VIA Renaissance coach

I am travelling to Basking Ridge, NJ today. I am going VIA to Montreal/Dorval, Delta to JFK, and then Long-Island RailRoad (LIRR) and NJ-Transit to Basking Ridge. This route vs in/out of EWR, because there are no (inexpensive) fares that would let me stay to a reasonable lateness in NJ, while still getting home on “Thursday”.

The VIA 12:45pm departure gets me to Dorval for 2:15, in time for my 4pm flight.

The train is a VIA rennaissance coach: I will upload a picture of it. The seats are 2 x 1. So much roomier than the LRC. They are elevated above the ground, and there is an angled space under one’s seat that accomodates a medium sized wheelie bag easily. The overhead compartment is miniscule.

The view out the window is very nice.

Complaints: it’s not clear that a bag will actually fit under the seat. Some better pictures/diagrams showing this would be good.

The trays pull out from the seat behind you. The seats, do recline, but the seat in front of you really can’t get in your way too much… to recline, the seat slides forward, rather than the back going down.

I like that the trays there, it is WAY better than the fold out from the armrest. That also means that the armrest for the side-by-side seats can move up, very nice if two people are trying to sleep snuggled.

But, the tray is NOT strong enough for laptop. It folds out in two sections, and it it does not hold itself straight. So, to get your laptop in the right position, either it is sitting mostly on the second half, bouncing, or it’s pushed back, and the keyboard is kinda elevated.

If I had a eeePC or an XO, I guess I could have not folded out the second half at all. The trays are not well labelled either: a grandmother next to me was very unclear how to get it open at all.

There are footrests (optional fortunately). My legs are too long for them. The floor is curved (to make room for the seat in front of mine’s luggage slide), so it comes up to meet your feet, which for my leg length is okay, but it doesn’t give me much space to adjust my feet. Bending my knee at 90 degrees lifts my leg off the seat.

There is AC on the train, all classes now have it. (That was the major reason I took VIA-1 to Toronto. I have much less reason to do that now that power is everywhere. Wifi is still too expensive for using to Montreal)

Suggestions: Move the AC plug to be higher. Give me a little shelf above the tray area for my drink: that way I can move it up when I need to stand up. Make the tray stronger: just put a piece underneath that can be turned to provide extra support.

It’s nice to be higher. I would dispense with the above-head spaces completely, and if I were rebuilding, I’d make it even higher! The seats are nicely lined up with the windows, which they are not on the LRC.

Conclusion: nice ideas, but not built for my size. Not enough instruction on how to use things: pictures would be good.