Monday, May 15, 2006

Train 14: tossing and turning

This is, to be honest, pretty bad. I know that problems are always exaggerated when it's the middle of the night, and when you can't get any sleep, but 'Comfort' coach class on train 14 is pretty dire. The fancy modern coaches are revealing all sorts of quirks to make it difficult to get comfortable, let alone get any sleep.

As on other overnight VIA Rail services, there is a blanket and a pillow for everyone in coach, but this time no amenity kit (eye mask, ear plugs etc). The lights have been dimmed since 21.00, but the real problem is the noise. Sitting near the centre of the car in row ten, I'm kept wide awake by the noisy air conditioning vents that are beneath the seats in the centre of the car. When I go to the back of the car to use the washroom, I chat again with the two ladies travelling to Moncton. They have managed to spread out over a pair and a single seat, but they're having problems sleeping because there is no door between their end of the car and the vestibule between the carriages; the noise of the train running over the track is quite intrusive here.

I return to my seat and attempt to fiind my sleeping position. This takes some time, because as I mentioned earlier, the single seat is bordered by two very hard and immovable arm rests. And while the seat reclines in a manner which prevents you from intruding on the space of the passenger behind you, the sliding base of the seat and the rising plenum on which the seat is mounted reduce leg room significantly - a big problem for lanky blokes like me.

I toss and turn a bit, using my own ear plugs to try and drown out the noise of the ventilation. But to be honest one pillow simply isn't enough... my neck isn't supported, despite the chunky shaped headrests and whichever part of my body is propped against the armrests needs some cushionning to stop it going numb. To top it all off, since this is the first journey in which I've checked in my luggage, I've usefully forgotten to bring any extra layers of clothing, and being dressed for Montréal's sunny weather (in just a shirt) I'm now getting extremely cold under the spell of the fierce air conditioning. The blanket helps, but there's always a draft somewhere that keeps me awake.

I manage to sleep a few times, never for more than an hour or two at a time. Each time I awake, I notice other passengers awake trying to get comfortable again. Some have cleverly discovered the sack of pillows at the end of the carriage, and have pinched a few more to make themselves more comfortable. Each time I check my watch, the hands seem to have barely moved.

This is going to be a long night...

1 comment:

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