On The Ocean Via Rail Train

This is the first leg of my trip across Canada.

My fully booked train was scheduled to leave the Moncton station at 5:30pm and it was delayed by half an hour. Dami waited with me and walked me to my train. The Via Rail station in Moncton, New Brunswick is a small station and only has the basic amenities like washrooms, drinking water fountain and a ticket counter. When it came time to embark, I was directed the wrong way so I walked all the way to the front and back to the tail of the train. I was rolling my black Herschel carry on suitcase (I bought it at the Dolphin hotel at Disney last December to bring back all my souvenirs!) with the Vera Bradley bag on top and on my shoulder I was carrying the late Grannie K’s handmade tote, I thought it would be perfect for this trip. I think it was made with a furniture fabric from the 90’s – it has a moose, a bear, a fish, evergreen trees, a canoe, a tea pot, a heart and feathers – Very stereotypical Canadian and I love it!

I was traveling on train 15, car 1540, Cabin D which is a Cabin for 2. The car was an old refurbished Stainless Steel from 1954. I’ve been told the configuration of the old style, compared to the Renaissance newer one, is a bit more roomy. My car was # 8221 Château Radisson. I was happy with my cabin and the reupholstered seats in pink and green pied-de-poule pattern. My cabin was equipped with 2 3-prong electrical outlets which I used to recharge my phone and power bank.

Because there is only one train at the moment on The Ocean route, it means the train doesn’t turn around in Halifax and goes back and forth so they have one locomotive at both ends. It is not the usual configuration and is what they call a hybrid. If you’re in a sleeper car, you usually don’t walk through economy cars or Coach as they call them, but I went through 2 economy cars.  I Think they did have some sleeper cars on the other side, at the tail of the train, I’m not sure as I was not able to get a plan of the train as they usually have at the stations. There was no park car which meant no self-serve beverages (coffee and tea) and no snacks (fresh fruits and cookies). There was also no dome car for a 360 view of the scenery.

I’ve traveled the Ocean route many times in the past but this time during the C-19 pandemic it was different. I was expecting food to be delivered to my cabin so I was happy to learn I could walk to the dining car. There was table service but the cold food was served in disposable dishware and bamboo utensils. I had to walk 7 cars to get to the dining car and it could be a problem for someone with mobility issues. My meal consisted of cold salmon served on a bed of mixed lettuce with bacon and tomatoes, dill potato salad, one slice each of provolone and smoked gouda cheese served with a couple of red grapes, and a tiramisu cake for dessert. For breakfast the next morning, I had a cold bagel with cream cheese served with 5 pieces of fruit salad and orange juice.

Delays can happen on the train because merchandise trains have the right of way; they are very long and the passenger trains have to “step aside” and wait while they pass. They usually try to make up for lost time by traveling faster where permitted. My train arrived 2 hours late in Montreal but thankfully I didn’t have any connections and I was headed to The Bonaventure Hotel.

Was it worth it with? For me it was, as I really love trains and looking out the window from my cabin. I always bring reading material but I only read my Via Rail guide book to get a sense of where we were passing through villages. The sleeper cars are the way to go for me. I would not travel economy and would prefer flying if there was no other option. I have an upcoming train trip to Halifax and for the return trip there was only a cabin for 3 available so there will be some pictures coming later this month. The next leg of the trip will be posted shortly, stay tuned. Thanks for reading, I’d love to hear from you. Take care and safe travels. 🙂

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