Friday, August 25, 2006

Chasing VIA

A motley group of railfans set out to chase VIA 14 and VIA 15 this sunny Friday. David Morris, Peter Gough, my son Nick and I left Fredericton to get VIA 14 at Rogersville and pursue it deep into Nova Scotia.

We thought we had plenty of time to get to Rogersville... we were wrong. A little pressure on the gas pedal brought us to the station, where we found the sign out indicating a stop was requested. We went just up the line from the station, and there was the train approaching.

VIA 14

We just had time to bail out of the car and turn the cameras on. (10:37)

The train was VIA 6428 and CBC unit 6403 leading 19 Renaissance cars and Evangeline Park.

We set up on the south side of the station to wait for 14's departure at 10:43.
VIA 6403 in second position on VIA's "Ocean"
From there we chased it down the highway but never caught up to it. A few fleeting glimpses of the Park car in the distance were all we got. After refueling at McD's we proceeded to Memramcook to David's favourite barn location. 14 trundled into view at 12:36.
VIA Rail's "Ocean" near Memramcook, NB
I did some very bad panning with my video camera here. One example of why trying to take a couple of stills while videotaping is not a great idea.

We caught up to it as it entered Sackville, so we went to the other end of the station to catch it crossing the bridge to the Tantramar marshes at 13:05.

I like how the sun caught the Park car here.
VIA's "Ocean" passing the radio towers on the Tantramar Marshes
The RTC told 14 he would meet the CN local at Amherst. We figured we might catch 14 leaving Amherst, and so we did at 13:25 as it crossed under the Trans-Canada Highway.

The group consensus on the next shot was to get it at Folly Lake. David wanted to shoot it at the lake itself, and Peter and I wanted to get it on the East Mines trestle. We dropped David and my son at the siding and went the 11 km or so farther to the trestle. We set up and waited. We weren't sure what kind of warning we would get, and sure enough we had absolutely no warning before 14 rushed across the trestle. I quickly hit "record" on the video camera and caught the engines halfway across.

VIA Rail on the trestle at Londonderry, NS
That was the end of 14 for us.

VIA 15

We went back to Folly Lake to rejoin David and Nick to wait for 15 to come back. We had heard on the scanner that they were meeting at Belmont as usual, so we knew it would be a little wait. We had some lunch. The cars in the siding have been there a while!

VIA 15 appeared at 15:04. VIA 6410 and 6406 led 19 Ren cars and the Revelstoke Park.

We beat it back to the Trans-Canada and headed toward Moncton. As we approached the Springhill exit we heard the Salt Springs hotbox chatter away, so we knew we were just behind the train. We decided we would get it at Aulac next. I parked across the tracks and we climbed the berm to wait. 15 arced gracefully through the curve at 16:15.

Once again we got on the highway. As we approached Moncton we thought we might be ahead of 15, so we pulled off the TCH where the tracks go under the highway and waited. She showed up at 16:58.

I included the latter one to show how the Park car towers over the Renaissance cars.

Our last chance was on the other side of the Moncton station. We voted and decided to go to Gort. As we crossed over the tracks on Delong Drive we saw CFMG 6902 leading NBEC train 402 into the yard. It had 4 boxcars in tow.
CFMG 6902 in Moncton, NB
A group of three CN engines rolled out toward the main line, then reversed and disappeared out of view. I believe one of them was CN 5737 but I can't be sure.

VIA 15 appeared at 17:40 and rolled underneath us and away. I got my best still shot of the day here.
VIA 15 at CN Gort in Moncton
And so ended a great railfanning day. Thanks to David, Peter and Nick for being such great company.


Here's the video!

PS - here's a photo of the same VIA 14 at Windsor Junction, by Bruce Hollett.

See Also

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