Saturday, July 31, 2010

VIA 15 With CN GP38 Leading

David Othen caught VIA 15 leaving Halifax with CN 4721 leading VIA 6437 and 6416 today. Apparently 6437's engine had problems and so the Geep was pressed into service. An engineer had to ride in 6416 to monitor the train alarms.

They met CN 120 at Sandy Cove, NS. CN 120 had CN 8808, 2572 and 2564.

David posted video on YouTube.


Thanks, David! Be sure to visit his site to see the great videos he has for sale.

Taking Down the Markers

A friend found this video on YouTube. It features Canadian steam engines in the Prairies. I hope you like it!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Private Car Coming to Winnipeg

Heads up - there will be a private car passing through Winnipeg and taking the Hudson Bay up to Churchill and back.

I understand Southern Railway #1 is leaving Chicago today (July 30) and making its way to Fargo, then coming up BNSF to Winnipeg. It will then take VIA 693 up to Churchill and back on VIA 692 before returning home to Chicago.

It looks like it will have to take Tuesday's VIA 693 out of Winnipeg to make its timetable.

Vandalism on the CB&CNS

Apparently some morons were out trying to sabotage the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway's operations on Monday evening. The New Glasgow News reported that someone left a propane tank on the tracks, apparently hoping the train would detonate it. The train did hit it but it did not explode. Propane tanks are a lot tougher than you think.

More seriously, someone sabotaged a switch near Maritime Steel and the train derailed. It seems it was a low speed derailment and not much damage was done, fortunately. I couldn't help thinking of the Stewiacke derailment of April 12, 2001 where a youth tampered with a switch and VIA's eastbound Ocean derailed. 22 of the 132 passengers were injured (9 seriously) but fortunately noone was killed. You can read the TSB report for full details. VIA's diner "Wascana" was destroyed. Fortunately dinner was not being served at the time.

The Stewiacke derailment led directly to the replacement of main-line switch locks with higher security locks, and also led to the removal of some sidings and spurs from the main lines of the class 1 railways to remove some possibility of sabotage.

Hopefully the police can find the perpetrator of these dangerous acts of vandalism and prevent him/her from any further crimes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Winnipeg 360 (Part 2)

This is a continuation of my tour of the railway lines around the perimeter of Winnipeg (part 1).

Imagine you're returning from your western trip, and you approach Winnipeg on the Trans-Canada Highway. You might choose to go around Winnipeg on highway 101 (the "Perimeter") to the north.

1. The first rail line you would encounter north of the Perimeter is the CP Glenboro subdivision. This lightly-used subdivision comes out of the CP yards downtown, crosses the highway here, then crosses the CN Rivers subdivision at Diamond before meandering southwest.

2. A few kilometers north of that, an overpass marks the crossing of the CP Carberry subdivision, CPR's main line to the west.

3. Almost within sight of that, there is a level crossing with the Prairie Dog Central. This is the former CN Oak Point subdivision that heads northwest to Warren, MB.

4. The 101 heads straight east now, and a level crossing marks the intersection of the highway with the CP Arborg subdivision here.

5. The next crossing is the CP Winnipeg Beach branchline heading to Gimli, MB. This is another level crossing (here).

6. Getting tired yet? The CEMR Pine Falls subdivision crosses the 101 here at grade. A truck hit a CEMR train here on September 15, 2009.

7. CP's main line heads east out of Winnipeg here as the CP Keewatin subdivision. The highway crosses the tracks via an overpass.
CP 8872 on the CP Keewatin subdivision

8. Not to be outdone, CN's main line (the CN Redditt subdivision) crosses the 101 at grade (!) here. Construction is underway for a rerouting of the single-lane 101 here and I expect an overpass will eventually be built.

9. Last but not least, the Greater Winnipeg Water District Railway (GWWD) crosses the 101 at grade here.

Recap: part 1 described the CN Sprague, CP Emerson, CN Letellier, CP La Riviere, CEMR Carman, and CN Rivers subdivisions. This post described the CP Glenboro, CP Carberry, Prairie Dog Central, CP Arborg, CP Winnipeg Beach, CEMR Pine Falls, CP Keewatin, CN Rivers, and GWWD subdivisions.

Only fifteen railway lines!

Further Reading


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Winnipeg 360 (Part 1)

You may have gathered that Winnipeg has a lot of railway tracks. I thought I'd give a quick tour of the railway lines radiating out from Winnipeg. There are so many lines that I have broken them into two parts.

Imagine you're driving on the Trans-Canada Highway from the east. If you didn't want to go into Winnipeg, you would get onto Highway 101, the Perimeter Highway going west around the south end of Winnipeg.

1. The first rail line you would encounter would be the overpass here as you exit highway 1 and get onto highway 101. This is CN's Sprague subdivision.

2. Continuing on highway 101 southwestward, you would encounter a level crossing here, which is CP's Emerson subdivision heading almost due south to the border with North Dakota.


3. After crossing the tracks, you would pass a few exits before coming to the Pembina Highway overpass, which also crosses over CN's Letellier subdivision, which also goes to North Dakota.

4. After this, the Perimeter Highway turns west and crosses CP's La Riviere subdivision (pronounced lare-iveer) here at grade. There is a gas plant right on the highway that sees a lot of tank car traffic.


5. The road turns north and crosses the CEMR Carman subdivison at grade here.


6. CEMR's crossing is in sight of the Wilkes Avenue overpass, which crosses the two-track CN Rivers subdivision here.

Typically you would then exit a little north and continue west through Headingley on your way to Portage la Prairie and beyond.

In summary, you would cross CN Sprague, CP Emerson, CN Letellier, CP La Riviere, CEMR Carman, and CN Rivers.

In part 2 we will continue the 360 degree circuit of Winnipeg from here. We're not quite halfway around.

See Also


Monday, July 26, 2010

Save the LRC - Crunch Time

It is down to crunch time for the Save the LRC campaign. I wrote about it in April. They have raised about 65% of their goal in the past three months, but need another $14,000 by mid-August. Good luck!

Sunday's Hudson Bay

VIA 6446 and the Hudson Bay
The kids and I went up to Wilkes Avenue to get the Hudson Bay on Sunday. First we went west to near Diamond, and waited and waited. I didn't have the scanner with me so I had no idea when VIA would actually show up.

After a while the kids were getting anxious and hot, so I drove up to Diamond to check the lights - dark. Then I drove east on Wilkes, and encountered headlights a little east of Carman Junction. I pulled over and grabbed these shots from the side of the road.
VIA's Hudson Bay (train 693) leaving Winnipeg Manitoba
The train had consecutive engine numbers 6446 and 6445, with the usual baggage car, two coaches, diner and sleeper. I keep hoping to see a dome on this train!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

BNSF on the Road in Phoenix

I went out again in Phoenix on July 21 to shoot a few BNSF units. This time I ignored the yard, and headed north along Grand Avenue to see if I could see anything on their "main" line that heads up to Flagstaff.

Very shortly I came across BNSF 2864 shunting some tank cars at Alhambra Yard just north of Mobest Yard.


After watching for a few minutes, I carried on northwards. Around Glendale (outside Phoenix) I saw a northbound intermodal stopped, apparently for a crew change. I went just a bit further north and parked. Soon I saw the headlights come on, and the train rolled on by.

I really like the variety of trailers on the train. It's rare to see trailers on trains in Canada.

I carried on northward to the El Mirage / Ennis / Surprise area. BNSF has a large autorack yard here, and the Ennis subdivision branches off to the west. I saw a short train parked on the Ennis subdivision, so I drove over to photograph it. As I approached, the ditch lights came on and the train started rolling. I grabbed this (poor) video of it as it left.

You can see that the honk startled me! :)

There was a "rider" caboose parked just behind the train... BN 12430.
Caboose BN 12430
The caboose has "SHOVE CAR REAR END ONLY" stenciled on all four sides.

Read Aeromoe's page on the Ennis subdivision for more information.

It was pretty much dark by then (it gets dark fast in Phoenix) so I gave up the railfanning and did my usual pilgrimage to Fry's. I love that store.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Are You Lost?

One of these things is not like the others
I was in Phoenix, Arizona this week, and took some time on the evening of July 20 to visit BNSF's Mobest Yard and see what was there. There was a big surprise.
CP 9508 in Phoenix, Arizona
CP 9508 was sure far from home!

There was plenty of more usual power in the yard.
BNSF 2945 in Phoenix, Arizona
BNSF sure has a lot of these GP39-2 engines around in Phoenix.

It's hard to take decent photos of units in the yard, given the clutter in the foreground. I suppose if you trespassed you could get better shots, but of course I was not doing that - nor do I recommend it. A private security truck showed up as I finished my shots, and the driver gave me a hard look as he entered the yard property. I was not concerned, as I was on public property at the edge of the road, outside the fence. But it's obvious that BNSF is (rightly) concerned about trespassers.

As I was driving a little north of the yard, I noticed a southbound freight coming to the yard. I found a spot to film them and took this little video with my Canon T1i.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CN 148 Returns

Trains CN 148/149 used to run between Chicago and Halifax. They were renumbered to CN 122/123 in 2007 for a short time until they were cancelled.

There is a longshoremen's strike at the Port of Montreal that is affecting container handling. News reports say that container ships are being diverted to Halifax.

Word has it that there will be two CN Q148 trains running in the Maritimes. The first is rumoured to depart Edmundston after 6 AM and depart Moncton around noon, with the second departing Edmundston after 3 PM.

This should only last until the strike is over, but it will provide some extra action for Maritime railfans.

Thursday's VIA and a CN Train

VIA 6419 in Winnipeg
I shot the Canadian at Waverley Street in Winnipeg on Thursday, July 15. It had 6419 and 6453 leading twenty cars.

They met an eastbound CN train heading the other way on the south track.


In between the two trains, the gates came up at Waverley and a few cars went through. One truck driver tried to run the lights and dragged the crossarm across the top of the box, bending it, before he made it through. Swift.

CN 8019 and 2663 led this intermodal train.
CN 8019 in Winnipeg
There was a DPU on this train, CN 8863, running flat out.
CN 8861

Sunday, July 18, 2010

SD40s in Moose Jaw

Continuing the Moose Jaw theme, here are some shots of SD40-2 engines I saw in the Canadian Pacific yard in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
CP 6013 and 6602 in Moose Jaw, SK
CP 6013 and 6602 are both SD40-2 units. 6013 was one of the 489 SD40-2 engines that CP bought, and it was built in late 1980 or early 1981. 6602 was built as SOO 6602 in May 1980 but has clearly been repainted as a CP unit.

CP has leased a number of CEFX and CITX units for quite some time, especially CEFX AC4400s. Here are two leasers I saw in Moose Jaw, both SD40-2s.
CEFX 3183 in Moose Jaw, SK
I like the bright blue... looks like Conrail.
CITX 3095 in Moose Jaw, SK
CITX 3095's colours are not as impressive to me.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Red Barns in Moose Jaw

CP 9007 and 9002 in Moose Jaw SK
I mentioned that I had been in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on May 21 and took many photos of the large CPR yard and shops there. One distinctive engine type peculiar to CP Rail is the "red barn", aka the SD40-2F units (read this for more information). I saw three red barns at the shops.

Above you can see CP 9007 and 9002. They were alongside the shops on the south side. Below is a bad photo of CP 9009, taken from the parking lot on the north side of the yard.
CP 9009 in Moose Jaw, SK

Friday, July 16, 2010

CP Moose Jaw Yard

CP Moose Jaw Yard Layout
I was in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan back in May and I took some photos of the yard and its contents. Here is my first post on the subject.

Moose Jaw was selected as a divisional point by the CPR in 1881, mainly because it was a good place to cross the river valley and it had an abundant supply of water for the CPR's steam locomotives. Work trains reached Moose Jaw on September 6, 1882 but it was not until April 1, 1883 before the first scheduled passenger train arrived.

Moose Jaw has been important to CP ever since. They maintain a large shop facility here, and their presence here is much larger than in nearby Regina.

The yard is bounded by Manitoba Street on the north, Main Street to the east, and Maple Street to the south, with the 4th Avenue viaduct crossing over the yard just west of the shops. There are plenty of places to get shots of power in the yard, especially the 4th Avenue viaduct.

The yard diagram above is visible from the parking lot along Manitoba Street. A quick walk south from Manitoba Street could take you to the fueling area, but that area is off limits. It can be photographed from the parking lot but there aren't any clear shots. You can shoot the engine house farther east on Manitoba Street but again, it is not a great shot.
CPR Moose Jaw shops

Shooting from Maple Street can yield a few shots. I took this shot of the fuel tanks from there.
CPR Moose Jaw fuel tanks

The best shots by far are from the 4th Avenue viaduct. Here is the view from the south end.
CPR Moose Jaw yard

Walking north gets you more angles.
CPR Moose Jaw yard

Further north...
CPR Moose Jaw yard

You can even shoot across the yard to get some MOW equipment.
CPR Moose Jaw snow plows

In my next post, I will share some closer shots of engines in the yard.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NB Southern Passenger Train Excursion - May

David Morris sent along some photos of the May 22, 2010 NB Southern passenger train. The excursion went the usual route from Saint John to Welsford and back.

The train had NBSR 2317 for power, with NB Southern's three passenger cars 5537, 5471, and 5448, and business caboose NBSR 422990 on the end.

The first shot is the standard shot at the overpass at Westfield Beach.
NBSR excursion train at Westfield Beach. Photo by David Morris.

One thing I like about David's photos is that he tries to get the best perspectives, often off the beaten path. This shot at Blagdon is a good example of that.
NB Southern passenger train in Blagdon, NB. Photo by David Morris.

Here's a nice perspective on the famous Reversing Falls in Saint John.
NB Southern train on Reversing Falls. Photo by David Morris.

This shot was one of David's standard shots when the Atlantic was still running. Imagine these green cars were still blue and yellow, and an F40PH-2 or two were on the head end, and the caboose was a dome... ah, never mind.
NB Southern train in Saint John. Photo by David Morris.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fredericton Station Baggage Shed Removed

This morning a backhoe made short work of the baggage shed on the back of the train station in Fredericton. These photos were yoinked from Tim Scammell.
Fredericton train station baggage shed removal. By Tim Scammell
Here's the station sans baggage shed.
Fredericton train station baggage shed removal. By Tim Scammell
Nice to see progress and I look forward to seeing more. Don't forget about the webcam!

EDIT: Here's a Daily Gleaner article.

Brandon Bound

When my son was visiting, we took a day to go to Brandon, Manitoba on July 5. We were going to see the National Artillery Museum of Canada and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum. I recommend both highly.

On our way out of Winnipeg, we saw a CN train stopped at mile 10 on the Rivers sub. I pulled off the highway to take a shot of CN 5266.
CN 5266 in Winnipeg

We continued on to CFB Shilo and visited the artillery museum. On our way back to the highway, we saw a westbound train stopped outside Brandon. I shot it from a distance. It appears the train was "in the hole" waiting for a meet and the crew was having a break. :)
In the hole
After visiting the Air Training Plan museum, we headed home. It started to rain and a pretty good storm built up. Near Austin MB (between Brandon and Portage la Prairie) I saw a headlight and pulled over to get the shot at the grain elevator in Austin.
CP 8883 and grain elevator at Austin MB
We carried on and the rain grew more intense. We saw a westbound Herzog ballast train, with a CITX unit as the second of three, but I did not pull over to shoot it... too much rain.

If you're ever in Brandon, take time to visit the National Artillery Museum of Canada (at the airport) and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum (at CFB Shilo).

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm on Twitter


I started a train-related Twitter account a few days ago to record quick sightings and such. In some ways it will duplicate this blog but there will be details in the Twitter feed that won't make it to the blog.

If you wish, you can follow me using the link to the right. I'm stevetraingeek. There is a "traingeek" on Twitter, but he's not me. He operates traingeek.com and, um, let's say he has a different lifestyle than I do. NTTAWWT (Seinfeld episode). More power to him.

BNSF 1685 Handover Ceremony Friday


BNSF 1685 has been in town for a while now, hiding in the BNSF engine house. It is being readied for donation to the Vintage Locomotive Society, home of the Prairie Dog Central Railway.

That donation will take place on Friday, July 16. PDC's steam engine #3 and diesel #4138 will be on hand at the BNSF shops on Lindsay Street for a ceremony at 11:00. The event is invitation only but I can't see why people can't line Lindsay Street to take long-distance shots.

CP has graciously offered to move the steam engine and diesel from PDC's location off Inkster Boulevard down the La Riviere subdivision to BNSF's shops, then move all three locomotives back.

It should be quite a show! Wish I could be there.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Another Late Canadian

I was considering going to shoot the Canadian on Saturday when a message from a friend out east confirmed it for me. His friend was traveling coach on the Canadian and he wondered if I was going to shoot it... sounds like a good reason to me! I bundled the kids in the car and off we went to Wilkes Avenue.

I went east on Wilkes from the Perimeter, then started back toward Diamond when I saw headlights to the west. It turned out to be CN 314 on its way into Winnipeg, with CN 2556 and 5743.
CN 2556 in Winnipeg


We carried on to Diamond. I decided to shoot just west of Diamond, to include the west-facing signals in the shot behind the Canadian. We waited.. and waited.. and waited.. I don't know what it is about VIA these days, but Saturday's Canadian was the second late VIA 1 in a row leaving Winnipeg. VIA 1 finally showed up at 13:25, a good hour late leaving Winnipeg.

As a bonus, it had 3 engines.
VIA 6424 at Diamond



By this time, the kids were starving so it was time to leave. As I was driving east, I heard CN 198 call the signals at Diamond, so I knew they were right behind me. In less than 5 minutes CN 8866 and 5673 arrived. I did not stay to shoot the whole train but I got the head end with the long lens.
CN 8866 leads train 198 near Diamond, MB
I am going to try to shoot VIA 1 on Monday to complete the set of Canadians.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chasing on the Sprague Subdivision

Back on July 3, I was driving east along the south Perimeter Highway outside Winnipeg. The kids and I were going to Spare Time Hobbies, via Symington Yard of course. As we came up to the intersection to get onto Fermor, we saw a trailing engine roll southward across the Floodway. What the heck, I decided, let's chase it!

We exited onto the Trans-Canada and gave chase. The train wasn't going especially fast, but we were hampered by the construction on the highway, making it single-lane each way at 80 km/hr with no passing. The traffic was heavy but steady so we slowly gained ground.

There was a westbound train stopped in the siding at Lorette (mile 138.2). We hoped we would be able to get it on the way back!

My oldest son had my Canon T1i and was blasting away as we overtook the train. Here's his shot of ex-BC Rail BCOL 4652, the second unit on the train.
BCOL 4652. Photo by Nick Boyko
Not bad for shooting from a moving vehicle, through a window, in the rain, eh?

Once we finally got ahead of the train around mile 130, I pulled over onto the shoulder and shot it as it passed us. CN 8834 and the aforementioned BCOL 4652 were on the head end.
CN 8834 south of Winnipeg
As you can see in the background, the canola is in bloom now.

CN 2694 brought up the markers at the end of the train.
CN 2694 trails out of Winnipeg

After it passed, we did a quick U-turn and headed back to try to catch the eastbound before it got into Symington Yard. We caught up with it by Tinkertown around mile 145 just before the end of the Sprague subdivision. I pulled into Symington Road by Grand Prix Amusements and shot them as they rolled slowly by.

The light wasn't good for the lead unit CN 5740 but it was for the trailing unit, rare SD60 CN 5522.
CN 5522 in Winnipeg
It felt great to actually chase a train again! :)

Friday, July 09, 2010

CPR 125th Last Spike Community Tour

The Canadian Pacific Railway is dispatching trains around the country to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Last Spike ceremony for Canada's first transcontinental railway (press release). The CPR will donate some items from its collection to museums and historical societies across the country.

Details on the Community Rail Tour can be found here and you can get tickets for the Children's Wish CP Train Rides. Kudos to CP for donating their train for this worthy cause.

A tour train is in the Winnipeg area now, on its way to Schreiber, Ontario to join the town's 125th anniversary celebration. The train had CP 1401, 1900 and 3084 for power and departed Brandon, MB at 07:00 heading east.

Five Years of Blogging


Here we are, 5 years after my first post on July 9, 2005.

More than 1600 posts later, I still enjoy blogging and I intend to continue doing it for as long as I have fun at it. Having this blog has led to meeting some interesting people, seeing my photographs used for things like Operation Lifesaver and the Wall Street Journal, being interviewed by a few news organizations, and just sharing my experiences with the world.

It's a hobby to write this blog, and I'm honoured that you read it. Thank you.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Finally, the Canadian

I went up to Wilkes Avenue today at noon to shoot the Canadian, for the first time in over a month (since May 27!). I saw a friend of mine waiting for the same train, so I parked by him at mile 10 and we chatted while waiting for VIA.

First up was CN 801, however, with CN 8011 as the sole engine. 8011 on 801... quite a coincidence.
CN 8011 in Winnipeg
After that went by, we waited... and waited... and waited for the Canadian. Finally we heard that it had a mechanical problem and was stopped. In the meantime, we saw the CEMR train in the distance starting down the Carman subdivision.

The Canadian did show up, quite late.
VIA 6412 and the Canadian
VIA 6412 and 6427 were pulling 19 cars under the lovely sky.

Immediately afterward, CN 108 came the other way with CN 2673 and 8825 and a mile or two of containers. The problem with the mile 10 location is that you are too close to the tracks for eastbounds to shoot the whole train... too much stuff in the way. So, a closeup of the engine was in order.
CN 2673 in Winnipeg

We went our separate ways after that. I went south, just in time to catch CEMR crossing the Perimeter Highway at Oak Bluff. CEMR 4000 and CCGX 4010 were bringing a portion of their train to switch Oak Bluff.
CEMR 4000 in Winnipeg
Nice sun, eh?
CCGX 4010 in Winnipeg
It was nice to get out and take some shots on this beautiful day. Today's sightings

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Well Met at Diamond

CP train on Glenboro subdivision
I went to Portage la Prairie last Friday (July 2) and saw a couple of trains on the way.

The first was the most interesting, another CP train on the Glenboro subdivision. I last saw one on January 30.
CP 9129 at Diamond, MB
This one had SD9043 #9129 on the head end and CP 6014 trailing.

When I arrived in Portage, I heard a CN train announcing their passage through the town, so I headed to East Tower to get the shot. CN 2666 and 2689 brought a long container train east.
CN 2666 at Portage la Prairie, MB
CN 2666 is an old friend.