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FRIDAY 25th July 1997

Toronto LRT tram along waterfront.

I took the LRT tram along the waterfront from the stop under Union station to Spandia Avenue. A new tram route was being opened that weekend along this street, after ten year’s construction. Workmen were putting the finishing touches to the works. I went onto the bridge overlooking the west end of Union station and took photos of commuter trains with the CN Tower and Skydome basketball ground in the background. This is probably the only worthwhile place to take photos of trains at Toronto Union. A visit here in the morning rush-hour was definitely worthwhile with almost continuous action.  

A CN freight runs east during the morning rush-hour traffic.

A VIA train from Windsor arrives at Toronto Union

At 10.05 I took the Amtrak train bound for New York. The stock was the strange looking North East Corridor curved-sided Metroliner coaches with very small windows. At Hamilton the line runs along a bay of Lake Ontario before heading through freight yards, and past the derilect old CN station at Hamilton and through steelworks, all at a maximum of 30mph. Just before reaching Niagara the line crosses over the ship-canal linking Lake Ontario with Lake Erie. A ship was in one of the two locks that lift the canal several hundred feet. The line crosses with two rolling bridge spans. 

Map of VIA's west of Toronto Corridor routes

Map courtesy of VIA

The afternoon New York to Toronto service stands in Niagara Falls station

One of the Metroliner coaches used on the Toronto to New York route.

At Niagara Falls the CN yard is in Canada just before the station.  After leaving Canada the train  pulled across the Whirlpool Bridge and stopped at the U.S. customs platform for over 40 minutes. There is a second rail bridge, on the CP/CSX freight line, which has warnings about being under surveillance by the US. I looked round the town, which appeared to be very run down, and then walked along the road towards the Falls. 

The morning Toronto to New York train pulls across the International Bridge at Niagara Falls.

Initially this is past the great gorge with whirlpools in it and then after the main highway bridge comes the American Falls and then the Horseshoe Fall itself.  The area was less tacky than I had expected with parkland almost reminiscent of a place like Harrogate. I read an account of how until recent years the falls have been cutting back by 1 metre every year, although following water extraction for hydro electricity this is now reduced to about 30cm a year.

The International Road Bridge to the USA at Niagara Falls

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Two views of the Falls

Standing at the wall by the crest of the falls the power of the water is awesome. Upstream of the falls are rapids and the extraction inlets for the HEP plant. I decided to go onto the highway bridge to the USA and stand on US soil but did not actually enter the country due to shortage of time and having to pay 6 US dollars! .The view from the bridge is definitely not one for anybody with vertigo. The journey back to Toronto was uneventful behind another Amtrak loco, but do Canadian customs really need 45 minutes to check a 4 car train?

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