|Rainy day in Moncton. Good time to be on board, but not great for a platform visit!
I've got to be honest - I'm not super great at this whole "blogging" thing. Well, at least in terms of keeping up with a reliable or even semi-frequent posting schedule. That said, I never really set out to try to make this into that kind of blog; it was really just a convenient way to post some trip reports in a full-featured, easy to follow, and generally accessible format.
I do have a couple of posts I've been meaning to get done for a while, but time always seems to get the better of me. I still want to get one of those done for sure, but you'll have to wait and keep guessing at it for a little while longer (though who knows, maybe this quick write-up will get the creative juices flowing again!)
I did make one trip back at the end of April that I haven't yet written up, so in the interest of not losing another piece of travel history to memory, I've decided to throw it out here in my most bare-bones report yet. Just the facts, ma'am.
"April becomes May on VIA 14"
That's a very fancy way of saying "I was on VIA train 14 on April 30 to May 1".
This trip started from Ottawa, as many of these do. Travel in the other direction was with Porter, and was perfectly alright with nothing to note - aside from getting an unexpected move to an unoccupied seat row, which was quite nice. I still haven't had a chance to try their new E2 service, and will be sure to mention that in more detail when I eventually do. For the moment, a few comments on the bus trip and flight in the following photo captions.
|One thing I didn't realize until I boarded was that the new exterior livery is accompanied by a new interior, with this really eye-catching ceiling decor. Very sharp! The overhead luggage racks can be seen ahead.
|My Porter flight for the way up, boarding from the tarmac. I always enjoy getting to board via the stairs, though it's not great when the weather is foul.
|One thing Porter still has going for them is their onboard service. Complimentary coffee and a snack on this early morning flight, adds to a perfectly pleasant 2 hour trip. Didn't hurt that I was relocated to an empty seat pair on boarding.
After a few days in Ottawa, I boarded VIA 26, the early connection for the Ocean. Partial consist:
VIA 26 - April 30, 2023
|Boarding in Ottawa, from one of the standard low platforms.
This was a very smooth run, and we were early for pretty well the whole 2h trip to Montreal. Just before arrival, an announcement was made that there was an equipment issue, and the train was going to be replaced for the continued trip on to Quebec. Passengers going through could normally stay on the train, but instead they would have to get off in Montreal and be moved over. The ongoing train was another identical LRC set (so no pleasant "new Venture equipment surprise" for those passengers).
|LRC Business class.
|LRC Business class. This will be a thing of the past in a few years time, as the new Venture fleet comes online. Those trains feature a very similar layout, but feel quite different inside.
|Business class lunch service; cold salmon plate.
|Coffee and dessert after lunch.
|Ragged looking CN GP's at Coteau.
|Dorval VIA station. VIA, VIA, VIA, VIA...
During the layover in Montreal, I stored my bag at the station and decided to take a walk down to the relatively new railfan park at Pointe St. Charles (whether its strictly intended to be for railfans, I don't know, but it sure fits the bill). This is a rather nice little park that overlooks the Exo (formerly AMT) maintenance centre, the CN yard, and the approaches to Central station. It also shows off the new REM automated rapid transit system, which just opened its first section to the public at the end of last week.
Here are a few photos from that vantage point, on an unfortunately drab end-of-April day.
|REM trains testing, viewed on the walk to PSC.
|VIA 14's equipment backs to the station, with the units smoking as they push up grade.
|VIA 64 arrives from Toronto, with a wrapped P42 and a pair of LRC clubs up front. The second car looks like it had some work done, judging by the darker grey patches along the side.
I also took a short video showing VIA 64 arriving from Toronto, and the consist for my VIA 14 deadheading back to the station ahead of departure. Amidst all this, REM trains were clipping back and forth on regular intervals, testing ahead of the service launch. Apologies in advance for the excess wind noise - I was shooting this on my phone and didn't expect there to be that much of an issue. Still, I thought it was an interesting little video clip to include.
|Entrance to VIA's Montreal Maintenance Centre, not far from the PSC observation area. You can't see much inside here, but the view from the new REM line appears to be excellent.
After this little diversion, I headed back to the station in time to check in for #14. A short wait around the station, then boarding . Supper options at check-in were 7:15 or 8:45, and I opted for the late option as usual.
VIA 14 - April 30, 2023
7003 Renaissance Baggage
70230 Ren Accessible Coach (not in service)
7512 Ren Sleeper (39)
7518 Ren Sleeper (38)
7506 Ren Sleeper (37)
79501 Ren Accessible Sleeper (30)
7313 Ren Service Car
7401 Ren Diner
7303 Ren Service Car
7227 Ren Coach
7602 Ren Transition
8129 HEP1 Coach
8219 Chateau Montcalm (40) (forward) (Roomette 08)
8212 Chateau Latour (crew)
8203 Chateau Brûlé (not in service)
8609 HEP1 Baggage
|Departures board in Montreal.
|Chateau Montcalm, ready for boarding!
|Dinner menu. A new menu was launched about a week after this trip, so the current options will have been updated.
|Menu cover, an always odd composite. The Ren cars look the same height as the Skyline, which is somehow smashed up directly against a Ren sleeper (which couldn't happen without a transition car). It's also not clear where this is meant to be...
|Main course. Dessert was carrot cake, not shown.
|Stop at Ste-Foy, QC.
|Breakfast menu options.
|Rainy morning views along the Baie des Chaleurs.
|Roomette overview from bed. My favourite cozy spot on the train.
|Rainy stop at Moncton.
|Ren dining car, set for lunch.
|Chicken shish taouk
|Meeting CN 507 at Evans, before Sackville NB. Decently well timed meet.
|Dessert heading across the Tantramar marsh.
|Halifax, after a very wet walk down the platform.