Saturday, April 07, 2007

Saint John and area Saturday

I took my two younger kids down to Saint John today, to get out of the house, and of course to see trains.

We didn't leave Fredericton until about 11:00 so I didn't expect to see CN 305, and I was right. I didn't get to Island Yard until almost 14:00 and CN 305 left Island Yard before 13:00.

I looked into NB Southern's Dever Road yard on my way in and saw no power at all there. Via scanner I heard someone switching, so I figured they were either at the Port or in behind Moosehead.

Sure enough, there was NBSR 2317, 3702 and 3703 switching the Irving Tissue / Irving Pulp and Paper mill at Reversing Falls. This shot was taken from the hill above the Reversing Falls tourist complex. I moved over to the Simms brush factory parking lot to get this one through the fence. I think this is only the second time I have ever seen a train working this industry.

At 13:50 I passed by Island Yard and noted GP9s CN 7010 and 7079 zipping around the yard.

After lunch and some mall time, we headed back out of Saint John. On the way we saw NBSR 3701 and 7000 kicking a tank car into the Island Yard at 15:40, with 7010 and 7079 snoozing by the shops. Over at Dever Road, NBSR 2317/3702/3703 were coming to a stop by the shops.

It was time to go find the NB Southern eastbound. I had been told that they were going to arrive at McAdam around 14:00. The rule of thumb is that they shunt in McAdam for about 30-45 minutes, and it takes about 2 hours to get from McAdam to Saint John. That would put them into Saint John around 16:30-16:45. I was on the road toward Grand Bay at 16:00, figuring I would meet up with them around Welsford.

I drove all the way through Grand Bay-Westfield without seeing the eastbound, nor hearing it on the scanner. As I entered Welsford, I decided to take the LaFarge road and see if I could hear them down there. I noted several cars on the far side of the crossing and one car in particular was parked near the crossing with a woman in it. I smiled at her and did a little U-turn. Suddenly the scanner came alive.

NBSR 9801 East was calling the RTC to report that NBSR 2318 had a hot wheel and they had cut out the traction motor for that wheel. He also said he was on his way and was passing through Grand Bay.

GRAND BAY! That would mean he was between me and Saint John! I couldn't figure out how he got by me, but I hit the road and headed back, hoping to catch up with him.

I was past Westfield Beach before I really started thinking. How the heck did he know he had a hot wheel on 2318? He must have triggered the hotbox detector west of Welsford. That would mean he stopped in Welsford. That would mean.. he was less than a mile away from me when he made his call to the RTC. That would mean he wasn't in Grand Bay, he was in Welsford!

Another U-turn, and I was heading back to Welsford again. Just west of Westfield Beach, I heard a bleep on the scanner from the End-of-Train unit. I pulled over to a private crossing, and within a minute NBSR 9801 East showed up.

They hammered by me and I jumped back in the minivan to pursue. I decided to try to get them just before the ferry crossing, just east of Westfield Beach. I tried to get the switch signal in the shot but I was too late for that.

I grabbed a few quick shots on the broad curve entering Grand Bay. I like this location a lot.

For my next trick, er, shot, I went to the overpass just east/south of Grand Bay. As I approached the overpass I noted a column of dark grey smoke from near that location. As it turns out, there was a fire in someone's backyard and fire trucks raced by me as I took video of the train. When I upload the video you will hear the sirens in the background.

I shot them one more time, just east of the Marina. I taped the whole train just to make sure I got the consist right. The train was NBSR 9801, 9802, 2610 and 2318, with 44 cars. The cars were 1 covered hopper, 2 cylindrical hoppers, 2 tank cars, 12 boxcars (inc 3 cryo), 9 mty centerbeam flats, 2 doublestack wells, and 16 woodchip cars on the end. Except for the woodchip cars, the rest were randomly scattered through the train.

Not a bad day. I still wonder why the engineer reported Grand Bay when he was definitely still in Welsford. I wish he had reported mileage instead. :)

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