax and stayed until nearly Truro when I went for Lunch joining about 5 others in the diner. I had the cold roast turkey sandwich with soup and chips on the side.

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After that is was just a lazy afternoon with a coffee or two up in the dome as we made our way through Nova Scotia and on into New Brunswick. Arrival in Moncton was 10 minutes early at 3:10pm with a good crowd waiting and the sleepers and coaches started to fill up as they continued to do as we headed west through the evening.

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At Pacific Jct near Moncton we veered away from CN’s National Transcontinental main and headed up the infamous Newcastle Subdivision. Only a couple of years ago the Ocean covered the 120 miles from Moncton to Bathurst in 2 1\2 hrs……it now takes 4 1\2 hrs and the section between Miramichi and Bathurst was subject to total abandonment just last spring. But better days are ahead and numerous work projects are now underway that should see the Ocean return to a more respectable speed through here. I spent some time in the Ren Lounge where Wi-Fi is available.

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Re: A Weekend on the Ocean

Postby NS VIA FAN » Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:01 am

Dinner was just after leaving Rogersville. I started with the Ocean’s signature chowder……then the Sirloin Tips along with Mashed, Green Beans & Carrots. There was three passes with warm multi-grain rolls and I finished-up with strawberry cake and coffee. An excellent meal and good service!

I spent some time in the dome on the clear evening……looking across the Baie de Chaleur to the lights along the Gaspe coast Then it was back to my room and I stayed awake through Campbellton and into Quebec at Matapedia where time went back an hour to Eastern at 9:20pm…….right on time!

I had a Deluxe Cabin for Two. VIA’s Renaissance Sleepers are not named but are “Themed”. As you entered my car: #7516…..You see a mural for Kouchibouquac…..a New Brunswick National Park and it’s carried throughout the car with photos in each room.

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There’s been some discussion in one of the forums here about locking of sleeping car doors……here’s the keycard and lock on my Ren Bedroom. (VIA Budd sleepers do not have card locks)

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I didn’t hear a sound until the loud roar of HEP units out my window at 1:50am. So up when the blind just as we met the eastbound Ocean near Trois-Pistoles……..then back to sleep.

I set the alarm on my phone for 4:30am so I would be awake as we crossed the St Lawrence to Sainte-Foy on the Quebec Bridge. We’re 15 min late here……then we back-up across the bridge with the Park Car leading for the 3 1\2 miles to Joffre Yard then continue onto Montreal.

Time to get ready now and head for breakfast…….and just a light one: toast, fruit and coffee. I’m sitting in the diner as we stop in Drummondville 15 minutes early……then up into the dome for a 25 minute early arrival at Saint-Hyacinthe where we have to wait for our departure time. Certainly…..a lot of schedule padding.

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Re: A Weekend on the Ocean

Postby NS VIA FAN » Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:02 am

We would have been 15 minutes early into Gare Centrale except for a halt just outside the station but still make it in about 5 min early.

I was staying in Montreal for a day at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth (a former CN Hotel) located directly above Central Station and connected by elevator. From stepping off the train and into my room was less than 10 minutes.

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Here’s the upper portion of Centrals Concourse…….with the QE Hotel above

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Saturday afternoon I took an AMT electric MU from Central out through the 3 mile Mt Royal Tunnel to Deux-Montagnes (Two Mountains)…… One of the more scenic routes doing some island hopping through the northern suburbs. One of the original CN Electric units that served the route until 1995 is “stuffed & mounted” in front of the Deux-Montagnes station.

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On Sunday morning I took VIA #133 to Ottawa. A consist made up of refurbished Budd Stainless-Steel equipment. I was in Coach #4102 The photo below is an interior shot……you would never guess now that it started life on the Louisville & Nashville RR and probably saw service on the Georgian, Humming Bird and Pan American before going to Amtrak then onto VIA.

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Re: A Weekend on the Ocean

Postby NS VIA FAN » Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:03 am

It was a quick 1 hr and 50 minutes up to Ottawa. After leaving the CN main near Coteau-du-Lac, we were on mostly VIA owned track, the Alexandria Subdivision for the remaining 65 miles into Ottawa.

Arrival was 5 minutes early at the most attractive Gare d‘Ottawa……soon to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary:

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Then it was on to downtown and to where I was staying via OC Transpo and the O-Train diesel light-rail. Ottawa buses run on a system of dedicated transitways……roads for buses only and bus-stops are stations…..not just a post on the corner. Here’s the transit stop at the VIA Station.

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…..and the O-Train:

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The original Ottawa Union Station was downtown and is still in use today as a Government Conference Centre. It’s located directly across the street and was connected by tunnel to the former CN Chateau Laurier Hotel. You can see the hotel in the background here behind the National War Memorial (where the terrorist attack took place here just over a month ago.)

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Re: A Weekend on the Ocean

Postby NS VIA FAN » Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:04 am

……and keeping with the railroad theme of my trip, I returned to Halifax on “Porter” airlines. A Bombardier Q400 Turboprop covered the route in 1 hr and 25 min. Porter is a great little airline with routes in eastern Canada and into the US. All passengers get to use the business class lounge in the airport and there’s complementary snacks and free beer and wine on board.

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Re: A Weekend on the Ocean

Postby timberley » Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:45 pm

Great report, thanks for posting that! A few comments:

-I was quite impressed to see how quickly the track work on the Newcastle Sub got underway. I was through on the Ocean in August and then again in October, and the amount of work that had been done was substantial. The speed has actually already been increased on several sections, back up to 60mph. This has resulted in the eastbound Ocean arriving in Moncton reliably 30+ minutes early for the last while (at one point early in the fall I heard a report they got in 50 minutes ahead of schedule!) The schedule hasn't been altered though, so between that increase and the faster stop in Matapedia (no Chaleaur to connect with), there's a lot of padding in the schedule. Hopefully that will help keep time-keeping reasonable over the Christmas season (especially with the extra trains and extra travellers!), and ideally we should see a change in the schedule to speed things up again soon.

-Glad you enjoyed the meals. I've noticed an improvement in the quality of the Ren meals lately, and actually on my trip in October the meals were the best I've had yet on the Renaissance equipment. I believe there have been some changes lately with the catering, which may have helped things out.

-The locking doors are one of the only things I like about the Ren sleepers. That and the convenience of having a bathroom (and in half the rooms a shower as well) en suite, but that's all I like about them :-P

-The interior jobs in the HEP2s (the refurbished Budds in the Corridor service) really does an impressive job of hiding their heritage! The original idea with them was to make them very similar to the LRC interiors (for consistency of service and convenience for crews), and they do fit that bill. It unfortunately makes them much less comfy than the long-distance HEP1 Budds.

-The Queen Elizabeth is a lovely hotel, and can't be beaten for convenience coming off the train. I was put up there by VIA last Christmas when the Ocean got stuck in Matapedia (HEP failure in a snow storm!), and we got bussed in to Montreal too late to make any connections (after 8:30pm!). I very much enjoyed the hotel, and the breakfast the next morning (also courtesy of VIA).

-Good to see you got to ride the O-Train as well! I took a summer course at Carleton a few years ago (while living in Ontario over the summer), and was able to use that train twice a week when I went in for class, either from the Greenboro park-and-ride, or connecting from a bus at Bayview....so I know the whole little route quite well! The Bombardier Talents are quite nice,and I always liked being able to sit in the front section and look through the glass wall at the back of the driver's cab; great view down the tracks ahead. Did you happen to notice if any of the new Alstom units were in operation?

-Ah, Porter. If you have to fly, it's a pretty nice way to go! I did the same thing you did on my trip in October, Ocean west and Porter home. If VIA were still running a sensible schedule I could have taken the train both ways, but 3 days a week is just ridiculous.


So yes, thanks again for the lovely write-up and photos! Has me even more excited for my Ocean travels to and from Ontario in a few weeks time for Christmas. I'll be happily taking advantage of the extra all-Budd equipped trips of course....now THAT is a way to travel!
Tim
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Re: A Weekend on the Ocean

Postby Ken V » Fri Dec 05, 2014 12:46 am

This topic has been copied from the VIA Rail Canada forum.
Ken V. Moderator: Most things Canadian.
Any time could be train time!
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