VIA Rail passenger complains of cold after heating goes off during 22-hour trip
VIA Rail passengers try to sleep after the heating went off during a 22-hour ride from Halifax to Montreal. (Credit: Neil Kennedy)
MONTREAL -- A passenger on a recent VIA Rail Ocean train says he's miffed after the heating in his train car went off during a 22-hour ride from Halifax to Montreal.
Neil Kennedy claims he was trying to sleep on train #15 when the heating suddenly shut off around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
It was so cold, he says, that frost and ice started accumulating inside the carriage – something VIA Rail officials say is normal during the winter.
"We thought they had left the door wide open. I was thinking, 'Are they doing something underneath the train and something was dislodged?'" he said.
He claims VIA Rail staff refused to allow him, and the other passengers in his car, into some other areas of the train that still had heating, adding staff apparently told them they "didn't buy the sleeper rate" and therefore, could not be allowed to transfer to that section.
Kennedy says passengers from his carriage were stuck trying to cram into adjacent cars or in the dining area. Nevertheless, he says they were warned not to linger too long in the corridors.
He notes he and his brother didn't want to be separated, so they opted to stay in their car. Staff offered them extra blankets.
"I think they did the best they could. It was kind of unpleasant to have to cover yourself with blankets. I think they could have been better equipped to offer some type of back up or something," he said.
VIA Rail confirmed there was an "isolated electrical problem" on three of the cars.
"Passengers in these cars, in both economy and sleeper class, were taken care of and moved to functional cars, where blankets were also distributed to them," Karl-Philip Marchand Giguere, a spokesperson for VIA Rail, told CTV News. "Some passengers voluntarily chose to stay in their cabins and were provided extra blankets as well."
Marchand Giguere adds the faulty cars were repaired in Sainte-Foy prior to continuing to Montreal and affected passengers in sleeper class were offered a 25 per cent refund, while passengers in economy class were offered a 25 per cent travel credit on their next trip.
Kennedy says that, though he acknowledges VIA Rail did the best it could under the circumstances, he'll think twice before riding with the service again.
The Ocean, previously known as the Ocean Limited, is a passenger train operated by VIA Rail between Montreal and Halifax. According to the company, it is the oldest continuously operated named passenger train in North America.