Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Trains 202 & 203

In the 1960's, Canadian Pacific Railway's efforts to exit the passenger business did not spare the Megantic Subdivision. Daily passenger trains 202 and 203 were casualties missing from the October 1964 schedules. Loss of these trains eliminated passenger service to the small communities between Sherbrooke and Megantic.

Whether it was political pressure, public pressure or a combination of both, trains 202 and 203 were reinstated and appeared again in the April 1965 schedules. Indeed a rare occurrence. Very few Canadian Pacific passenger trains ever made a comeback after they were discontinued.

CPR's Milan train station as seen from looking west at the road crossing. The final week of December 1965 saw train 202 from Montreal arriving in Milan at about noon. The consist was an unidentified F unit, a baggage car and four coaches instead of the usual single rail diesel car. Every train nut has to start with a first train photograph and this was the author's first.

Within the following twelve months, the Milan train station was demolished and was replaced by a corrugated galvanized steel shelter. 

On the same date in December 1965, Train 202 was leaving town and heading eastward toward Nantes and final destination, Megantic, Quebec. In that open area in the foreground once stood one of the CPR section homes. Demolition had occurred in early 1961.

By the end of April 1966, trains 202 and 203 had permanently passed into railway history. Passenger train services to stations between Sherbrooke and Megantic did continue though, handled by trains 206 and 201 which had their schedules adjusted to operate between Montreal and Megantic instead of Montreal and Sherbrooke as previously. 

The following abstracts from CPR's public timetables reveal the end result; one less daily round-trip train between Montreal and Sherbrooke.

Abstract from Canadian Pacific Railway public timetable issued October 31,1965

Abstract from Canadian Pacific Railway public timetable issued April 24, 1966

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum October 04, 2013

An unexpected find from the internet.

CP9112 in Train 203 at Megantic, Quebec. No date given but would appear to have been late 1950's or very early 1960's. (Bill Linley photo)

Addendum September 01, 2017 

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree something...

Caption verbatim as originally published: The last day for the "Megantic Budd" was March 27, 1966. Here we see 9107 leading a two-car train, at Megantic station on the last day. (photo Fred Angus)

The two-car train was not identified, however, given that 9107 was leading and unmistakably the direction was eastbound, this would have been Train 202 completing its journey from Montreal.

As the above abstract from the April, 24, 1966, Canadian Pacific Railway public timetable shows, trains 201 and 206 were operated daily between Montreal and Megantic after this March 27, 1966, arrival of 202 was recorded.

The train shown was definitely not the last "Megantic Budd" but may have been the last trip for Train 202. These 51 years later one can only wonder if a service suspension occurred between March 27 and April 24, 1966, or if trains 201 and 206 began operating through to and from Megantic the following date. 

As an added footnote, I made my first ever solo train trip on train 206 from Windsor Station to Milan, Quebec, on May 21, 1966, returning two days later on counterpart 201. The round-trip tickets were a birthday gift (I begged for) from my parents.

Caption verbatim as originally published: 9109 at Westmount station about to depart for Megantic at 7:20 A.M. on September 26, 1964. (photo: Fred Angus)

This was Train 202; the number too is barely discernible on the sign. About a month after Fred Angus recorded this scene, Train 202 disappeared for six months. Hibernation maybe??

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