Kristian and I bought two train tickets from Saskatoon to Winnipeg. We were skipping some of the Prairies to give us more time in Atlantic Canada, later on in our ride.
The train’s advertised departure time was 08:32.
We arrived at the station at 07:30, to see a revised departure time of 15:39 on the information boards.
We stood dumbstruck. A seven hour delay was pretty special.
The revised departure time changed: 14:06.
Other diligent would-be passengers started arriving around 07:45.
The revised departure time changed again: 14:07.
The counter staff cracked flippant jokes when I asked about the delay, and whether we should expect more on the way to Winnipeg. “Oh yeah. They’ve started construction on the bridge just past here which is the mainline, that’s gonna cause problems” — accompanied by hearty laughter.
Revised departure time: 14:08.
Saskatoon station was soviet, decrepit, and bereft of facilities. The staff provided more helpful intel: “we’re going for an ‘80s thing here, there’s no WiFi”.
The coffee machine was broken. A neglected candy machine offered sun-bleached Chewz and Zingy Zaps to boost morale. They looked as if they’d also been there since the ‘80s.
A tourism banner said “Saskatoon is calling!”. My inclination, in that early-morning, delayed, pre-caffeinated state of mind, was not to answer.
Revised departure time: 14:09.
Every passing minute added another to the revised departure time, and to the subsequent arrival time to Winnipeg which had moved from 8pm to 5am.
Not just an inconvenience for us, but for the family we were booked to stay with and who had kept their evening clear to meet us at the other end.
Revised departure time: 14:15.
I made camp-stove morale coffee outside the passenger station, where this farce was unfolding. It was 5 miles outside the city, at the end of a long dusty road: an afterthought at the boundary of a sprawling yard of freight trains and cargo.
Revised departure time: 14:07.
We discussed what to do with the day.
Revised departure time: 13:59.
Were they deliberately shaving a few minutes off to make a 6 hour delay seem slightly less bad than 6 hours 30 minutes?
Revised departure time: 14:28.