Thursday, September 20, 2007

Self-Doubt and "Oh, Crap!"

Every railfan has their moments of self-doubt, and their "oh, crap!" moments. I had both tonight in Bathurst.

New Brunswick East Coast Railway's ore train 586 from Bathurst to Brunswick Mines comes on duty at 18:00. I was at the NBEC yard at 16:10 and nothing was going on. Two NBEC MLW RS-18s were down in the yard and NBEC 1851 was dead by the station. I figured I had some time, so I went over to East Bathurst to look at the Smurfit Stone facility. While I was there, I heard train 586's crew bring their train out onto the main and then call the RTC. "Oh, crap! I'm out of position!"

I had hoped to get them at the iron bridge near highway 11, but that was clearly out of the question. I decided to head for Nepisiguit Junction, as I knew they would have to stop to line the switch for the Nepisiguit Subdivision. I headed to the end of Smith? Court and jogged the last few feet into the wye at the Junction. Soon I heard them rumble around the corner and pull up to the switch. Give the conductor credit, he lined that switch so fast that the train stopped for a mere 25 seconds.

At 18:56 train 586 rolled onto the Nepisiguit Subdivision with NBEC 1868 and 1821 leading 14 CN covered gondolas and 5 AOK covered hoppers.

I resolved to try different locations than last Thursday's chase. I did get him at the first highway 430 crossing at 19:03, albeit only with video.

I took a side video shot at 19:07 to show some of the pretty colours coming out.

I decided to go behind the Blue Mountain? racetrack and get him coming around the corner there, rather than take the second highway 430 crossing. It was a pretty good location but there's not a lot of room to step back from the train there. The light was really starting to fail at 19:14.

I took one more side video shot a few minutes later just before the track went away from the road. I decided to give up the chase, as the light was getting pretty bad, and go to Nepisiguit Junction to wait for VIA 15.

I got to the overpass over the Junction by 19:40 and set up my tripod on the overpass. There is lots of room to shoot westbound trains there without fear of cars. I waited.. as the light went away. Soon I snapped the "night shot" feature on my video camera to have some hope of shooting anything, and waited..

Here was my moment of self doubt. Did I miss the train? Was it early coming into Bathurst? No, that couldn't be, because I heard nothing on the scanner. But where was it? I hate those moments.

After 40 minutes of waiting, VIA 15 showed up at 20:16 in the near dark. I taped them coming, and used my Canon S3 to record them going away:

They had to stop to reline the switch at the west end of the junction, so I got to the VIA station ahead of them. They rolled in at 20:29. I went to the head end and tried a few time exposures of the engine. I think I did it a bit too long. What do you think?

They rolled on out at 20:35 with 6415, Operation Lifesaver 6411 and 16 Renaissance cars with Assiniboine Park at the end.

Oh, and this morning VIA 14 arrived in Miramichi at 10:09 and left at 10:16 with 6400, 6417, 7011, 7223 and 14 other Renaissance cars plus ReveLstoKe Park.


Anonymous said...

Wife saw you at the 1st crossing waiting for the mines or runnung to set up your camera to get some shots!

Canadian Train Geek said...

Yeah, I was running all right. Not much time to get the shot!