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VIA 1720 pinch hits on the Canadian

Think that VIA's Skeena has exclusive domain over the former BC Rail Panorama domes? Think again. After a devastating series of forest fires near Barriere, BC forced the annulment of westbound #1 (The Canadian) at Jasper, AB, VIA was forced to gather up everything it could find at its Vancouver shops to put together a trainset to cover the train's return trip as #2 later that evening.

One of the cars that happened to be available at the shop was VIA 1720, an ex-BC Rail single level dome car built by Colorado Railcar in 2000 and purchased by VIA early in 2003. Though it features the spacious CRM dome windows, the presence of the Skyline car behind it would suggest that the 1720 was being used as a coach for a few lucky passengers.

Ken Storey caught the train shortly after it made its departure from Vancouver on the evening of August 1, 2003, and sent us these photos of the Canadian passing through Mission Junction, BC on Canadian Pacific rails.

To add to the uniqueness of the experience for those lucky passengers, the fire forced the train to be rerouted over the Canadian's traditional route out of Kamloops — CP's Rogers Pass and Kicking Horse pass line to Calgary, AB. From there, the train was routed up the CN to Edmonton.

Ken reports that the first and second photos show the train curved out on the Mission sub and making its way onto the Cascade Sub to start its journey on the 157 mile joint line through the Thompson and Fraser River canyons between Mission and Kamloops, BC. Photo by Ken Storey. August 1, 2003.

Looking east toward the power. In the distance on the track at left is a West Coast Express commuter train. Photo by Ken Storey. August 1, 2003.

Photo by Ken Storey. August 1, 2003.

As a bonus, Ken sent along this photo of VIA Park car Kootenay Park bringing up the markers on the 11 car special. Hmm, let's see. Vintage stainless steel cars, the trademark dome-observation car on the rear, bound for CP's fabled passage of the Rockies. Somehow, things seem at least a little OK in the world, right?

Thanks to Ken Storey for letting me use his photos. I don't think that an opportunity like this is likely to happen again soon.

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