Canada Day 4: Kamloops to Banff

The Rocky Mountaineer was scheduled to leave Kamloops at 0700 and so we were picked up by coach from our hotel, with other passengers, just after 0600. 

Overnight, the train had gained a couple of carriages and an additional locomotive – presumably for the climb into the Rockies. 

The rear half of our carriage were called to breakfast soon after we left Kamloops, while we were given coffee and cheese scones. 

We were following the lakeside out of Kamloops and, as on the previous day, we found it relaxing to take in the scenery. We were soon called to our breakfast after the first sitting had finished. We were sat again with the lovely honeymooning couple from the previous day and quickly picked up our conversation from where we’d left off. Rather than having Eggs Benedict twice running, I chose a sunrise skillet – a mix of potato & sausage with a fried egg atop. All was of course washed down with plentiful coffee. 

Soon, we started climbing into the Rockies and the scenery became ever more spectacular. It’s hard to describe how stunning the view was outside the window. I took the opportunity of half the carriage having their lunch to stay on the outside vestibule a bit longer with my camera. 

Although it felt like we’d only recently finished breakfast, we were soon called for our own lunch after the other sitting had finished and the dining area had been reset. The main menu had not changed, although the starter and dessert was different. I had the steak, which was superb – some going when it had been cooked in a small, moving galley. 

By the time we finished our lunch, it wasn’t long until we reached one of the rail highlights of the journey- the spiral tunnels. 

The original line had been built as quickly as possible with a steep gradient but this prices fatally dangerous and an alternative solution needed to be found. The solution was to change height by creating spiral tunnels within the adjacent mountains, so that the necessary change in levels could be achieved at a gentler, safer gradient. As we negotiated the spiral, we exited the first tunnel with mountains changed from one side of the train to the other and the track we’d just been on far below us. We then navigated the second spiral so that we were again travelling in the right direction and higher again. 

By this time, in the mountains, the light was beginning to go from the sky but we could still enjoy the stunning glacial scenery outside. By the time we got to Lake Louise, where a few passengers were to disembark, it was dark. 

Finally, around 8pm we ended our journey just up the line in Banff – the limit of passenger rail operation on the Canadian Pacific line. We were again met by a fleet of coaches ready to take the 300 or so remaining passengers to their accommodation. 

Finally, we arrived at the Banff Springs Hotel, overlooking the town of Banff, tired but exhilarated after finishing one of the world’s Great Railway Journeys, and possibly the best rail journey I’ve ever made.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *