Wednesday would be our first of three VIA Rail Canada trips, as we traveled from Montreal to Toronto. We would also be riding some streetcar and subway lines in Toronto.
Chapter 4.1: VIA Rail Canada Train #57, CORRIDOR, Montreal, QC to Toronto, ON
The four of us assembled at Gare Centrale and had breakfast in McDonald's. We then lined up for our 9:50 AM departure to Toronto, which would be departing from Track 14.
Well, one thing about this VIA Rail Canada trip, it operated perfectly on time. That was very different from our Amtrak trip the day before.
On the downside, however, we found out the hard way that VIA Rail Canada does not have a full food service. One cannot purchase a meal in coach class, regardless of how long the trip is.
The crewmembers wheel a snack cart down the aisle and sell soft drinks and snacks, but the selection is not enough to constitute a full meal. With our Montreal-Toronto trip scheduled for 5-1/2 hours spanning lunchtime, we were dismayed at the lack of any substantial food. Pardon the pun, but this was food for thought before boarding our next two VIA trips.
We arrived at Toronto Union Station at 3:17 PM, three minutes early. At a designated location, we met Mike Hammond, who had come from Cleveland on a Greyhound bus. Having left Alan in the United States the day before, our group had returned to five people.
Chapter 4.2: TTC Yonge-University-Spadina Line, Union to Dundas
We headed for the subway station, purchased our Toronto Transit Commission DayPasses, and took the subway together to Yonge/Dundas. There, we split up to go check in to our respective hotels and drop our luggage. Michael and I walked east and then north to our Econo Lodge, while Jishnu went to the Marriott Eaton Centre. Mike was staying at the same Marriott, and had already checked in before our arrival in town.
The Econo Lodge turned out to be further than we had thought. As we walked east on Dundas, several 505 streetcars passed us, but I figured we didn't have to ride them since we should be within walking distance. Well, it took us a good 20 minutes to walk there from Yonge/Dundas. We found the rooms to be rather Spartan, quite small even by Econo Lodge standards. One had to literally walk around a bed to get into the rest of the room. Our window looked directly out on the corner of Gerrard and Jarvis Streets.
After leaving our bags, we began our trek back to meet the others for dinner. We would meet near where we had separated, at the city's largest shopping mall, Toronto Eaton Centre. After we had walked south on Jarvis, we decided to hop a 505 streetcar back to Yonge. They run so often, (and we already had our DayPasses) that it would have been silly not to jump on.
Chapter 4.3: Dinner at Toronto Eaton Centre
Michael and I got off at Yonge/Dundas, and entered the mall. We could not find the others, so we went to the food court on the lower level where we had eaten with the group two years ago. We still did not see them there, so being ravenous from the lack of lunch, we took turns getting our food (Japanese for Michael and Italian for me). Cell phone reception was poor inside the mall, but I later found out that Mike, Jishnu, and Piotr had eaten their dinner earlier at another food court area within the same mall. They soon realized where we were and the group was reunited as Michael and I finished our meals.
Chapter 4.4: TTC Yonge-University-Spadina Line, Queen to Bloor-Yonge
Now came our main reason for being there, to complete some unfinished business. Our first goal was to ride the 506 Carlton streetcar, whose regular route had been detoured for street reconstruction during our visit two years prior. We also decided we would ride the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line to its Downsview endpoint, since the northernmost portion of that line also had been closed for weekend construction during our 2004 trip.
One humorous item of note: I led the group up from the mall's subterranean food court to the street, and then down another set of stairs into the subway, only to find that we had re-entered the same corridor through which we could have just walked directly from the mall into the subway station. Well we got our exercise for the day, albeit unnecessary!
Our Toronto transit travels began when we boarded the Yonge-University-Spadina subway at the Queen station, since this was closer to our present point in the Eaton Centre than the Dundas station. Trains were crowded and running frequently, just as they would in any large city at the height of the evening rush hour. (We boarded at 5:25 PM.)
We took this train to Bloor-Yonge, where we followed the throngs of people who were also changing to the Bloor-Danforth Line.
Chapter 4.5: TTC Bloor-Danforth Line, Bloor-Yonge to Main Street
Another short wait and crowded train ride brought us to the Main Street station, in order to catch the 506 Carlton streetcar. Our total time on the two subways was about 20 minutes.
Chapter 4.6: TTC 506 Carlton Streetcar, Main Street Station to High Park & Roncesvalles
Within the fare paid area, we awaited our streetcar. One came about five minutes later, and we were on our way. While we had traversed some of the trackage two years ago, most of it, including the downtown portion along College Street, was new to us. It was a very enjoyable ride through neighborhoods of many ethnicities. The ride took about 40 minutes. We alighted at High Park Avenue and Roncesvalles, in order to switch to a 504 King streetcar for the short trip to Dundas West.
Chapter 4.7: TTC 504 King Streetcar, High Park & Roncesvalles to Dundas West Station
A 504 car was at the stop when we got off the 506, and we crossed the street and made our next ride with no problems.
This was only a several-minute ride, until we arrived at the line's final stop, Dundas West Station.
Chapter 4.8: TTC Bloor-Danforth Line, Dundas West to St. George
There, we made another switch within the paid area, this time from streetcar to subway. Trains were running a little less frequently now at 6:54 PM, but we still did not have long to wait. We rode the Bloor-Danforth Line from Dundas West to St. George, in order to make the easiest transfer to the Yonge-University-Spadina Line.
Chapter 4.9: TTC Yonge-University-Spadina Line, St. George to Downsview
We now headed up to Downsview (is that an oxymoron?), in order to satisfy the last bit of trackage in Toronto for our group. At least we now all had seats since it was beyond the rush hour. It was a quick trip up to Downsview. Then with our train going out of service, we were dumped at the end of the line and had to wait a few minutes for the next train so we could return downtown.
Chapter 4.10: TTC Yonge-University-Spadina Line, Downsview to Queen
Our final trip together of the day brought us back downtown, at which time we began to disperse for the night. Michael and I, despite our dinner at the Eaton Centre, now considered that meal our lunch. In short, we were hungry again! We had been deprived of a meal by VIA, so we had a gap to fill. We had passed a Burger King on the corner of College and Spadina on our earlier 506 Carlton streetcar trip, so we decided to go there for our next meal. We were the first to leave our train at Queens Park, which is the western stop for the subway along College Street.
Michael and I soon boarded a westbound 506 car, and rode it a short way to Spadina. There, we had the meal we had missed. After we ate, we returned eastbound on a 506 car, and rode it all the way to Jarvis. We found that the stop at College and Jarvis is much closer to our hotel than Dundas & Jarvis where the 505 Dundas streetcar stops.
The rest of the group rounded the horn at Union Station and went up under Yonge Street. Piotr was next to get off the subway at Queen, where he took a 501 Queen streetcar to his hostel. Mike got off at Queen and rode that streetcar line some more, while Jishnu remained on the subway to Dundas, where he had an easy walk to his hotel room at the Marriott.
Chapter 4.11: End of Wednesday's activities
Now all in our respective accommodations for the night, we rested after a busy day on the rails. We looked forward to a busy Thursday as well.
Chapter 5: Thursday, July 20, 2006
Thursday would see us in three different Canadian cities. We would start out in Toronto, visit Ottawa, and end up back in Montreal before the end of the day. In between, two VIA Rail Canada trips, subways in Toronto, diesel light rail in Ottawa, and Montreal's Metro.
Chapter 5.0: Meeting at Toronto Union Station
Michael and I walked from our hotel up to College Street, and then boarded a 506 car to Yonge. Then we took the subway to Union Station. Mike and Jishnu took the subway from Dundas to the station, and Piotr walked there from his hostel. We all made sure we ate a good breakfast at various eateries in the station, mindful of the lack of food aboard VIA Rail.
After breakfast, the five of us went and got on line for Train 42, which was to leave from Track 10. There was a long line for our train, as well as one for Train 56 to Montreal. Usually these trains operate as one combined train as far as Brockville, and then they split. However, on this particular day, with a heavy passenger load on 56, two separate trains would operate.
Chapter 5.1: VIA Rail Canada Train #42, CORRIDOR, Toronto, ON to Ottawa, ON
The Montreal train left on time, from the same track and platform. We would follow in a few minutes. Operating two trains caused ours to lag behind in the schedule, since the one directly in front of us made its stops on schedule. When it dwelled longer than normal at some stations due to heavy boarding and detraining, we had to wait outside the station until it cleared.
We ended up as much as 23 minutes behind schedule.
During our trip, we knew what to expect this time from the food cart. We had what snacks they had to offer, opting for a meal off the train later. We also decided that we would try to minimize our time in Ottawa, and if possible return to Montreal on an earlier train. In addition, as a means of saving time, we would carry our luggage with us during our travels in the capital city.
After Brockville, we took a left turn, off the Toronto-Montreal main, so we were experiencing new trackage now. Moreover, we no longer had another train right in front of us. We were able to make up some time. Surely VIA pads its endpoint arrival times as well. Our arrival into Ottawa's station was at 2:07 PM, just three minutes late.
Chapter 5.2: OC TRANSPO 95 bus Train Station to Bayview
Ottawa's train station is located a few miles southeast of the downtown area. It is accessed by the OC Transpo's Transitway system. The station itself is laid out like an airport terminal. The ticketing area is in the middle, and retail businesses are along the sides. There are doorways leading out to the closest track and underpasses from the station to other platforms. Several roadways along the front of the building are for arrivals and departures. Beyond these roadways is where the Transitway's "Train" station is. One must walk across the roadways and down a small flight of stairs to get to the Transitway platforms.
Many local bus routes use portions of the Transitway, but there are three routes that remain on the Transitway for most of its length. We had to take a 95 bus, which would take us directly from the Train Station to where the O-Train begins at Bayview.
We did not have to wait more than a minute for a 95 bus to show up. We boarded it at 2:13 PM, and purchased all-day passes good for all of our bus and O-Train trips. This first segment would take us through downtown Ottawa, and then a couple of stops west of downtown. As the bus runs through downtown Ottawa, there is no Transitway there; they use regular city streets before resuming their run on private right-of-way later. Most of the crowd got off downtown, so the last portion of our trip was not too bad. We arrived at the Bayview station at 2:31 PM, just fourteen minutes after starting out.
We walked down a hill and under the flyover that carries the Transitway over the O-Train tracks, and waited for the train with the other transferring passengers.
Chapter 5.3: OC TRANSPO O-Train Bayview to Greenboro
Most of the O-Train's route is single track. Thus, four of the five stations have just one platform.
It was an interesting trip. Although a one-way trip from end to end lasts just twelve minutes, there is a lot to see. We traversed a bridge over the Rideau River, a tunnel under a lake, and crossed two active diamond crossings that see freight service. (Like New Jersey's RiverLINE, the O-Train trackage hosts freight service at night. The line is owned by Canadian Pacific Railway.)
Also just like the RiverLINE, the trains have to operate on time. In the case of O-Train, there is just one small double track area, located at the Carleton station. Trains start out from either end of the line every 15 minutes, and pass while at the Carleton station. Our train departed promptly at 2:45 PM and arrived at Greenboro at 2:57.
Chapter 5.4: OC TRANSPO O-Train Greenboro to Bayview
The operators have just three minutes to change ends and prepare for the return trip. Our northbound run began at 3:00 PM and arrived back at Bayview at 3:12. So ended our trip on North America's first diesel light rail line.
There are plans to extend O-Train's route in both directions from the current termini. From Bayview, the next logical extension would bring the line to downtown Ottawa and then beyond. From Greenboro, it would go further into the southwestern suburbs. At the same time, electrification of the line is being studied.
Chapter 5.5: OC TRANSPO 95 bus Bayview to Train Station
We walked up the hill to the Transitway station, and waited a few minutes for a 95 bus to arrive. When we boarded at 3:17 PM, we found it very crowded again. We all ended up standing. Through downtown, some got off, but more boarded, making the ride downright uncomfortable for us, particularly with our luggage taking up some space as well. When the bus arrived at the Train Station at 3:35, we had to fight our way off the bus.
Once inside the station, we had about 45 minutes before the earlier train we had decided to take. That meant exchanging our tickets. VIA's fare structure is such that the cheapest fares carry the highest fees for changes or cancellations. Understanding that, but wanting to get to Montreal sooner, we opted for the penalty that would give us an earlier dinner. One big reason behind this change was the lack of a decent meal on the train.
After we had all changed our tickets from Train 38 to Train 36, we walked around the station. Like on the trains themselves, the VIA Rail station in Ottawa does not really have a place where one can find any real food. There was a fruit stand and a bakery selling primarily bread.
During our waiting time, Piotr went back to the Transitway, and rode a bus one stop east, in order to get some timetables. He then returned quickly on another bus.
Chapter 5.6: VIA Rail Canada Train #36, CORRIDOR, Ottawa, ON to Montreal, QC
As the five of us boarded Train 36, we noticed a few familiar things. This was the same consist that we had ridden as Train 42 from Toronto earlier that day.
It was boarding in the same location where 42 had discharged us. Moreover, the crew was the same. We therefore figured out that VIA essentially runs its Toronto-Ottawa and Ottawa-Montreal as Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal, but with different designations and a long Ottawa layover. Trains do not turn around in Ottawa, but instead they go onward to Montreal or Toronto depending on where they just came from.
So we continued on what was new trackage to us, until we came to Coteau Junction, where the line from Ottawa rejoins the Toronto-Montreal mainline. Despite our train running nonstop between Ottawa and Dorval, we ended up coming into Montreal late. There was some congestion on the line as we approached Montreal. We ended up arriving in Gare Centrale at 6:15 PM, which was eight minutes after the advertised.
Our timing was perfect, since we would be able to meet Steve Weagant, who was coming up on Thursday's ADIRONDACK from New York. We checked the arrival boards and with Julie, and the train (normally due at 6:30 PM) was running about one hour late. That was not too bad considering the poor showing we had on our trip two days earlier.
So we decided to go eat first, and headed for Place Ville Marie.
Chapter 5.7: Dinner at Place Ville Marie
Place Ville Marie is connected to Gare Centrale through a pedestrian tunnel. It is part of a large network of underground and overhead walkways that keeps the city's residents and visitors out of bad weather. I chose this mall rather than the Place Bonaventure, since I had read that the latter had essentially been converted from a shopping mall to a convention center and thus might have fewer places to eat.
It was about 6:25 when we arrived at Place Ville Marie's food court. We found some of the restaurants to be already closed for the day. Nevertheless, there were enough still open to give us a good choice. We essentially had skipped lunch in Ottawa due to our decision to take an earlier train, and we had ridden on two trains that offered no meals. Therefore, with only some small snacks and the breakfast we had had in Toronto, we were quite hungry.
As we ate, we saw more food places shutting down for the night. We considered ourselves very fortunate to have gotten there when we did, as taking the later train would have caused us to miss our second meal of the day.
After our stomachs were finally satisfied, we returned to Gare Centrale to await Steve's train. It had lost a little more time, and was now due at 7:45. It actually arrived at 7:47, putting it one hour 17 minutes late.
Chapter 5.8: Steve's adventures
To see how Steve got this far, including a trip on the CARDINAL from Chicago to Philadelphia, a ride on a Regional train from Philly to New York, and the northbound ADIRONDACK, see his report here.
Chapter 5.9: End of Thursday's activities
After we greeted Steve, we decided to call it a night and head for our hotels. Steve went to the Marriott Chateau Champlain Hotel, which is a very short walk from Gare Centrale. Jishnu would again be staying at the Hilton Bonaventure. Piotr was booked in a hostel located between Gare Centrale and Gare Windsor, to the west. Mike was in the Residence Inn by Marriott Westmount, which would necessitate a Metro ride and a short walk. Michael and I were staying for the next two nights at the Sandman Inn in nearby Longueuil.
Piotr decided to go with Mike to help him find his hotel, and then he would return to the Lucien L'Allier station, which was closest to his hostel. Jishnu decided to take a short ride on the Metro with us before we separated. So all of us (with the exception of Steve who walked to his hotel) went into the Bonaventure Metro station on the Orange Line. There, we purchased 3-day passes that would suffice for tonight, Friday, and Saturday.
We rode together to the Berri-UQAM station. There, we split. Piotr and Mike went to the Green Line, headed for Atwater. Jishnu turned around and returned on the Orange Line to Bonaventure, and Michael and I transferred to the Yellow Line, which would bring us to Longueuil.
Michael and I checked into our hotel, as did the others, and we rested up knowing we had much to conquer in Montreal the next day.
Chapter 6: Friday, July 21, 2006
Friday was our day primarily on the Metro. We did have one scheduled commuter rail round trip as well this day.
Our day began as we all convened at Gare Centrale. We ate at the McDonald's in the station once more. We knew, however, that our days of being starved on intercity trains were over. After the six of us were done, we went into the Bonaventure station once more and boarded the Orange Line to begin our exploration of the Metro system. The entire Metro system is underground, in fact quite far underground at some locations. Getting to it from Gare Centrale required negotiating a number of stairways and escalators. Piotr reported that the Lucien L'Allier station was even worse, with seemingly endless banks of escalators required getting between the deep station and the surface.
Chapter 6.1: STM Metro Orange Line, Bonaventure to Lionel-Groulx
Our first STM Metro ride of many today lasted just five minutes. We got an early start, beginning at Bonaventure at 9:01 rather than 9:05. We arrived at Lionel-Groulx at 9:06 AM.
Lionel-Groulx is probably the most impressive of all Metro stations in the system. The station is bilevel, and is served by two lines. The Orange Line and Green Line serve it in such as way that some passengers can make cross-platform transfers. Trains in the Angrignon (Green Line) and Cote-Vertu (Orange Line) directions stop on one level, and trains in the Honore-Beaugrand (Green Line) and Henri-Bourassa (Orange Line) directions stop on the other. So at this point, we only had to cross the platform. Three minutes later, we were on our way.
Chapter 6.2: STM Metro Green Line, Lionel-Groulx to Angrignon
Montreal's Metro system takes a lot of getting used to, as the directions are shown only by the train's final destination. You have to know a little bit about the layout of the area to know where the train is going.
Angrignon is the westernmost station in the system. Our trip from Lionel-Groulx to Angrignon took ten minutes. When we arrived at 9:19 AM, we were 13 minutes ahead of our schedule. After a six-minute layover, we boarded the same train and took what would be the longest Metro trip of our fest, and end-to-end run on the entire Green Line.
Chapter 6.3: STM Metro Green Line, Angrignon to Honore-Beaugrand
This trip took 37 minutes, from Angrignon to Honore-Beaugrand. Somehow, my estimate had been much greater, closer to an hour. So now, we were much ahead of our planned itinerary, by 28 minutes.
Chapter 6.4: STM Metro Green Line, Honore-Beaugrand to Berri-UQAM
Our layover at Honore-Beaugrand was just four minutes. We then retraced our travels once more, but only to Berri-UQAM.
Berri-UQAM is another hub of the system, the second place where the Green Line and Orange Line meet. Only here, they do so at a right angle and separated grades. Adding to the mix, the Yellow Line shuttle to Longueuil has its station about a block away, connected by passageways from the other lines.
It only took us four minutes to walk to and board a Yellow Line train.
Chapter 6.5: STM Metro Yellow Line, Berri-UQAM to Longueuil
The whole ride on the Yellow Line is just five minutes. There is only one intermediate stop at Jean-Drapeau, which is under Ile-Ste-Helene in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. This island was the site of Expo '67. Fill from excavation of the tunnel for the Metro line was used to expand the island to accommodate the World's Fair. Today, Parc Jean-Drapeau hosts an amusement park, a Biosphere, and several other attractions.
Once we got to the Longueuil-Universite de Sherbrooke station, we decided to take a break from our travels. We arrived there at 10:33 AM, 47 minutes ahead of our intended 11:20.
Chapter 6.6: Break at Sandman Inn Hotel
We had been discussing where to have dinner that night, and had decided to look for a decent steak house. We went into the Sandman Inn, where Michael and I had been staying, and attempted to use their lobby computer (my privilege as a guest). However, it was busy and remained busy for quite a while, so we were unable to get any information that way. However, one of us found a tourist magazine in the lobby, in which we located a place called Alouette. Steve called this place and made a reservation for our group of six.
After killing about half an hour sitting in the hotel lobby, and taking an unexpected but welcome rest room break, we decided to resume our Metro travels.
Chapter 6.7: STM Metro Yellow Line, Longueuil to Berri-UQAM
We left Longueuil on the Metro Yellow Line at 11:09 AM, still 21 minutes ahead of schedule. Back at Berri-UQAM five minutes later, we then walked over to the Orange Line.
Chapter 6.8: STM Metro Orange Line, Berri-UQAM to Henri-Bourassa
The Orange Line is essentially shaped like a "U", not unlike Toronto's Yonge-University-Spadina Line, or Washington, DC's Red Line. This particular trip would be up the right side of the "U."
The line now terminates at Henri-Bourassa, which we found out was built with extension in mind since it really does not look like a terminal station. With side platforms, we were forced to exit the train, go upstairs over the tracks, and come down another set of stairs to the inbound platform. The Orange Line is now being extended to three new stations in the city of Laval. That extension, which is set to open sometime in 2007, will give our group an excuse to someday return to Montreal!
Chapter 6.9: STM Metro Orange Line, Henri-Bourassa to Bonaventure
Four minutes after arriving and negotiating the stairways, we were again aboard a train. This time we were headed all the way downtown, to have lunch. When we left Henri-Bourassa at 11:41 AM, we still were 31 minutes ahead of our itinerary.
We got to Bonaventure at 12:03 PM, and worked our way upstairs. We decided once more to eat at Place Ville Marie rather than Place Bonaventure.
Chapter 6.10: Lunch at Place Ville Marie
This time since it was lunchtime on a weekday, the food court was crowded and had all of its establishments open for business. We had a nice and relaxed lunch, since we were still running ahead of schedule.
Jishnu had decided that he would take a trip on his own to Quebec City on Saturday. He wanted to ride yet another VIA Rail Canada corridor route, and also sample their VIA-1 first class service on the way back. He left us while we were sitting at the food court, going back over to Gare Centrale to purchase his tickets.
We actually sat there until our initially prescribed time to leave, since we would be catching a scheduled commuter train later in the afternoon.
Chapter 6.11: STM Metro Orange Line, Bonaventure to Snowdon
Our next mission was to work our way to the Parc Station, in order to board AMT's Blainville Line. To do this, we would have to take the Orange Line in either direction, transfer to the Blue Line, and ride it to Parc Station.
Now with lunch behind us, we went back into Gare Centrale. As we came upon the AMT commuter rail ticket machines, we discussed the most economical way to pay for our fares. We decided to split the purchase by having each person buy a six pack of tickets for the group for a particular one-way trip. Jishnu and Piotr bought tickets for the upcoming Blainville Line trips. Steve and Mike covered the two trips on the Dorion Line. Since I had the luxury of paying double for everything due to Michael's presence, I got the Deux-Montagnes Line round trip.
Afterwards, we went through the now-familiar maze of escalators and stairways down to the Bonaventure Orange Line station. We left on a train in the direction of Cote-Vertu at 1:40 PM, exactly as per the itinerary. We rode this up to Snowdon, where we had an easy transfer to the Blue Line.
Chapter 6.12: STM Metro Blue Line, Snowdon to Parc
Two minutes after arriving, we were moving once more on a Blue Line train. When we got to Parc at 2:03 PM and detrained, we were again well ahead of schedule, by 14 minutes.
We could not remain that way, for now we had a commuter train ride ahead of us. We walked outside at the Parc Station, and headed over to the commuter rail tracks. AMT's Blainville Line runs on former Canadian Pacific tracks, so it serves the Lucien-L'Allier station downtown. However, many midday and off-peak runs do not run into the downtown station, but instead turn at Parc, dumping inbound passengers there to take two subway rides to get downtown. Our trip would involve a train that originates at Parc, but on its return goes all the way downtown.
Therefore, we had 47 minutes to wait in the blistering heat for our train. Some of us walked back over to the subway station, where we purchased ice cream and soft drinks from a vendor. Soon we were all back at the station, a little confused as to which side the train would stop on (since we knew it turns there).
Chapter 6.13: AMT Blainville Line, Train #187, Parc to Blainville
Our train eventually appeared at 2:32 PM on what is normally the inbound track, so we hustled across the tracks in order to be able to board our outbound trip from that side.
We sat on board this single-level train, enjoying the air-conditioned climate. We found the equipment to be quite comfortable, with sets of facing seats and plenty of legroom.
The trip up to Blainville passes through the city of Laval. There, a future station on this line will interface with the extended Metro Orange Line. Almost all of this line is single track, except for a few passing sidings.
Although we knew we were essentially headed north, at one point we got confused when we left what appeared to be the mainline on the right, and rode around in a half circle past a church in the center of a town. The church stayed on our right side for quite a while. We then curved to the left. I believe that we were facing east as we made our final stop in Blainville. We got there at 3:25 PM, two minutes early.
Our scheduled 18-minute dwell became 20 minutes, however we did not venture too far from the station platform.
Chapter 6.14: AMT Blainville Line, Train #188, Blainville to Lucien-L'Allier
3:45 PM was the inbound train's departure time, and sure enough, that is exactly when we left. Our inbound trip was as uneventful as the outbound one, at least on the trackage we were traversing for the second time today.
We rode past the Parc station, so we now were on trackage that was new to us. Eventually, this line joined the Dorion Line we would be riding on Saturday afternoon, and headed eastward towards Lucien-L'Allier. However, we ran into some congestion at the Montreal-Oeust station. We were held up for a few minutes waiting for an outbound bilevel train to clear the mainline. When we got into Lucien-L'Allier, we were five minutes late.
Lucien L'Allier is a relatively new station, located in the same building as the city's sports arena, now known as Centre Bell (formerly Centre Molson). The station formerly used by trains running on the CP lines was Gare Windsor. The arena was built on the tracks, blocking access to the former Gare Windsor, so the platforms were moved a few blocks to the west, and the new station took on the name of the closest subway station, Lucien L'Allier. Gare Windsor luckily still stands. One can still walk through it on the way between Lucien L'Allier and Gare Centrale. It serves now as strictly a museum that depicts the building's own past as an active train station.
Our group detrained and walked a few blocks to the north. We headed into Montreal's central business district, on our way to our dinner location, Alouette.
Chapter 6.15: Dinner at Alouette Maison du Bifteck
Alouette Maison du Bifteck was a good selection for our dinner. It has become a routine for us, particularly during our summer gatherings, to splurge one night for a nice steak dinner. We were very pleased with this restaurant's food and service.
Chapter 6.16: End of Friday's activities
After dinner, we left the restaurant and all headed our separate ways to our respective hotels. Michael and I walked one block north to the Metro Peel station, boarded a Green Line train to Berri-UQAM. There, we switched to the now very familiar Yellow Line to Longueuil. We walked over to the Sandman for our second and final night in that hotel.