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 Post subject: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: February 26th, 2019, 9:09 am 
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Joined: February 10th, 2005, 2:36 pm
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Location: Southwest Michigan
Back in 2010 I took the train to Allenwater Bridge. The train arrived 1 hour early. We had no problem setting up our tents at the Allenwater Bridge Lodge by flashlight.

I am contemplating a 2019 trip that could also start at the Allenwater bridge. But I recently read the train can be as much as 24 hours late.

My question is, How undependable is the train schedule really? I suppose nobody knows exactly but some idea would help us make a decision regarding our ingress plans.


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: February 26th, 2019, 11:52 am 
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Joined: August 29th, 2006, 7:57 pm
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ipaddle, while the VIA train can run a bit late on occasion, that one-day late thing you mention must be a worst-case scenario. I'd go ahead on the assumption that it will be sorta on time. Given that VIA only rents access to the tracks from CN Rail, that's the way it is!

Image


The Jelinskis' Allanwater Bridge Lodge makes for a nice place to stay on your first night. We rented a cabin for $50. back in 2012. though I am sure it'll cost a bit more these days. [BTW we did our Kopka trip from Allanwater after reading your 2010 trip report!] Johnny Jelinski was at the baggage car with his ATV ready to haul our gear to the cabin when we arrived around midnight.

There is some"free" camping space on the other side of the tracks from the Lodge stop. Four paddlers who were on the train from Armstrong got off with us and set up their tents there. There is a sign you'll have to ignore if you do so. The pic below shows the area the next morning; the last of the paddlers is packing away some gear.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: February 27th, 2019, 10:36 am 
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My personal experiences is that VIA runs late.... Consistently. In the August of 2017 we took VIA from Toronto to Peterbell to start our trip down the Missinaibi River and then from Foleyet back to Toronto. In both cases the train was in excess of 6 hours late. VIA recognizes that they run late and say on their website not to book any connecting travel on the same day as when you are supposed to arrive. I thought this was a CYA statement on their part but really it is them trying to be helpful to customers. The Conductors that we talked to on the train said that running late is typical and that the train is usually later going from West to East than going East to West. How the economy is doing and how much freight is running on the tracks will affect VIA's schedule. Yes, 24 hours is probably among the worst delays but I think you have to plan for delays in setting up your travel via VIA like the possibility of getting dropped off in the middle of the night.

As True North said they lease space on the track so they don't pay enough to take priority in the scheduling. That and the fact that the main line across Canada is not doubled but consists of a single track with many siding. The freight trains have gotten longer to make CN & CP more money but they haven't lengthened the sidings. Coming back to Toronto in 2017 we sat on a siding for an hour as three freight trains passed us. Going to Peterbell we got in front of a super train that was too long for any sidings and we made up some time after a leaving Toronto.

I love the idea of taking the train to get to a paddling destination as you see different scenery and can relax and get up and move around more than if you're doing the driving yourself. You just have to figure out if it can work with you travel planning.

I've thought of going to Wabakimi by train. If you do I'd love to hear how it works out.


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: February 27th, 2019, 10:56 am 
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Dave, my bro and I have taken the VIA train from Toronto to Allanwater Bridge and, on another trip, to Flindt Landing a bit further down the line. A third time we just hopped on at Armstrong after driving up from T.O.

On all occasions, the train was running late - two hours, 2 1/2 hours, three hours...Still, you get on at Union Station at 10:30 p.m. and 24 hours (or so!) later you are standing on the side of the tracks somewhere in Wabakimi country hauling down your canoe and gear from the baggage car in the dark. Maybe 11 p.m. dark or maybe 1 a.m. dark!

While driving up does give you more flexibility since you are not boxed in by a return VIA ticket you have bought, the train option definitely has its benefits. it is certainly more relaxing.

For those driving up to Armstrong Station from the border states or nearby, the VIA train ride into Wabakimi is probably the cheapest option. You could arrange a shuttle but you lose some choice as to where you can get inserted. You could also fly in from Mattice Lake but then you're looking at $800. instead of $80.

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: February 27th, 2019, 8:00 pm 
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Joined: February 10th, 2005, 2:36 pm
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Location: Southwest Michigan
It looks to me like the train goes west on Monday and Wednesday. Is that correct?


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: February 27th, 2019, 8:22 pm 
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After May 1st the train leaves Toronto on Wednesday and Sunday Mornings, arrives at Allanwater 24 hours later.

https://www.viarail.ca/sites/all/files/ ... couver.pdf

I think that's a change because I took it in 2017 and at that time it left Toronto at 10:00pm (actual 1:30am).

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: February 27th, 2019, 8:33 pm 
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Joined: February 10th, 2005, 2:36 pm
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Location: Southwest Michigan
So it would arrive at Armstrong Monday and Wednesday mornings. If I understand you right that would be a very significant change. It would mean arriving say at Allenwater bridge in the morning and not at night or the middle of the night.


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: February 28th, 2019, 3:17 am 
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Location: Bleiken Switzerland
Using VIA rail to enter Wabakimi PP has it's benefits as stated in posts above.
If you are on a tight schedule I wouldn't recommend it. We used it in July 2014, delay time for the Eastbound train: 9 hours, delay time Westbound train three weeks later: almost 15 hours.
Despite my experience back then I would use the train again!

@recped: thanks a lot for pointing out the planned change of schedule!

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: March 1st, 2019, 8:29 am 
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Hello all, first time replyer, longtime lurker.

A group of 8 of us took the train from Washago to Redhead lake (a little east of Allanwater) in July 2018. DO NOT assume that the train will run anything close to on time. For example, you can track these trains in real time on the Via website. Right now there are two trains on this route, one is six hours behind and the other is twelve hours behind.

Our train was about 22 hours late arriving to Washago and we lost an entire day of tripping. Please believe Via when they tell you that this can happen. Be prepared to burn a day and modify your plans on the fly, do not get married to your route.

Our return train was about 15 hours behind schedule. Luckily we had our inReach and we could message back home to helpful friends who were tracking the train for us. We were able to take it easy and only had to wait up at the tracks for about an hour. Waiting at the tracks for 15 hours would have been much less fun.

Your best bet is to drive to Armstrong and catch the train there. Or fly to Thunder Bay and get a shuttle up to Armstrong. It's actually cheaper to fly Toronto to Thunder Bay than it is to take the train all the way to the park. The only romantic/interesting/fun part of the train ride is loading the canoes on at the beginning and then being dropped off in the woods at the end. Other than that it's a long slog on a slow overpriced coach bus with screaming children and anxious smokers.

We ended up base camping for four nights on Redhead Lake and absolutely loved it. I'm sure you will love Wabakimi as well. But I do think we would have been better off driving to Armstrong or flying to TBay.


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: March 1st, 2019, 6:19 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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How do you get boats and gear to Thunder Bay if you are flying?

With the new schedule the train could be 10 hours late and you would still get to Allenwater before dark.

Can't say with certainty but I expect the train has more late issues during the winter than in the summer.

I've only used that particular train once, there were no screaming children and the only people who realized I was an anxious smoker were the people who also got off to stretch their legs in Hornepayne and saw a small group of "lepers" powersmoking.

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: March 4th, 2019, 4:48 pm 
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recped wrote:
How do you get boats and gear to Thunder Bay if you are flying?


Check your bag and rent a canoe in Armstrong.


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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: March 17th, 2020, 8:45 pm 
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A recent Global News article took a look at VIA's on-time record over the past few decades.

https://globalnews.ca/news/6591508/via- ... -canadian/

The VIA experience on which I based my above comments all come from the early 2010s. Those who have used the train more recently to access a Wabakimi put-in have had a different experience with Dave k's in 2017 the worst!

This graph from the article shows what has happened in the past ten years -

Image

Now I am wondering if it might make more sense just to drive up this summer instead of taking that train! By then it should be running again...right now the coronavirus situation has caused a suspension of the VIA Canadian service.

https://www.viarail.ca/en/travel-advisory-information

Quote:
VIA Rail’s overnight trains (Toronto-Vancouver and Montreal-Halifax) have been cancelled beginning March 13, 2020.

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 Post subject: Re: Wabakimi VIA RAIL
PostPosted: March 18th, 2020, 4:02 pm 
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Location: Barrie Ontario
The last time I used The Canadian was 2015 and it was 20+ hours late arriving in Armstrong. The staff said this was normal and the problem was that the train was scheduled into a slot between all the freight. Miss your departure time and it happens because the maximum speed for passenger rail was 70KMH and freight runs a bit faster. This all adds up that the Canadian is constantly pulling off on a siding to allow freight to pass.
I know that we exceeded 70kMH on the return trip because they were trying to get into Toronto before the afternoon GO Train rush. Still 8 hours late getting to Washago.

recped at least they let you off the train in Hornepayne, we were running so far behind they never let anyone off.
I got lucky and the staff took a liking to me and if I promised not to tell, they walked me trough the train to the front and let me out while they swapped the crew and moved the train. It is a strange feeling standing there in the middle of the night watching all the staff climb on, close the doors and watch the train start to move lol.
I have never had to much of a problem with people traveling rail but after we walked through the coach class I mentioned to the staff member that she did not get paid enough to put up with that abuse and was glad that I had treated myself to a cabin. Plus the food was GREAT.

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