Dewi's Trains,
Trams & Trolleys

Around America by train:
Ottawa to New York

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We'd had a mild winter. So we were very surprised on the day before we were to leave when snow fell heavily, the temperature plummetted, and the winds blew strongly. But all was well: our son drove us to Ottawa Station to catch the 6:45am train to Montreal, each with our carry-on case-on-wheels. We didn't take enough clothes to last the whole 30 days: we counted on being able to wash clothes frequently en route.

Click on thumbnail for larger picture.

  VIA Rail: Ottawa to Montreal
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Eufron in VIA train to Montreal. We boarded and put our bags in VIA's overhead bins, like boarding an aircraft, but the seats are comfortable, far wider than economy airline seats.
Photo DSCF1123 on 22/03/2002
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It seemed to take forever to get away from Ottawa - the industrial area has spread out along the track. We rolled along smoothly but not excessively fast, and we had to wait for an oncoming train at Glen Robertson. This was something that occurred throughout our journey: so many lines are single track with passing loops or sidings,and there's an enormous number of freight trains on those tracks.
Photo DSCF1124 on 22/03/2002
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After Glen Robertson, we put on speed, and it was obvious that the tilting mechanism was working well as we didn't feel as though we were going around curves, but looking out of the window you could definitely see that the train was tilting. After joining the main Montreal-Toronto line at Côteau we went even faster, passing all the highway traffic on Autoroute 40. Because we were in the last car, we could look back and see the snow blowing around in the turbulence caused by our passing.
Photo DSCF1125 on 22/03/2002
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Our train was on time, coasting into Central Statin, Montreal, as usual with the diesel engines switched off to minimize smke and fumes in the low-roofed platform area of the station. We purchased a baquette and cheese to eat on board, and joined the line waiting for the Adirondack. In one of his novels, Dick Francis mentions a "civilized paractice" at Ottawa station: putting one's baggage as a place-holder in the line, then sitting down nearby. We didn't do this in Ottawa, but we did do it in Montreal.
Photo DSCF1126 on 22/03/2002
  The Adirondack: Montreal to New York
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Downstairs, we walked forward to the train (tail lights shown here). Our tickets guaranteed us seats, but did not assign seat numbers. We were put in the very last car, boarding by the very last door of the train. As always on American trains, I bumped my head. The luggage rack on Amtrak trains seems to be lower than on Canadian or British trains.
Photo DSCF1127 on 22/03/2002
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After crossing the US border, we came to a fast stop at Rouses Point, NY, short of the customs post. The crew walked up and down the train: at the side of the track, there was what appeared to be a broken brake hose. The crew left it there.
Photo DSCF1131 on 22/03/2002
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The customs and immigration examinations were quite fast and we had time to spare, so all the smokers were allowed a few minutes outdoors (every train we rode on was non-smoking, except for a downstairs smokers' lounge on the Coast Starlight).
Photo DSCF1128 on 22/03/2002
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We took the opportunity to walk outside along the train. The baggage car has this mural on it, advertising the train itself.
Photo DSCF1129 on 22/03/2002
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Ready to depart from the customs & Immigration stop at Rouses Point, NY
Photo DSCF1130 on 22/03/2002
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Re-boarding at Rouses Point. From here, speeds wre not very high, and we were on old clickety-clack track. At Albany, I was surprised that we changed locomotives, because one of the great advantages of Diesel over steam was that one locomotive could "run through" for a whole trip, rather than changing locos every 100 miles or so. After Albany, we were on welded rail, and ran much faster. We ran into a blizzard at Saratoga, but all was well until 5 minutes before Penn station, where we halted abruptly. Shades of the Eurostar, where we halted outside Brussels and had to wait 3 hours for a tow. However, after 20 minutes we moved on. Apparently (no surprise here) a brake hose had parted and had to be replaced.
Photo DSCF1133 on 23/03/2002

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This page last updated on 17/04/2006 8:28:07.