|A high point of the trip was a middle of the night transfer in the middle
vastness of Ontario between VIA's Canadian #1 and Canadian #2.
Were it not for a three-day trip interruption for a Thanksgiving with my
wife and for a retirement party for a friend, I would have gone all the way
to Halifax as originally intended. However, to get my needed "seniority"
of 25,000 miles, some Harry Potter magic was needed. The magicians were service
managers. It did not hurt my appeal for a mid-line transfer that the service
manager on the first leg of the Canadian #2, Mr. Maurice Dessaulniers
had wished me well on my journies and writings in the presence of his successor.
Whoa, you may say, "What an inefficient use of trains!" that is, stopping two trains to transfer one person. Not true. First of all, and reflecting the commitment of VIA to all people of Canada--hint, hint, Amtrak--one can request a stop in the middle of nowhere for a camping or fishing trip with sufficient notice. As the train resumes its journey, a quaint, romantic and solitary angler trudges into the woods with bulging backpack from which rises the cylinder holding his fly rod. On VIA's Hudson up to the Polar Capital of the world on Hudson Bay, many natives use the train like the inter-urbans of the pre-automobile era.
Inefficient? No. When two trains pass each other, one must pull off on to a siding and wait. The length of the wait depends on how quicking the blocking train passes. If the passing train has to stop at a station before the siding then the waiting train must wait longer than if the passing train stops next to it. Total time and fuel wasted is less if the departing passengers is not a local who uses the station but an eccentric writer on an "Around the world in 30 days on Amtrak and VIA."
An important variable is whether another passenger is getting off at the station prior to the siding with the waiting train. If this is the case then the passing train would have to make two stops. At the time of this traveler's ticket purchase just before the Winnipeg departure, no other passengers were scheduled for detraining at the prior station. As the ten degree cold miles railed by, the question was "Did someone board after the ticket was purchased?"
Sadly, the car attendant responsible for the safety of the passengers veto'd my "two ships passing in the night" scenario. He said transfering in the middle of the night on snow covered sloping ground without lights was a recipe for disaster. No, I would be dropped off at a station where it was warm and lighted to await the Canadian #1. Was I disappointed? Yes. Did I focus my disappointment on the VIA employee? No. He was right. If one holds animosity toward someone who is right while looking out for one's safety, the problem is not the someone but is the one.
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