Saturday, May 20, 2006

Train 15: end of the line

When I awake, we are racing along the smooth fast railway line between Québec City and Montréal. We are on the home straight. Outside, the flat fields of southern Québec are stretching out either side of us into a grey haze of fog and rain. Small towns flash past, and the slight changes in domestic architecture tell me that we are back in Québec. The houses appear to be more traditional; the porches are larger and the facades have more decoration on them. BMM and I take the remains of our food bag back to the service car, and along with coffee and hot chocolate, have a scratch breakfast. The café attendant has found some large sheets from which a cardboard train can be pressed out and assembled. They are busy making a long train of cardboard carriages and locomotives on the red couches. Eating yesterday's donuts and a bruised apple, it's strange to think that this is really the end of my trip.

We stop at Drummondville, Saint-Hyacinthe and finally Saint-Lambert. The pause here is slightly longer but within sixty seconds of leaving the station we are crossing the wide and fast flowing Saint Laurence river. Was it really a month ago that I began my journey crossing this bridge?. The grey weather has travelled to Montréal with us. It's a dark day, raindrops hitting the windows beside us under a solidly grey sky.

Montréal appears first on our right, through the fast moving steel griders of the bridge. When we land on the island of Montréal, the train makes a gentle turn to the right, and I catch sight of the rail yards where VIA keeps its Montréal fleet. An overnighting four carriage Amtrak train waits for it's journey to New York later this morning. Maybe it's the same set of carriages I took all those weeks ago?

We are now closer to the downtown skyline of skyscrapers, bounded to the north by the heavily wooded outline of the Mont Royal montagne, and these are now appearing on our left. The crew of the train offer their billingual welcome to Montréal, now speaking in French before English, rather than vice versa as when we left Halifax. The train slows to enter the dark underside of the Gare Centrale. In the last one hundred metres, the two diesel locomotives at the front of the train stop their engines, and the lights in our car dims. We coast quietly into the station, and come to a halt...

My journey has ended.

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