Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Glass Attic

Canadian Pacific Railway introduced Budd-built dome cars in their trains in 1954 as the equipment was delivered from the Budd Company in the lead up to CPR’s introduction of ‘The Canadian’ the following summer.

In the late 1950’s the CPR passenger train network withered. Service cut-backs and equipment down-grades on the transcontinental route freed up the stainless steel dome cars for use in other trains. In 1960, the dome cars were introduced into off-season regular service on the Atlantic Limited. By the late 1960’s the dome cars were assigned all year round.

My inside introduction to the dome car came in August 1971, on the Atlantic Limited of course, and dome cars have been my favourite place to ride on trains ever since.

Right seat, front of the dome; it’s the best seat in the house!

Come on up and take a look!

These two views of inside the glass attic were captured by Donald Haskel on CP Rail’s Train 40, The Atlantic Limited on its summer schedule. Thank you Mr. Haskel for taking these photographs.

The scene above was recorded just moments prior to the 18:05 departure from Windsor Station in Montreal on July 07, 1977. This photo is the best I have found that illustrates what the inside of the upstairs of a CPR dome car looked like.

The view also captures the general malaise of CPR passenger trains in the 1970’s…few or no passengers. The photographer mentioned that he was the only upstairs passenger when the train departed from Montreal that Thursday evening. 

About an hour and a half later near Foster, Quebec, the photographer captured the following scene. Mountains are visible in the distance and Maine is a few hours beyond. Right seat, front of the dome; it’s the best seat in the house!  

In the 1970's I spent quite a few hours seated in this same spot on The Atlantic Limited,  enthralled by the views of fading daylight from this unique perspective.

The CPR stainless steel equipment long out-lived the railway’s passenger service. Fifty-eight years later those former CPR dome cars are still in regular passenger train service from coast to coast, except for that 335 mile gap between Montreal and Toronto. Today the dome cars are reliably working in Via Rail trains running on CNR tracks.

I have a feeling that the Budd-built dome cars will probably outlast me; I too came into the world in 1954.

The term ‘glass attic’ came from some of the CPR conductors who worked on the passenger trains.

The Oddblock Station Agent

One more look upstairs in the glass attic.

Heading westward across a rainy Nova Scotia in April 1985. Don't you want to look and see where we are going?

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