Thursday, May 11, 2006

Train 692: The Pas

We arrive at The Pas. The train is quiet, and virtually empty save for about a half dozen coach passengers. I step off the train and take a quick walk around the old station building (which apart from the VIA Rail ticket office, is now used as offices by the Hudson Bay Railway company). The locomotives fuel tanks are being filled, and the water tanks underneath the carriages are being filled. There aren’t many people about, and only five new passengers join us.

The sun is setting out of sight, and turning the western edge of the sky pink. The colours reflect in the windows and on the stainless steel of the train. They may be over fifty years old, but these cars are still very elegant. Even on a modest and purely function train like this one, they cut a dash at every station they stop at.

I get back on board, and prepare to enjoy my last night in the comfort of a VIA Rail couchette. Tara has once again been called into action to fold, collapse and unfurl the third pair of berths. One of the passengers who boarded at The Pas has upgraded from coach to a bed, and will be joining us for the night. It takes Tara about five minutes to perform the conversion, and soon we have another pair of beds ready for the night. I’ve enjoyed this little bit of luxury immensely: it’s an affordable and extremely fun way to make an overnight trip by train more comfortable, and I would definitely consider it again, especially instead of a more expensive private room. I’m not particularly fussy about privacy, and the comfort of a berth is more than enough to make a night time journey easy to sleep through.

I close my curtains for the last time and lie in my snug berth with the blind up. In my line of sight I can see the sky dropping from a deep aquamarine, to blue, to pale blue, to grey, to white and to pink. Thicker and deeper silhouetted forests are now speeding past us as we rejoin faster tracks that will carry us in our wide curve through a slice of Saskathewan and back into Manitoba early tomorrow morning.

I tumble into my dreams very rapidly, and sleep soundly.

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