I mentioned in a previous post that I saw a BNSF engine on the Canadian side of the border at Emerson, Manitoba, and that BNSF has started running power through into Manitoba. I'm going to talk a bit more about that now.
BNSF Manitoba services a number of industries in Winnipeg. One of their major industries is the Paterson elevator at Lilyfield, at the northwest corner of Winnipeg, off Inkster Boulevard. I mentioned this before.
Here's a Google Map view of the area.
The "racetrack" in the middle is the loop track serving the concrete Paterson elevator. It is reachable by CN from mile 11.0 of the Oak Point subdivision (shared with the nearby Prairie Dog Central at this point) and by CP from mile 8.3 of the Carberry subdivision. The odd thing is that BNSF Manitoba has the contract to serve the elevator.
What has happened in the past is that CN brings the traffic up to the Fort Rouge yard on CN 533, then either CN takes it from there to Lilyfield using running rights over CP, or BNSF Manitoba takes it from Fort Rouge to hand off to CP who takes it the rest of the way.
What is happening now is that BNSF is occasionally running unit grain trains with their locomotives on the train to Noyes, Minnesota. There it is picked up by CN crews and run up the CN Letellier subdivison as CN 533, onto the CN Rivers subdivision/CN Reddit subdivision to Symington Yard. There the engines are put on the other end and it proceeds to the Paddington interchange in St. Boniface onto CP track, through the CP yard and the CP Carberry subdivision to the CN Oak Point subdivision. It is run by CN crews in Manitoba the entire way. Thanks to Mark Perry for the information.
On Saturday I was heading west on the Bishop Grandin Boulevard when I spotted a train (CN 533) heading slowly north on the CN Letellier subdivision. I took Pembina Highway north to try to get ahead of the train. I went all the way up to Portage Junction before I spotted the power - 4 BNSF engines! A quick exit onto Jubilee to Osborne did the trick, and I was able to get to the area near the new rapid transit bus station before they did. After less than a minute, BNSF 7630 led the parade.
The engineer was kind enough to open his window to stick his arm out and give me a wave. I appreciate that!
Next was BNSF 5498. I saw this unit in Grand Forks back in 2010.
The third engine was BNSF 1007, with graffiti on the side. It's very rare to see an operating engine with graffiti.
Bringing up the rear of the consist was BNSF 4856. You can see the bus station to the right.
TaylorOver9001 filmed the same train just south of Portage Junction.
A BNSF unit train was first spotted on February 4 (photo in Morris, Manitoba). Another BNSF engine was spotted on February 12 just outside Winnipeg.
I understand there is a possibility that BNSF Winnipeg crews could be operating these unit trains in the future. In December 2013 the Canadian Transportation Agency ruled on an application for interswitching by Richardson International for their Red River South elevator outside Letellier, MB, based on a 1912 agreement between the Midland Railway and the Canadian Northern, predecessors to BNSF Manitoba and CN respectively. CN was ordered to interswitch traffic for the elevator at Emerson. I don't fully understand the ramifications except that interswitching rates are regulated and are lower than commercial rates, so CN would be paid less. CN has appealed.
I would love to read the details of the 1912 agreement. The CTA ruling has some interesting quotes which seem to imply that BNSF could haul directly from the Red River South elevator into North Dakota but could not do local switching along the route, nor bring traffic from that elevator to Winnipeg. Maybe it's good that I am not a lawyer.