Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Photos of the September 29 UNICEF train

Brian Barchard was kind enough to send along a couple of photos he took of the UNICEF train on September 29. He chased it down to St. Stephen and rode it back, an excellent way of railfanning. Thanks, Brian!

En route to St. Stephen
En route to St. Stephen

The train returns to McAdam
The train returns to McAdam

Monday, October 30, 2006

Notes on Watt Junction

On my way to McAdam on Saturday, I made a detour to the former Watt Junction to see what is left there. Someone had asked if the switch to St. Andrews was still there, and I had time to investigate. As it turns out, the switch is indeed there.

I first saw the St. Stephen sub where it crossed highway 3 at Lawrence, 28.4 km from the intersection of highways 3 and 4.

Shortly after going under the bridge, one can turn left to highway 127 to St. Andrews. You cross the St. Stephen sub at mile 15.33 at a level crossing with lights and crossbucks. There are pretty good sight lines in both directions.

If you turn left on Watt Road shortly before this crossing, you come to what used to be Watt Junction at mile 14.9. The stub of the former St. Andrews subdivision is now used as a storage track for maintenance-of-way (MOW) equipment. On Saturday two pieces were stored there, ballast regulator 2211-34 and a Pandrol-Jackson 6700 Production and Switch Tamper.

There are just the two tracks there, a fuel tank, and some spare rails. Again, there are pretty good sight lines both ways.

Here is the area under discussion, through Google Maps.

After poking around there, I backtracked to highway 3 and continued on toward St. Stephen for a few kilometres before taking route 630 to St. Croix (14 minutes). From there I took highway 4 back to McAdam (5 minutes). Route 630 is in pretty good shape and one can sustain 80 or 90 km/hr on there with no trouble. If I were to chase the St. Stephen local from McAdam, I would definitely take the highway 4-route 630-highway 3 route to get to Watt Junction. I expect there would be no trouble beating the local there, as you would be travelling about the same distance but averaging about 60 km/hr (35 MPH), while the train is restricted to 25 MPH.

St. Stephen Sub timetable from 1988

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Train lengths from Saturday

Here are the train lengths from Saturday's trains:

Arriving in McAdam: 7 mty centerbeam flats, 4 boxcars, 1 c/b flat, 1 boxcar, 6 cryo boxcars, 12 boxcars, 3 mty c/b flats, 8 boxcars, 2 container cars (1 doublestack, 1 singlestack), 8 autoracks. Total 52 cars.

Leaving McAdam: 2 covered hoppers, 1 tank car, 2 empty log cars, 1 boxcar, 6 cryo boxcars, etc. (same as arriving after the log cars). Total 45 cars.

They dropped 8 empty centerbeam flats (for the gypsum plant, I assume) and 4 boxcars, probably going to St. Stephen. They picked up the two covered hoppers, 1 tank car, and two empty log cars.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Today in McAdam

I took my two youngest kids to McAdam today in the hope of seeing the eastbound freight. Given that my last attempt failed, I went a lot earlier this time.

As I was driving toward Harvey, my McAdam source called me and told me the freight was leaving Brownville Junction at 10:40 and would likely not be in McAdam until 14:00 or 14:30. No worries about missing it!

I decided to do a little detour and check out Watt Junction to see what was there... I'll get into that later. I ended up in McAdam by noon. There I saw a most interesting sight.

CN 7000 was sitting in the yard. It turns out that Friday's westbound used 7000 for power, but since the CN leased units can't enter the U.S., they dropped it and took the McAdam switcher.

We went to eat at the Family Cafe, then we visited the library for a few hours. My source dropped by and told me the freight just cleared Vanceboro after 15:00, so I headed for the west end of the yard to video it coming in. I set up just behind a string of empty NBSR log cars, and the freight rolled into view at 15:15.

NBSR 2317, 2318 and 9802 led a string of centerbeam flats and boxcars, with a couple of container cars and about six or seven autoracks on the end.

They did a quick stop at the station, made their drop and pickup, and tacked CN 7000 on behind 9802.

They rolled out at 15:45 with the new crew. I shot them leaving, and I'm including this photo to show the difference in paint shades between newly painted 2318 and faded 9802.

By this time it had started to rain a bit.

I drove to Harvey, respecting speed limits, and easily beat them there. They rolled through at 16:16.

I gave up the chase after that and headed home.

You can click on any of the photos to see a larger version.

Other NB Southern posts

Sunday, October 22, 2006

NBSR Passenger Extra

Bob Boudreau caught NBSR 2318 leading the excursion train from Harbour Station at 13:00 on the dot.

NB Southern eastbound freight recently

Recently I saw an NB Southern eastbound headed by 9801, 2319 and 9802.

Rocketing past the old station at Fredericton Junction

The lumber yard crossing near Fredericton Junction

Hoyt, at the end of the Hoyt Station Road.

NB Southern business train today

NB Southern is running a fall foliage excursion train today for Irving Oil employees, using its business train equipment. It's leaving from Harbour Station today (Sunday) at 13:00, presumably travelling to Welsford and back.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Off-lease units are away

HATX 175, HATX 420, and HLCX 3669 passed through McAdam last night on the westbound freight, headed for Mattawamkeag, Maine. There Guilford will pick them up and take them south. They are heading for Illinois for a total rebuild.

In my last post I got the date wrong but the units right. Oh well!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Off-lease units leaving Saint John

I understand three off-lease units will be leaving Saint John tonight en route back to Helm Financial for rebuilding. These are units that were leased by Iron Road and used in Maine until Iron Road went bankrupt. NB Southern stored them in Saint John and in fact used a couple of them for a few years. I believe the units that are going back are HLCX 3669, HATX 175 and HATX 420. There will still be a few off-lease units in Saint John after this.

HLCX 3669

HATX 175

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Online Photographer: October 2006

"Ctein" on The Online Photographer wonders Who's in Charge? You or the Camera?. He laments that most digital photographers take the image straight out of the camera and post it without any manipulation whatsoever. He calls it "a profound artistic mistake".

Some of the commenters on his post argue that there is a scale of photography, ranging from "what the camera saw" to "what I want the image to portray", with varying levels of image manipulation in between. It's the range between reality and art. With a tip of the hat to Carrie from "Sex in the City", I can't help but wonder... is a highly-Photoshopped image, that bears little resemblance to the original, still the same photograph?

For the record, I save the original JPG from my camera on my hard drive. Any images I post have been manipulated in some way, usually just cropping and resizing. Occasionally I will adjust the brightness and contrast if needed. I'm aiming more for documentation of what I saw, so I feel a light touch on the manipulation is what is called for. Your Mileage May Vary!

A Rainy Day

I went to Saint John yesterday, in the driving rain, and still managed to see some trains. A dedicated railfan doesn't let weather get him down!

In Welsford on the way down I heard a little chatter on the scanner. Some kid said, "Hello?" and an adult responded, "Hello?" It went back and forth for a minute until the adult told another adult that they were probably picking up a baby monitor or something. It seemed odd to me that they were coming in really clear, yet the eastbound freight was hours away from passing through Welsford. More later.

At 11:25 there was some action at the NB Southern Dever Road yard. NBSR 3702 and 3703 were shunting the east end of the yard, while CN 7068 was shunting the west end. 7068 was shunting four NB Southern log cars, one of which was loaded with track pieces.

Looks like model railroad track.

At 11:50 there was no action at the Island Yard. CN 5695, 2569 and 5518 were by the shop.

Later, at 13:00 I heard 305 calling the NB Southern yard master to tell them they were returning to the yard. I saw them across the Courtenay Bay causeway, bringing empty potash cars away from the terminal. I caught them going through the wye on their way to Island Yard, with 34 empty potash cars.

I did mention it was raining, didn't I?

I got lunch and sat watching the Island Yard. I noticed CN 7010 and NBSR 3701 on different tracks at the shop. I couldn't get a decent shot of 3701 due to all the clutter in the way. Soon 7010 got a call to go rescue the local at the drydock spur. I imagine with the rain it wasn't able to bring the loads back to the yard. It headed out just as 305 was getting its TOP at 1345 to go to mile 22.

The local had CN 7015 on it.

I thought about going to see 7010 and 7015, until I heard someone ask where the passenger train was. Passenger train? In this weather?

Sure enough, I saw it ascending the Mill Street grade as I raced to the Reversing Falls bridge. I set up on the west end of the bridge and got it backing across.

Consist: 5471, 5448, 5537, 422990, 2318

I saw it again entering the Dever Road yard and took some roster shots.

The passenger train was empty, so it must have ran in the morning. That was what I heard in Welsford - the passenger train. I had no idea.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

October 11

2005: I was in Winnipeg, Manitoba shooting trains on the CN mainline. I saw nine trains in four hours, 8 CN and 1 CP. Here's my blog entry for October 11 2005.

2004: I saw NBEC train 578 shunting the UPM yard in Miramichi. NBEC 1867 and 1856 were drilling the yard, frequently going on the bridge over the Miramichi River.

2003: I wasn't railfanning, but other railfans around the region noted a few sightings.
  • The CBCNS was borrowing a couple of CN units, CN 5367 (SD40-2) and CN 9581 (GP40), spotted in Stellarton, NS (Geoff Doane)
  • A few oddball units were seen in Moncton, including CN GP40 9416 and two CN GP9 units in the Gordon Yard, 7038 and 7248 (Wendell Lemon)
2002: No reports

2001: I was travelling north through New Brunswick and saw quite a few NBEC units.C-424 4210 was paired up with RS-18 1856 in Miramichi. I spent quite a bit of time in Campbellton looking at the dead lines and watching CFMG train 402 arrive in the dark. Units spotted during the day included RS-18s 1809, 1818, 1830, 1856, 1857, 1859, 1867, 1868; C-424s 4210, 4219, 4230; SD40s 6902, 6904, 6908, 6910; and some MOW equipment. I really should make a blog entry for that day - it was a good one!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Railfanning on the run

On my way back from Steve Dickie's and Sarah Linley's beautiful wedding, I managed to see a couple of trains.

As we approached Amherst on the TCH, I looked back toward Nappan and saw a westbound freight approaching. It had to be CN 307! We went to Fort Lawrence, and within a minute or two it came into sight. It was pouring out smoke as the units accelerated out of Amherst onto the tangent heading toward the Tantramar Marshes at 11:35.
CN 307 at Amherst

The consist was CN 5433, CN 5760, CN 5743 with 5 loaded centerbeam flats and 23 autoracks (including one articulated unit).
CN 5433 on train 307

It's a green light to the marshes:
CN 307 in the Tantramar Marshes

Later I called VIA and found out that VIA 14 was on time. We exited and waited near Painsec Junction for 14 to come. It didn't take long for it to come by at 12:19. I had the video camera on the tripod and pointed my still camera at the train... only to realize I forgot to turn it on. I got a lovely shot of the side of the first unit. This is from the video:
VIA 14 at Painsec Junction

And here's the trailing Park car... 8710??
VIA Park car
Beautiful colours this time of year.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Satellite views of train sights around Fredericton

I see Google Maps now has high-resolution satellite maps of the Fredericton area. Here are the locations of the notable railway items in the Fredericton area.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No Matter Where It's Going

This is a fascinating web site. It documents the travels by train of Peter Dawes, with detailed descriptions of trips throughout North America, Europe and elsewhere. Check it out!


McAdam Railfanning 2006/09/30

I took my kids to McAdam to see the NB Southern eastbound freight. We couldn't leave Fredericton until noon since my oldest son had bowling. Typically the freight arrives in McAdam between 1 and 3 PM and heads east to Saint John about an hour later.

We arrived in McAdam just before 1 PM, and there were no engines in the yard. There were some freight cars scattered about, and a line of MOW equipment by the shed, but no power.

One of NBSR's cranes

A closeup of "Allie's Little Green Giant"

Another piece of NBSR MOW equipment

A tamper?

Two wee MOW vehicles.

I assumed the freight had not yet arrived, so I decided to carry on to the St. Croix river to try to catch the freight crossing the border. I set up my tripod by the river, and sat down to wait under the partly cloudy sky. The two oldest kids played in the van and I carried baby Jamie around. A couple of cars pulled up on the American side of the river and started unloading canoes and gear, presumably for a fishing expedition. I didn't hear a peep on the scanner.

The railway bridge over the St. Croix River.

Canoe time! The rail line is just behind them.

By 2 PM I had enough of this, so we headed back to McAdam. By then there were a few people around the station, so we went inside to see what was new. I spoke with one of the people working on the station and he told me the freight came through at NOON. Darn it! We talked a bit about times and it seems I missed the freight leaving McAdam by about.. oh.. 5-10 minutes. What can you do?

He gave me a tour of the ground floor of the station and I present some photos here for your pleasure. The station interior is looking really good. I am very impressed with the work they have done to date and their plans for the future. Visit their web site at www.mcadamnb.com for more information on the station.

The snack bar in the McAdam station.

Part of the dining room in the McAdam station.

In hindsight, the lack of yard power should have been a clue that the freight had picked up the resident GP38 to take to Saint John for servicing.

Oh, and my prediction for the power on the St. Stephen excursion train was wrong. NBSR 9801 was the power on that train. I hope to have some photos of the train in Harvey and McAdam for your viewing pleasure soon, courtesy of David Morris.

CN 436 arrived

CN 436 arrived in Halifax early in the morning of October 3, with CN 2637 leading the seven DRS export locomotives. This is the first time they have been shipped without tarps on them, making for decent pictures. Here is a photo of DRS 66416 taken in Halifax by Pat and David Othen.

Monday, October 02, 2006

NB Southern train lengths

I was wondering what the average NB Southern train length was, and I did a little number-crunching on the trains I and others have seen. Surprisingly, the average has not changed much in the past three years.

  • 2003 - 43 cars (based on 3 trains)
  • 2004 - 43 cars (based on 7 trains)
  • 2005 - 57 cars (based on 7 trains)
  • 2006 - 44 cars (based on 8 trains)
This isn't very scientific, because I'm including trains seen in Maine and in New Brunswick. Strictly speaking, I should define it as something more specific like "train length leaving McAdam", but I don't have enough data to make that meaningful either.

Anyway, food for thought.