Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, May 30, 2005

So, my latest obsession has to do with trying to catch the Via.

I take a walk every evening, and every evening I seem to watch a freight train go by. But that's not enough any more. I want to watch the Via go by.

This goes all the way back to my childhood. Sure, freight trains going by were common, but to see the Via...that was something different and exciting. Back then, the Via colour scheme was still blue and gold, a stark contrast to the black, white, and red of CN. The locamotives were of a visibly different design, complete with a differntly sounding horn. There always seemed to be less than 10 cars in a train, and they were fast. They'd come roaring through town like a blue rocket, then disappear around the horizon.

I'm rather lucky that I can still see it. With all the cutbacks that have befallen Via over the years, Entwistle is one of the few small towns in Western Canada that it roars through. The colour scheme is silver and blue now, there are many, many more cars to a train, and they're considerably slower. But they still have that mystique.

Anyway, I have a plan to try to catch a glimpse of the Via. Even though it hasn't actually stopped in Entwistle for about 15 years, the Via rail schedule (downloadable in PDF format from their website) still lists Entwistle on their schedule. It comes through town on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays; Vancouver-bound in the mornings, Edmonton-bound in the evenings.

I can do this. I also want to load up the camera with film; get some good pictures of it.

Not that I'm obsessed or anything.

Actually, it's kind of interesting reading the history of Via. Passenger rail service used to be the purvue of CP and CN. In the late-1960s, both companies wanted to get out of passenger rail service, believing it to no longer be profitable. The government, however, felt that there was still a need for it. So, they forced CP (the private company) to do it, and simply told CN (the Crown corporation) to keep doing it. As the 70s went on, CP and CN finally went "enough is enough!" In the 1974 elections, it was an election promise of Pierre Trudeau's to create a new Crown corporation dedicated to passenger rail service. Via Rail started as a division of CN; simply a restructuring of its passenger rail service. Then, in 1978, Via became a wholly independent Crown corporation. It's heyday was the late-70s/early 80s, and then, in the early 80s, cutback after cutback began.

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