Monday, July 31, 2006

More photos of CP TEC train

Jay Brooks posted photos of the same CP track evaluation train on his blog. Good shots.

I blogged about the TEC train's visit to New Brunswick in June on June 20.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

NB Southern Passenger Train

Bob Boudreau had sharp eyes and caught an NB Southern passenger train near Harbour Station on Saturday July 21. It was a special trip for a Carleton Community Centre reunion. The train was led by GP38 9803 and featured the three cars of the NB Southern business train. It left Harbour Station around 14:15 with the Geep pushing. Thanks Bob for the use of the photos.

Here it is climbing the hill near Mill Street.

The next two shots are of the train crossing the Reversing Falls bridge. Note the cruise ship in the background. I believe it is the Carnival Victory but I could be wrong.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

An Unusual Train

Tuesday July 19. Tonight we feature an extra-special NBEC 402... special to me, at least.

It started out just fine, with VIA 14 passing by Belledune on time featuring newly-repainted VIA 6424 on the point with 6402 trailing.

I had to run back to Bathurst before noon to get a part before heading north to Dalhousie. On my way north past Nash Creek I heard someone talking to the RTC about engine trouble. The engineer mentioned he may have to shut 4204 down, which told me that was train 402 (Campbellton-Miramichi freight). I certainly didn't have time to turn around so I kept going. I figured I might catch them later in the day when they returned to Bathurst as train 403. I did see this MOW truck in the siding at Beresford.

Oh, and I saw the "new" Falconbridge switcher (ex-Smurfit Stone) at a very long distance. It looks pretty much the same!

I left Dalhousie at about 16:10 after looking for any activity down by the yard (none). While approaching Beresford just north of Bathurst, I heard someone talking on the train channel and then I heard the chirp of the FRED at the end of the train! I took the exit at Beresford and raced to the overpass, wondering all the while what train this could be. It was way too early for 403 but maybe it was a late 587 (Bathurst-Belledune turn) like the previous night. When I got to the overpass at 16:53, I couldn't believe my eyes.

It was a very late 402, the same train I heard on the scanner five hours and 20 miles previous. It was crawling along at significantly less than track speed. CFMG 6901 led 4204, 4202, 4203 and 6903 as they passed under me en route to Bathurst. I watched the train roll by underneath and it kept going.. and going.. and going..

I decided at this speed I could beat it to the Bathurst yard, so I took off without waiting for the end of the train to pass me by. I easily got to St. Anne Boulevard ahead of them and stood on the overpass. After at least five minutes I heard them blow for a distant crossing, and they finally rumbled into view at 17:08.

Again the train kept going.. and going.. I was counting cars, not believing the numbers I was seeing. In the end I counted 138 cars, easily the longest 403 I have ever seen. There were quite a few CN covered gondolas in the consist, along with the usual boxcars, tank cars, some empty centerbeam flats and a ram of 17 Ultramar tank cars on the end. They rolled on into the yard with the end of the train stopping just past the first switch.

I drove down to Squire Green Road well past the other end of the yard and the engines were probably 20 cars past that. They quickly shoved a few cuts of cars into some yard tracks, made their pickup, and were ready to go at Golf Road by 17:35. I spoke briefly with the engineer and he told me they were delayed because they pulled a knuckle. They had 27 loads, 45 empties, 4559 feet and 5542 tons.

NBEC 1818 and NBEC 6901 in Bathurst, New Brunswick
NBEC 1818 was sitting in the track beside them and I thought they made a nice little picture.

I decided to shoot 402 at the Little River Road overpass, and it wasn't long after I got there that they rolled through at 17:55.

I had no doubt that I could beat them to Miramichi, so I took 7 minutes out to refuel at Burger King before proceeding to downtown Newcastle Miramichi. On the way I heard the OTHER 402 (Miramichi-Moncton), known as 6907 East, get its TOP from the RTC at about 19:00. They called train 580 (the Miramichi night switcher) to ask where they were, and 580 said they were at the wharf doing a pickup. I drove down there and found them with a number of boxcars around.

I went to the north/west end of the yard and waited for 402 to arrive while I ate my burger. At 19:15 they rolled by, with the three Alcos pouring out that smoke I love.

6907 was waiting for them at the west end of the yard and accompanied them down to the other end. didn't like this photo - ingrates!

402 pulled up to the crew shack and they changed crew. I took the opportunity to take some roster shots before I headed for home.

As I headed down Beaverbrook Boulevard toward highway 8, train 580 crossed the road on the way to the yard with 8 boxcars in tow.

There was nothing happening at McGivney when I went by, and that was fine. Another great day.

"The End"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Nepisiguit Subdivision Railfanning

I'm dying to write about the extra-special train 402 I saw today, but I promised to write about train 586. A promise is a promise.

As I previously wrote, I chased train 587 (Bathurst-Belledune turn) from Belledune to Bathurst, where it magically became train 586 (Belledune-Mines turn) through the wonder of railroading.

At about 18:15 I dashed down to my favourite spot on Little River Road where the bridge goes over the tracks, figuring 586 would be along shortly. I waited.. and waited. I heard 403 doing all kinds of switching but nothing from 586.

I finally saw 586's headlights at 19:10 but then THEY started doing some switching. I believe 403 was headed to Campbellton by this time. David Chiasson arrived (we met back in September 2005) and informed me that I was way too early. I got that! ;) I guess it's typical that 586 goes to Nepisiguit Junction around 19:30, just before VIA 15 comes through.

I heard 586 do its brake test at 19:25 and get its TOP (what's that stand for, anyway?) at 19:30. Soon afterward they started rolling, and they passed underneath us at 19:42.

Love that Alco smoke!

David turned into a tour guide and led me on a merry chase up the Nepisiguit Subdivision. I had never railfanned that portion of NBEC so I was quite happy to be led by someone who knew where to go.

We stopped at mile 1.17, the first crossing on the subdivision. While we waited for the train, some jackass stopped at the lights, looked at the train, then squealed his tires and took off as the train thundered closer. I only wish I had the license plate number.

Anyway, here's the train. I imagine the engineer was laughing at me standing waist-deep in long wet grass. Anything to get a picture!

Our next spot was near Sewell Street at about mile 3.5. I really like this location as the train is raised a little from the rest of the landscape.

The next shot was the next highway crossing at mile 3.89, aka "Blue Mountain". There's a racetrack, Blue Mountain Speedway, just beyond this crossing. I bet you can see the train well from the stands.

I like the urgency in this shot, especially with the motion blur on 1867.

Our final location was at about 4.5 as the train pounded up the hill at ever-increasing speed. David told me they were difficult to catch after this so we made this the final one. One more shot of Alco smoke.

We went our separate ways after this, and shortly thereafter the skies opened up and dumped a lake on Bathurst. I'm glad the rain held off until the railfanning was done!

Thanks for showing me around, David! You can see David's photos on

Monday, July 17, 2006

Northern New Brunswick railfanning

Today I went to Bathurst for the first time in a long time, and of course I saw a few trains on the way. I had my Fuji 3.2 megapixel digital camera with me, and I was looking forward to taking just stills.

It was foggy near McGivney and I couldn't see anything at all as I passed.

I noticed quite a few cars at the UPM-Kymmene plant in Miramichi. The outside yard was pretty full and there were quite a few inside the fence too. This is the first time I've seen it since NBEC took over the plant switching so no doubt they are doing things a little differently.

VIA 14 was reported 32 minutes late leaving Bathurst. I went to Beaver Brook and saw them go through at 10:15 with VIA 6415 and 6420 leading the Renaissance train with Evangeline Park at the rear.

I drove back to the yard and beat them there with 30 seconds to spare, even with the driver going 40 km/h in front of me. They had a quick station stop and headed out. NBEC 1854 and 1816 were shunting around at the other end of the yard, and CFMG 6907 was resting with NBEC 1819. I noted that the two dead C-424s, 4219 and 4243, were still in the yard (I saw them March 29).

As I approached Bathurst I heard NBEC 1818 West get permission to occupy main track between mileages 106.6 and 108. That's the section of track between Nepisiguit Junction and the Bathurst yard limits. They must have been coming off the Nepisiguit Subdivision.

I heard NBEC train 587 talking as I approached Belledune near noon, and as I was parking I saw NBEC 1867 and another red RS18 running light out of the plant. There was talk on the scanner about a couple of cars left in the siding off the main line, so I thought they were getting those.

When I left Belledune at 16:30, I heard train 587 again! It turns out they were working the Irvco siding off the main line, picking up those leftover cars. They rolled by at 16:35 with 1835 leading 1867 and 4 gondolas, 2 boxcars, 1 tank car, an airslide hopper, and a string of about 17 NBEC ore cars.

I almost like the going-away shot better!

I raced to the highway and easily beat them to Beresford through intermittent rain. I had some indecision about whether to shoot straight down the track or off a bit to the "sun" side. As you can see I decided an offset shot was better. They rolled past at 16:58.

The train was parked on the siding in front of the VIA station in Bathurst when I arrived at 17:10. Shortly thereafter they started doing some switching. Gotta love that Alco smoke!!

I watched them until about 17:35 when I spoke with the engineer. He said the next crew would be taking the train to Brunswick Mines around 18:00 to 18:30 and train 403 would be arriving around the same time. I figured I had time to grab a quick supper, so I stopped at Subway on my way out to Nepisiguit Junction to catch 403. As I passed over the tracks at the Junction I saw boxcars rolling by underneath. DRAT!

I turned around and beat it down to Riverside Drive. I managed to get ahead of them without breaking speed limits and shot them at the golf course at Squire Green Drive at 18:00. They were 6903, 4214, 4210 and 6902 with about 54 cars.

When I saw the IC boxcar I thought of Roman Litarchuk. :)

NBEC 403 led by CFMG 6903 parked on the main line, and NBEC 586 led by NBEC 1835 was on the passing track.

Much more about NBEC 586 (train to Brunswick Mines) later... this is enough for one blog post!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Last VIA detour

I got a call from Bill Linley this morning at about 06:45 to say that VIA 14 (the Ocean) had passed Longley, NB at 06:35. We talked a bit about whether I should go to McGivney, Cantor (Hardwood Ridge), or Chipman. We figured McGivney had been covered very well so I elected to go to Chipman.

When I passed through Hardwood Ridge I looked at the west-facing signals and they showed dark-over-red. I arrived in Chipman at about 08:05 to find red-over-red signals facing east and the westward signals unlit. CN 6025 was shut down on one leg of the wye with two empty bulkhead flatcars coupled on. There was noone around.
CN 6025 in Chipman, New Brunswick
I set up on the highway bridge beside the railway bridge to wait. Armed with bug spray, sunscreen and scanner, I was all set! The only question was.. when would VIA show up?

I waited.. and waited.. and waited. There was no discussion on the scanner so I had no clues about when the Ocean would come. Meanwhile, my bladder was demanding attention but I dared not leave my post for fear the train would come while I was attending to Nature. I talked with Bill on the cellphone a couple of times and he assured me there was no way the train could have reached Chipman before me. I called VIA and they told me it would be on time into Moncton.

Finally the scanner crackled to life at 09:50: "Clear signal". I sprinted to the video camera to the sound of a horn blowing for the highway 10 crossing. Then I heard "Clear signal" again as the engineer called out the bridge signal, and VIA 14 rolled into view.
VIA 14 detouring through Chipman, NB
VIA 14 and Revelstoke Park on the bridge at Chipman, NB
As you can see the light was not great. I had to work around the wires between me and the railway bridge too. I probably wouldn't choose this location again.

VIA 14 appears to have had 6425 on the head end and Revelstoke Park was bringing up the marker(light)s.

After that I drove around a bit, trying to figure out if any other trains were coming soon. A friendly CN foreman called the RTC and determined that the next train would be 149, called out of Moncton at 11:30. Since I didn't want to wait two hours, I went home.

Here's the video.

I understand the detour is over and VIA will be using the NBEC route again. I'm glad I caught one train on the Napadogan sub.

Other Detours

Saturday, July 15, 2006

An extended chase of VIA 15

How to chase the Ocean even when you're not there... read to the end...

I was in Moncton today and decided to catch the westbound Ocean (VIA 15) on my way out of town. I set up at the Mountain Road overpass to photograph him coming into the station. I didn't have my video camera with me so I was just shooting stills, which is rare for me these days. He rolled into view at 17:01:

I hopped the guardrail and dashed across Mountain Road to get the going-away shot of Evangeline Park at the end of the Renaissance consist:

There were a lot of people boarding the train at the Moncton station:

I didn't get the complete consist, but what I know is: 6415, 6426, 7003, 7223, 7232, 7226, 7227, ... Evangeline Park (8704)

Note the splash of brighter yellow on the engineer's side. That has been there for a while.

I decided to shoot him at West End just out of the station. I waited there until he rolled slowly by at 17:32.

Then I thought I'd be clever and try to beat him to Berry Mills. I raced there to find no train, so I convinced myself I got there first. I waited and after a few minutes I heard a hum... from the WEST. Then CN 308 rolled through with CN 5625 on the point. I barely had enough time to take the photo.

After that I knew I had missed VIA 15 and I figured that was it. Little did I know that there was a DERAILMENT in St. Noel, Quebec and the Ocean was detouring on the Napadogan subdivision like it did last year about this time. I had no idea.. although now that I know, some of the discussions between the VIA crew and the RTC make a lot more sense.

Anyway, my good friend Peter Gough made it up to McGivney this morning and this evening to catch both Oceans and he was kind enough to pass along a few photos.

Green over red... it's train time! (RG309, the rail grinder train, is in the siding)

At 19:45 VIA 15 blasted through McGivney:

Thanks for those photos, Peter.

Several of our AtlanticRails railfans are out near New Denmark shooting Oceans near and on the massive Salmon River viaduct. Hopefully they get some good shots.

The derailment is supposed to be cleaned up by 18:00 Sunday so VIA 14 will detour but VIA 15 will not. I'm going up to McGivney Sunday morning to get #14 there. If I'm successful I will of course post the photos!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

CN 305 today

CN 305 was in Moncton's Gordon Yard this morning (July 13) at 06:00 performing a brake test. The SBU dumped the air from the train, so a new SBU was attached and the brake test was completed successfully by 06:15. I didn't hang around to see it leave but it had 3 units on the head end (CN 24xx (2418?), another 24xx, and a smaller unit, perhaps a GP38) and quite a long train.

There were two GP38s in the yard near the former tower. The Delong Drive dirt road is in great shape for most of the way along the yard but even at 06:00 there was truck traffic.

No sign of CN 149 - I assume it had not arrived yet. There was a string of loaded doublestacks alongside the dirt road that workers were loading containers onto.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Loram Rail Grinder

Loram Rail Grinder RG309 has been working in New Brunswick today. It was spotted working toward Island Yard in Saint John this morning, and working back on the Sussex sub around 8 PM tonight.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saint John sightings 2006/07/08

My family went down to Saint John to do some shopping and spend some time on the beach, and of course I kept an eye out for trains at the same time.

At about 12:40 I saw a small NBSR transfer freight heading away from Island Yard by Harbour Station, led by a leased CN GP9 and a green NBSR unit - it looked like a GP38. Right afterward I heard some chatter between the RTC and someone, and it sounded like someone was getting their orders. It was hard to understand over the background noise in the van.

As I drove toward Rothesay Avenue I clearly heard, "OK RTC, we'll be away in about 5 minutes." That told me it was probably CN 305 to Moncton, and they were likely down getting their Tim's coffee if their departure was imminent. Sure enough, that's where they were.

CN 5645, 5696 and 5764 were the power as usual. They seemed to have a pretty short train today, with the usual mix of boxcars and tankers and a few container loads. The conductor boarded with the coffee and goodies and they started rolling at 12:45.

Later we headed for the beach by the Irving Nature Park. I heard a train blowing at 17:00 and I assume that was the eastbound freight arriving in the Dever Road yard. As we passed by the Island Yard around 17:45 I saw CN GP9 7010 and NBSR 3701 doing some shunting.

I did take a spin by the Dever Road yard around 20:15 and there were a number of green engines by the engine house. I was hoping to see 2318, and perhaps it was there, but it was too far to distinguish engine numbers.