Monday, March 13, 2006

Five weeks to depature...

So, following an apologetic change to my highly publicised 'fund raising' efforts for this trip, I'll be digging a bit deeper into my own pockets and going without for a little while, in order to pay for a bit of modest luxury that will compliment two of the longer legs of my rail trip. Thank you to those who were generous enough to help - your donations will go to someone who needs them, and I will pay for the extra comfort myself. I will just have to avoid booze, drugs and fast women for a week or two ...

Above is a diagram of a typical VIA rail sleeper car. These stainless steel cars were built in the fifties and have since been extensively re-built and refurbished. Single occupancy 'roomettes' are shown in purple, double occupancy bedrooms are shown as dark blue and open berths (illustrated left) are in yellow. On Saturday I passed by Montréal's Gâre Centrale to book two of the little yella' fellas for my ride north on the 'Hudson Bay' between Winnipeg and Churchill. The ticket agent showed me the car diagram on her screen, and it seems there will be just one sleeper car on this train, with three or four of the six berths already booked. The journey will take about thirty-six hours in each direction, so I'm skipping four nights in a coach class seat for the most modest sleeping accomodation: a wide banquette that folds into a curtained bed (or 'section') at night. My combination of an upper berth on the way north and a lower berth on the way south brought the additional accomodations charge to just over C$240. Had I not got a rail pass, an equivilent flat fare on the same route would have been C$550.

I was helped through the booking process by the extremely kind and patient ticket agent at the VIA ticket office. She asked about my trip, it being the one VIA route that she has not had a chance to travel on. I promised to drop by when I return to Montréal to let her know how the trip went, and I left the address of this blog with her. So if you're reading this, forgive me for not catching your name, and please leave a comment or drop me a line :)

In quiet moments this week I've been reading up on the different parts of the trip I'll be taking. If you want to get a feel for the Winnipeg - Hudson Bay leg, I recommend these travelogues:

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi James, I look forward to your reports from the Rails. I'm pondering a similar trip with a 12" PowerBook so would be interested in hearing your trials & tribulations concerning power outlets on the trains as well as in the stations. I see there are a few "wireless" enabled trains along the east coast, but wouldn't it be great to have wireless access the entire time? I was on a SAS Flight last summer that had wireless throughout the fight via Boeing's "Connexion" service, so know it's technically possible. Just wish the trains were as modern.

All for now, Andrew

jania said...

hey lovely boy. your adventure draws near. hurrah! i am back in edmonton now, from my journey down south, and i insist that you let chris and i pay you back for some of your kind montreal hospitality. anything you need, all the beer you are looking for, call on us! many hugs to you and your handsome roommate. j

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