Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The War Bride train chase

The Fredericton Railfan Gang chased the VIA War Brides train from Miramichi, N.B. to Oxford, N.S. today. This is our story. (insert Law and Order boop-boop here)


Peter Gough and I left at a bright and early 07:15 to get Ken MacDonald and hit the road for Miramichi. After Monday's snowfall I was a little concerned about road conditions, but my fears were unwarranted. Highway 8 to Miramichi was clear and we experienced no problems on the way.

As we approached Miramichi I called VIA and the nice lady told me that VIA 14 was about 20 minutes late leaving Bathurst.

Beaver Brook

We decided to go to Beaver Brook north of Miramichi. We arrived and set up, and within about 15 minutes VIA roared through at 10:07.

I'm glad they were flying the Canadian flags like last year's Veteran Train did.
VIA 14's consist was engines 6406 (Spiderman), 6415, and 6403 (CBC) leading 20 stainless steel Budd cars: baggage 8623; deadhead sleeper Chateau Maisonneuve; coaches 8139, 8138, 8108, and 8110; Skyline 8510; diner York (8418); Chateau sleepers Cadilac (8204), Lasalle (8211), Salaberry (8226), Jolliet (8210), and Lemoyne (8215); diner Acadian (8401); Chateau sleepers Denonville (8206), Laval (8214), Richelieu (8222), Papineau (8220) and Rouville (8225); and Revelstoke Park (8711).


We raced from Beaver Brook to Miramichi, and found 14 approaching the station at 10:22. There was an enthusiastic crowd waiting for the train.
Good crowd at Miramichi!
We quickly shot a few NBEC engines (SD40 CFMG 6907 and RS18s NBEC 1854 and 1867) and some odd cars in the yard, then headed for Rogersville.


I called Luc Doiron to give him a heads-up and we met him and his daring uncle Bob a little west of the station. The Ocean showed up at 11:06.
The VIA Rail "War Brides" train approaching Rogersville, NB
He did not stop at Rogersville, so we were behind the 8-ball after that. We caught up to him a few times but we never got ahead of him for more shots. I took a few shots through the window (and no, I was not driving). This one was at 11:20.
VIA Rail at speed


Ken wanted to shoot him at the Moncton station, so we took highway 15 to the Riverview exit. There we waited our turn in the line-up to enter the circle, while 14 rolled on by at 12:04.
Oh, traffic, the bane of all railfans
We arrived at the station about a minute after 14 did, and took some time to shoot the train from a few angles.
VIA 14 in Moncton, NB

Painsec Junction

Painsec Junction outside Moncton was our next selection. We drove down to the junction, only to find CN 307 rolling through the siding. We realized it would block the light for the Ocean, so we went back to the road crossing at the west end of the siding. There was a CN foreman there waiting for VIA to go through.

Railfans Tim Dryden and Luc Doiron showed up after a little while. I set up farther down the siding from the rest of the crew to get the "meet" shot between 307 and 14. We had quite a wait for 14 - it finally came at 13:07.
The War Brides train passing CN 307 in the siding
The crew of 307 was out for the roll-by inspection.
The rollby inspection
The CN foreman told us that CN 534 would be following VIA 14, to drop some cars at the Junction and then go to Amherst.

As we travelled east we kept hearing CN foremen calling the RTC to get TOPs after VIA went by.


The next stop was Aulac. We wanted to shoot from inside the arc, so we exited at Fort Beausejour and made our way to the berm.

We had quite a wait there for 14 to come. We heard it blow its horn as it approached Sackville, shortly before another crew of railfans showed up. Steve Dickie, David Morris and Fred Angus joined us on the berm. Even a few of the locals came over to have a look at the War Brides train.

I don't have any stills of Aulac because I was shooting video, but the Ocean came through at about 13:50. It was running about an hour late by this time. I had a call from another Atlantic Rails member at Folly Lake wondering where the train was. Glad to help!

We decided to try to get VIA 14 at the highway overpass just east of Amherst. Again, no stills but it was a good shoot.

Oxford Junction

For our ninth and final shot, we went to Oxford Junction. Another Atlantic Rails member, Dara Legere, was there when we arrived. I set up well down in the siding to get the train going around the curve, while the rest of the Gang set up nearer the CN depot. We heard the train well before it arrived at 14:39.
Capture at Oxford Junction
Bye bye, train!
Revelstoke Park trailing on VIA 14
We took the time for one group shot before we left the Junction.

Left-to-right: Peter Gough, Ken MacDonald, Dara Legere, Steve Boyko.

The Video

Here's a video showing the train outside Amherst and through Oxford Junction.

A Bonus

As we approached Amherst, we heard CN 534 on the scanner getting ready to head back to Moncton. A bonus train! We took the Fort Beausejour exit and waited for it to arrive. Here it is at 15:43 with CN 4711 leading two cars.
CN 534 at Fort Lawrence, NS
What a great day - good companions and lots of train shots!

See other special VIA Rail trains:


Anonymous said...

Great report. Thanks for the tele location of 14 while I waited at Folly Lake. I got video and stills there, stills at Truro station, video and stills at Brookfield and video at Fairview. I thought I had a good day until I read about your trip!

Ken Squires
Halifax, NS

Anonymous said...

Steve....any word on when the new units will arrive for NB Southern?

Canadian Train Geek said...

I was pleased to be able to help, Ken!