Monday, December 31, 2007

Winnipeg Railfanning, Part 1

Head on view of CP 1597
I hope everyone had a good holiday! For those who celebrate Christmas, I hope Santa was generous. I found a model train car under the tree to help build my fleet.

On Boxing Day I set out to do a few hours of railfanning around the Winnipeg area. I took my mother and sister to the airport then went to the CP yards downtown to see what power was around. At the CP Weston shops at 08:50 I saw the following units: 5707, 3117, 9153, 5998, 5940, 8778, 8815, 5988, 3119, 6055, 9760, 8521 and CEFX 117. There was a container train shunting in front of the yard so I couldn't get any decent pictures.

I went to the Arlington Street bridge and took some shots from there. CP 1597, 1506 were shunting, as were CP 6065 and 1622.

At the fuel stands I saw CP 1562, 1532, 6616, 6609 and several other units. It was a little cold standing on that bridge!

I went to the east end of the yard and found CEFX 1041 and CP 9511 shut down at the end of a train at 09:35. CP 8726 was heading up another train there.
CEFX 1041 and CP 9511
From there I took a quick look at the Greater Winnipeg Water District (GWWD) railway yard and saw GWWD 201 shut down, with the hulks of CP 8016 and 8018 nearby.

On to CN's Symington hump yard, where I found hump set CN 7511, 501, 504, 7528 (two GP38s with two slugs in the middle) and another set working the hump at 10:15.
Two Geeps, two slugs

There were two sets of power at the intermodal terminal, one led by CN 2531 and 5360, and the other by weathered CN 5367.

I noticed a few odd cars at the foot of the hump. One was GO Transit car 2647, and the other was a Loram unit LMIX 601. There were also a few pressure vessels on flatcars behind the Loram unit. I guess they were on the "do not hump" line.

GO Transit 2647 in Winnipeg
LMIX 601 in Winnipeg
I heard CN train 840 get permission to leave the yard, and I quickly deduced they were heading east toward the Perimeter Highway, so I went down by CN Navin and parked by the Tinkertown amusement park. Great place to take the kids, by the way. As is typical on the Prairies, I saw the train long before it was close enough to take pictures.

CN 840 arriving in Winnipeg
CN 2531 and 5360 rolled by at 10:39 with a long grain train.

From there, I moved to the CN main line along Wilkes Avenue, but that will wait until my next post.

UPDATE: Someone asked on the CanPassRail mailing list why GO 2647 was in Winnipeg. The answer: "A friend of mine from the CN has come up w/ the answer, & even more. Go Transit is receiving new Bi Levels from Bombardier in Thunder Bay. They are being taken to Winnipeg Symington Yard. 2647, & 2648 are going out on Train #302 tonight (Symington-MacMillian Yard). 2646 Is Currently at Mac yard, 2645 Arr. Mac Yard Dec 23, 2644 arr. Mac Yard Dec 14, Arr Mimico Dec 17, 2642, 2643 Not on the CN System as of yet. I'm sure in the next few weeks prob more GO Coaches will be arriving at Symington Yard."

Read next post in series

Thursday, December 27, 2007

1876 Intercolonial Railway rulebook

David Gagnon has posted the 1876 Intercolonial Railway rulebook on his web site. Thanks for posting that! He also shared a lot of information on the ICR itself. Highly recommended.

Every Employee shall make himself thoroughly acquainted with the
Rules and Regulations of the Railway, including those contained in the Working Time-Table of the District in which he is employed; and he shall keep a copy of the same in his possession, under a penalty of one dollar for not doing so.

One dollar would have been a lot in 1876!

Friday, December 21, 2007

First post from Winnipeg

I'm in Winnipeg for the holiday break so I won't be posting much Maritime news! ;)

I had to stop today for a short CP tank train today... CP 3028 and 1128 (both GP9s?) led about 20 black tank cars across highway 90. I didn't get any photos, alas.

I do have a short Maritime news item. NB Southern was to plow their Dever Road yard yesterday (Thursday) with the Jordan spreader.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another great Frank Jolin shot

Amtrak's Adirondack punches through the snow at a crossing. Click on the photo for a larger version at

Amtrak Adirondack Punches the Snow - Frank Jolin

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Riviere du Loup Railfan Video

Julien Boily has posted a railfan video from Riviere du Loup, Quebec in June 2006. The first half of the video is a slideshow, and at 03:22 there is video of NBEC 1819, the mainline NBEC freight with 7 (!) locomotives, a brief clip of a CN train, and a VIA train to finish it off.

Atlantic Gateway Petition

Please consider signing a petition to call upon the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia governments to make improved railway infrastructure a key goal in any Atlantic Gateway agreement.

Atlantic Gateway Petition

Monday, December 17, 2007

Plow on the MM&A

Frank Jolin took a few nice photos of a plow extra on the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic. The train was MMA 2003 pushing plow VB 100. Click on the photo for the large version.

Also see the going away shot.

Nice shots!

More detail on CN 122/123

I previously reported that CN 148 and 149 don't come to the Maritimes any more. Courtesy of the Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports newsletter, here are a few more details.

What used to happen is that CN 148 would leave Chicago and arrive in Halifax at 08:35, 3 days after departure. Now CN 148 terminates in Montreal. Traffic destined for Halifax is left in Toronto and picked up by CN 120, which is due into Halifax at 06:45 saving 2 hours of time over the old schedule. CN 122 departs Montreal at 03:00 and is scheduled to arrive in Halifax at 06:30 the next day.

The main advantage of this plan, beyond the 2 hour time saving, is that a Montreal-Halifax train is more consistent than a Chicago-Halifax train. A train going over a shorter distance is less likely to be late!

120/121 should definitely increase in length and 122/123 will be shorter than the old 148/149.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

EDIT: for much more detail on the changes, please contact Chalmers (Chop) Hardenbergh, editor of Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports at 207-846-3549 or

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Bridges of Victoria County

CN 149 crossing the Salmon River trestle near Grand Falls, NB
I was recently asked to provide some information on the Salmon River area, and especially the Little River trestle near the giant Salmon River trestle. I've done some digging and I'll share some random notes with you.

The Salmon River bridge
The National Transcontinental Railway (NTR) was built in the 1910s for a variety of reasons, none of which seem good from a vantage point of almost one hundred years later. Its construction was authorized as part of an agreement between the federal government and the Grand Trunk Pacific (GTP) on July 29, 1903 where the government would built a railway from Moncton, NB to Winnipeg, MB, while the GTP would build from Winnipeg to Prince Rupert, BC. The GTP would then lease the NTR from the government for 50 years, paying 3% of construction costs per year for 43 years, after getting the first 7 years rent-free.

The problem was this. There was already a transcontinental railway - the Canadian Pacific Railway. Some people felt that the CPR needed some competition, so in a bizarre move the government authorized two additional transcontinental railways, the GTP and the Canadian Northern Railway. In the end, both of those failed and eventually became Canadian National Railways.

Back to the NTR. As was noted in the "Report of the National Transcontinental Railway Investigating Committee" in 1914, noone on the 4-person Commission appointed to oversee the NTR's contruction "had any experience or knowledge of railway building or operation" until 1911 when Major R.W. Leonard was added. The NTR was built to very high standards, including a prohibition against grades greater than 0.4% in the east, and the use of steel bridges only. It was estimated that the total cost of the NTR would be $161,300,000 in 1914 dollars. Conservatively, that's about 3 billion dollars in 2006 (source).
The Salmon River bridge under construction, 1910
OK, now back to the Salmon River trestle and its little sisters. The Salmon River trestle was built to span the Little Salmon River, and if you've ever seen the bridge you can see it is not a mighty river by any means. The bridge, however, is. Some statistics:
- completed: 1910 (see below)
- length: 3920 feet
- height: 195 feet
- cost: $815,070.87 (including sub- and superstructure)
- steel: 13,991,310 lbs. (just under 7000 tons)
- spans: 51

This is the second longest bridge of its type in Canada. The longest is in Lethbridge, Alberta.

Here is the Salmon River trestle on Google Maps, in the middle of the map.
Salmon River bridge, New Brunswick

There are three other trestles in the neighbourhood, none of which are small.
- Little River: 1242 feet
- Caton Brook: 1060 feet
- Graham Brook: 520 feet

I am trying to find out when the Little River trestle was completed. It appears to have been done by the end of 1910. Shirley E. Woods' great book Cinders and Saltwater states that "by the end of 1910 the road was finished and most of the track had been laid. On November 24, 1911, the 231-mile stretch from Moncton to Edmundston was opened for traffic."

Today the Salmon River trestle and its little sisters are on the Napadogan Subdivision of CN's eastern mainline, and sees six mainline freights and one or two locals each day. The photo below shows CN 305 crossing in August 2007.
CN 305 on the Salmon River trestle

See also:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

AWESOME cab ride in the Matapedia valley

"Al in Vancouver" put an excellent cab ride video on YouTube. He took a cab ride with his father in a CN freight around 1970, from Campbellton to Sayabec and back, and captured it on 8mm.

The train had CN 3205 leading another engine and a mixed freight train, including what looks like some CN passenger cars. 3205 was a MLW C-424 built in 1966. It was leased to Mexico in 1978 and finally sold to Mexico in 1983.

The video features the train going through Morrissey Rock just outside Campbellton, crossing the Matapedia River, and meeting the Scotian passenger train with an F unit on the point. Al told me it was the Scotian and I believe him, especially since the Ocean would have been running in darkness.

There's no sound but the footage is just great. I can't say enough good things about this video! :) Thanks so much for posting that, Al.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday's VIA Trains

Kevin G was out chasing VIA this Sunday!

Here's VIA 14 arriving and leaving Amherst, NS with 6405 and 6429 (Telus unit).

He also caught VIA 15 arriving at Amherst with CBC unit 6403 and 6412.

The shadows were starting to get long as VIA 15 pulled into Sackville, NB.

And finally VIA 15 in the dark passing Gordon Yard.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dave Dineen in the snow

Dave took a very nice video of Thursday's NB Southern eastbound in the snow. NBSR 9801, 2317, and 9802 powered 35 cars (gypsum, wood chip, and boxcars mostly) through the snow to Saint John. The last of the three clips is especially good.

You can read about the chase on Dave's blog.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

NB Southern in the snow

Gary Lee posted some videos of the New Brunswick Southern Railway working in the snow. First, a short one of the snowplow in McAdam.

Next, NBSR 2318 in the blowing snow.

NBSR 2317 and 2612 push a cut of cars back toward the McAdam station.

OK, this one isn't NB Southern but it does have snow - VIA Rail's Hudson Bay train idles at the Winnipeg train station.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Gypsum trains in New Brunswick

As many of you no doubt know, NB Southern has been hauling gypsum to the Westroc wallboard plant in McAdam for a few years now. The gypsum comes from the Milford plant in Nova Scotia and is brought by CN to Saint John, then to McAdam by NBSR.

Recently gypsum has been moving a different way. J.D. Irving is completing the Atlantic Wallboard plant in Saint John at the old shipyard on Courtenay Bay. The plant is a partnership with CGC Inc., a subsidiary of USG. CGC has provided some intellectual property to JDI, who will sell all the wallboard to USG for resale.

CGC is also involved in another way. They have begun loading synthetic gypsum from NB Power's Belledune power plant into rail cars at the plant for delivery to Saint John. The New Brunswick East Coast Railway takes the cars from Belledune to Moncton, where CN brings them to Saint John. Finally, NBSR takes them to a siding behind Irving Paper where they are unloaded and the gypsum is stockpiled for Atlantic Wallboard.

The plan is to have three sets of 12? train cars to run from Belledune to Saint John. So far they have two sets running. They are using the same kind of car that the McAdam run uses, as far as I know.

Gypsum in Saint John, destined for McAdam

Other gypsum operations in the Maritimes include the Milford-Dartmouth run for National Gypsum, and the Windsor & Hantsport's short gypsum run.

National Gypsum cars through Windsor Junction, NS