To the Toronto Rail Fest and Side Trip to Montreal
July 14-15 and 19-23, 2004
Made 3:10 Long Island Railroad (LIRR) train to New York (NY) scheduled to arrive at Woodside at 4:24. Arrived almost on time and switched to the #7 train to Grand Central. I arrived for the 5:09 express to Poughkeepsie at 4:50 and had my choice of seats. I expected the train to fill up and it did. Schedule is 125th St. Then non-stop to Beacon, New Hamburg, and Poughkeepsie.
A thunderstorm approached and hit while in the Bronx. However, there were no delays on this trip. I made calls to my father and sister from Poughkeepsie and waited for Amtrak.
At exactly 7:10 P.M. Amtrak train #265 came led by engine 700. Quite a few were aboard but seats were open. Since there was no place to eat until now, I went to the café car to buy a sandwich for dinner.
Amtrak train 265: 700 P32 Engine 20906 Café car 21252 Coach 21239 Coach <-- 21267 Coach 21663 Coach
A large crowd exited at the first stop, Rhinecliff. Then there was an unexpected 5-minute stop in the middle of nowhere. Uh, oh, I hadn't planned to bring out my radio scanner. I did and heard that the train had struck a deer. Near the second stop, Hudson, the rain came again. The Hudson stop came at 7:58 P.M. This was about 10 minutes behind schedule. Another stop to allow a southbound train to pass and then the train picked up speed toward Albany. Upon arrival at the Albany [Rensselaer] station, I saw that it was still drizzling so I took a cab to the Econo Lodge. The drizzle became a thunderstorm as I got into the cab.
That night, I stayed indoors due to the rain.
The following morning, I took my one opportunity for good exercise and walked the 1.3 miles to the Rensselaer station with my bags. I arrived at 9:35 A.M. The train to Toronto arrived at 9:54 A.M. There was a wait before boarding. I heard on the conductor's radio that the front of the third car was hot [I presume no A/C] and maintenance was requested.
Train #63: 708 P32 Engine - replaced by P40 #823 48169 Café & Business Class 21054 Coach <--- 21246 Coach 21635 Coach 21124 Coach
Train #294, arriving at 10:10, a bit late. 709 P32 Engine 20222 Café 21030 Coach 21200 Coach 82539 Coach
I found a window seat away from the A/C problems and cleaned up for someone who left his/her food wrappings behind when getting off at Rensselaer. The train departed at 10:14 against a 10:00 schedule. Word came on the conductor's radio that the A/C in the third car was low on Freon. New LIRR passenger cars were seen parked on the Albany side of the bridge. Signal problems slowed the run to Schenectady.
Approaching Schenectady, I walked the train and eventually ran into Jishnu (Jishnu Mukerji), who was looking for me. He had called me on the cell phone and also called Kevin (Kevin Korell). At the Schenectady station, I called Kevin to let him know the train status and that I was indeed on the train.
Due to the A/C problem and more people arriving, the aisle seat next to me was claimed at Amsterdam. Utica came at 12:15 and the Lake Shore Limited (#48) arrived on the other track.
P-42 206 Engine P-42 #94 (?) Engine 1756 Baggage 62037 Sleeper 25066 Coach 25087 Coach 28365 Café 25119 Coach 25011 Coach 25113 Coach 8505 Diner 62028 Sleeper 62048 Sleeper [Twilight Shoreliner] 2522 Crew Dorm 1265 Baggage Three MHC's and/or Roadrailers.
The Lake Shore Limited (LSL) was running two hours late. We were about 35 minutes late. The trip to the Rome station was short and we arrived at 12:31.
At Syracuse at 1:10, there was a large turnover of passengers. The woman next to me disembarked. The café car service was suspended while in Syracuse then resumed. I chose a Caesar salad, pretzels, and iced tea for lunch. At 1:50 the café car attendant took his half-hour lunch break.
At about 2:30, we stopped at Rochester. Ten minutes later, there was an announcement that café car service would be suspended beginning in a half-hour and not be available until after the Canadian border inspection. That would be about 3:20-6:00. About 10 minutes before closing, I got myself a bottle of Dannon water. Buffalo-Depew came at 3:20. Like the other major cities, it was a five-minute stop. Two freight trains were going the other way at the same time. The slower one was on the further track and the quicker one came on the track closest to us.
At Buffalo [Exchange St], Kevin, his son Michael, Alan Burden, Piotr Dzwonek, Skip Howard, Steve Weagant, and HaRRy Sutton boarded. Light rain and drizzle fell on and off.
See the main Toronto Rail Fest Report for activites after departure from Buffalo on 7/15 until the morning of 7/19 in from Toronto.
I met Kevin and Michael at the hotel breakfast. They would take a dogleg trip on the University line to ride the part that was closed on Sunday. They left before 7:45 but I didn't leave until 8:10. I took the quickest route to Union Station. I was riding in VIA 1 class and I went straight to the Panorama lounge. This is like the Club Acela lounge in Amtrak northeast stations.
I emerged a couple of times to see if the rest were on line for VIA Rail train #97 -- which becomes the Maple Leaf, Amtrak train 64. While the Montreal section of the train boarded, I went out again. The crowd was there toward the back of a long line.
I wore the Super Millionaire t-shirt and the attendant recognized the show. He asked if I had won a million and I mentioned that I won $32,000 by appearing twice on the daytime version.
We lost about 5 minutes coming out of Toronto. At the first stop, train #41 was in the station at the same time. We arrived at Oshawa at the scheduled time for the GO train, but it was delayed and we had passed it while it was waiting short of the Whitby station.
I could gain weight quickly if I used this service a lot. I had a small Danish, two packages of snacks, tomato juice and diet Pepsi before lunch.
There was a slow go before Kingston as we were placed behind a freight train.
1242- announcement that the train will stop and the two sections will separate in five minutes. This is a normal operation. On the radio, two crew members made a comment on Jeopardy contestant Ken Jennings that he was up to a million or 1.5 million.
12:58 - train turned on to line to Ottawa.
13:23-4 brief non-passenger stop at Smiths Falls. Meet with train #45.
13:27 Road sign says Ottawa 72 km.
13:50- stop at Fallowfield, a suburb of Ottawa. Some people were seen awaiting a commuter bus going downtown.
I arrived at the Ottawa station, which is a little outside downtown. I took a bus to within a short walk of my hotel and checked in about 15:30. I then took another bus to the northern terminal of the O-Train, located just west of downtown. I arrived at 16:23.
At 16:24 the O train arrived. A Sign says bus tickets are not valid on the O-Train. A day pass, transfer, or train ticket is required. I was able to buy a day pass for $6.50 from the driver of the first bus. A day pass at a ticket outlet is $6.00. Sign on train says Pay the fare or pay the fine ($100). The O-Train operates on "proof-of-payment" system where tickets are not inspected all of the time. Many buses also do this allowing those with valid passes to board in the rear to speed boarding.
16:27 depart - The driver was on a cellphone but hung up before departure
16:29 A woman inspects tickets for those on board. My day pass is good.
16:31 There is a tunnel between stops 1 & 2 The woman inspects passes/tickets upon boarding this car.
16:35 Final station before the southern terminus.
16:37 O-Train travels over busway. Single track.
16:38 Walkley bus station seen, then a rail diamond.
16:39 Arrive at Greenboro station, the southern terminus.
16:41 depart same terminal
16:42 Tickets checked again, this time it is a man.
16:47 Woman back to check tickets from person boarding at Confederation station.
16:48 Carleton station - meet with other train. Most of the day, one train departs each terminal at the same time. They meet at the one double-tracked stretch in the middle.
16:50 go through tunnel
16:51 Carling station
16:54 Arrive Bayview (northern station). Quickly I had done the O-Train in both directions.
There was one person on the train and one on the bus with mask over their nose and mouth. This reminded me of the previous years' SARS scare.
At night there was a light show outside the Parliament.
I found time to explore the capital for a while.
I found a vendor for the day pass. It wasn't the actual pass. Instead, I am to show it to the bus driver, deposit it into a fare box and the driver gives me the actual pass. I took a #97 bus. The driver said the fare box didn't work and let me on free. Problem was I cannot validate my day pass at the O train station and would have to board another bus first or buy a $2O train ticket. Given the rampant ticket-checking I saw the previous night, I'd better not be on board without a valid fare. If I boarded the O train as I was and was challenged, I may be subject to a $100 fine. I got off at Walkley, one stop short and within sight of the O Train tracks. I arrived just in time to see a train speed by. The next #97 bus arrived five minutes later. I was able to exchange the ticket for a day pass.
The O-Train arrived soon after I did. I decided to get off at one of the middle stations to look around. I saw two crossing diamonds one at Walkley the other just south of Confederation.
I got off at Carleton to explore and then take the next O-Train. There was supposed to be a 15-minute wait but there was a 45-minute wait. Called the # (free call) after 30-35 min to find out one run was canceled. (Actually two runs were canceled.) Grumble.
I took the next train to the bus to get downtown. After lunch, I took a bus to the VIA station. I had purchased my ticket the previous day using a coupon (20% off) I was given on the Toronto-Ottawa train. It required purchase at least a day in advance and was good only a couple of weeks.
I boarded and departed on time on VIA train #34 to Montreal.
I was assigned car #4, seat 64 (aisle). They assign seats in coach as well as in first class. The train was rather full. There was a slight delay but we were close to schedule. I arrived Montreal in the middle of rush hour. I had reserved a hotel a few blocks from Central Station and walked the distance. I grabbed something to eat at a Place Bonaventure food court. The food was lousy; perhaps I got leftovers from lunch hour. I then walked the short distance to the McGill subway station. I would cover a good chunk of the system on two fares (I hoped it would be one but.).
09:33 departed McGill
1713-7 enter system, then depart at McGill [Green]
After checking out of my hotel, I made it to Central Station at 9:15 am. I stopped at the Tim Horton's to grab breakfast before getting on line. I took my package of 10 "Timbits" [tiny donut treats] and iced coffee to the line and ate there. A VIA Rail employee was right there checking tickets and handing out U.S. Customs forms. The posted boarding time was 9:40 for the 9:50 departure so I was sure the train will be a little late. The line moved a little but the boarding and departure times were moved forward until boarding began at 10:00. A South African couple [one taking the train] in front of me got so absorbed in their good-bye kiss that they dropped their glass iced tea bottle and it shattered on the ground. A crowd formed for the last car so I went on to one of the forward cars. Apparently I would have been sent there anyway. The back car was filling up and the forward cars were primarily for those getting off before Albany. The front car was closed.
1010 depart Montreal - Announcement was that the train was "sold out" so all seats would have to be made available.
712 engine 44978 Business class [closed] 44790 Coach 43356 21704 21705
1130- Café car cleared out.
7:11- train arrived. Consist:
700 engine 20906 Coach 21663 21112 21002 Closed
7:44- switch over at Whitehall
I spent that night at a nearby Econo Lodge. It had clouded up with threat of rain but I did not see any rain.
It was a cloudy morning. I returned to see the same consist arriving.
Consist train 63  (Maple Leaf):
704 removed 823 added 48169 21246 21635 ?-likely 21124 44197
There were delays south of Albany. At the freight bridge near I-90, I saw a freight train overhead. It was also a bumpy ride.
11:10-Rhinecliff- it starts to rain again. The rain gets steadier and heavier.
11:48-1203 15-minute wait due to arriving at single-track area late and being stopped for northbound trains. Metro-North construction work closed one track. There were no further delays after that despite the weather. I made it just in time to catch a 1:15 LIRR train home. The train was the new LIRR equipment with fewer seats. Two cars were removed (problems) so I stood in "sardine-can" conditions much of the way home.