Thursday, March 30, 2006

Northern New Brunswick, 2006/03/29

On the 29th I went up to northern New Brunswick, and of course saw a few trains on the way. It was a beautiful day, blue sky and sunshine, so the photos turned out.

In Miramichi at 9:45, I found CFMG 6907 on the back track, idling away. The big surprise was at the end of the track, where I found NBEC 1821, 4219 and 4243 fresh from their stint at IRSI in Moncton. I believe 1821 is not operational and 4219 and 4243 are definitely not operational. They provided parts for SFEX 4203 and 4204 a while ago.
NBEC 4219
NBEC 4243
NBEC 4243
Apologies for the last shot - I had to shoot toward the bright sun

For some reason the paint on 4219 is much darker than 4243 or 1821.

A crew was doing work on the track just railway north/west of the station.

I ventured over to the Chatham side of the river and found a ram of tank cars at the Ultramar depot (GATX 75568 to 75584) at 10:00.
Tank cars at Ultramar

NBEC 1818 and 1849 were idling behind the mall at the end-of-track on the Loggieville spur.
NBEC 1818 and 1849 in Chatham

NBEC 587, the ore train, was working the smelter at Belledune around 11:20. I dropped by the Chaleur Lumber spur and I saw six centerbeam flat cars there (3 loads, 1 partially loaded).

I heard NBEC 587 still at Belledune at 17:10 and I saw the second unit was CFQC 3000, mainly by the flashing light on top. There was another RS18 leading but I couldn't get the number.

I dropped by the yard in Bathurst and there was no power there, but I heard NBEC 403 get a rollby inspection from someone. Right after that, I saw an MOW crane get off the tracks at Golf Road and call the dispatcher (in French) to tell them they were clear. 403 arrived at 17:35 with NBEC 6901, 6904, 6900, and 1818 from this morning in Miramichi. It was unusual to see three of the four NBEC-lettered SD40s on one train!
NBEC 403 arriving at Bathurst
Train 403 had 3 chip cars, 12 boxcars, 1 tank cars, 1 86 foot car (HLMX 86182), and the ram of 17 empty tank cars from Ultramar (GATX 75568 to 75584). 34 cars.

I arrived at the VIA station in Miramichi at about 18:45. I talked with the agent there and he said VIA 15 would arrive in about 10 minutes. I decided to try to catch him by UPM on my way out of town. I got stuck behind someone driving at 30km/h (seriously? 30???) but after they turned off I made good time. I made the left at the lights by UPM and saw the headlights on the bridge across the Miramichi river and brought the car to a screeching halt. I hopped out and started taping.. just in time. The engineer gave me a few toots on the way by.
VIA 15 at UPM-Kymmene, Miramichi
VIA 6429 (Telus) led, and they were deadheading a Skyline car behind the second engine. There were 12 cars in total.

Another great day!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Saint John sightings 2006/03/25

I returned to Saint John on Saturday with my daughter to do some shopping, and of course to do some railfanning.

When I arrived at about 12:15, I quickly found out that the yard switcher pair CN 7000/7010 had split a switch and the front truck of 7010 was off the track.

Several people examine the front truck.

I ventured down the yard to find CN 7015 bringing six trailers-on-flat-cars (TOFC) to the piggyback ramp (NBSR 687331, 687370, 687317, 687315, 687430). The very friendly brakeman was the one who told me about 7010's misadventure. The trailers were apparently empties, and soon afterward I saw a tractor pulling them off to replace them with trailers full of fish from Connors Brothers.

Lauren and I went into Tim Horton's to have lunch, and the crew of 7015 came in for coffee shortly afterward.

Soon afterward 7015 ran light to Tim Horton's. What's more Canadian than CN and Tim Horton's?

I returned to the main Island Yard to find CN 7000 and 7010 bringing a local to the Irving Refinery and Irving Paper at 13:12. I guess 7010's problem wasn't very serious!

7000 and 7010 pushed 13 tank cars and 7 boxcars.

At the east end of the yard, I found the NB Southern transfer freight waiting to get into the yard at 14:00. They had a mixed bag of NBSR 3702 (SW1200RS), NBSR 3701 (GP9), and NBSR 2317 (GP38-3) for power.

The friendly crew invited us into the cab of 3702 and we chatted for a while.

We took a break from railfanning after that and did some shopping, then went out to Rothesay to visit the model train store. On our return, we found CN 305 was getting ready to go. I chatted with the carman and we went up to the head end of 305 to give them a roll-by. They left at 16:30 with 81 cars, a mixed bag of boxcars, tank cars, and about 20 doublestacks. Apparently they were delayed by three bad-order boxcars and of course 7010's problem. CN 2430 led 2666 and 5702.

We headed home after that. It was a great day!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Saint John and area sightings 2006/03/24

I was down in Saint John yesterday (the 24th) and made a few observations.

At 09:00 the CN yard was fairly quiet. CN 5702, 2666, and a 24xx unit were resting from bringing CN 306 down from Moncton. I discovered CN 7015 and caboose NBSR 79635 running light to the west end of the yard.
CN 7015 and NBSR 79635

They dropped 79635 off by KRL 25200, the depressed-center flatcar with the blue transformer that seems to have taken up permanent residence in the yard. They then ran back east to switch some tank cars.
CN 7015
NBSR Worker

At noon, 7015 was shunting but nothing else was going on.

At 15:00, CN 305 was gone. It looks like they took 30-40 potash cars with them as the Courtenay Bay terminal had no cars left. I ventured over to NB Southern's Dever Road yard to find NBSR 2317 shunting on the east end of the yard.
NBSR 2317 Saint John 2006/03/24

It doesn't take vandals long to mark up the cars, even the pretty blue Pan Am ones.
MEC 31979 with graffiti

I wasn't sure if NB Southern's eastbound had arrived yet or not, but I had to get going so off I went. I took highway 7 to Welsford. As I approached Welsford, I turned the scanner back on in the vain hope of hearing something. Suddenly, I heard an SBU squawk!

I immediately turned down Sand Cove Road and rolled down the windows, hearing the thrum of approaching GP38s. I frantically fumbled with my video camera but I wasn't able to get it on fast enough to see the eastbound roar through the crossing. At 15:32 NBSR 9802, 2319 and 9801 led a 34-car train toward Saint John.
  • 9 gypsum
  • 8 boxcars (1 CN extra height, 5 Pan-Am, 2 cryo)
  • 1 centerbeam flat (empty)
  • 16 tankers (mostly Procor)

Thank you again, Peter, for the loan of the scanner!

European and North American waybill

I recently won a European & North American Railway waybill off eBay, and it arrived today. It is dated April 5th, 1875 and I've put a scan on my RailDocs site.

The European & North American was intended to run from Saint John, NB to Shediac, NB. It ran out of money and was completed by the province, and became part of the Intercolonial Railway when that was built.

I love collecting these old bits of paper. There's a waybill from the New Brunswick Railway from the same seller that I am coveting. :)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Photo locations: Prince William Station

When I was on my way back from McAdam recently, I decided to scout out a new location for shooting NB Southern photos. I found this on highway 645 at mile 70.97 on the McAdam subdivision.

Prince William Station
(Facing west) NB Southern has a radio relay station here.

Prince William Station
(Facing east) You can see there used to be a siding on the right.

This is part of a long straight run. I think eastbounds would be especially good with a telephoto lens, as there is a downhill grade for them that I think would make for a good long-distance photo.

Brian Barchard took a photo of an NB Southern train here. View it on

View this location on Google Maps.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

NB Southern and Nackawic

When the Nackawic mill started up again, there was talk that NB Southern would handle some of the pulp traffic at Harvey. Apparently it will be transloaded at McAdam now.

Trucks will back up to one side of the boxcar, and the pulp will be unloaded into the boxcar and loaded into a railcar on the other side.

I was told they tried it at Harvey but the switching kept blocking the highway crossing.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

NB Southern's multicolour dream train

My daughter and I went to McAdam to see what we could see. We arrived at just before 11:00 to find NBSR 9801 on the engine track in the yard with a couple of covered hoppers coupled to it.

An NB Southern engineer appeared and started it up. He told me the eastbound from Maine would arrive in about half an hour. He was right.

By 11:25 the eastbound had arrived, with 2319, 2318 and 9802 in the lead. They cut off the power and one boxcar, and pushed that and caboose 434919 back to the yard. They didn't pick up any cars from McAdam. They then did a little dance with 9801 to put it third in the consist - the final order was 2319/2318/9801/9802.

I apologize for the quality of the rest of these photos - they're snaps from the videos.

At 11:50 the train left with 31 cars (8 boxcars, 1 empty centerbeam flat, 2 cryo boxcars, 3 86' boxcars, and 17 tank cars). This shot was from just before the highway crossing leaving McAdam.

I set up at Harvey Lake to try to get them across the water. I'd never tried that before, and I think it was a good location but my video camera had some trouble with focus. Oh well - next time. They came through at 12:23.

We then beat it to Cork to try to catch the train there. I didn't quite get there in time, as I heard the hotbox detector on the scanner about a minute before I got to Cork. I saw the tail end of the train off in the distance as I started onto the dirt portion of highway 645. It was in adequate shape but I wasn't able to pace the train. By the time I reached the other end the train was long gone. I managed to catch up with the tail end between Tracy and Fredericton Junction and I drew abreast of the engines as they entered town limits.

I had heard the engineer talking to someone on the radio about a balky engine (one of the 980x engines) and he said he would try something "after they cleared the Junction". I set up to video them after they crossed the bridge out of the Junction, and waited.. and waited. I figured they would only be a minute, and after five minutes I knew something was up. I drove back to the station, just to see them slowly pulling out. I shot them going across the bridge at 13:11:

And again at the lumber place outside the Junction at 13:17:

I heard them go through the Hoyt hotbox detector at 13:22, and I decided to get the far-away shot at Clarendon. I got there about six or seven minutes before they arrived at 13:44:

I decided to get the across-the-lake shot outside Welsford. I jumped out and crossed the street, and a dog came sniffing around. Since he didn't bite me or jump on me immediately, I ignored him and got the shot at 13:49.

The dog was quite friendly, actually.

With that, my daughter and I had an awful lunch at Georgette's in Welsford, and headed home. It was a great chase.

EDIT: Added video.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Portions of CN timetable uploaded

I've added portions of the April 30th, 1978 CN timetable for the Atlantic Region to my RailDocs site. I have a fair number of old timetables and other paper scans there for reference use. Perhaps you'll find something useful?

NBSR 2319

Bob Boudreau caught NB Southern 2319 switching Ocean Steel in Saint John on February 23. He was kind enough to let me use one of his pictures on my web site. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. I like the viewing angle.

NBSR 2319, Ocean Steel

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Saint John sightings 2006/03/04

As I mentioned earlier my daughter and I went to the Saint John model railroad show. We got into Saint John just before 11:00, with not a word on the scanner. I drove by Island Yard and saw CN 5757 (SD75I) and CN 2689 (C44-9W) by the engine house. There were no GP9s in sight, so I assume they were out on locals.

The show itself was very good and I got to see a bunch of people I haven't seen in a while.

After the show, I crossed the Courtenay Bay causeway, intending to run down Bayside Drive toward the Island Yard. As I crossed the causeway, I saw a local returning from the Irving refinery area with CN 7015 and 7000 (both GP9s) leading a tank car train. They had a few bright blue boxcars on the tail end. With little traffic and a lucky green light, I got ahead of them before they got to Thorne Avenue/Loch Lomond Road. I beat it down to Staples and waited for them there.. but they didn't show!

After a few minutes, I backtracked up Bayside Drive to find them switching the Irving lubricant facility at the corner of Mt Pleasant Avenue and Bayside. The rest of the train was under Mt Pleasant/Union. As I watched, they pulled three tank cars out of the facility, then slammed them into the rest of the train. It was quite a bang! This was at about 13:58.
CN 7015 and 7000 in Saint John

I figured they would be a few minutes, so I zipped down to the west end of Island Yard. There, I found CN 7010 pushing six NBSR flatcars with white trailers on them up to the piggyback ramp. The brakeman was setting the handbrakes on the cars when I shot this:
CN 7010 Saint John
You can see that there was a bit of snow and not much light.

I also shot this beat-up gondola at the Strescon siding.

14:10: I returned to the corner of Rothesay Avenue and Russell Street to find the CN 7015/7000 local approaching the crossing by Staples. I was the second-last car through the crossing before the lights started flashing, so I pulled over and jumped out to get the video. They ended up pulling about four tank cars across the street before stopping, coupling up to a few tank cars in the yard, then pulling the rest of the way into the yard. They had 10 tank cars and 8 boxcars, including 4 bright blue Pan Am Maine Central cars.
Pan Am Boxcars

I went across Reversing Falls to the NB Southern Dever Road yard, where I saw three switchers (NBSR 3702/3701/3703) assembling a train at 14:35. Tim Dryden was already there, so we chatted for a few minutes before the green goats took a train east to Island Yard. It had a mixed consist including about 8 single-stack container flats on the tail end.

I noticed an ancient MOW car by the former train station in Dever yard, so I drove up and took a shot. It's accessible, as the road is used for a recycling drop spot.
CP MOW car

With that, I went home in the flurries.

Friday, March 03, 2006

More on the VIA DVD

I'm sorry I haven't been posting as much as usual here. Finishing up the VIA DVD has taken up a lot of my spare time, and I haven't been trackside for a while either. The withdrawal symptoms are starting.

Speaking of the VIA DVD, Bill Linley of Signal Graphics will be selling some at the Saint John model railroad show this coming Saturday, March 4. I'll be down there for a fair part of the day, wandering around the floor with my daughter. It should be a good time. Hopefully I'll see a few 1:1 scale trains too.