Monday, May 15, 2006

Train 14: afternoon

After a walk up and down the platform at Moncton, and a friendly chat with a few of the coach attendants who are working the train, I get back on board and soon after we're on our way again. The train slips in between the buildings of the low rise centre of Moncton, reflecting in office windows and passing lines of traffic at level crossings. It's another Monday morning, and I'm still on holiday.

The afternoon begins to slip by rapidly - we're bowling along at a respectable pace for much of the rest of the day, and I am furiously typing away on my laptop to take advantage of the time to myself. At some point that slips by unnoticed, we leave New Brunswick and enter Nova Scotia. We stop at Sacville, Amherst and Sackville Junction, picking up 'local' passengers for Halifax. It's a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxed way to bring my second last journey to a close. Truro comes and goes (with some attractive murals painted on the wall of the warehouses that back onto the station's platforms) and we're on the home straight, racing through low fields and alongside rivers and lakes. The landscape of this part of Nova Scotia is much like the British scenery I miss so much - gently rolling, and under a blue sky it's looking even prettier.

It's nearing 16.15 as we pass through Bedford. We're running late, and we're on the outskirts of Halifax. Since it's been three months since I last saw BMM, I'm packed and ready to get off the train already, but we slow to a crawl as the line brings us alongside Bedford Basin. Ahead of us are the bridges crossing between Halifax and Dartmouth, and just to the right of them is the gently rising hill upon which the city of Halifax sits. The rail tracks beneath us split and multiply as we approach the container port on the northern side of Halifax, and we pass dozens of multicoloured steel containers stacked high above the water's edge. A container ship is docked, and cranes are loading the ship for another trans-Atlantic voyage. Throughout my trip I've seen and been passed by hundreds of these containers, travelling across the USA and Canada by train. Now the trains have reached the end of the track, and the containers are being plucked from their wagons and lifted effortlessly onto the boat.

The VIA Rail station in Halifax is in the south-eastern part of the downtown peninsular. To get there, the railway line passes through a long and deep cutting down the western side of the city, and round the southern edge of town into the main sea port and railway station. So while I can see that we are have arrived in Halifax, we are still some time away from arriving in the station. The train crawls through the cutting, sliding beneath bridges that carry roads above us. We're too low down here to see the city around us.

After a few pauses, the sea port of Halifax comes into view on our right. We edge forward, and approach Halifax station.

No comments: