Monday, October 13, 2008

Transport: Royal Canadian Pacific

The Royal Canadian Pacific passed through the Weston neighborhood of Toronto on 13-October-2008

TORONTO, ONTARIO - One of the delightful things about living near the Canadian Pacific Railway is the fleet of special trains that the company runs over its system for a variety of public relations purposes. Two of those trains were in the Toronto area today. The first, the Spirit Train to celebrate the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, went to Mississauga for its free event that will be covered later.

The other was the Royal Canadian Pacific. Normally running only in western Canada through the Fraser River Canyon and the Rocky Mountains, this classic train features streamlined diesel locomotives from the 1950's and heavyweight passenger cars mostly from the 1920's. It may be the most luxurious train in North America.

On some trips, the public can purchase a seat on the train--assuming a lot of disposable income. This rare trip into Toronto was a private charter being run for owners of Canadian Tire stores. So, there was little publicity and almost no word that the train was coming except for some obscure Internet lists.

The tip was that the train would arrive in Toronto at 14:30--but that didn't say where. One would assume Toronto Union Station, but assumptions are often quite dangerous on the railroad, and hanging out at Union Station would have meant seeing nothing if the train terminated at Agincourt Yard in eastern Toronto--or worse, my neighborhood Lambton Yard. Instead, I headed up to Weston, where the train would have to pass through no matter where it was going, and set up on the sidewalk of the Jane Street bridge over the Canadian Pacific Mactier Sub.

Even special trains are rarely on time, so I was not surprised that I heard nothing of the train until after 15:00, when a radio conversation indicated that it was out of Bolton. Just before 15:30, it came into sight in the distance, slowing for a meet with some locomotives running alone to Vaughn Yard that I had just photographed.

This was my first chance to see the Royal Canadian Pacific, and it lived up to expectations. The two locomotives and ten cars were nearly immaculate despite their trip from Calgary and certainly were an unusual sight in Ontario. Passengers on the rear platform were enjoying the warm fall day, waving to the lone photographer up on the bridge.

I still don't know where the train went in Toronto--rather than trying to follow it, I chose to head for Mississauga to see the Spirit Train.

The CN Tower loomed in the distance as the Royal Canadian Pacific approached Toronto on 13-October-2008

No comments: