Frances Partridge had come to Halifax on a container ship from Italy specifically to cross Canada by train.
So it was bad luck she got here Saturday.
“I get in and the good news is they’ve got this wonderful gay pride march. The bad news is there’s a train strike! What? Canada, we should never have let you go,” said the amiable Brit yesterday at the Via Rail station in Halifax.
Partridge lives near Manchester, England but the self-professed train nut spends much of her time travelling the globe by rail and writing for seat61.com, a website for train connoisseurs. She’d been looking forward to seeing the Canadian rail system first-hand.
“The guy at the hostel said, ‘Oh, by the way the trains are on strike,’” she said. “I’m going, my entire reason for being in Canada – apart from Canadians because you’re all wonderful – is to go from one site to another on trains.”
So it was with understandable relief that Partridge and many others boarded the 12:30 p.m. train out of the Halifax terminal yesterday.
Many passengers said they thought the strike could last through the summer, throwing their travel plans into turmoil. But in the end, the union and Via Rail management agreed to a binding arbitration process after two days.
“We thought it’d be weeks, so we’ll have to go by bus. And we really didn’t want to,” said Pat Sonier, who was visiting Halifax from Miramichi, N.B.
Sonier was supposed to leave Sunday, but the one-day delay ended up working out just fine.
“We came today and they were excellent,” she said. “They gave me a refund on my old ticket and gave me a really excellent discount. They’re wonderful here. I love travelling by train.
Via staff in Halifax were also in high spirits yesterday, saying they were happy to be back at work without fear of losing their jobs.