|BN 12580 at work, Waverley Street, September 18, 2009|
BNSF Manitoba has one caboose, BN 12580, that they use as a riding platform. The caboose has had a broken spring for a while and needed new wheels. BNSF doesn't have the equipment to do the work themselves, so they contracted Prairie Rail Solutions (a subsidiary of the Vintage Locomotive Society, owners of the Prairie Dog Central Railway (PDC)) to do the work.
Of course, the caboose had to get to the Prairie Dog Central. If you look at a map of Winnipeg you'll see that BNSF and the PDC do not touch.
BNSF Manitoba's shops are at the south end of their track, and the Prairie Dog's shops are on the CN Oak Point subdivision north of CP. Canadian Pacific is the railway between the two.
The plan was for BNSF to take their caboose up to their interchange yard next to Westview Park*, and for PDC to run over CP to pick it up. I got some intel about when that was to take place - Wednesday, January 7th, with pickup at 12:30 PM.
I headed north and passed by the BNSF Manitoba yard a bit after noon. There was no activity there so I assumed they were up at the interchange point. I kept going.
Keep in mind that I had never been to the interchange yard, so I didn't know precisely where to go. It's just north of Polo Park, Winnipeg's biggest shopping mall, so I knew the area but not the specific spot. I drove up route 90 to Saskatchewan Avenue, then headed east. I spotted a CP engine, CP 2315, doing local switching off Saskatchewan Avenue. I pulled over and snapped a quick photo before continuing on.
I ended up driving completely around the yard! I finally ended up spotting the caboose at the north end of the yard and parked at the foot of Westview Park's hill. I grabbed my camera bag and started walking up the hill. The trail winds around the hill and it's a pretty easy climb, if a bit long, and the snow was packed down fairly well.
As I rounded a corner, I spotted the Prairie Dog Central engine approaching, so I was just in time. I trotted up to a decent photo location and started snapping.
That's PDC 4138 on the left. A crewman holding a switch broom is on the ground, having thrown the switch connecting BNSF and CP track. The track in the foreground is CP's La Riviere subdivision, which parallels the BNSF track for quite a ways, as indicated in the map above. The track behind the crewman is BNSF's, which goes up to Cowin Metals and Grace Industries. The track behind the PDC engine that curves off to the right is CP's and goes to a Viterra grain elevator. There's a diamond off-picture in the distance where CP and BNSF cross.
...aaaaand coupled up (12:46).
A little broader view, showing that Viterra elevator I mentioned.
Here's a look south to show the interchange yard - BNSF on the left, CP on the right.
They sat there for about 5 minutes, presumably while the crew hooked up air hoses, released handbrakes and so forth. At one point there were three crew at the rear of the caboose, I believe unlocking the door so someone could ride inside. I've blurred their faces for privacy.
The gondola was BN 561735 and I'm told the new wheels were in it, although I couldn't see them from my angle.
I took a little video with my iPhone to capture the sound of the Geep idling and to show the area.
After a few minutes, they were on their way. One of the crew rode the rear of the caboose, ready to line the switch for the main once they were on the CP La Riviere sub again.
Once the switch was lined, he boarded the caboose and off they went.
They would have rolled into Rugby aka the Winnipeg yard, then headed west to the Oak Point subdivision then onto Prairie Dog Central tracks.
The caboose should be done and back sometime next week. It's nice to see the PDC get a little paying work!
* Westview Park is also known as Garbage Hill as it is a former landfill.