Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Onboard the Chaleur

Here's a couple of videos taken on board the Chaleur by Chris Metallic!

Going through Port Daniel...

And going into the Port Daniel tunnel...

Monday, October 29, 2007

New videos

Dave Dineen posted a video of NB Southern units taking a container train through Saint John. The train had NBSR 2610, 2319, 3701 and 3702 on it with 33 cars. Check out his blog for a description of the chase.

Kevin G was busy on the weekend chasing trains. First we see CN 534 going past the VIA station in Moncton with a couple of GP38s on the head end.

Next, VIA 14 at the Painsec Junction road crossing with the Operation Lifesaver unit (6411) leading.

Here's VIA 14 arriving at the Sackville station. Nice light in this shot.

Finally, VIA 15 arrives at Amherst with 6416 and 6425.

Thanks, guys!

Friday, October 26, 2007

NBSR videos from Gary

Gary Lee posted a bunch of NB Southern cab ride videos to YouTube. Here are a few.

First, a cab ride around the wye at McAdam in NBSR 9801.

Pulling up to the crew shack...

Coming the other way from the beginning of the St. Stephen sub.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fredericton Station meeting report

I was pleased to attend last night's meeting, organized by the Fredericton Friends of the Railway Inc., to discuss what to do with the Fredericton train station. All levels of government were represented, as well as J.D. Irving and of course the Fredericton Friends (FFotR).

Tim Scammell, acting president of the FFotR, drafted me into taking the minutes, so I have quite a good record of what was discussed. Once the minutes are reviewed, I hope to post them here to help you get to sleep for your reading pleasure. For now, I will summarize.

The room had quite a few chairs in the middle, with a couple of tables and a podium at the front, and a few tables to the side for the press. The people seated at the tables in the front were, from left to right:
Greg Byrne, MLA
Patrick Lacroix, on behalf of J.D. Irving
Mary Keith, on behalf of J.D. Irving
Brad Woodside, Mayor of Fredericton
Tim Scammell, FFotR
Andrew Holland, on behalf of Andy Scott, MP
Rick Miles, MLA
Michel Audy, Executive Secretary, Historic Sites & Monuments Board of Canada

There were about 50-55 people in the audience.

Tim kicked the meeting off at 7:30 by introducing everyone, and stresssing that this was an informational meeting, not a confrontational one. He emphasized everyone was there to find solutions, and to overlook what had happened in the past and instead focus on the future of the station.

Mary Keith, VP of Communications for J.D. Irving, represented her company well. She described the history of the station from 1995, when JDI took control of the Canadian Pacific properties in New Brunswick including the Fredericton station. Between her description and others, some details about the previous deals that fell through came to light.

As far as I can tell, these were the possible deals:
- 2000: Plan for JDI to build an office building where the old elevator was, and use the station as a call center for CIBC.
- ????: Plan for local businessman to purchase station (only), turn it into the York Street Station with a restaurant and two passenger cars. Fell through because JDI wanted to sell land and station as one package.
- ????: Retirement community plan.
- ????: Offer by one individual to purchase station for $1.
- 2007: Recent opportunity, probably not coming to fruition

Ms. Keith said the engineers and architects had a look at the station last Friday and are preparing a report, possibly completed by the end of this week. It is important to note she did not commit to repairing the station, despite repeated questions. She deferred to the report.

Michel Audy of Historic Sites & Monuments Board of Canada described the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act and provided valuable insight into what the Act can and cannot do. He said the Act protects against action by the owners, not inaction.

Both Greg Byrne and Rick Miles gave strong support for the station.

Mayor Woodside expressed his extreme frustration and disappointment with the process to date.

The meeting wrapped up at just before 9 PM, and I left after speaking to a few members of the panel.

The general consensus is that the station needs to be stabilized, to buy some time to get plans together to restore the station. The station needs a commercial anchor tenant to ensure its future.

I want to thank everyone who came, both the distinguished guests on the panel and the audience at large. Many good questions were raised, and most were answered well.

Most of all, I want to thank Tim Scammell for pulling this together. You done good.

Media coverage was pretty good. The Daily Gleaner had a front page article on it. Radio stations Fred FM and KHJ also had coverage, as did Fox. Oddly CBC has nothing on their web site, despite interviewing Tim Scammell.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bristol Station

On our way back from our Gaspe adventure in August, David Morris and I stopped in Bristol to see the excellent work being done there for a new tourist attraction. Bristol has three former Canadian Pacific railway cars, as well as the former Florenceville CP station. Quite a bit of work had been done when we were there in preparation for their big opening a few weeks later.

Here we see the future dining car with the other two cars stretching behind it. I like the end on this car.

A peek inside the dining car from outside.

Here is the former Florenceville station.

This is the boarded up baggage car.

One view up the cars.

There is a bit of track past the three parked cars, with a switch thrown in for good measure.

A backlit view of the site from the baggage car end.

Kudos to everyone involved for a job well done. It is definitely worth a visit.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fredericton Railway Station Update

First, a reminder - the public meeting is still set for Tuesday October 23 at 7:30 PM at the St. Pauls United Church, 224 York Street. The Gleaner has the wrong time (7 PM).

The big news. J.D. Irving has started assessing the station to protect it from any further damage over the winter. It is a good first step toward the eventual restoration of the station. Kudos to J.D. Irving for stepping up to do the right thing.

Tim Scammell of the Fredericton Friends of the Railway Inc. has said that Mayor Brad Woodside will indeed be attending the Tuesday meeting - also good news. Thank you, Mr. Woodside. Tim indicated that there will be some federal representatives present.

I hope to attend Tuesday's meeting, and if I do I will report on what was discussed.

The sad thing is that this issue has been ongoing for a number of years. Look at this August 20, 2003 CBC report on the station, for example. But wait - how about this October 24, 2000 CBC report about Irving's plans for the station? That was back when Irving was planning to put an office building at the site of the former elevator, across from the former Hartt Shoe Factory. Those plans fell through and with them went the restoration of the train station.

The Daily Gleaner had a cover article on the station in the Saturday paper.

Other coverage and links:
Daily Gleaner October 9 - Train station roof won't last winter
CBC October 12 - Mayor calls for repairs to historic Fredericton train station
CBC October 15 - Historic train station needs urgent repair
Local blogger Charles Leblanc mentioned the meeting.
Heritage Canada's 10 Most Endangered Places

Fredericton Station Photographs

Here are some photos of the Fredericton station I took today (October 22). All of the shots are taken from outside the fence, with my camera phone stuck between the wires.

A view of the north side of the station. Even in this small picture you can see the roof damage. The tower in the middle of the station is actually part of the former Hartt Shoe Factory across York Street.

The south side of the station, highly exposed to anyone traveling on York Street. The very sad shape of the roof on the main part of the station is very obvious. Most of the awning is in terrible shape.

The only reason more of the awning hasn't collapsed is the series of 2x4 boards propping it up, seen here.

Another view of the station, from the lineup to the bottle recycle building.

The brickwork has begun to crumble on the freight shed portion of the building.

Save our station!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

NB Southern Excursion Train

Dave Dineen followed one of NB Southern's excursion trains last week. I'm told Mrs. Irving was running a series of excursion trains for Saint John-area schoolchildren, from Harbour Station to Welsford and back. Dave chased the October 18 one and shot it at a number of scenic locations, including two great S-curve shots. Note the nice fall foliage.

Read about the chase on Dave's train blog.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fall Colours

I was in the Miramichi area Tuesday and I saw a few trains on the way. I wanted to photograph VIA 14 with some fall colours. That ruled the station out, as there are few trees in the area and I've taken photos there a zillion times. I decided to head to the west end of the bridge at Derby Junction off route 108.

There is a little dirt road from route 108 that leads right to the bridge. I drove carefully down that and parked, then set my tripod up. I heard VIA 14 blow its horn as it arrived at the station, and a while after that I heard a horn blowing again. That seemed odd to me because there are no public crossings that I know of between the station and where I was. Anyway, VIA 6431 led the train around the corner to the bridge at 10:25.
VIA 6431 in fall colours
To say I am pleased with this shot is an understatement! In fact my nemesis Railpictures even liked it in a vertical crop.

I had packed up my tripod and was walking to the car when I glanced at the bridge and saw a train coming the other way! It turned out that NBEC 578, the day shunter, was returning from the Loggieville Subdivision with NBEC 1818 leading the 17-car Ultramar tank train. That was the source of the horn blowing I couldn't identify.

They pulled onto the bridge, threw the switch back to the mainline, then the engineer backed up to pick the conductor up. They then rolled across the bridge and past me at 10:35. Of course, they were horribly backlit.

Later, I passed by the NBEC yard on my way home. I saw train 402 from Campbellton at 14:50. It looked like it had just arrived and it was on the passing track with the power in front of the crew shack. The power was 6902, 6900, 6910, 3000 and 1816 but I'm not sure which of the SD40s was leading. 402 had 2 boxcars and about 7 hoppers on the head end with the 17-car Ultramar tank train on the tail end.

They did a very complicated little dance with the SD40s that I caught on videotape, but I'm not sure what they were doing. 6900 ended up going long hood forward to the wye to turn, followed by 3000/6902/6910 afterward. I couldn't stick around to see the results, alas.

I'm glad I caught VIA in the colours. I like that shot and that location a lot.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fredericton Station Meeting October 23

Tim Scammell, acting president of the Fredericton Friends of the Railway Inc., has called a public meeting for October 23 at 7:30 PM at the St. Pauls United Church at 224 York Street to discuss the fate of the Fredericton railway station.

He invited J. D. Irving, the City of Fredericton, the Province of New Brunswick and Fredericton M. P. Andy Scott. So far the city has declined to attend, citing private ownership of the station. Personally I think that is a cop-out, but that's just me.

Tim said, "I hope that as most of our members and supporters can be there along with any members of the public who share our concerns over the future of the station. Please pass this on to anyone you think would be interested."

UPDATE: CBC news article

Monday, October 15, 2007

New videos

Jammin' Joel Scott posted a video of CN 405 going through Rothesay on Saturday the 13th. The video features CN 5757, 2454, and 5786 with 120 cars.

On the same day Kevin G caught VIA 14 at Sackville with VIA 6431 and 6425 with 15 Renaissance cars and one of the last Park cars of the season.

This one is in Quebec, but the foliage is great!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

McAdam Saturday

I had the railfan itch, so I went to McAdam on Saturday (the 13th) with my two youngest kids to see the NB Southern eastbound freight. It was a cloudy day, but fortunately it did not rain.

I had been told the eastbound left Mattawamkeag at 11:45 our time, so with the 2 hour transit time it would be in McAdam at 13:45. True to form, when I arrived at that time the freight had just arrived. NBSR 2319, 2612, 9802, and 2317 were the power. They made a drop of 2 boxcars and 3 empty centerbeam flats (all MM&A) and no pickup.

Gary Lee was there taking video.

Jody and his kids showed up to see the freight roll out at 14:00 on the dot. I taped it leaving, then loaded the kids in the van and headed out.

My initial plan was to go to Harvey Lake to catch the fall colours, but as I approached I realized I probably would not have time to get there. I knew the engineer on this train didn't waste time going to Saint John, plus I had a late start from McAdam. Instead, I elected to go to the Harvey siding and get him there after the crossing. In retrospect, my decision to go to Harvey was correct but I should have shot at the other side of the crossing where the colours were much brighter.

He rolled through at 14:34 with the four units and 31 cars, at least half of which were woodchip cars.

We spent some time in Harvey looking at the NBSR crane and flatcars in the siding, then headed home to Fredericton and ice cream.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New VIA Videos

David Chiasson has put some new VIA videos from the Bathurst area on YouTube.

First, a blast from winter as VIA 14 rounds a bend near Beresford.

Here`s a VERY nice shot of VIA 14 with 3 engines at Jacquet River.

This one shows the same train, I believe, approaching Beresford at the overhead crossing I like so much.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

VIA Rail Announcement

There was a major VIA Rail announcement this afternoon at 3:30 PM Atlantic time. "Canada's New Government" announced they will be investing $691.9 million in VIA Rail over the next five years. $175.9 million will go toward "transitional operational costs" and $516 million will go toward capital projects.

If this sounds very familiar, then-Transport Minister David Collenette announced the same package back on October 24, 2003. His announcement was a five year investment package valued at $692.5 million. Transport 2000 article.

Today's funding is new funding, not included in the federal budget.

The announcement was very short on details but upgrading of the existing locomotives was mentioned, presumably to refit the entire fleet of F40PH-2 locomotives in the same way 6400 was upgraded.

I don't know how much this will affect Atlantic Canada, if at all. If this is anything like the 2003 proposal, it will benefit the Montreal-Toronto Corridor most of all.

All in all, good news, long overdue.

UPDATE: Official announcement

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

CP 4563 at night in McAdam

Isaac Greenlaw and a few other people from Maine came up to photograph CP 4563 when it was at McAdam. He was kind enough to send me a shot... quite remarkable.

New railway blog

Dave Dineen, a frequent contributor here, is now blogging his own train chases. Check it out!

He has a nice easy URL too: nbsrfan.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

NB Southern and CN YouTube videos

Dave Dineen has an excellent video on YouTube showing the NB Southern transfer train from Island Yard crossing the Reversing Falls bridge and then heading to through Bayshore to the Port of Saint John - with a caboose no less! Very nice work.

The power was NBSR 9801, NBSR 3701, and NBSR 2610.

Joel Scott has a nice video at Parker Ridge, NB showing CN 149 at 11:47 on Saturday October 6. CN 5706, 2582, 4762, and 4774 are pulling 77 cars.

Joel has another video at the same location of CN 305 at 09:35 with CN 8800, 8803 and 2532 with 125 cars.

Thanks, guys!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Velocipeding in Style

Ron Grant has spent a lot of time restoring an Intercolonial Railway velocipede he purchased. What's a velocipede, you ask?

That's a velocipede. It's a rail vehicle you pedal, or pump, to roll along the tracks. They were used in the early days of railroading to take maintenance workers to different places. It is obviously a one-person vehicle, and requires a fair bit of effort to use.

I've used the velocipede at the New Brunswick Railway Museum. It is a hand-operated version and it reminds me of a rowing machine.

See the rest of the photos of Ron on a velocipede.

NB Southern in McAdam

Gary Lee posted a couple of videos of NBSR in McAdam.

First is NBSR 2319 pulling some ballast cars off the St. Stephen subdivision. At first I assumed they were gypsum cars but they are NBSR ballast cars.

And here's NBSR 2318 with two other units pulling up to the McAdam station.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Aroostook Station

To complete my little tour of old railway stations, here is the station at Aroostook. I first visited this station on July 1, 2005. The grass around it was starting to get long but the station itself appeared to be in good shape.

Here is the same view from August 12, 2007.

You can see the weeds are taking over, especially in the next shot.

However, the roof is intact, a major difference from the Fredericton station. As it happens, when I was there in August one of the plywood panels covering a door was missing, so it was easy to look inside.

The previous and the next shot are of the main floor. You can see that the station has been visited inside quite a few times, but it is essentially intact and there is no water damage.

The next shot shows the basement, again confirming there is no water inside.

So far Aroostook looks very salvagable, if someone would take an interest.

EDIT: Here is a photo from July 3, 1980 showing the Aroostook station, looking north. Photo by Art Clowes.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Fredericton Station

Peter Gough suggested I should post about the Fredericton railway station next after my posts on the Kedgwick and St. Quentin stations. Great idea!

July 10, 2002:

December 11, 2002:

A few people penetrated the building and took a bunch of photographs in January 2005. No, I was not one of them. Guess what this is?

That's the second floor, as viewed from below. Basically there is no second floor any more.

I don't have any recent photos of the station because I haven't the heart to photograph it any more.

I heard yesterday that there were two large holes in the fence around the station, and three doors were unlocked and open. I haven't gone to look at it but I have seen photos from today and they make me very sad.

The basement has had standing water in it for years, and things are very bad inside.

I'll have to post some photos of the Aroostook station so you can see an abandoned station that has some life left in it. I'm afraid the Fredericton station is doomed and is just waiting to die. It is very, very sad.

St. Quentin Station

David Morris and I had a chance to stop at the replica St. Quentin station back in August. This is a beautiful structure, built to replace the original. ACOA invested just over $600,000 in this structure.

It has a number of tenants in it, including the Chamber of Commerce, Le Festival Western, the local MLA (Percy Mockler), and the visitor information center.

They have a little room set aside as an interpretation center, as well as a few display cases of railway memorabilia.

The interior is very well done.

You can see my Kedgwick station post for information on the railway line that used to run through there. Back when it was the CN St. Quentin sub, St. Quentin itself was mile 65.07 and had a 13-car siding and had 28 cars of "other" trackage. There is still a large railway warehouse beside the station.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Kedgwick Railway Station

Returning from our August Gaspe adventure, David Morris and I stopped at a few railway-related places on highway 17. One of those was the old CN station in Kedgwick. The station is now privately owned, and is shared by a natural food co-op (with the sign "le Chemin Vers la Sante" / the way towards health) and the office of Dr. J.G. Bouchard.

The station and grounds are very nicely kept and it was a pleasure to visit it. Unfortunately we visited on a Sunday so the businesses were closed, so all we could do was walk around the outside. They have a railway crossing sign and an old switch on the grounds, together with a few dozen feet of track in the brush.

This is the back (track side) of the station.

There are also a couple of small outbuildings that I doubt were original railway buildings.

Kedgwick was mile 49.66 of the St. Quentin Subdivision, which ran from Tide Head outside Campbellton to the I.N.R. Junction near St. Leonard. In the 1953/04/26 CN employee timetable it shows that Kedgwick had a 20 car siding and 38 cars' worth of other tracks. In 1953 a mixed train (216/217) ran three days a week. The whole subdivision had a maximum speed of 20 MPH for freight trains, showing how lightly built it was.

The St. Quentin sub was originally going to be the Restigouche and Victoria Colonization Railway Company, and after some misadventures it became known as the International Railway Company (INR). It eventually became part of CN in 1923. CN applied to abandon the line in 1983, and it was finally permitted to abandon the line in 1989.

We also visited the new St. Quentin station, a recently built replica of the previous station. That's a post for another time.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's All About The Bridge

After our long Chaleur chase on August 11, we decided to railfan the Napadogan subdivision on Sunday August 12.

First, we went to the NBEC yard in Campbellton to see the eastbound Ocean aka VIA 14. It was headed by VIA 6416 and VIA 6432.

There were a few NBEC units getting the eastbound freight train NBEC 402 ready. The power was two SD40s (CFMG 6907 and NBEC 6900), RS18-3 CFQC 3000, and RS18 NBEC 1819.

Here's the Ocean on the straightaway leaving Campellton.

After the Ocean left, we headed down highway 17 toward St. Leonard. We stopped at the stations in Kedgwick and St. Quentin before arriving at St. Leonard. There was no activity on the scanner and the signals were red at the siding by the border crossing, so we decided to head to Edmundston to see what was going on there.

At 11:30 CN 4760 and another GP38 were in the yard, and I happened to spot MMA 8553 working the Fraser mill across the river in Maine. This was the best shot I could get from across the river.

After some discussion with Bill Linley, we decided that CN 305 would be coming into Edmundston soon, so we headed out to the west end of the St. Basil siding and waited. At noon on the dot CN 305 rolled by with CN 2433 (Dash 8-40CM), CN 5250 (SD40-2W), and IC 6202 (SD40) with 108 cars.

We grabbed a quick lunch and headed for the Salmon River trestle near New Denmark to wait for the next train, CN 149. We had a long, hot wait here. Thank goodness for lawn chairs and sunscreen.

Finally, we heard CN 149 call out the New Denmark station sign (I think) and at 14:50 they rolled across the bridge. They had Dash-9s CN 2570 and CN 2526, with GP38-2 CN 4730 trailing.

We packed up and headed east after that, stopping in Bristol to check out the new station before continuing on to Fredericton. It was a fantastic railfan weekend, one to remember for a long time.