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VIA Rail’s Renaissance equipment

February 27, 2009 @ 22:53 By: gordon Category: Travelling

IMG_1739 If you’ve taken a VIA Rail train during the last few years, you’re probably familiar with the 2+2 seating arrangement found on many VIA LRC trains.  Two seats on the left and two seats on the right. While quite comfortable, the train stock has been in service for quite some time.

Enter VIA’s Renaissance trains.

VIA’s Renaissance equipment was originally built by Alstom for use in the UK. VIA Rail acquired the train sets and has been running them on routes east of Montreal for a few years. About three weeks ago, they reallocated some of the Renaissance stock to serve routes west of Montreal and I’m fortunate to be writing this on the Montreal-Toronto run today that has it.

Rather than the traditional 2+2, the Renaissance cars, at least in VIA1 class, have a 2+1 seat configuration. Each row has individual overhead bins, compared to the bins on their older cars that run the length of the car. Under seat storage is much different that the older stock.

IMG_1741 On older trains, you shove your stuff under the seat in front of you. On the Renaissance stock, you have a space under your seat that can easily hold a computer backpack, pair of boots and a 35mm camera bag comfortably. There’s a fold down footrest if you want to put your feet up.

The seats themselves are raised up above the level of the aisle and are quite comfortable and roomy. Fold down trays are located on the back of the seat in front of you and unfold to a full-size tray if needed. Otherwise, you have a tray about 6 or 8 inches wide. Very slick.

IMG_1740 Sound-wise, they seem quieter than the older grey stock and the ride seems smoother, too. (That could be due to the fact that I’m on the Montreal-Toronto corridor which sees a lot of traffic rather than the Ottawa-Montreal corridor which doesn’t.)

IMG_1738 There’s also a club car available to VIA1 passengers with comfortable seats, a tall table thing to stand at and a wide-screen TV on one wall.

According to one of the on-board staff, the crews working the routes where the Renaissance trains were taken from aren’t happy about the loss of their trains and want them back. She also told me that they do one run a day each way between Ottawa and Montreal, so if you’re able to book your travel on train 634 or 635 go for it because you won’t be disappointed.

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