Riding the Budd Cars – Chapleau to White River

In late September, I rode the VIA Rail Sudbury-White River train service as part of a tour group. This unique and necessary remote passenger service is well worth the trip! In part 1 I covered the segment from Sudbury, Ontario to Chapleau. Let’s finish the trip.

The scenery continued to be wonderful north of Chapleau – lots of lakes and trees.

By this time, people had settled down to read, chat or snooze. I took the opportunity to wander around the train – all three cars! – and take a few photos.

The decor is a little dated, maybe, but it’s clean and functional. The RDCs lack some of the modern conveniences like USB plugs at your seat, and there’s definitely no wifi on this train. There is often no phone service!

One thing you must realize about the Sudbury-White River VIA service is that this is a working train, not a tour train like the Agawa Canyon train. Nobody will provide commentary to you (unless you’re on a tour like we were) and there are no free drinks or meals. The VIA service manager will sell snacks and drinks but the selection is limited.

I spent a lot of time looking out the front window. The view is great! Hopefully I wasn’t too irritating.

Note the in-cab camera with its warning sign. I believe these were installed in response to the Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation R13-02, “The Department of Transport require that all controlling locomotives in main line operation be equipped with in-cab video cameras.”

This recommendation came from the 2012 VIA Rail derailment in Burlington, Ontario where VIA 92 derailed after proceeding through a crossover track at more than four times the permissible speed. The three engineers were killed and many passengers were injured, some seriously.

The TSB recommended video cameras (and voice recorders) to aid in post-incident investigations.

The cameras remain controversial. Canadian Pacific campaigned for in-cab cameras to allow “railways and regulators the opportunity to proactively reduce unsafe behaviours such as tampering, cell phone use, sleeping and noncompliance with other safety-critical rules… before incidents occur”

Anyway, don’t expect any cab rides with these around!

Fortunately, the view out the front window is quite good on VIA 6105. Here we were, about to cross the bridge over part of Esnagi Lake, at “Swanson”. We had a clear signal, so no meets here.

There was lots of scenery to see, like this waterfall at mile 64.24, between Missanabie and Lochalsh.

We met several Canadian Pacific freight trains between Chapleau and White River. I think we stopped twice, one for a pair of freight trains and one for a trio.

All good things come to an end, and so this trip came to a close when we arrived at White River.

Passengers were eager to disembark and get on with their evening, especially since we were a tad late arriving.

I ran back and forth to grab a few photos in the failing light, and also because I had to get on our bus to the hotel for the night!

This was a fantastic experience. I’m grateful to Daryl Adair of Rail Travel Tours for asking me to join the group. I did have to work, of course, helping the people on the tour. I met a lot of great people on the trip and they seemed to enjoy the train rides, the museums, and the other attractions we saw.

I’m not sure anyone really enjoyed the very long bus rides but that’s the reality of travel in western Ontario – the distances are long between cities.

The Sudbury-White River RDC is well worth the trip.

Read part 1 – Sudbury to Chapleau

8 thoughts on “Riding the Budd Cars – Chapleau to White River”

  1. Your commentary about the trip brought back memories of the same trip with Darryl’s group. At the time the trip included Toronto to North Bay on Ontario Northland, plus the bus ride to Sudbury through Capreol. I was able to spend quite a bit of time in the cabs, both front and rear. It’s a great way to see the wilds of the Canadian Shield without worrying about the driving.

  2. An excellent report, Steve, and further encouragement to eventually get up there and make that trip. The front view out of the RDC-1 is very cool. It’s a good thing that unit was leading!

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