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"

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