Friday, September 30, 2005

Bathurst and Miramichi

There was no power in the Bathurst yard this morning either. I wonder if the switcher is still stationed in Bathurst now that Smurfit Stone is shut down?

Speaking of Smurfit Stone, their snowplow is in their outside yard with no other railcars visible inside or outside the fence.

I just saw the tail end of VIA 14 at Belledune at 0846. I proceeded to the same location I was at last night to wait for them to leave the station. While I waited, another railfan showed up, David Chiasson. As it happens, we were about to take a photo at the same location as one he has on

VIA 14 passed under us at 0929 with 6409, 6424 (Spiderman) and 6403 (CBC) leading 17 Renaissance cars, one Park car, and 5 more Renaissance cars. I presume the extra Ren cars are going to IRSI for maintenance.

Later in Miramichi, I noticed that the NBEC RS-18s were still sitting at Ultramar around 1130. There were four cars at the LaFarge cement plant, but they weren't the usual cylindrical CN cars. The RS-18s were gone from Ultramar at 1330.

NBEC 402 arrived in Miramichi at 1340, with CFMG 6906, NBEC 4214, NBEC 4210, NBEC 6900, and SFEX 4204 heading up 27 cars (about 5 boxcars and 5 tankers, plus the 17-car TankTrain). It seemed like a lot of power for a smallish train, until I saw the crew setting 4204 off and moving from 6906 to 6900. I guess 4204 is going to IRSI as well.

There were several MOW trucks at McGivney around 1530.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

VIA 15 at Night

At 10:40, UPM 711 was working inside the UPM-Kymmene complex in Miramichi. Traffic looks a lot more like normal there, now that the strike is over.

CFMG 6907 was in the NBEC yard in Miramichi. No sign of the RS-18s but there was a ram of tank cars at the Ultramar facility. A flatcar, CN 668014, was on the team track in Miramichi by the VIA station. It was quite surprising because I haven't seen anything on that track in a few years, and before that the only thing that was there was an MOW crane. The flatcar was empty, by the way.

Since I'm staying in Bathurst tonight, I thought I'd try some night video of VIA 15 as it passed through. I set up at the one-lane bridge over the tracks just south of Highway 11. The friendly station crew had told me they were running about 30 minutes late.

I heard the hum of the train, then the scanner said "Approaching subdivision at Bathurst", whatever that means. About 10 seconds later, VIA 15, with 6412 leading a Budd consist, rolled into sight. This was 20:40.

The engineer was having fun with the horn. 6412 led out quite a series of short toots as they approached the next crossing.

I zipped onto the highway and beat it to Beresford to catch them at the overpass there. I arrived about five minutes ahead of them. I decided to stand on the slope below the road surface to keep the car noise down and quit being blinded by headlights. It was a good location. The Ocean showed up at 21:00.
By the way, there were no engines in Bathurst.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

NBSR Passenger Excursion Chase

I heard that New Brunswick Southern was running another of their passenger excursions this weekend, so Peter Gough, my kids and I went to chase them from Saint John to Welsford and back. Peter shot video and I shot video and a few stills.

1420: We first caught them just west of the NB Southern yard at the South Bay bridge:
The light wasn't great. Notice they were running NBSR 9801 long hood forward. 1423: We shot them next at a private crossing. The angle was nice from this location:  
 1431: Next we shot them at the overpass over the tracks outside Grand Bay. I used my video camera  and my still camera here:
1437: We did a quick grab shot from the highway as they passed through Grand Bay:  
1446: We were determined to get them at the Westfield Beach overpass too. As it happens, they were travelling pretty slowly so it was easy to keep ahead of them.  
1453: Next, another grab shot by the road:
1459: We went down the LaFarge road in Welsford to get this one. Nice location.  
1506: And here they are crossing highway 7 into the Welsford siding:  
1510: They uncoupled the engine and ran it down to the east end of the siding:  
1519: They then ran it up the siding past the train to the east end of the siding:  
1530: Finally, they were underway back across the highway:  
1542: I tried to get them at an S-curve. It's a great location but my fiddling with the exposure on the camera ruined the shot. The engineer gave us a toot on the horn here.  
1550: Again at the Westfield Beach overpass:

1556: We tried this location near Grand Bay because we thought the old signal masts would make a nice backdrop. I think they worked out OK:
1602: I wanted to get them in downtown Grand Bay with the static caboose as a backdrop. Alas, the trees they planted along the line ruin that shot. This was good enough: 
With that, we (and the train) went our separate ways.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Quick Shots, September 2005

VIA 6417 leads VIA 14 out of Campbellton.

The "going away" shot.

Grab shot of ore train 587 leaving Belledune across highway 134.

1867 and 1819 at rest in Miramichi.

Train 403 leaving Miramichi with NBEC 6905 in the lead.

Work train in the siding at McGivney.

CN 306 (with 2727 leading) at McGivney.

CN and NBEC, Oh My!

I had some good luck on the 8th.

0735: I caught VIA 14 (on time) departing from Campbellton on the first stretch of mainline outside town. The consist was VIA 6417/6403 (CBC) with 17 cars including the Park car. I videoed them going by and the "going away" shot with the Park car going into the sunrise was quite nice.

I hit the highway and they crossed under the highway at Dalhousie Junction just before I did. I didn't bother trying to catch them at Eel River because they were too far ahead. I heard the hotbox detector at mile 159.9 go off. It's quite detailed - it had speed (62 mph), temperature (14 degrees), axle count, car count (19 including the engines), and total length (1414 feet?). It has a "male" voice.

1255: Train 591 got a clearance to enter the Dalhousie subdivision as work extra 1857.

1310: I was on highway 134, just crossing the tracks on the Irvco spur, when I glanced toward the water and saw headlights! I stopped and jumped out to catch NBEC 1813 and 1851 leading train 587 toward the main line. It had 4 CN covered gondolas, 3 boxcars, and 26 NBEC ore cars.

1316: NBEC 587 got an OCS clearance to head to Bathurst.

1555: NBEC 403 left Miramichi with three SD40s - NBEC 6905, CFMG 6906 and NBEC 6900. It had maybe 50 cars with a ram of Ultramar tank cars on the rear.

1730: While crossing the CN main at McGivney, I saw headlights in the siding. It turned out to be a CN work train (CN 52xx with several gondolas and a crane) facing east. I saw the west-facing signals had a green light so I waited. The crew for the work train came out of the depot to do an inspection of the oncoming train.

1740: CN 306 led by 2727 and 5661 blew through McGivney pulling 78 cars.

Pictures to follow...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Northern Road Trip

09:45 UPM-Kymmene - the picket lines are gone but it doesn't look like the plant is quite back to full production. There were 4 tank cars in the outside yard and one inside the facility. No sign of the switcher.

Apparently it was maintenance day on the NBEC. I saw a crew rebuilding the King George Highway crossing in Miramichi, a hirailer at Beresford and a couple of trucks in the siding at Belledune.

10:00 Miramichi yard - CFMG 6903/NBEC 1867/NBEC 1819 (SD40/RS18/RS18) coupled together in the parking spur.

11:05 Bathurst yard - There were nine AOK covered hoppers looking shiny and new near the VIA station. The build date was May 2005. I don't think I've seen many covered hoppers on the NBEC. Also in the yard were the usual bunch of CN covered gondolas, four CN chip cars and a few battered NBEC ore cars. No yard power.

11:45 Belledune - NBEC 6901 East blasted through the crossing about 30 seconds before I got there. I saw the ram of TankTrain cars for Ultramar at the end and that was it.

NBEC 587 (the ore train) was pushing a string of ore cars through the scales behind the smelter. There were two RS18s for power, one of which I think was 1854. It was hard to tell from the highway.

After my work I decided to go to Petit Rocher to try to catch NBEC 403 on its way back to Campbellton. I figured it would leave Bathurst around 1700 so I would easily have enough time. I heard it get a clearance from the RTC at 1725 from mile 96 to Campbellton. I should have remembered that mile 96 was SOUTH of Bathurst, so that meant
they hadn't even reached Bathurst at 1725. I waited, and waited, and waited. At 1810 the RTC called for an OS, and 403 said they arrived at mile 108 (Bathurst) at 1755. I waited and waited some more.

Just when I was about to give up, I heard 6901 West blow for a distant crossing. They rumbled through Petit Rocher at 1705. It was a big train.

NBEC 6901
NBEC 4214
CFQC 4203
CFMG 6907
25 boxcars
7 86' boxcars
7 loaded log racks
9 tank cars
5 loaded CN woodchip cars
6 airflow cars
3 centerbeam flats (paper loads)
23 covered CN gondolas
(85 cars)

After I taped the train, I beat it to Jacquet River a few minutes ahead of them, and set up on the iron bridge over the tracks. They rolled right underneath me and I got a good lungful of smoke from 6901 and a jolt from the horn. I swear engineers just LOVE doing that. It was a great location for overhead taping, though.

I rushed to Charlo and caught them at 1955 by the VIA shack. I probably should have picked a better location but time was short.

After that, I was quite hungry so I stopped to put some expensive gas in my car and grab a sub. Then I went to Campbellton in the falling dark, arriving a few minutes before 403 did. Right after they passed, NBEC 1857 rolled out to reline the switches back to the main. It's interesting that 1857's rear lights are almost as bright as the front ones.

They puttered around with some shunting while I checked into my hotel and did a few things. I went back out to catch VIA 15. I decided to set up just east/south of Campbellton on the straight approach before the Irving siding. They were about 15 minutes late at 2145, and YAY it was a Budd train.

VIA 6409
VIA 6420
baggage 8619
coach 8118
coach 8108
coach 8137
Skyline 8506
Chateau Rouville 8225
Chateau Iberville 8209
Diner Acadian 8401
Chateau Joliet 8260
Chateau Viger 8229
Chateau Brule
Revelstoke Park

They took their sweet time getting out of Campbellton for some reason. After all the passengers were on board, the crew fiddled around in the cab for almost ten minutes before rolling out. I didn't have my scanner with me so I'm not sure what the delay was.

Here is a video of the whole NBEC chase.

EDIT: Video added