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London Classic Charter:

London Classic Charter:

 

Prologue:

 

††††††††††† In spring of 2011, I learned that the Toronto Transportation Society was planning their 2011 fall colours charter in London, Ontario. They were planning to charter a London Transit Commission MCI Classic. I decided to attend. My plan was to take VIA train 85 to London the day before and spend the afternoon riding around. The next day, I would go on the charter and then take VIA train 78 home. The trip unfolded as follows.

 

October 21, 2011:

 

††††††††††† I got to Finch at 9:17 am. I boarded a subway train of T-1 subway cars and it departed moments after I got on. When the train stopped at North York Centre, the motorman left the cab and fiddled around with a seat near the cab. I suspect it was over the sand box or something. He soon got back into the cab and we departed. I got to Union about 25 minutes later. I took a walk and photographed train 85 over on track 16. I photographed it.

 

 

††††††††††† I then walked around a bit before I bought a coke from the McDonald's in Union Station and then lined up for train 85. Boarding began just before 10:40 am. I was seated in Hep1 coach #8134, an ex Amtrak coach. Train 85 is what became of the Canadian section of Amtrak's International.

 

††††††††††† The International was an Amtrak train that ran from Toronto to Chicago by way of Sarnia. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the train was delayed constantly at the border. At one point, they were busing passengers from Sarnia to Port Huron. In 2004, Amtrak and VIA decided enough was enough and they killed the International. The Canadian section was replaced by a VIA train and Amtrak now runs a train from Chicago to Port Huron called the Blue Water. When I was in Chicago back in 2008, my friend Karl said I should ride the Blue Water.

 

††††††††††† Today, trains 85 and 88 typically run with a locomotive, a Hep1 coach and a Hep2 coach making them VIA's shortest non-RDC trains. After I boarded the train, I saw that the window seats were taken so I sat down in an aisle seat on the left hand side of the train. The conductor announced train 85 was sold out.

 

††††††††††† Train 85 departed on time. Shortly after we left, the conductor told us how to exit the train in an emergency. We stopped shortly after we left.

 

††††††††††† VIA train 84 passed on the track next to us. It was being led by rebuilt F40 #6412. We started moving once train 84 was past. We soon picked up speed after passing through the interlocking west of Union Station.

 

††††††††††† The engineer started blowing the horn a bit even though there was only one grade crossing in the area. My coach was right behind the locomotive which happened to be #6424 which was unrebuilt.

 

††††††††††† We slowed down as we crossed over the CPR main line through Toronto. We then passed through a work zone. We picked up speed again.

 

††††††††††† South of the Weston GO station, I saw a lot with three highway coaches. One of them looked like an MC-9.

 

††††††††††† I filmed the HO scale locomotives in the cases in the coach. We then crossed over a bridge.

 

††††††††††† The train passed the Woodbine Racetrack. From the window, I could see the air traffic control tower from Pearson Airport. This line is the closest to the airport. A spur will be built for a new service to the airport called Blue 22. The 22 signifies that the train ride will take 22 minutes between the airport and Union Station. The train then passed the International Centre west of the airport.

 

††††††††††† East of Brampton station, I saw one of Brampton Transit's new buses. We then stopped at Brampton.

 

††††††††††† My coach filled up at Brampton. We then departed. We then crossed over the Orangeville-Brampton Railway; a short line owned by Cando.

 

††††††††††† The Toronto-Sarnia trains take a route more northerly than the Toronto Windsor trains. There are presently two round trips between Toronto and Sarnia with a third round train between Toronto and London on weekdays. The route has slower running speeds than the line the Toronto-Windsor trains take. People along the line are lobbying for additional trains on the northern line.

 

††††††††††† Lunch started being served. The train passed over a trestle. We then stopped at Georgetown. We sat in Georgetown for several minutes. I watched Unstoppable. The train departed Georgetown. We then headed onto the GEXR line from the CN line.

 

††††††††††† The train stopped in Guelph. As we stopped, I filmed former CN 4-8-4 #6167 which is undergoing cosmetic restoration. 6167 was once used for steam excursions in Ontario in the 1970s but CN stopped steam excursions awhile ago. 6167 was put on display at the Guelph VIA station.

 

††††††††††† After several minutes, we departed Guelph. I saw a lot with several army trucks. We were going slowly. Several minutes passed before we started picking up speed.

 

††††††††††† The train stopped in Kitchener.I could see across the street from the station an auto garage called ďFackoury ServiceĒ; (yes, it was actually spelled like that)! We departed a few minutes later. The track west of Kitchener was rough. The coach began to shake quite a bit.

 

††††††††††† We soon got onto better track and were soon out in farmland.

 

††††††††††† We passed a freight train with two leased SD40-2s shortly before we stopped in Stratford. Several people got off the train. I decided to move to a window seat for the rest of the way to London. We then departed Stratford. We traveled slowly through Stratford.

 

††††††††††† We picked up speed as we passed the Stratford Transit bus garage. Outside of Stratford, we hit more rough track.

 

††††††††††† We crossed over a bridge and then stopped at St. Mary's. We soon departed. I gained a seatmate.

 

††††††††††† We passed by an airport. I don't know if it was London's international airport. However, we were getting close to London. I readied my stuff to get off. As we passed through a grade crossing, I photographed a London Transit Classic in the old livery. We then had to stop at a junction to let a CP freight pass. After it had left, we headed back onto the CN line and arrived into London five minutes early. I got off and took some photos.

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† I waited for train 85 to leave. When it left, I filmed it pulling out. After it left, I stuck around because train 73 was due in less then 10 minutes. When it arrived, I photographed it.

 

 

††††††††††† I was expecting train 73 to have LRC coaches, but it consisted of rebuilt F40 #6431, a VIA 1 class Hep2 coach, three economy HEP2 coaches, and a Hep1 coach. I waited for the train to leave. The bell started ringing and the train started to move. I started filming, but then the train stopped. It looked like there was a last minute passenger scramble or something, but the train departed a couple minutes later. I filmed it pulling out and then photographed the last car of the train.

 

 

††††††††††† I then walked a couple blocks to Dundas Street to catch a route 2 bus east to my hotel which was a Knights Inn. While waiting for my bus, I photographed Classic 243 going westbound on route 2 as well as a deadheading Ez-Rider.

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† A New Flyer Invero arrived on the route 2 and I got on. The bus ride took a little while and the bus became packed. I soon arrived at my hotel. I checked in and went to my room. I phoned home and then worked on this report some more.

 

††††††††††† I then decided to go out transit riding. As I headed out I crossed Dundas Street and saw a railway crossing a short walk away activate and a CP freight pass through. However, I was unable to photograph it.

 

††††††††††† I then walked to the bus stop. I saw a Classic heading east, but was unable to photograph it. A little later, Classic 248 pulled up. I photographed it before I got on.

 

 

††††††††††† I rode to Wellington Avenue. Along the way I saw a former CN 2-6-0 on display. I photographed 248 after I got off and filmed it pulling away.

 

 

††††††††††† I was waiting for a route 13 bus to take me to the north end of the city. I remembered from past visits to London that there was a good hobby store.

 

††††††††††† A bus on route 13A showed up, but it wasn't going where I wanted, so I had to wait for a route 13 bus. While I was waiting, I photographed a couple more Classics.

 

 

 

 

††††††††††† The route 13 finally came I got on and rode to the north end of the city. As we headed out, we passed near the former CP station which is now a Keg restaurant. In the 10 years I had last ridden London Transit, the route had been changed and the bus didn't go anywhere near the hobby store. I got off and waited for a route 16 bus. I tried to call an information line to find out when the next bus would arrive, but they needed a stop number which unlike York Region Transit, was not on the stop. I tried to get it through customer service, but they had gone home for the day so the information line was useless to people from out of town.

 

††††††††††† A route 16 bus did show up several minutes later. I got on, but missed my stop. I then walked the rest of the way to the hobby store which was thankfully still open when I got there. I looked around and eventually bought a model piggyback flat car and some decals for a Rapido LRC coach. I then left and caught a bus. The bus went out of service at the Masonville Mall. I decided to have dinner there at the food court.

 

††††††††††† The Masonville Mall has an indirect link to SAIT. On the day I left home for SAIT, my dad and I stopped there and had lunch at the food court. This was the first time I had gone there since I went to SAIT and I reflected on how disappointing SAIT turned out to be for me; (see my Western Canada trip report).

 

††††††††††† I had dinner in food court and looked around the mall. I then headed back to the bus terminal. I had just missed a bus. I photographed a D40LF while I was waiting for my bus.

 

 

††††††††††† My bus came and I got on. The route 13 passes through the campus of the University of Western Ontario. My sister went to Western a few years ago. One day when my mom visited her, she took my mom to a Marble Slab Creamery. That turned out to be the seeds of the store my mom eventually opened in 2008.

 

††††††††††† I got off the bus at the intersection of Dundas and Richmond. I stood outside a McDonald's and remembered how 10 years earlier I was standing outside the same McDonald's when a man motioned for me to come in and said something about {prince} Charles being in the stocks. Most likely, that guy was crazy. I waited for a route 2 bus back to my motel. When my bus arrived, it was Classic #243. I photographed it before I got on.

 

 

††††††††††† I then rode back to my hotel. I saw a CP freight as I got near my motel. I filmed the bus pulling away.

 

 

††††††††††† I went back to my room and worked on this report some more. I then went out and bought a donut at a nearby Tim Hortonís. I went to a gas station across from the Tim Hortonís hoping they would sell milk, but they didn't.I eventually returned to Tim Hortonís and bought two cartons of milk. While I was out, I saw Classic 243 again, but I didn't photograph it.

 

††††††††††† I then returned to my hotel and worked on this report some more. I asked for a wake up call at 8:30 am. I watched some TV and eventually called it a night.

 

††††††††††† Click here for part 2.