On October 29, VIA No 651 took me to Toronto under leaden, overcast autumn skies. Our consist was 906-4005-4109-4105-4111. The sun only broke out from behind the clouds as we entered Union Station, meeting numerous GO extras heading out for another load of commuters (GO 658 - top photo) or to layover until the afternoon rush (GO 646 and 636 at North Bathurst Yard - below). In the afternoon, to mix pleasure with business, I had time before the departure of (a late-running) VIA No 76 which became VIA No 48 at Toronto. So it was off to the airport!
The Union-Pearson Express (or Up Express, as it's referred to onboard) is a slick operation that debuted in the summer, using Japanese-built Nippon Sharyo nippon DMU's in two- or three-unit consists. I purchased my $27.50 meeter-and-greeter return fare, which is valid for any return trip in the following three hours. The next train arrived in mere minutes - departures every 15 minutes and a 25-minute trip each way.
Departing Union, we stopped at Bloor at 1438, Weston at 1444, arriving Pearson at 1453. I was aboard unit 3006. Snapshots of Toronto life. There are several underpasses and overpasses as we travel on CP and CN trackage.
We passed a three-Geep CN tramp job with 4136-4141-4115 near Woodbine racetrack, hostling lumber cars.
All too soon, after stops at Brock and Weston (Check) we diverged onto the trackage to the airport at Wice. The track we had been on continues under the signal gantry in the distance, and our train curves sharply onto its own alignment.
Soon we were on a BC Skytrain-like raised right-of-way (apparently the longest such trackage in Canada), soaring above the spaghetti bowl of access roads and parking lots at Toronto's Pearson Airport:
Westjet, Sunwing, Air Canada, Jazz and other jets arrived and departed Terminal 1, our destination. A free people mover could convey me to Terminal 3, but I didn't want to miss my train and have to fly back to Kingston! I strolled the terminal like an Avioner for a bit. Even before disembarking, the smell of avgas was very noticeable in the air.
Return trip boarding unit 1012, with 3003. We departed Pearson at 1530, stopping at Weston at 1541, Bloor at 1547 (hello, GO 639!) and arriving Union at 1555. The cars are nice and new inside, with bidirectional seating, luggage racks, handicapped access, washrooms and of course, screens to keep passengers informed. Crew circulates to scan your QR code receipt. Uniforms are a cross between airline attendants and something out of Shining Time Station!
A meet! Inbound UP Express passes the PNR Railworks facility near the airport. PNR, A&B and OWS were three rail contractors I observed, working on the right-of-way.
This vehicle, parked behind a warehouse on Bethridge Road, looks like a German railway wagon! Gothic stencilling is almost obscured by a tarp. East of Woodbine racetrack and Highway 27, perhaps an observant UP Express rider can get a better picture and/or info on this interesting-looking artifact!
Returning to Union, the Rogers Centre, GO train and gridlock loomed.
An hour of trainwatching at Union Station exceeded 25 movements by GO, UP and VIA. Two VIA consists were parked like sitting ducks under the trainshed, with 6431 at left and 911-6401 at right:
A cornucopia of GO consists collaborated, including this rare double-header (below) and a dual-F59 consist that I posted to YouTube.
Having observed the all-Metrolinx-scheme consist inbound from the Lakeshore West line just after departure, it didn't return during my time at the end of the Skywalk. I had to content myself with single pieces of this new scheme rolling stock, such as GO 662:
One of the VIA Rail trains actually moved! The train's two Business Class cars bore poppy logos, a tangible sign of VIA's large donation to the Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign, as were complimentary poppies at all VIA kiosks.
A rare light engine move. VIA P42 914 arrives from the west. Apparently, rear-end views of these units are hard to come by. Here's one!
My VIA No 48 home arrived into Toronto as VIA No 76 Eng 916, unusually with an HEP2 consist. Luke Bellefleur kindly shared his photo of this consist, taken at Ingersoll earlier in the afternoon. Thanks, Luke! Our return consist was 916-4003-4119-4116-4100 and deadhead 4101.
Remembrance Day and a new government all in one week. Canadian democracy at its finest. Artist Dave Sopha has conspicuously created and deserves credit for his efforts.
Having just watched The Wizard of Oz for the 324th time, this song resonated: Sara Evans' 'Born to Fly'. Intro by Vince Gill, classic country Missouri-born twang, vocal harmony provided by backup singer and keyboardist, (no need for backup dancers) and great lyrics, whether you're bound for the sky or well-grounded.
The CMA awards were broadcast this past week. Things were as they should be: Carrie Underwood - numerous wardrobe changes. Luke Bryan - whitest teeth in country music. Little Big Town - great whether they sing or just show up. Not a lot of up-and-comers, so Reba and Brooks & Dunn were resurrected to save the show. You've always got time for twang.
And you've always got time for Tim Hortons. Especially when the apple pie fritter is on offer - sugary goodness. While in Toronto, Bret kindly treated us to Tim's during the fire drill. Ian suggested more 1980's - accepted! LRC Business Class car again substituted with HEP2 so seat 16S no longer exists, though the Cajun haddock home did not disappoint! I chose it just for the halibut.