Why Don’t We Take the Train?

Last weekend my 11-year old son and I took VIA Rail from Toronto to Ottawa for a quick two-day father/son road trip. The main reason for the trip was for some onboard railfanning but I hadn’t been on VIA in many years and was curious to see how it measured up.

I was lucky enough to ‘win’ a free business class return trip ticket from work, however when I learned that the seat for my son would add an additional $398, I traded in my biz class ticket to buy him a more affordable $106 economy ride. 

We left Toronto’s Union Station on VIA 52 (6411 to Montreal and 6429 splitting of to Ottawa) departing Saturday at 9:20 and luckily enough we were able to hitch a ride in business class there (long story with details omitted to protect the innocent). It was a fabulous way to travel.

A friend who works as a CN dispatcher warned me that we wouldn’t likely see much from the train as “The Kingston sub Is Canada’s high speed rail corridor, It’s not the TGV, but things move fast on there and…You are either traveling at 92 or 95 mph so the meets are a blur, you may overtake a moving freight train so you might get to see the side of some box and tank cars going by at 45 or 50 mph if they are on your side of the train...”

Turns out it wasn’t such a bad way to railfan. In addition to some high speed and lower speed freight train meets, I enjoyed seeing customer sidings and the general lay of the land. Unexpected bonus included this pretty awesome flatcar load in the Belleville yard.

On the way home on Sunday (VIA 55 departing Ottawa for Toronto at 3:20pm) we were back where we ‘belonged’ in Car 5. The difference with business class was very apparent as the old LRC train car was literally falling apart. 

One benefit of being in the last car of the train; however, was that I was able to grab some excellent video out the back door including this VIA meet in Brockville yard. Also notice the flatcar loads of ingots/alumina from Arvida at left/north side.
All in all an excellent weekend away in Ottawa and a really fun way to travel there. Thanks VIA!


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