Cross Town - Afternoon Pool Train, Published 25 June 1959Like a turtle with a wooden leg, the afternoon pool train to Toronto limped through Hull and then proceeded to loaf her way to Toronto. It was the first time I had travelled all-diesel on the so-called fast afternoon train to Toronto.
No. 263, with diesel power, was comparable to some "Slow Train to Yesterday".
A diamond-stacked wood burner would seem no more absurdly out of date in 1959 than does the present nineteen-thirties' schedule. They are going to Toronto today almost a full 60 minutes slower than they were doing 28 years ago.
You get wartime speed at 1959 prices; parlor car seats have now gone up to $2.50. The CPR diesel stalled around with her outmoded schedule at Carleton Place and Smiths Falls, and she operated at retarded time all the way to Brockville. There she waits a full 25 minutes. The train takes two hours to go 76.2 miles.
So, after being treated as country cousins by both railways in and out of Brockville (Montreal passengers travel 127.1 miles while we Ottawa folk go only 76.2 miles) on we go to Toronto. We'll get another agonizing layoff at Brockville, en route back to Ottawa.
The diesels today do no better than Sir Henry Thornton's high wheelers back in 1930. Since pooling, the CNR has gone "ahead" backward - with infinitely faster power.
It was exasperating to see these mighty diesels loafing through their 30-year-old time card. Both railways play it cosy, with a sneer for the passenger.
What is needed on the Toronto run is to cut the time by an hour. They take six hours and 15 minutes now; the CNR did it on their own rail, via Harrowsmith, in five hours and something, back in 1931. The CPR pretty much matched it via Tichborne on their old "Royal York".
I suggest the railways change, and save the Ottawa people from dying a slow death on this devious, dreary, delaying journey.
The CPR does it on a pooled service from Montreal to Quebec, while the CNR does the same on the Montreal -Toronto run. Pick one line, then cut the schedule to 4½ hours. They can do it easily.
If a quarter century ago they could do the job with a hand-fired, coal job, you would think they could do better now for the travelling public, instead of offering this railway relic.