|A musician entertains passengers on VIA Rail in 2011.|
Do you play guitar? Like to ride passenger trains? Want to ride VIA Rail for free?
If you answered yes to all those questions, you're in luck!
Canada's national passenger rail carrier has offered the Artists on Board program since 2009. Through it, musicians can get free travel, accommodation and meals on long-distance trains from Toronto to Vancouver or Montreal to Halifax.
The program is also open to artists who can give workshops and spin entertaining tales about their craft.
Participants in the program need to be adaptable; audiences may vary from a few to a car full, not to mention people being distracted by the scenery outside the train.
There is a catch (you knew there would be); you have to be Canadian to participate in the program.
Maybe VIA Rail will extend the program to model railroaders; this past summer Canadian model railroader Dave Gunn was asked unofficially by VIA Rail's Atlantic Manager to give a model building workshop on the train from Halifax to Montreal.
Dave did some work on three wood cabooses in the Park car, explaining and demonstrating how to build kits and about model railroading in general.
He reports that the experience went well, with a group of about 20 British railfans enjoying what came to be called "trains on a train." Applying small detail parts was a bit of challenge on a moving train, though.