Every railfan has their moments of self-doubt, and their "oh, crap!" moments. I had both tonight in Bathurst.
New Brunswick East Coast Railway's ore train 586 from Bathurst to Brunswick Mines comes on duty at 18:00. I was at the NBEC yard at 16:10 and nothing was going on. Two NBEC MLW RS-18s were down in the yard and NBEC 1851 was dead by the station. I figured I had some time, so I went over to East Bathurst to look at the Smurfit Stone facility. While I was there, I heard train 586's crew bring their train out onto the main and then call the RTC. "Oh, crap! I'm out of position!"
I had hoped to get them at the iron bridge near highway 11, but that was clearly out of the question. I decided to head for Nepisiguit Junction, as I knew they would have to stop to line the switch for the Nepisiguit Subdivision. I headed to the end of Smith? Court and jogged the last few feet into the wye at the Junction. Soon I heard them rumble around the corner and pull up to the switch. Give the conductor credit, he lined that switch so fast that the train stopped for a mere 25 seconds.
At 18:56 train 586 rolled onto the Nepisiguit Subdivision with NBEC 1868 and 1821 leading 14 CN covered gondolas and 5 AOK covered hoppers.
I resolved to try different locations than last Thursday's chase. I did get him at the first highway 430 crossing at 19:03, albeit only with video.
I took a side video shot at 19:07 to show some of the pretty colours coming out.
I decided to go behind the Blue Mountain? racetrack and get him coming around the corner there, rather than take the second highway 430 crossing. It was a pretty good location but there's not a lot of room to step back from the train there. The light was really starting to fail at 19:14.
I took one more side video shot a few minutes later just before the track went away from the road. I decided to give up the chase, as the light was getting pretty bad, and go to Nepisiguit Junction to wait for VIA 15.
I got to the overpass over the Junction by 19:40 and set up my tripod on the overpass. There is lots of room to shoot westbound trains there without fear of cars. I waited.. as the light went away. Soon I snapped the "night shot" feature on my video camera to have some hope of shooting anything, and waited..
Here was my moment of self doubt. Did I miss the train? Was it early coming into Bathurst? No, that couldn't be, because I heard nothing on the scanner. But where was it? I hate those moments.
After 40 minutes of waiting, VIA 15 showed up at 20:16 in the near dark. I taped them coming, and used my Canon S3 to record them going away:
They had to stop to reline the switch at the west end of the junction, so I got to the VIA station ahead of them. They rolled in at 20:29. I went to the head end and tried a few time exposures of the engine. I think I did it a bit too long. What do you think?
They rolled on out at 20:35 with 6415, Operation Lifesaver 6411 and 16 Renaissance cars with Assiniboine Park at the end.
Oh, and this morning VIA 14 arrived in Miramichi at 10:09 and left at 10:16 with 6400, 6417, 7011, 7223 and 14 other Renaissance cars plus ReveLstoKe Park.