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Stress Free Travel
of my earliest and fondest memories is of boarding the old “milk
run” train at the Walkerville station with my grandmother
to visit relatives in Belle River. The two of us made this trip
often; on a recent journey to Toronto aboard Via Rail, my mind naturally
wandered back to those carefree days as the train passed by this
small lakeside town just east of Windsor.
Interior of Via 1
you can no longer disembark in Belle River (the proliferation of
the car decreased the demand for this service) that great travel
feeling trains provide has remained. For me, VIA 1 was the natural
choice for a first-class weekend that included a stay at The Fairmont
Royal York, which is conveniently situated across the street from
Union Station in downtown Toronto.
economy travel is perfectly adequate, moving to VIA 1 is well worth
the extra expense, provided you like to be pampered! The complimentary
cocktails are well-chilled and although 11a.m. might seem a tad
early (although it is noon somewhere!), life just somehow seems
better with a bloody Caesar in hand, and someone else taking care
of the navigation. For lunch we were served a choice of two very
appetizing entrées, and salad, desert, tea and coffee. Our
stewards were extremely solicitous and we certainly enjoyed all
the attention. VIA 1 is definitely the way to travel, especially
during the winter months when driving on the 401 can be so stressful
and downright dangerous.
railroads made land travel available to the masses, much as large
sailing ships and steam vessels had done for water travel, the first
passenger cars ran at about 30 km/h, and were often no more
than flatcars or boxcars with benches. Passenger trains later improved,
but long waits and hazards, such as becoming snowbound or derailed,
were not uncommon. Despite this, train travel was the fastest, most
comfortable and most reliable mode of long-distance land travel
until the age of the automobile and paved roads.
1854, the first passenger trains reached Windsor from Niagara Falls
to much fanfare. Between 1976-1979 Via Rail Canada, a crown corporation,
took over intercity and national rail passenger service from Canadian
Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway. CPR and CN would
henceforth concentrate on freight service. Today, the Windsor to
Quebec City corridor is the busiest network within the VIA Rail
system and represents more than 70% of VIA Rail travellers.
Rail has served over 3.9 million passengers with 480 trains per
week, including 300 in southern Quebec and southern Ontario on 14,000
km of track in approximately 450 Canadian communities.
announced strategic infrastructure improvements throughout the Quebec
City-Windsor corridor will increase track capacity and alleviate
bottlenecks, improve on-time performance, reduce trip times by increasing
speed and further improve safety and reliability of service.
With a total investment of $692.5 million planned over the
next five years, the renaissance of passenger rail will continue
to bring truly modern, affordable, safe and efficient travel options
to Canadians. Coupled with the $401.9 million announced in
April 2000, the more than $1 billion commitment by the current government
is the largest cash infusion for passenger rail in Canadian history.
learn more, visit www.viarail.ca.