Wednesday, December 28, 2005

VIA 14 and other traffic at Moncton, 2005/12/28

My wife, daughter and I went to Moncton to do some shopping... and catch a few trains in the process.

My main target was VIA 14. We arrived in Moncton and I went to Delong Drive to see #14 at the overpass. I waited, and waited. On the scanner I heard CN 539? looking for clearance to go onto the Franklin Spur. "Go!" said the RTC, wanting to clear them before #14 came through. So CN 4713 and CN 4723 pulled five cars (covered hopper / boxcar / covered hopper / boxcar / tank car) out of Gordon Yard at 11:57.

CN 4713 and 4723

CN 307 was mucking around in the yard. I saw the units once but mostly I just heard them switching.

I gave up on Delong Drive because my girls were waiting in the van, and I took them to the mall. On my return through downtown I heard #14 tell someone that they took the light at West End, so their arrival at the station was imminent. I managed to get in position at the station to tape their arrival at 12:40. They had the three units (6420/15/16) with Budd baggage car 8623 and 17 Renaissance cars. I didn't get all the numbers but here's what I have:

VIA 6420 / 6415 / 6416 with 8623 / 7011 / 7223 / ??? / 7225 / 7513 / 7504 / 7309 / 7400 / 7313 / 7500 / 7517 / 7522 / 7515 / 7512

VIA 14 at Moncton

I walked around and took some photos with my 1 megapixel video camera, totally forgetting that I had my 3.1 megapixel camera in the van.

VIA 6420
VIA 6420's extra headlight.

VIA 6420 truck
6420's truck. I guess there's a bit of snow out there!

Irving Christmas
I especially liked the wreath on the Irving truck.

I was slow getting away from the station and I was pacing them on highway 15 as they crossed the viaduct. I made a fatal mistake and continued out highway 15 and found I had to go all the way to Scoudouc. I really should have gone onto the Trans-Canada and caught them at a crossing farther down. Anyway, they got away.

Any suggestions on where to shoot them after the station, close to or in Moncton?

I heard a lot of chatter from Dieppe, so I went there. A snow broom was working there. I heard them talking with CN 534 about what switches they needed cleared. As I arrived back in Dieppe I heard the broom asking the RTC for clearance to go to the Point du Chene spur, then down to Painsec and to Upper Dorchester. I found CN 534 working Master Packaging. It was CN 4728 with a covered hopper.

CN 4728

That was enough for the day.

Monday, December 19, 2005

New Brunswick Railway Museum web site

It's not quite "ready for the public", but you can view the New Brunswick Railway Museum website now - beat the rush!

Please comment here or email me at with any comments you may have. There are a few more things to be added before it will be fully publicized.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

NB Southern MOW pages updated

I've updated the NB Southern maintenance-of-way pages to the new format. Next I will tackle the business train pages. I have a bunch of photos from 2005 to add there.

As I update these pages I notice that some of the photos are quite small. As I mentioned in my last post, I try to make pictures about 600 pixels wide at most. Many of the older NBSR photos are 400 pixels wide or less, due to the typical screen sizes from that time. I may end up rescanning some photos to get better quality for today's screen sizes.

Friday, December 16, 2005

How big should my pictures be?

One of the things a web designer has to deal with is how big should the pages be. In general you want to deliver concise, readable web pages that people can easily read. One of the design criteria is what screen resolution people are using. Services such as Google Analytics can tell you what your visitors use.

For my New Brunswick Railways site, I can tell you these stats:
  • 53% have 1024x768 pixel resolution

  • 30% have 800x600 resolution

  • Only 1.24% surf at 640x480

  • One visitor uses 1440x900

From that I can determine that the vast majority of my viewers use screens at least 800 pixels wide. I should set my own screen at 800 pixels wide to test the site. Ideally visitors should never have to scroll left or right. I typically design photos to be no more than 600 pixels wide to allow for margins.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Saint John railfanning guide up

I have created a railfan's guide to Saint John and put it on my web site. I hope you like it!

Please email me at if you have any comments or, Heaven forbid, corrections.

Saint John Sightings 2005/12/09

It wasn't a bad day. To start off with, I saw an NB Southern high-rail truck near Westfield Beach, so that said "no trains for you" on the McAdam sub.

At 09:40 I saw CN 2629 and 5709 snoozing in the Island Yard, with CN 7015 shunting the yard throat.

At 12:20 I just managed to catch the NB Southern local heading out, caboose first, to switch Irving Paper, the Irving Refinery and so forth.

NBSR 79635

A quick shot through the windshield. After the train cleared the crossing, I got turned around and caught it at the overpass over the rails by Irving Paper. It wasn't going fast.

NBSR 3701 and CN 7000

The consist was NBSR 79635, about 8 boxcars, NBSR 3701, CN 7000, 3 boxcars and 3 tank cars trailing.

CN 305 was alive by this time, with the two big units above moving through the yard throat to start assembling their train. CN 7015 went to bed at this time. Around 13:00, they had most of their train together and the far end was all the way out the other end of the yard. NBSR 3702 and 3703 were at that end, waiting for 305 to let them out of the siding. CN 305 had 10 gypsum cars, 13 doublestacks and 6 singlestacks near the end of the train. There was a blackened CN generator container on FEC 71642 as part of the consist.

Once 305 pulled its tail out of the way, 3702 and 3703 went on their way to Dever Road. I caught them several times on the way, first going under the road near Harbour Station:

NBSR 3703/2 Harbour Station

The next location is obvious:

NBSR 3703/2 Mill Street

and finally over the Reversing Falls bridge:

NBSR 3703/2 Reversing Falls

With that I went home. I heard CN 305 calling the RTC around 14:00, I assume to get their clearance to go to Moncton.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pittsburgh sightings 9, 10, and 11

I was out this morning and at lunch looking for trains, but none came by. In fact, at lunch I heard a foreman get a TOP (Track Occupancy Permit) not one mile away from where I was waiting, so that put the kibosh on any hope of trains.

Tonight I went to Station Square near downtown Pittsburgh to railfan the CSX main line. I figured I had seen enough Norfolk Southern for one visit and it was time to see a few of the "other" Pittsburgh class 1 railroad.

At 1636 a westbound train led by CSX 8617 (SD50) and a faded CSX 7505 (C40-8) roared by with 62 autoracks.

CSX 8617

There were quite a variety of class 1's represented in the consist, including CN and a few CP:

CP Autorack

After much waiting I decided to go up on the Smithfield Bridge and try for an overhead shot. A short eastbound obligingly came by at 1821, led by CSX 61xx (GP40-2) with about 20 cars.

CSX eastbound

The shot was not great. I'm beginning to think that head-on overheads at night don't make for good video. There's just not enough light.

I went over to the other side of the bridge to hopefully catch a westbound. I waited and waited, and finally decided to pack it in. I was down on the ground when I heard a train blowing for a crossing. I was too far away to get back on the bridge so I had to shoot over a fence (like I said, get the shot you can get)

CSX 384

At 1900 CSX 384 (AC4400CW) led UP 7316 and 7282 (lashed up elephant style) and a motley collection of coal hoppers.

I should mention that during this time about 8-9 Norfolk Southern trains roared past on the Mon Line, their main line. Railfan & Railroad was right - there are a lot more NS trains than CSX ones in Pittsburgh

I expect those will be the last trains I will tape in Pittsburgh this trip. I'm heading out on a plane just after lunch so my next train videos will likely be in Canada. I'm happy to be going home.