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Date: 12/04/09 23:52
Hudson Bay Train
Author: wzd

What's happened to the schedule of the Hudson Bay train - it looks like VIA has added about 8 hours to the schedule.

I've heard that October is the best time to ride the train because of the polar bear migration - but I wonder what would be best from a railfan perspective.

Bill Davidson

Date: 12/05/09 05:48
Re: Hudson Bay Train
Author: DrLoco

book early...rooms are limited in Churchill, and they book up during polar bear season YEARS in advance.
There's also Beluga Whale season, and my personal favourite, Northern Lights season.
As a railfan, it's a great train to ride anytime!

Date: 12/05/09 09:14
Re: Hudson Bay Train
Author: nonamemal

What equipment is used on that train? Full diner? Is a Park car ever used?
Can you just ride it up and start the return trip later that same day of arrival?

Date: 12/05/09 17:20
Re: Hudson Bay Train
Author: DrLoco

you can ride up and return, or at least, that option was available when I was there--with an arrival in Churchill at around 8 am and departure around 8pm.
You will want to book at least a tundra buggy ride--to see a polar bear!
Then go back and hang out at the depot, which is now a Parks Canada Welcome Centre.
The Hudson Bay Ry. freight op's will get you a mixed bag of Omnitraxx power, hopefully some of those nicely painted Green SD50's...
This was truly a "vest pocket passenger train" as described in Trains.
1 Locomotive, 1 Baggage,2 coaches, 1 diner, 1 sleeper. Park cars were an off-season experiment that I only think they tried once, but in the off-season for the Canadian, if there is a spare one around, they might tack it on.
It's a great ride--I have nothing but nice things to say about the VIA staff and most of the Omnitrax employees that run the train.(one exception was a very frosty conductor on the Thompson-Gilliam leg of the trip that told me I was dumb for railfanning the train. I ignored him.)
One neat thing--during the station stop at THicket Portage, get out to "Stretch your legs" with you camera. This is the location where I saw a HUGE pack of every dog in town (and i use the word town loosely--really a collection of community centre and ramshackle structures) came out to greet the train as we stopped. I got down, and saw that the reason the dogs came to the train is that the cook saves all of the table scraps from the train and throws them to the dogs there. It was really neat to see the crew do that. And it had been going on for some time, for as soon as the dogs heard the hissing of the air brakes as they started to release on the cars, they all backed away from the train a bit, then when the engineer whistled off, they retreated to the treeline about 10 feet away.
During the return trip, the crew stopped near Thompson Jct. and cut down 2 christmas trees for the stationmaster in WInnipeg. It's a neat little train--and definitely worth the money!

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 12/05/09 17:23 by DrLoco.

Date: 12/05/09 22:22
Re: Hudson Bay Train
Author: jp1822

The schedule, from what I am told is temporarily changed and there is the extra hours of operations. I believe those the time's been added at Winnipeg (i.e. earlier departure northbound to Churchill and later arrival into Winnipeg). Likewise, the Park Car is supposed to return during peak season, but won't this year due to the fact that VIA is overhauling some of them - twp quite drastically as has been discussed. But eventually, I think you'll see the Park Car return during the peak season of operations.

I have always seen the Hudson Bay train with two Chateau sleepers, even though it could easily operate with even more at time. But as noted, sometimes it's just one Chateau sleeper. I often wonder if VIA is doing all it can for the Hudson Bay Line in terms of its "full revenue potential." It could easily have more sleepers, and often at times when the Canadian is not operating at peak season (i.e. so VIA would just have to shift the cars over). However, I heard at one time that VIA has to be careful on how many "tourists" or "load factor" it is bringing into Churchill due to relative limited facilities.

Date: 12/05/09 23:16
Re: Hudson Bay Train
Author: wzd

When is the best time to see the whales and the best time to see the Northern Lights?

Also, does anyone know the reason for adding time to the schedule?

Thanks again,


Date: 12/06/09 06:02
Re: Hudson Bay Train
Author: DrawingroomA

This train was rarely, if ever, on time. VIA blames the track conditions on Omnitrax. When GO Transit lengthens a train's run they say something such as: "We have adjusted the schedule to more accurately reflect the actual operating time of the train." Prior to the fourth night being added to the schedule of the Canadian, the train was due into Toronto at 8:00 p.m. and in recent years was often many hours late. It is hardly a first class experience for passengers to be thrown off a train in the wee hours of the morning. When the Canadian was late - beyond 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. - VIA would sometimes allow passengers to remain on board until early morning. Since the lengthening of the run, and coinciding with the downturn in the economy which means fewer CN freight trains (and therefore fewer derailments,) the Canadian's timekeeping is quite good.

Last year four friends went to Churchill with a same-day return. The toilets in the one and only sleeping car malfunctioned shortly after departure from Winnipeg. No repairs could be made in Churchill, so for four consecutive nights they had to walk up through the diner to use the facilities in the coaches. I have read reports of passengers missing their eastbound connection on the Canadian and having to spend two extra days in Winnipeg. Sadly, the Churchill run is not one of VIA's better ones.

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