Saturday, May 4, 2019

On Board Baggage Car 413

The Polar Bear Express train which travels between Cochrane and Moosonee can best be described as a true necessity and a vital part of the Northeastern Ontario infrastructure.

This train service isn't seen as an "option" for travel, much like passenger rail services in more southern parts of North America. The Polar Bear is rather an important link to the north since there are no roads beyond mile 93.5 of the Island Falls Subdivision which is only half way to Moosonee from Cochrane. The only travel options aside from the train beyond 93.5 are via a winter road which is only open 2 to 3 months per year, or via airplane which is very very expensive.

With very limited ways to get from point A to point B in this part of Ontario, the Polar Bear has evolved over the many decades into a very diversified service. Baggage is one of those services that have changed with the times. We had an opportunity to have a look at Polar Bear baggage car 413 on May 4th, 2019 and one of the special touches that are unique to 413.

First, for all of the rivet counters, baggage car 413 was purchased by Ontario Northland from Via Rail back in 1983. It's Via number at the time of the sale was 9604 and the car was originally built by National Steel Car back in 1954.

Since the car was obtained by Ontario Northland, some unique changes have been made to it. In the photos on the left you'll see one of the adaptations that have been made which is a cute little addition to the car affectionately nicknamed "The Pound".

On the top left, you can see the hefty partition built to protect the area where pets are kept. This closed off area serves as a more private area for pets and also serves as a fail safe should a pet get out of his or her cage or kennel. Passengers can also visit with their pets without having to deal with the busy operations of loading and unloading at the many stops the Polar Bear Express makes on it's 186 mile journey.

In the left middle photo you get to see some of the extras that can be utilized by passengers caring for their pets which include clean bowls for food and water, some rags, water, and cleaner for those little messes that can happen, and even a little toy for some entertaining of your pet.

In the bottom left photo, you'll see exactly how spacious and private "The Pound" is. It's kept very clean and comes complete with plenty of room to spend some quality time with your pet.

In a future blog we'll take a look at some of the other unique adaptations made to 413 exclusively for Polar Bear Express service.


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