Just Like Old Times On Afternoon Train, Published 12 February 1954
It seemed like old times the other day to be taking the afternoon train to Montreal, I had not made a railway journey (except 2.9 miles on the Billings Bridge local) for sbout six months. So as Canadian National's fancy afternoon picked up the slack and rolled smoothly behind No. 6060, I felt like crying: "I am alive again."
Back was I from the pergatory of home and office life; snatched like a brand from the burning here was I travelling the new fancy day coach to Montreal. Usually by expense account or by giving no thought for the morrow. I have ridden the parlor plush. This time I was in even fancier surroundings. The new CNR coaches are the last word in svelte riding. You float rather than railroad. You sit beside big picture windows haunch deep in rubber foam, and all the accessories formerly reserved for the Pullman trade are yours for a day coach ticket.
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So we hustled past Carlsbad, on whose siding lies still some historic old iron rail from the Canada Atlantic days, we paused at Vars, we gave Limoges and Casselman just enough time so we could say we stopped.
On we fled, jerking water at Alexandria, passing westbound No. 51 at Glen Robertson, then plunging into the new double income tax country as we crossed the provincial line at St. Justine. Then the Canadian Pacific Toronto tracks at St. Polycarpe Junction, and the main double track at Coteau. We sailed past what, looked like Canadian Pacific 504 standing at Dorion, and they had left Ottawa five minutes ahead of us. This, I said, as I inhaled gloriously from air conditioned ozone, is living.
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In Montreal I saw tomorrow's sleeper today. The car Ekhart is a gadgeteer's dream, a passenger's pin up Pullman. It has berths, roomettes and double bed rooms. With plenty of plumbing for everybody. For instance, there are separate toilets in the double bedrooms. The taps are foot controlled and non-splash. The walls fold back and you have what seems like enormous space when people buy bedrooms en suite.
Chairs fold up, an upper comes out of the wall somehow, a murphy bed slides into view. The windows have a hinged sash for anybody who cannot come in via the regular doors. Sick people who have to travel would find this a boon.
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A dressing table comes out of nowhere in front of sink and mirror, a cupboard to hang your clothes is here, and a shoe place to leave your footwear for the porter is there. There is a muled buzzer so as not to wake you rudely, soft chimes summon the porter. This sleeper is a plumber's paradise, this car is an electrician's dream. The car carries 110 volts for electric shavers. Even the ordinarily lower berths can be slipped into three positions for the slouching passenger.
The return trip was on the Continental Limited. The big northern type 6215 rolled us along out of Montreal smoothly enough, paused for a long drink at "Alex" and hit Ottawa on the advertised.
Where can you get so much fun in so little time as you can on a train. It was pure heaven, every mile of it.