Thursday 3 September 2020

Throwback Thursday - Down By the Station Early in the Morning

The step box is out and ready to greet potential travellers as Via 6121 and companion wait in front of the Havelock station on March 19, 1987.  Chances are, however, that when the conductor swings aboard at 05:47 he will be on his own, as most travellers will not board until the Peterborough station is reached.
By Peter Mumby.
Throughout most of the year, Via train time at the CP station in Havelock, Ontario occurred under the cover of darkness.  In order to get weekday commuters to Toronto Union Station by 08:30, Via 187 had to leave Havelock at 05:47.  Similarly, departure from Toronto at 17:30 meant a return arrival at Havelock around 20:13. Five days a week a freight train arrived at the Havelock yard early in the morning and returned to Toronto in the evening, so its schedule had to be coordinated with the passenger train as well.  This meant that the freight was generally in the yard by 05:00, and returned to Toronto around 20:30.  The Nephton roadswitcher, Peterborough turn, and the 3M turn all operated out of the yard during the day, and were out of the way before the evening return of the passenger train.

No freight trains ran on the weekends, so the passenger schedules were a bit more relaxed.  Train 191 left for Toronto on Saturday at 06:57, and 189 didn't depart on Sunday until 17:27.  Sunday was definitely a good day to photograph the Budd cars in Havelock, since they were left parked all day on the old mainline track in front of the station.

All this passenger activity, of course, came to a screaming halt with the massive cuts to Via services imposed by the federal government on January 15, 1990.  At this time, 18 of Via's 38 routes disappeared and the Havelock station name disappeared from Via timetables.  Rumours still circulate about a high speed Toronto to Ottawa corridor by way of Peterborough and Havelock, so Via may some day pass this way again.  However, I'm not holding my breath.

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