According to Nine Shift, one of the nine predictions for shifts that will occur during the first decades of this century involves our preferred mode of transportation.

Chapter 9. Trains Replace Cars: Shift Four
Time becomes more valuable. Since one cannot work and drive at the same time, knowledge workers migrate to trains where they can work and travel at the same time.

This past week I took VIA Rail’s The Ocean from practically my doorstep to within one block of my hotel in Montreal.  There are not many options for train travel, but this time it worked well with my schedule. I left Sackville at 4:00 PM, reviewed my notes and presentation for the next day, had a relaxing dinner and had a good night’s sleep. In the morning I arrived outside of Montreal and was able to have a shower, eat breakfast and arrive downtown at 8:15 AM, ready for a day’s work. I left on Friday evening, again had a pleasant supper and a full night’s sleep. Saturday morning was a time to review some work, catch up on a couple of Google videos that I had downloaded, and arrive home just after noon.


My usual business trip to Montreal would have meant getting up at 4:00 AM, driving 50 KM to the airport, paying for parking, going through security, squeezing on board a small aircraft, and arriving on the west end of the island of Montreal to then take a taxi or airport shuttle downtown. The return trip would have been the reverse, with an arrival around midnight and then a drive home, perhaps in a snowstorm.

On the train you can get work done. Billable work in my case.  The airfare was the same price as the train, and I had two night’s accommodations included with the train. I also had a heck of a lot more room. The only thing missing was Internet access, though wi-fi is available in the central corridor between Quebec, Windsor and Ottawa.

For trips between 100 and 1,200 KM, the train makes a lot of sense. Now we just need more trains on the schedule.

5 Responses to “TrainShift”

  1. Jerome Martin

    This is a good example, Harold, of how effective trains can be. People in eastern and central Canada are fortunate to have fine train service. We in western Canada have very few options of travelling by rail. Edmonton to Calgary by rail would make great sense, but government here is still thinking about it.
    I took Via Rail from Toronto to Windsor this fall and used their wireless internet. It is a very civilized and productive way to travel.

  2. Jevon MacDonald

    I have taken The Ocean before and have connected in Montreal to get to Toronto. It really is a fantastic way to travel. When I first went backpacking in europe years ago I learned to love to sleep on trains, the last time I took The Ocean I slept for 12 and half hours straight without waking, it was great.

    During high season the price of a sleeper can get pretty high, but I assume that is just normal supply and demand. I do wish they would put on more capacity though. In low season, a sleeper on the train can get pretty cheap. Air travel still competes on cheapness however, but it is really hard to tell how long air travel can remain so cheap.

    The big news now is that Quebec and Ontario are considering a high-speed rail in the Quebec City Windsor routes. That would be incredible, and from what I understand, it make a lot more economic and political sense now than it did when they last studied it in the 80s.

  3. Jon Husband

    Such a nice story, Harold. I really love the train network, as do many people, in Europe.

    Now, if there were only a high-speed eight-or-nine-hour train ride from Vancouver to Montreal …

  4. Tim Davies

    We definitely need a new ‘age of the railways’ 🙂

    (From a carless European’s who finds himself spending far too much time trying to convince people of the role of rail…)


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