Re-Train Yourself :
VIA Rail Offers Halifax/Sydney Tourism Run
Tony Thibault - Editor@Large
the glorious days of rail. When the iron traversed the
country, when traveling by land meant taking the train.
Canada has a proud rail tradition, one full of history
& exploration, not just transportation. As one VIA
Rail spokesperson quoted, "part of Canada's fabric".
But things are not as they once were. The mighty steam
engine has lost its luster. These days, air, car, coach
and ship have decreased the once mighty train's market
share, especially as people movers. As tracks are being
ripped up all across the land, all is not lost, at least
not in Nova Scotia.
Bedford Basin outside Halifax
an ambitious new project has been undertaken to offer
Train service from Halifax to Sydney as a travel product.
Vying for the ever increasing tourist dollar, VIA Rail
has partnered with Nova Scotia Tourism & Culture (formerly
the Nova Scotia Marketing Agency until the recent change
in party power). Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation
& Tourism Cape Breton are also part of the initiative.
The goal: to boost the travel traffic in the corridor
between Halifax and Sydney using the train as the mode
of transportation. Will the once glorious rails again
carry tourists hungry for all that Nova Scotia has to
offer? Time will tell. But if this trial run of the
"Bras d'Or" service is any indication of what VIA plans
to offer all customers and not just us travel journalist
types, I think we have a winner here.
me preface this by saying that I may have become an
expert on modes of transportation in the last few days.
Being shuttled about Atlantic Canada via motor coach,
van, plane (both large and small), boats, cars and more.
I've been shown around by some wonderful people and
seen some spectacular sites. So for this little train
ride, I might be a tough sell.
trying to remember the last time I rode the rails? In
grade 9 we took off to Ottawa to see our Nation's Capital
using the trusty train to transport the class. But as
an adult, this is my inaugural voyage. The first thing
that strikes me is the room. Elbow room, leg room, lots
of rooms. Space! Something sorely lacking in the cramped
quarters of my previous few days travel. Then there
are the amenities. No stopping for a coffee, meal, or
bathroom breaks. It's all here.
a Fall Turn
in all, this could be the very best way to travel. Take
a stroll and make new friends in the sometimes-cramped
corridors ;-) The key here is the ability to move about
at will, stretch out and most importantly socialize! As
I sit in the bar car with some new found friends, I realize
that the train allows us the opportunity to interface
in a way no other form of mass transportation can.
House on a Hill
then there's the scenery. Nova Scotia possesses some
wonderful things to see, and that's no secret. The difference
here is the way it's presented. Driving is a great way
to sightsee, but don't take your eyes of the road. Motor
coaches can provide a good vantage point, but we get
back to that cramped thing. The Skyline viewing cars
(domes or bubbles) of a train gives you the height to
really get a panoramic view of things. And what things
this trip we are in the peak of the Province's fall
foliage, though this service won't be introduced until
May of 2000. As we meander our way through the tiny
passageways carved through the wilderness by the rail
line, the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking.
The colours are in full bloom and each turn in the track
releases another explosion of fall splendour. I'm being
physically assaulted by beauty and loving every stunning
blow ! (more..)
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