To Montreal On The Ocean (with photos)

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To Montreal On The Ocean (with photos)

Postby NS VIA FAN » Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:24 pm

I had the opportunity to ride VIA’s Ocean a couple of weeks ago for a long weekend away in Montreal.

A trip on the Ocean usually begin with an Acadian Lines bus ride to connect at the VIA Station in Truro, NS. But today I would be dropping my car off at YHZ (the Halifax International Airport) so it would be available for a quick get-away when I returned by Air Canada the following Wednesday evening. I then took the shuttle bus downtown to the Westin Hotel (a former CN Hotel) which is adjacent to VIA’s Halifax Station.

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I picked up my ticket which I had purchased on-line and only had a couple of minutes to wait before Sleeper check-in began about a half hour before our departure at 1235.

I was glad to see that today’s train was using the Renaissance equipment. (During the winter months a Budd consist will fill in for one of the three Ren consists while it is modified to meet barrier-free requirements) Last winter I was on a Budd Ocean and with the constant rattle and vibrating……got little sleep. The Budd equipment is getting old so it’s nice to see VIA has begun an upgrading program. Perhaps my opinion of the Budd equipment will change when this upgrade is complete but for today, I’m quite happy to have a bedroom in a very smooth riding Renaissance Sleeper. See a 360 deg. view here..........this is cool!!
http://www.viarail.ca/sites/all/files/m ... r/360.html

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Today’s train was a 10 car Renaissance Consist:

VIA #15 Ocean
6400 F40
6424 F40
7011 Baggage
7228 Coach
7230 Coach
7312 Service (Coach Lounge)
7402 Diner
7308 Service (Sleeper Lounge)
7509 Sleeper
7501 Sleeper < I’m here
7525 Sleeper
7512 Sleeper

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The configuration of the train with sealed diaphragms between cars and the vestibule doors usually left open permits unimpeded movement from one end of the train to the other. The sleepers are not named but upon entering a car there is a mural of a theme that is carried throughout the car. Here’s “Vineyards - Nova Scotia” (looking through from the vestibule of the adjacent car)

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First call to lunch came just as we cleared the Halifax Station. I had the Salad with Grilled Chicken and Sun Dried Tomato Dressing ($8.) which was very good. After lunch on this sunny afternoon it was nice to just sit back in the Sleeper Lounge, read the paper and enjoy the complementary tea or coffee. (Note the British Rail logo on the microwave in the second photo)

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We began our climb into the Cobequid Hills west of Truro and a meet with the eastbound Ocean running a half-hour late at Folly Lake. It had been cold the previous couple of days and I noted there was still a dusting of snow on the higher elevations across the valley on the slopes at Ski Wentworth.

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On to Moncton with an on time arrival at 1700. The train is fueled here and there was plenty of time to get off for a few pictures. The sleeper load had been light out of Halifax (lots of airline competition) but began to fill out now and would continue to do so the rest of the evening through northern New Brunswick and eastern Quebec.

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Near Pacific Jct about 14 miles out of Moncton we diverged from CN’s mainline and onto the Newcastle Subdivision which until recently had been the New Brunswick East Coast Railway. CN had sold this trackage to the shortline railway 10 years ago then in a surprise move last year, bought it back. They’ve done quite a bit of track work and the ride quality certainly shows it compared to my last trip. Using my GPS I noted we were doing a steady 60>65mph on the nearly straight track into Rogersville.

It was dark now and time for the second call to dinner. The Renaissance Diners were constructed by utilizing several unused Ren Sleeper Shells which have produced a very attractive layout. See a 360 deg. view here..........
http://www.viarail.ca/sites/all/files/m ... r/360.html

And a change from the last time I rode the Ocean…….Menu items are now priced “A la Carte” and quite reasonable: I started with the Ocean’s “signature” Fish Chowder…….thick and served with hot rolls. ($3.75). For the main course, BBQ Chicken with garlic mashed and corn salsa ($10.) There were also a couple of dessert items available for $3.25…….but I passed on this! I spent some time in the lounge after diner then returned to my room.

We continued to make numerous stops at the stations through northern New Brunswick: Bathurst…….Petit Rocher…….Jacquet River etc…….adding to our passenger count with the train now pretty well filling up. Not bad for a Saturday night in November.

Campbellton was reached at 2150 and I got off and walked forward for some video as the units were fueled. Then it was onto Matapedia and a meet with the section arriving from Gaspe (the former Chaleur) which would be joined to our train here.

Crossing into Quebec we went back an hour from Atlantic to Eastern Time. The power was off for about 20 minutes while the trains were joined and we departed as a combined 15 car train at 2150ET. The Gaspe train consisted of Budd Stainless Steel cars (2 Chateau Sleepers, Skyline Dome, Coach and Baggage Car) but there is no access between the two sections to take advantage of the Dome car ahead.

I woke through the night and we were really rolling now…….having regained the CN mainline near Riviere-du-Loup. I checked my GPS for our location and we were on time and doing 80mph on the straight track running parallel to the St. Lawrence River. Soon we were slowing for the yard at Joffre and the back-up move into Charny across the river from Quebec City.

Out of Charny at 0450 am we were soon up to a steady 90mph easily overtaking any traffic along parallel Autoroute 20. Next stop was Drummondville 20 minutes early and we had to wait for our departure time.

I made my way to the diner shortly after it opened at 6am and had the continental breakfast ($6). It was going to be nice day with the sun just coming up. On to St-Lambert then across the St. Lawrence on the mile long Victoria bridge arriving into Montreal at 0800, 20 minutes early.

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And here's a link to more photos in my trip album:

http://picasaweb.google.ca/ghCBNS/VIAOc ... directlink

I wanted to return by train but had to be back for work on Thursday morning…….so settled for a quick 70 minute flight on an Air Canada E-190 Wednesday evening.
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Re: To Montreal On The Ocean (with photos)

Postby electricron » Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:39 pm

Thanks for taking the time to post the photos....
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Re: To Montreal On The Ocean (with photos)

Postby timberley » Sat Nov 28, 2009 9:50 am

Nice to hear about your trip, sounds like you had a great time! I ride the Ocean frequently between Truro and Montreal, so I know it's a great trip. Your pictures were lovely too.

I'm a little surprised though, to hear that you were very enthusiastic about having the Renaissance sleepers as opposed to the Budd ones. I have heard very few people who've said anything positive about the Renaissance sleepers. I can't say myself, because I've never had the luxury of upgrading to sleeper class of any sort. I've always been in coach the whole way, which is still very nice. In that regard though, while I like many things about the Renaissance cars, I have a great preference for when they're running the Budd consist during the winter. I'm going to be taking that train again on the 19th of December, a date specifically chosen so that I would be on the Budd cars.

My reasoning? As a coach class passenger, the Budd cars just offer so much more. Yes, I do like the fact that the Renaissance cars have electrical outlets at every seat, and the single seating option is rather nice for me when I'm frequently travelling alone. But the big thing that tips the scales for me is the Skyline dome car. When on the Budd consist, I spent almost all my time there. The dome is really amazing to sit in, and the lounge area downstairs is substantially more comfortable, and more spacious even, than the Renaissance service cars. In the Budd cars, I felt much less restricted to my seat, and found it equally comfortable to the Ren cars when I was in my seat. I slept much better too, despite the fact that they do rattle quite a bit more.

Perhaps when I have the chance to upgrade to sleeper class, I can more adequately compare the two. I just know that for me, as an economy coach (not sleeper or Easterly) class passenger, I've much preferred the Budd cars.

Just my 2 cents.

I don't mean to detract at all from your trip report, it was excellent and I'm sure you had a blast. I was just a little puzzled, because I had yet to hear anyone say "I was glad it was a Renaissance sleeper, and not those Budd ones"
Tim
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Re: To Montreal On The Ocean (with photos)

Postby NS VIA FAN » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:13 pm

timberley wrote:
I don't mean to detract at all from your trip report, it was excellent and I'm sure you had a blast. I was just a little puzzled, because I had yet to hear anyone say "I was glad it was a Renaissance sleeper, and not those Budd ones"

I’ve been riding the Ocean since the 1970s.....even before VIA......and numerous times since the Budd “HEP” equipment was introduced in the early 1990s on the Atlantic and Ocean.

It’s now been nearly 20 years since the first rebuilt cars entered service and they are once again showing their age. After a trip on a “Budd” Ocean last winter with the constant rattle and vibrating, toilets not working etc......I’ll avoid the Budds and take a Ren sleeper any day. Just a much more comfortable ride. I enjoy the domes too and that’s why I like traveling when Touring (Easterly) Class is offered......the best of both worlds: the modern Ren Sleepers + the Park Dome Observation.

I’ve found that it’s usually the railfan that doesn’t like the Rens. Others I’ve spoken to actually enjoy the modern equipment. One local fan hates the Rens but has never been on them. Why?.....he’s into photography and likes the perfectly matched Budd Stainless Steel, punctuated by a Park Car.

Perhaps my opinion of the Budd equipment will change when the current upgrading is complete. But for now...... I’ll schedule my trips to avoid them
Last edited by NS VIA FAN on Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: To Montreal On The Ocean (with photos)

Postby David Benton » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:50 pm

thanks for the report and photos . i rode this train back in the 90's when it was the old blue equipment .

I read the British mk111 coaches are been phased out , and didnt have a buyer lined up . they would be similiar to the mk4 , which is the renaniansce equipment .
possibly that would be a better way to go than another overhaul of the budd cars .
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Re: To Montreal On The Ocean (with photos)

Postby NS VIA FAN » Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:35 pm

David Benton wrote:.......the British mk111 coaches are been phased out , and didnt have a buyer lined up . they would be similiar to the mk4 , which is the renaniansce equipment .
possibly that would be a better way to go than another overhaul of the budd cars .

The Budd equipment does have several more years of life but certainly requires the overhaul VIA announced in September.

http://www.viarail.ca/en/pressreleases/view/1387

Don’t think the best approach would be to obtain old British Rail mkIII cars that are being phased out and introduce an orphan design into the mix.
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Re: To Montreal On The Ocean (with photos)

Postby timberley » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:43 pm

NS VIA FAN wrote:I’ve been riding the Ocean since the 1970s.....even before VIA......and numerous times since the Budd “HEP” equipment was introduced in the early 1990s on the Atlantic and Ocean.

It’s now been nearly 20 years since the first rebuilt cars entered service and they are once again showing their age. After a trip on a “Budd” Ocean last winter with the constant rattle and vibrating, toilets not working etc......I’ll avoid the Budds and take a Ren sleeper any day. Just a much more comfortable ride. I enjoy the domes too and that’s why I like traveling when Touring (Easterly) Class is offered......the best of both worlds: the modern Ren Sleepers + the Park Dome Observation.

I’ve found that it’s usually the railfan that doesn’t like the Rens. Others I’ve spoken to actually enjoy the modern equipment. One local fan hates the Rens but has never been on them. Why?.....he’s into photography and likes the perfectly matched Budd Stainless Steel, punctuated by a Park Car.

Perhaps my opinion of the Budd equipment will change when the current upgrading is complete. But for now...... I’ll schedule my trips to avoid them


That's understandable. I'm not fond of those who declare that they don't like certain equipment having never ridden on it. From the railfan's point of view, the all-Renaissance Ocean is actually starting to look pretty good, with the new paint scheme on the F40's. Yes, the Park car always will look a little out of place...but the bullet-tail on it looks better than the end of a renaissance sleeper, for sure.

My preference for the Budd cars is only in riding coach class. I cannot afford (on a student budget) to upgrade to Easterly class, so I don't have the opportunity to get the "best of both worlds". I have yet to be able to manage to take a sleeper on the Ocean, having now ridden that train quite a few times. So I will not give any judgment myself on which sleeper is more comfortable. When I do have opportunity to ride sleeper class on both (Eventually, I will), then I will offer my honest comparison of the two types of equipment for that setting.

Regardless, I'm very excited to take that train again in three weeks time. Budd or Renaissance, it's a fantastic trip!
Tim
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