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:
- Winnipeg - Churchill - Winnipeg, Daniel Chazin, March 1996
- Brockville (ON) - Toronto - Winnipeg - Churchill - Winnipeg - Toronto - Brockville, Lorraine Symons, December 2002 / January 2003
- Brockville (ON) - Toronto - Winnipeg - Churchill - Winnipeg - Toronto - Brockville, Laurie Irving, December 2002 / January 2003