Friday, July 03, 2015

Wrapping Up Kamloops

This is the sixth and last in a series about a May 2015 visit to Kamloops, British Columbia. Start at the beginning.

After seeing the Rocky Mountaineer off, I returned to downtown Kamloops to see what was going on with CP. At 20:15 I found a crew that apparently had just put their power away.
Too bad I didn't have the focus right. :(

Facing west from the same pedestrian bridge, I saw CP 8904 at the head of a coal train waiting to enter downtown.

Kamloops is a crew change point and they switch crews right beside the pedestrian bridge. Here's 8904 pulling up to the office to swap crews, from ground level this time.

On coal trains, CP seems to run a toaster* in the lead followed by one of the SD30C-ECO units (refurbished SD40-2 units). They then have another toaster as mid train power and one more on the tail end. I saw this combination multiple times during my times in Kamloops.

* toaster = squarish, boring locomotive aka AC4400CW or ES44AC. A derogatory railfan term.

So, to recap: toaster and SD30C (CP 5018) on the head end:

Mid-train toaster (CP 8923) with a little bonus coal on the dynamic brake fan grids, and crewman giving the train a rollby inspection:

Finally, end of train toaster (CP 8915).

I like the SD30Cs but the endless parade of ES44s and AC4400s... I don't understand why some people say CN has no variety in its locomotives!

After they passed, I walked down to the parking lot visible in the distance to shoot a side-on view of the parked locomotives. I was especially interested in CP 5875 with its multimark.

I think I had the camera on my monopod, on a timer, holding it up over the chain-link fence. Better than trespassing!

I shot CP 6250 as well but the angle wasn't as good.

After that, I wandered over to a nearby ice cream shop to top up my energy. As I walked out, I heard the tell-tale thrum of big diesels and ran to the crossing to find CP 8615 pulling up for a crew change.

You can see a piece of the pedestrian bridge that I was standing on for several of these photos. The plexiglass barriers make it a bit challenging to photograph from some angles, but you can jam the lens in between the panels if necessary. I suppose they are there to discourage littering.

By this time (20:45) the light was getting dim. I was using a shutter speed of 1/20s so there is some motion blur. Note that 8615 (with 8754 and 8922) was meeting a westbound freight in the yard.

After the tail end passed, CP 8624 (and 9683) throttled up and rolled on by with its intermodal cargo.

I packed it in for the night after that.

I didn't railfan at all on May 14th - shocker! - and I didn't intend to railfan on May 15th, but while driving to the airport I spotted a pair of CN locomotives switching the fuel facility by YKA (Kamloops airport). I grabbed a couple of quick photos before returning my rental car and boarding.

CN 5268 and 6023 were shuffling tank cars around.

PS - My flight back home was pretty uneventful. As we descended to land in Winnipeg, I photographed the Fort Garry area with my iPhone. You can see the former Manitoba Sugar property on the left, the CN Letellier subdivision across the bottom left of the photo, and Chevrier Boulevard running up through the middle of the photo.

Thanks for reading about my Kamloops adventures! You can start back at the beginning or read all my Kamloops stories.

I'll be posting about my grain elevator adventures in northwest Manitoba soon... stay tuned.

Friday, June 26, 2015

One Last Rocky

This is the fifth in a series. To start at the beginning, read A Tranquille Afternoon.

On May 13th, I went out to shoot the Rocky Mountaineer one more time. I had a particular shot I wanted to get, "somewhere on the north side" between the bridge I had already featured and the CN yard.

First I wanted to shoot the arrival. I thought I might get them before they entered CN track, but I was too late and I found them stopped at the switch to the CN-CP interchange, so I rushed back to the downtown area to get them. I decided to shoot them in the open area just east of the Red Bridge, because I had noted some unusual power on the train...

They had a little helper in third position. CN 5472 was tucked in behind RMRX 8014 and NREX 2903.

Given that this train had come off of CP track, the CN unit must have been added when the train departed Kamloops on its way to Banff. Since the train power on Rocky Mountaineer trains is delivered by a generator car (seen here behind 5472), they don't need locomotives with HEP (Head End Power) generators like VIA does.

I shot this artsy glint photo as they passed by.

There were lots of happy people in the dome!

It was tricky to edit this photo to be able to see into the dome. All of the windows are tinted so it's pretty hard to see in, but through the magic of Lightroom I can "enhance" it... much like CSI! ;)

Anyway, it was time to go set up the shot I wanted. I drove across the Red Bridge and went trackside. I found a church that I thought would look great in the shot. It is the St. Joseph's Church, a "Tk'emlups te Seewepemc Historic Site" according to the sign. Did you know that Kamloops is the English translation of the Shuswap word Tk'emlups, meaning "where the rivers meet?"

The church is located on the reserve and was built in the late 19th century, and is the oldest church in Kamloops.

I walked around and took a few photos while waiting for the train, including this HDR one.

I was there a good 45 minutes before the train finally showed up. The sun was playing hide-and-seek so I didn't really get great light, but you use what you have.

I'd say that was a pretty good location.

I said this was the last post, but I was mistaken. The next post will be the last in the series, featuring CP action in downtown Kamloops.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Return to Tranquille

Previous posts: A Tranquille Afternoon, A Rocky Mountaineer evening, and Into the Mountains, Briefly.

On May 12th I went to the excellent Kelly's Kaboose shop after work. This model train / antique store is located in downtown Kamloops, BC. They have a great selection of model train equipment, lots of railway paperwork (my favourite!) and lots of other interesting items like signs, photos, and other railway memorabilia. I highly recommend the store. I walked away with a selection of BC railway timetables to fill out my collection.

When I stepped out of the store, I saw a Rocky Mountaineer bus unloading passengers at a nearby hotel. I hadn't really intended on seeing the Rocky this evening but hey, since I was only a couple of blocks away...

They were parked with the locomotives under the Red Bridge again. All of the passengers were gone and the staff were packing things up prior to the train heading over to the shops. A worker was walking along the train disconnecting the power lines between cars. He told me it was to speed up the switching they were going to do in the shop area once the train got over there.

In good time they pushed back and I shot the train passing the station.

Hey, if you want to do me a favour, go vote for your favourite Rocky Mountaineer photos at - mine are here and here and here and here.

I did a quick jaunt over to the Mission Flats Road area and found CP 3074 waiting at CP Benledi near the Domtar plant.

By the way - there's a nude beach in the area. ;) On a previous visit I was driving past the Domtar plant when I saw two quite naked people walking back to their cars from the park area. Not something you see in Winnipeg!

It was time to head back to Tranquille again. Passing the airport I spied a westbound freight headed by CN 8868. I quickly bagged it before continuing on.

I easily beat them to Tranquille, where they rounded the bend before the crossing.

While I was watching the train, a water bomber flew overhead, so I had to grab that too.

This is a Convair CV580 water tanker, owned by Conair Aerial Firefighting.

As the train rolled by, I noticed a CP eastbound potash train across the water.
Apologies for the photo quality - it was 2.5 km away and hazy in the heat. Lightroom CC's dehaze feature helped a bit.

Notice that the CP train is going through a little tunnel. Here's a Google satellite view of the short tunnel, which is about 80m long.

As the westbound CN train rolled by, and the eastbound CP train rolled by, a third train entered the scene - CN 5652 East, with BCOL 4616 trailing.

Here you are - three trains in one photo.

The CP freight had a pusher on the rear.

Speaking of DPUs, CN 8868 West had a mid-train DPU, CN 2200.

After all of that excitement, I was done for the night.

For my last second-last post from this Kamloops visit, I will visit the Rocky Mountaineer one more time, plus show some downtown Kamloops CP action. Read on!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Into the Mountains.. Briefly

CP passing Kamloops Lake

After a Tranquille afternoon and a Rocky Mountaineer evening, I decided to head west after work on Monday. After a discussion on the BC Railfans Facebook group, I had settled on Ashcroft as a destination. It has both CN and CP together in the Fraser River valley.

I headed west on the Trans-Canada Highway. It was still hot in the late afternoon - about 28C - and I had the AC on full in my little Nissan Versa Note rental. I passed the lookout at Tobiano, and as I descended toward Savona I noted a CP container train below me, also headed west. I grabbed the photo above.

As Savona came into view, I saw a nice curve that would be great for the head end of the train. I jumped out of the car as the train came around the curve.

It would have been better if I had time to get a little closer, but I'm happy with the result. CP 9362 was leading.

I tried to get the train on the other side of Savona, but I didn't know the area and missed the fact that the track crossed under the TCH to head down the Fraser valley. I ended up at the Steelhead Provincial Park, wondering where the rails were.

However, I did spot this.

The Canadian Trackside Guide says the near car was a crane idler car (originally Canadian Northern colonist car 7222 built in 1920) and the caboose was Pointe-St Charles CN 79440. There is a reversed "Gift Shop" sign on the idler car indicating this used to be a business. The prominent NO TRESPASSING sign deterred me from investigating further.

Savona is also where the CN and CP lines come together to go into the Fraser River valley.

I kept going on the TCH for a few kilometres but it became very apparent that the little Versa was not suited for the mountains. It was not possible to maintain 100 km/hr going up the steep grades, and given the hot temperature I was concerned about overheating the car. I turned around and headed back to Kamloops.

After supper, I headed back downtown to catch this day's iteration of the Rocky Mountaineer. This Rocky was coming from the west so it would be coming over the South Thompson River bridge to the station. I resolved to try to photograph it end-on as it crossed the river. A pair of helpful gentlemen on horses (shout-out to the Kamloops Mounted Patrol) suggested I stand on the steps of the Interior Savings Centre to get the right angle. They were right!

Here's the shot I was looking for.

I would have liked more light on the nose, but you take what you can get!

This angle was pretty good too:

You can see the NREX unit in second position.

Here are the two Kamloops Mounted Patrol gentlemen on their way to greet the passengers. I think it's great they do this. It must add to the experience.

There are lots of little touches around the area.

I decided to try a little HDR photo of RMRX 8014 under the Red Bridge.

I processed this with the new HDR functionality of Lightroom 6 (reason 6 why you need Lightroom?). I think it turned out OK. I like the glint from the rails. I'd like to see more detail in the shadows and there's a couple of glitches, but it's not bad for a first try.

It was clear they were going to be there for a while, so I moseyed over to the pedestrian bridge over the CP main line and photographed CP 3074 sitting there with the local caboose collection.

CP has a building on the south side of the tracks for their crews. I noticed this rack set up to hold the FRED/EOT devices. Pretty nice!

I decided to get the Rocky Mountaineer crossing the South Thompson River again, but from a different angle. Kamloops has a great park by the river and there is a walkway that juts out into the river a bit. From there I waited for the train to roll across the bridge... backwards, this time.

That was fun! I went back to the CP line to get a ground level photo of CP 3074 over the fence.

Thanks for reading!

In my next post, I'll write about another day of Rocky Mountaineer photos and return to Tranquille for more CN action. Read on!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Rocky Mountaineer Evening

After my tranquil Tranquille afternoon, I headed over to the south side of Kamloops to see what was going on at the CP side of things.

I'm a little confused on the timing of this train but I think all units are the same train. The time stamps are off because the first photo was taken with my Canon and the other two were taken with my iPhone. CP 8739 and 5004 were the leaders.

I think they must have been the same train because there's no way two westbound coal trains would have passed by me within two or three minutes. I just can't figure out why I would have used my Canon for one and then sat in my car for the other two.

Anyway. After the coal train passed, I went down to the Weyerhauser Domtar mill and spotted spreader CP 402880 and plow CP 400648. There is a wye there that used to service a sawmill and it is a handy place to park equipment, I guess. I spotted a Sperry "doodlebug" there back in August 2013.

I headed back to downtown Kamloops after that, because I knew the Rocky Mountaineer was due in. Very exciting! I have been to Kamloops several times but always when the Rocky was not running, so this was my first chance to see it in Kamloops.

There were several busses arriving by the former CN station (now a Keg restaurant) and I asked one of the bus drivers when the train might show up. He said it was arriving at 7 PM, and sure enough I spotted it coming off the CP main line at 7 on the dot. This train was coming from Banff and had to get onto the CN Okanagan subdivision to A) drop passengers off at the station and B) proceed to their depot in the CN yard.

Here they are.

It might have been nicer if they had closed the door, but I guess they don't cater to railfans... ;)

Here's a little glint shot as they roll under the Red Bridge just before stopping at the station. The main building of the Kamloops Heritage Railway is visible under the bridge.

I have to say that the onboard crew appeared to be universally cheerful. Nice wave from a pair of them here!

They disembarked the passengers at a reasonably brisk pace. They were at the station for just over 30 minutes, so I didn't have a lot of time to grab photos. Here's a photo showing the train in downtown Kamloops at the teeny CN yard there.

The KHR is just visible to the left with a stub end track. The former CN station is visible behind the garish yellow CN "no trespassing" sign. Off camera to my right is the Interior Savings Centre, a multipurpose facility hosting the Kamloops Blazers hockey team as well as a prime concert venue. I was fortunate to see Sarah McLachlan there on my last visit (for maybe the 5th time?).

After taking a few photos of the stationary train, I went down to the South Thompson River. I've wanted to capture the Rocky Mountaineer on the bridge over the river ever since I first visited Kamloops, and this would be my chance.

RMRX 8013 came into view first. Note the Red Bridge in the background.

They crept across the bridge, and I was photographing away, waiting for the perfect opportunity... wait... wait... NOW.

That's what I came for. W00t!

(you can buy this print)

One final frame, and we're good for the night.

Next up.. CP in Savona, more Rocky, lots more CP, and back to Tranquille. Read on! Thanks for reading!