Friday, February 04, 2011

Blogging on a Train

Ah, the romance of the rails.

I drove across the border to Windsor today to take a train from Windsor to Toronto. I'm going to visit my Dad, who is recovering from back surgery that he finally got after 8 weeks of being in very intense pain from a bulged disc that was pressing on a nerve. Intense as in can't walk, can't get up or downstairs and having trouble just standing - that kind of pain.

The surgery seems to have been a great sucess and he's recovering nicely.

So I figured it would be good to take the train - after all I can work on it, the train has got free wifi and should get me to the station in about the same amount of time it would have taken me to drive to his house. It should be easy as it would take slightly more time by train but I could be more productive on board. Between the train ticket and parking at the station it will cost more than gas money to get there but I should be able to enjoy the ride.

Well, that was the idea.

First was fun with parking. I pulled into the parking lot and no attendant was there. Plenty of warning signs that unpaid for cars will be towed. I;m early so I wait. I go to the station, get my ticket printed and the Via rail clerks there are pretty uniformally unhelpful. After awhile i finally ask them when the oarking attendnat will be there and they tell me that lot can't be used for parking, I have to go across the stereet to another lot or my car would be towed. Nevermind the lot says "Open" and "Long and Short Term Parking". Great. So I move my car, pay for parking and zip back in time to get on my train.

I should have arrived at Toronto by now but first we were sidelined before London as another Via rail train going the other direction had the right-of-way on the track. Since I'm in favor of avoiding head-on train collisions this was a sensible idea. Of course having parallel tracks would have been an even better one, yes? Then we got sidelined for quite awhile outside Brockville due first to a freight train having priority on the track and then because our train needed to be "inspected". No reason was given for the inspection so for all we know a wheel could have been falling off and we wouldn't be told.

So I should have been at Union Station at 17:30. It is now 18:00 and we're by Brantford with quite a ways to go to get to Toronto. The internet connection is sporadic and slow (yes I shouldn't complain it is rather amazing that you can connect to the internet on a moving train and get stuff done in another country, but I guess I'm a bit jaded and have high expectations of connectivity by now). The train is also packed to the gills and I'm squeezed in a seat. On the upside the passengers are pretty decent except for one lady that keeps chatting lously enough on her cell phone so the whole train car can hear about her decision to move to get a new job. Yipee.

On the upside, its been rather relaxing to do some work on the train and do a bit of internet browsing.

That is tempered by the sporadic nature of the connection, the squeezed seats and the lack of any info about the delay or estimate from the train crew about the new arrival time. In fact, I had to go to VIA's website to find that our new arrival time is estimated to be 18:46. Hooray for the Internet as an information provider, cause the VIA Rail crew sure are not.

We'll see if the trip back proves to be any better, but at least I can happily report there are no snakes on this train.

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