Tag Archives: Polar Bear Express

Preview: Train lovers rejoice! Rocky Mountain Railroad chugs on to Discovery Canada

All aboard! Discovery’s Rocky Mountain Railroad is pulling out of the station, and you don’t want to miss this fun ride when it debuts Monday, March 5, at 10 p.m. ET on the specialty channel.

Produced by Cineflix Productions (Mayday) and Windfall Films in association with Discovery Canada, the documentary series features the folks and machinery of the Canadian Pacific Railway and Ontario Northland railway. Cameras capture how crews keep the nation’s critical freight and passenger trains rolling during the winter months by battling deadly avalanches, monster icicles, steep rockslides and dangerous wildlife.

I was particularly interested in the passenger angle of Rocky Mountain Railroad. My dad’s side of the family is from Cochrane, Ont., a stop on the Ontario Northland route and starting and end points for the Polar Bear Express train to Moosonee. I’ve always dreamed of riding the Polar Bear Express; I figure this show will keep that hunger sated until I can do the real thing. So, how does Rocky Mountain Railroad stack up to, say, Mighty Trains?

Quite well, in fact. Though I appreciate learning about trains and their crews in other countries, I’m a proud Canadian and as such love a program that focuses solely on us. Like Highway Thru Hell does for key roadways in the western parts of this country, Rocky Mountain Railroad does for the ribbon of steel by celebrating and spotlighting the machinery and humans that keep the rail lines open in the winter. Built more than 135 years ago and stretching 5,000 km across Canada, the Canadian Pacific Railway is a lifeline of fuel, freight and food that cannot be cut.

In Monday’s debut, steep grades and a lot of snow in Revelstoke, B.C., serve up a challenge for those charged with keeping the tracks clear. It’s fascinating to watch the snowplow crews do their work. Conductor Jim and engineer Jordy are hauling $50 million worth of freight from Vancouver—that had been on a massive ship from overseas—through an avalanche zone that’s just received lots of fresh snow, while a removal crew tackles giant ice columns at Eagle Pass that could spell disaster for passing trains. Viewers will learn a lot about avalanches in Episode 1, as well as what’s done to prevent them from taking out a train.

Meanwhile, Ontario Northland ships crucial materials to isolated communities in the north of the province in punishingly cold temperatures. On this stretch of rail, the train will stop and ship anything if you flag them down. In the case of George, it means filling an entire car with firewood for delivery to Moose Factory, Ont., where burning wood is the only economical option to keep warm.

If you’re a train fanatic, you’ll love Rocky Mountain Railroad. And even if you’re not, it’s an engrossing and informative look at the people and trains who keep things moving in some of the most dangerous places in the country.

Rocky Mountain Railroad airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Discovery.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.