January 27, 2011

The Super Continental

The Super Continental had her inauguration run on 24 April 1955 (same day the Canadian Pacific Railway launched The Canadian) as the new flagship transcontinental passenger train of the Canadian National Railways, replacing the Continental Limited. Like The Canadian, the Super Continental ran 2 sections out of Montreal (Train 1) and Toronto (Train 51), joining up in Capreol, ON as a single Train 1 to continue her westbound journey to Vancouver. In her 3,000-mile journey, she travelled through Sioux Lookout, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Jasper but only took 72 hours between Montreal and Vancouver, 70 hours between Toronto and Vancouver, with an average start-stop speed of 40 mph (64 km/h). Unlike The Canadian, the Super Continental did not feature dome cars until CN had acquired some from the Milwaukee Road in the 1960s.

Super Continental in the 1960s

Super Continental (left) at Washago, ON in 1967

In 1978, Via Rail Canada, a newly formed Crown Corporation, assumed responsibility for all former CN and CP passenger services. Decline in ridership had caused the Super Continental to be abolished in 1981. Service was later restored in 1985 with a truncated route between Vancouver and Winnipeg but it was rather brief. The train departed Winnipeg for Vancouver for the last time as the Super Continental on 14 January 1990. However, on the same day, The Canadian was rerouted from the Banff-Calgary-Regina-Winnipeg-Thunday Bay-Sudbury Canadian Pacific Railway onto the former Canadian National route of the Super Continental.

Super Continental a year before cancellation in Jasper, AB

Super Continental (The Canadian) and Washago today

Today the Super Continental lives on, but with the name of a more glamourous train (page on Via Rail). She now departs 3 times a week each direction from Vancouver and Toronto only and has a transit time of over 80 hours.

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