Saturday, November 23, 2013

Across Canada by Train Order - Westward

In September 1985, I travelled to western Canada aboard VIA Rail. I was travelling on a System Canrailpass ($230), which meant one thing...coach travel! Though I would hesitate to undertake this journey without sleeping car space today, for the adventurous 21 year-old (being greeted on my return to Kingston by my Dad - above), spending several days in ex-CN and ex-CP coaches was not too much to ask.

The conductor and trainman generally rode in the same coach I did. At each crew change, I set about acquiring the crew's used clearance, train orders and bulletins in one of two ways: I would either ask politely for them, explaining my rail enthusiast status, either prior to to or during the crew change, or rifle through the crew four-seater's VIA paper garbage bag after they detrained. These methods worked like a charm, and netted me a nice, fairly complete set of train orders for my cross-Canada route. In my second book on VIA Rail, I included a section called 'Ticket to Ride' that described some of the sights, sounds and tastes of my travels aboard VIA in this era.

Since VIA trains operated over CN or CP rails (and those of Burlington Northern in Vancouver), the orders represented my train's movement over both of Canada's Class 1 railways. Here is a list of the train order sets, by date, route, train number, route segment, railway travelled and train order offices represented, including some interesting orders, accompanied by photos taken en route:

September 16, 1985:
The Montreal and Toronto sections of VIA's Canadian (Nos 1 and 9, respectively) were combined at Sudbury. 
VIA No 1 Montreal QC-Winnipeg MB
CP Ottawa 
CP Renfrew
CP Chalk  River (meeting CP eastbound freight No 492 Eng 5797 at Hodgson)
CP North Bay (including Lucky tie crane - below)
CP Cartier
The orders from No 9 Toronto to Sudbury were also added to my set:
CP Parry Sound - at Reynolds
CP Burwash

I missed overnight crew changes i.e. Sudbury and Chapleau, White River and Schreiber
September 17, 1985:
VIA No 1
CP Thunder Bay ('loose caboose' CP 437188 equipped with train order signal at Niblock- above)
CP Ignace (Boarding car CP 412592 equipped with train order signal in siding at Hawk Lake)
CP Kenora
CN Kenora (including trains to CN Pine Falls Sub. This was a unique though not unheard of instance of CN and CP clearances being issues by the same operator - in this case MacFarlane. The CN clearance included orders for CN's Pine Falls Sub in Winnipeg, which the Canadian reached via a short connecting track from CP Manson to CN Pine Junction for the run over the Pine Falls Sub and St Boniface high line into Union Station)
At Winnipeg, three westbound trains were under the trainshed: No 93 Engs 9163-9158 to Churchill , No 7 Eng 6306 from Capreol, and No 1 Engs 6305-6625 to Vancouver. I stopped over in Portage la Prairie MB to visit relatives there.
September 21, 1985:
VIA No 1 Portage la Prairie MB to Vancouver BC (had to sleep sometime)
CP Field BC (two order 602's, one amending the Eng number on dimensional shipment train- above)
CP Kamloops (Engines VIA 6541-6613-6304-15 cars)
CP North Bend
BN clearance was also issued by Opr Basra at North Bend, to C&E No 16:
September 23, 1985:
VIA No 4 Vancouver BC-Edmonton AB
CP Vancouver
BN Vancouver (to Psgr Extra VIA 6311 South)
CN Vancouver
CN Jasper AB
CN Edson AB
September 24, 1985:
VIA No 5 Edmonton AB-Prince Rupert BC
CN Smithers BC (above)
CN Terrace BC
The next post, Across Canada by Train Order - Eastward will include train orders from the return trip eastward from Prince Rupert....until then, here are the westward and eastward clearances for my trains through Terrace (above).

Running extra...

An eventful week on VIA: Montreal St marsh fire Monday delaying trains up to three hours, two RDC's tailing No 657 Thursday possibly on their way to Prince Rupert service, and I'm looking forward to sampling VIA's new Business Class meal service this coming Monday.

VIA has scheduled many upcoming trips this winter between Jasper and Prince Rupert using RDC's. Spectacular scenery, but the refurbished RDC seats don't turn, so passengers will be able to see where they've just been. Then there's the overnight stay in Prince George. Watch for an upcoming post with scenic views of my daytime coach trip...it's a lonnnnnng way down from some of the bridges!

Fire up the Keurig! Recently purchased by the sale of some um...assets, a new Keurig at work bookends the home Keurig to ensure kontinuous kaffeine konsumption. A plethora of blends, and more roast options than Dean Martin! Tim Hortons and Folger's are advertising their Keurig-kompatible products on TV. It's a koffee klatsch kornucopia!

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