Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Next Pipe Train?

This just in from the GRS_Railfans mailing list:

A friend of mine that works near CPF- 335 and takes lunch there almost every day called me this evening and said that he saw the pipe train today around noon time going downhill towards Fitchburg (E).
(Chris Tirone)

That's Fitchburg, Massachusetts, I assume. That could easily mean the pipe train is coming to New Brunswick TODAY.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

VIA Photos by Michel Boudreau

Michel Boudreau sent me some photos of VIA 15 at Bathurst on January 5, 2008. I have been tardy in posting them, but better late than never, right?

Here's VIA 6411, the Operation Lifesaver unit, leading the train.
VIA 6411 at Bathurst. Photo by Michel Boudreau

Quite a crowd!
Passengers at Bathurst. Photo by Michel Boudreau

Michel said there was so much baggage that some of it was loaded on a truck to be taken directly to Montreal. It would be too hard to put a second baggage car on, given the effort involved in modifying a Renaissance consist. Besides, I can't recall seeing a train with two baggage cars in a long, long time.
Baggage on truck at Bathurst. Photo by Michel Boudreau

Thanks for the photos, Michel!

New CN Videos

Gary Lee has a quick video of CN 7000 smoking its way through McAdam.

CN 7000 is back in McAdam again for the week.

Matt the Saint John railfan caught CN 405 returning from the Courtenay Bay potash terminal with CN 8845, CN 6028 (!) and CN 8831.

Monday, January 28, 2008

New Youtuber

Matt the saintjohnrailfan has started posting train videos to YouTube. Welcome!

This one shows a CN GP9 (7060) and an NB Southern GP38 (2612) running light from the refinery area to Island Yard.

Next, they headed back out to the refinery with tank cars in tow.

Here they are returning from the refinery.

Thanks for posting those, Matt!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Brunswick Smelter Engine on the Move

The Brunswick Smelter engine #506 was spotted leaving Campbellton on January 23. Luc Doiron saw it go through Montreal, probably going to at least Toronto. I wonder if it is going for maintenance or if it has been sold?

I believe 506 was the former Smurfit-Stone engine.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pipe Train Photo

Brian Barchard was kind enough to pass along a photo of the NB Southern eastbound freight at the mile 52.5 crossing.

Pipe Train Update

The train should be safely in Saint John by now. Wendell Lemon passed this along:
"I received a phone call from one of our new Group members who lives
near Grand Bay. He says the pipe train was really pulling hard over the
ruling grade at Grand Bay at 220pm. Locomotion by green NBSou 2318,
2317 and 9802. Thanks 4-4-0."

Pipe Train in New Brunswick

Gary Lee just posted a video of the pipe train leaving McAdam, so it's on its way to Saint John! I'd guess it left at no later than noon, putting it into Saint John by 2 PM.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Saint John today

I was down in Saint John today and saw a few trains...

NBSR 9803 and 2610 were working the east end of Island Yard around 10:00.

CN 8831, 8845, and 8018 were parked by the shops, as was NBSR 3703 with capped stacks. Caboose NBSR 79635 and SW1200 3702 were parked nearby. NB Southern's spreader was also parked in the yard.

On the other end of Island Yard, CN 7060 and NBSR 2612 were assembling a train.

Around 12:30, CN 7060 and NBSR 2612 were at Irving Paper. CN 7010 was working the west end of Island Yard.

I found CN 8018, 8845, and 8831 (as CN 405) at the Courtenay Bay potash terminal with a string of 39 empty potash cars. They called the NBSR yardmaster, and after some banter they rolled out at 12:58 to return to Island Yard.

A little later, NBSR 2610 and 9803 were at the east end of NB Southern's Dever Road yard while NBSR 2318 was working the west end. That was it for my day in Saint John.

By process of elimination, NBSR 9801, 9802, and 2317 are probably still the road power. I assume 2319 is in the shop.

Please forgive the cruddy photos. My Canon S3 is on the fritz (another post) so I had to use the 1 megapixel still camera in the Sony video camera.

Pipe Train Update

The pipe train is going through McAdam TOMORROW Tuesday January 22. I hear it will be in McAdam around noon. There might be a few cars from Brownville Junction on the train but the vast majority of the train will be pipes. It will be into Saint John sometime mid-afternoon or later.

From Ron Pelletier: "PanAm Railways is handling it from Rotterdam Jct., NY (CSX interchange) to Mattawamkeag, ME (NBSR interchange). Out of Portland, Maine 0745 on the 21st.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pipe Train Update

Isaac Greenlaw reports that "Per Guilford Rail System yahoo group, Unit Pipe train past North Adams Mass with 4 units at 1400 hours eastern time Sunday 1/20/08"

I'm not sure if that will bring it into Saint John by Tuesday as last reported, but we'll see. It doesn't seem likely they can finish the journey by then.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

NB Southern's Saturday Eastbound

I had every intention of going to McAdam to see the eastbound, but when I called there I found that the train was early and due into McAdam around 11:15. I wouldn't be able to get to McAdam much before the train left, so I decided to go to Fredericton Junction instead and chase it from there.

I arrived at Tracy at around 11:50. I figured the train wouldn't get to the Junction before 12:45 or so. I looked around a bit, and noticed two things. First, only the west leg of the wye was plowed, and second, the old train station has been repainted dark green.

I mused about where to catch the train, and I almost decided to head up to the end of paved road when I heard NBSR 9801 East on the scanner. I figured I had better get set up somewhere, so I went to the bottom of the hill at Tracy and lined my camera to shoot through the crossing. It was a nice spot!

At 12:54 NBSR 9801 East came through with 9801, 9802, 2317 and CN 7000 (!) leading a shortish train of 27 cars (1 covered hopper, 1 tanker, 10 empty gypsum cars, 8 boxcars, and 7 loaded woodchip cars). The light was great and it stayed great all through the chase.

I tossed the tripod in the van and headed down the road. I caught up to them just east of the Junction. I considered taping them at the highway 785 crossing but opted to continue on and shoot them across the farmer's field in Blissville like I did back in August 2007. That turned out OK although I didn't have time to set my tripod up.

From there I went to Clarendon and taped the train from up on the highway. Love that spot! It's easy to get there ahead of the train.

A quick stop at the lake north of Welsford followed, and then I was held up by the train at both Welsford crossings. No big deal, and even the front-end loader on the highway didn't slow me up too much.

Then on to route 177. My next shot was at my favourite S-curve near the intersection of 177 and 102.

I promised my daughter two more shots and then we'd go home. I wanted to get the overhead shot at Westfield Beach, but a slowpoke in a pickup truck took that shot away. I shot them out the window at Ferry Road and then went to the overpass by the Co-Op south of Grand Bay, and did my final recording there.

NB Southern Eastbound today

I hear it's due into McAdam at about 11:15. I'm going to Fredericton Junction to chase... it's been quite a while since I saw an NB Southern train! November 2 to be exact. A long time for me.

All The Queen's Horses

I used to watch the show Due South. The story of fish-out-of-water Mountie Benton Fraser in Chicago entertained me, and of course the Canadian content was good. Recently we bought a Tivo and I saw the classic episode All The Queen's Horses come up on the guide, so I recorded it. I just watched it and it was better than ever!

The episode features the RCMP Musical Ride travelling by train from "southern Manitoba" to "somewhere in Illinois". The train is intercepted by terrorists and mayhem ensues.

This time I watched it with a railfan's eye. The train is quite real and features CP 3072 leading three platform cars (with RCMP containers full of horses), and three VIA coaches, with a yellow CP caboose on the end.

It's quite an entertaining story, if you don't pay too much attention to detail. Early in the show the terrorist "driving" the engine is tossed out of the train, yet someone keeps blowing the horn for crossings. And, not to give too much away, but at a particular scene Leslie Nielsen shoots the target on a switch to reline it. Never mind the handle that would hold the switch in place... what about the switch lock? :)

Nit-picking aside, the train shots in this movie are good. There were lots of helicopter views of the train and it was nice to see something filmed on an actual moving train. Recommended!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jammin Joel Video

Joel Scott has a nice video of the NB Southern eastbound freight blasting through Blissville on December 15, 2007. NBSR 9801 provided the lead power for the four units and 71 cars, many of them tank cars.

Thanks, Joel!

A Brief History of Railroading in New Brunswick

I want to draw your attention to two articles published in the Tribune entitled "A Brief History of Railroading in New Brunswick". These were written by Yvon Roy and are well worth reading.

Part 1
Part 2

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pipe Train Update

A report published in the Saint John Journal says the pipe train will probably arrive in Saint John on Tuesday. I'm told the train will come via CN lines, so heads up on the Napadogan and Sussex subdivisions!

Video of CN 303 in Manitoba

Here's a video I took of CN 303 rolling through Oakville, Manitoba on December 27 last year. (blog entry). CN 303 had CN 2554?, IC 6058 and 113 mixed cars.

Pipe Train

Several news agencies (such as CHSJ radio) are reporting that a train carrying 80-foot sections of pipe for the new natural gas Brunswick Pipeline will be arriving in Saint John Saturday from Panama City, Florida. I understand it will be unloaded in the former CN yard by Rothesay Avenue near Tim Hortons.

More updates when/if I get them! :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Al from Vancouver is looking for photos of wigwags in service in the New Brunswick area (a wigwag is an old crossing signal, see images to left and right). Obviously these would be old photos as the wigwags were replaced by the flashing lights we know and love. He is especially interested in photos from Campbellton.

If you have any photos of wigwag signals you are willing to share, please comment here or email them to me at Thanks!

EDIT: Added photos. The image on the left is one I took at Calgary's Heritage Park. The one below is one from Al himself.

Strange Visitors to McAdam

Gary Lee posted photos of two odd visitors to McAdam yesterday (January 14).

Maine Central 314 was on its way to Woodland, Maine to serve the plant there on the isolated section of Pan Am Railways (former Guilford) track.
Maine Central 314 in McAdam. Photo by Gary Lee
You can see it was snowing a bit there!

Another odd visitor was CN 7000. It is one of the three CN GP9s leased by NB Southern. These GP9s are generally used only in Saint John but on occasion they will go on the mainline to McAdam to provide additional power to the freights. They are not permitted to cross into the United States so they are left in McAdam.
CN 7000 in McAdam. Photo by Gary Lee

The only Maine Central unit I saw in McAdam was MEC 320 back on November 25, 2006.
MEC 320 in McAdam. Photo by Steve Boyko

25 Intercolonial Railway Waybills on eBay

Want some waybills? Starting price is $9.99, no bids yet.

As you may or may not know, I collect railway paperwork. Waybills are definitely included in that. I have a fair collection of waybills, and I daresay I probably have enough Intercolonial Railway waybils. My wife might say one is more than enough. ;)

Intercolonial Railway Waybill 1885

Monday, January 14, 2008


Depending on how you got here, you may notice the new domain name -

Since I use traingeek as my handle in a lot of places, I figured I would get the domain name and migrate to it over time. I was going to buy but someone just renewed it, so I went Canadian and got Since someone gave me a referral for their domain name registration, I got it for free from Sibername.

This blog feed stays the same, since it comes from Feedburner.

Please let me know if you experience any problems!

Fredericton Station in the snow

Our poor Fredericton station, suffering in the snow on January 10:

I was sitting in line to return some cans on the 12th when I noticed someone had left an editorial comment on the station's fence:

A little harsh, perhaps, but the sign gets its point across.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Branchline and Canadian Rail

I was pleased that I was asked to provide a photo of CP 4563 for Branchline, Canada's Rail News Magazine. It ran in last month's Branchline, together with great photos by fellow Maritimers Bill Linley and David Othen.

It was this photo, by the way:

Canadian Rail, the magazine of the national CRHA, just ran the same photo, unfortunately without attribution. I was happy to see it there! :)

OK, enough tooting my own horn. ;)

By the way, if you are a Canadian railfan and you don't subscribe to Branchline, why NOT?? It is an excellent source of news specific to Canada. Go here to subscribe!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Quebec Oriental Railway and the Atlantic, Quebec and Western

I received a very interesting email a week or two ago from Michel Simard. Attached was a public timetable for the the Quebec Oriental Railway (Matapédia-Paspébiac) and the Atlantic, Quebec & Western (Paspébiac-Gaspé) from May 4, 1926. There was a daily train each way on the route now run by VIA's Chaleur.

On May 30, 1929, both railways were sold to the Canadian National Railway for a total of $902,800 dollars (source (PDF)).

The train took 10 hours and 20 minutes to go from Matapédia to Gaspé in 1929. VIA is scheduled to do the same run in 6 hours and 37 minutes, so speeds have picked up in 79 years!

Click on the images for a larger version.

Thank you, Michel!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Subscribing to this blog

Just a quick note to say that if you enjoy reading this blog, you can get a notification of new posts by email: Subscribe to Confessions of a Train Geek by email. Five people have done so to date! Hey, this isn't a high traffic blog. :)

If you use an RSS reader, then you can use this:  Subscribe in a reader to subscribe.

I use Google Reader for my RSS reader: Add to Google Reader or Homepage but there are many others.

Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

CP 4235 Eight Years Ago

Brian Barchard shared a photo he took of CP 4235 leading Canadian Atlantic Railway (CAR) Extra train 4235 North, with 4214 trailing, at Stone Ridge, NB on January 14, 1989. Here we are 8 years later and no tracks there, but probably more snow!

CP 4235 at Stone Ridge, NB. Photo by Brian Barchard

4235 was acquired by the NBEC for parts, and as I recently mentioned 4214 is in Ontario on the Ottawa Central.

Thanks for sharing, Brian!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kevin Gaudet Visits Saint John

Kevin went a little railfan-crazy in Saint John and posted a metric buttload of videos to YouTube. ;) Here are a few of what I consider to be the best. I'd embed them here but he disabled that for some reason.

NBSR 3701 and CN 7060 local

CN 405 bringing empty potash cars back from Courtenay Bay. Watch the end of the video for a little puppy following the train around.

CN 405 stops at the end of the Saint John yard

He chased CN 405 out of Saint John on January 5. 405 had two Dash-9's for power (2652 and 2589) and 99 cars including 40 potash cars on the head end.

Stop at end of yard. Typically 405 stops by the Tim Hortons on Rothesay Avenue to "fuel up" and to get their orders before they proceed onto the main line.

Through Hampton. If I'm not mistaken Kevin was near the old station.

Near Sussex. Kevin's video camera has the same problem mine does in the dark - it can't hold focus. Still, the sound is very nice.

Thanks for the videos, Kevin!

Train Material for Sale

I'm posting this on behalf of Gordon MacDonald, who acquired a few train booklets and is looking to sell them. They are:

Uniform Code of Operating Rules (UCOR) - CN Grand Trunk Western…Central Vermont - Duluth, Winnipeg, Pacific Rail (1 booklet August 26 1951)

CP Rail General, Train and Interlocking Rules (1 booklet July 5 1949)

Constitution and By-laws of Retired Rail Employees Assoc. Charlottetown October 15 1964 (1 booklet)

CN Rail Grand Trunk Rail System, Duluth, Winnipeg, Pacific, Central Vermont - Operating Rules (1 booklet dated July 1 1929)

CNR Rules and Regulations for the Operation of Trains under CENTRAL TRAFFIC CONTROL (1 booklet dated Aug. 1 1941)

The Timetable Collector 10th Anniversary April 1972 issue with inserts.

And a few more items…

Contact Gordon at

Saturday, January 05, 2008

CN Engine on VIA 15

Friday's VIA 15 left Halifax with CN 8817 (SD70-2M) on the head end, leading VIA 6400 and 6405. Apparently 6400's air reservoir froze, so a line was run from 8817 bypassing the two VIA locomotives to the train consist. The water in the Renaissance cars is operated by air supplied by the locomotives. The doors and steps are also operated by air.

Luc Doiron spotted reported VIA 15 by Rogersville at about 1930 with VIA 6410, 6400 and 6405 but without the CN engine, which was taken off at Moncton.

Geoff Doane has a nice shot of the train near Halifax.

Phil Ross shot 8817 beside VIA 15 in Moncton later on.

Click on the photos for larger views!

EDIT: Luc is in Montreal; he was told by someone else about VIA 15's passing!

Winnipeg Railfanning, Part 3

(this is part 3 of a series. Read part 1 first if you like!)

After railfanning in Winnipeg, I planned to go to Portage la Prairie sometime during my stay in Winnipeg this December. My wife and I decided that December 27 would be the best day for me to go. For those who don't know, Portage is an ideal railfanning location due to the CP and CN main lines running side-by-side with only a few hundred feet between them. I had visited Portage once before, on July 27, 2004.

I set out from Winnipeg before sunrise to maximize the light. As I passed over the CN mainline at Wilkes Avenue I saw a westbound train rolling by. I figured I would probably beat it to Portage. I stopped in Elie for a quick bathroom break, and when I emerged from the gas station I heard a train horn. Elie, by the way, was the site of a very violent tornado on June 23, 2007. No high winds in December, thankfully. I hit the road and paced the train for a while. It looked very nice silhoutted against the prairie but it was too dark to take a photo.

I eventually decided to cut it off before Portage, so I took the exit at Oakville and rushed to the tracks. I taped it at 08:05 as it passed the local grain elevator. Unfortunately it was still pretty dark and the video camera struggled with the focus. The train had CN 2252 and 2239 leading 168 (!) cars.

I took up the chase again, but on the scanner I heard them calling the outer limits of Portage and I knew I could not get downtown before them. I decided to go around Portage and get them on the other side, as they would have to slow down through the city. By the way, their calls told me this was CN 769.

I found a small crossing just west of Portage, with plenty of time to set up the tripod and take some stills. At 08:30 CN 769 blew through. For trivia's sake, this was the longest train I've ever seen.

After that excitement, I headed downtown to see what was up. I was thrilled to see two big units on the CP side, until I realized they weren't going anywhere. CEFX 118 and CP 9138 did a little switching in the yard, then parked on the secondary line and sat... and sat... with red lights on the signals indicating no other trains around. There were two other CP units in Portage, 3120 and 6039.

I just noticed that I saw CEFX 118 once before - in Chicago on May 8, 2007. The other time I saw CP 3120 was in... Portage la Prairie!

I did a little driving around, a little photographing, and eventually I saw a headlight to the west. At about 09:54 CN 346 rolled through with CN 2533 and 2233 pulling 95 cars, a mixed consist with a lot of forest products. CN 2533 is an old friend to the Maritimes, and I saw it once in Saint John, NB on November 1, 2006.

I made a crucial mistake after that train, getting into my car, and missed a CN container eastbound at 10:03 with 2 units. They passed under me when I was on the bridge. Dang it.

I saw a CN track foreman near their little hut by the VIA station, and I asked him if he knew when the Canadian would be coming through. He checked the RTC display and said they would be by around 11:00. He mentioned the Hudson Bay was on the Gladstone sub but would be coming through soon. I thanked him and went up to the bridge to get overhead shots of those two.

I eventually saw a little headlight to the west that turned into an F40PH. From the length of the train I could see it was VIA 692, the Hudson Bay, running 3 hours late at 10:33. It had VIA 6456, 6445, baggage, coach, coach, diner, and sleeper Chauteau Viger. They did not stop at the station.

Soon after that, VIA 2, the Canadian, came by at 10:44, 50 minutes late. The consist was VIA 6436, 6453, deadhead sleeper Fraser Manor, baggage, coach, 8227?, Skyline, car, Skyline, diner Emerald, sleeper Draper Manor, sleeper Butler Manor, sleeper Dawson Manor, observation car Tremblant Park. As it approached me, the Canadian disturbed a group of birds that were feeding on spilled grain between the rails.

After that, nothing. Nothing on the CN side, nothing on the CP side. Oh, I shouldn't say "nothing" because CP 3120 eventually rolled out and started doing some shunting. The two big CP units rolled down a little way to make room for 3120.

I had told my wife I was leaving at noon, so I was starting to get nervous. As noon approached I saw the lights on the CP side had changed, and at 11:48 a CP eastbound rolled through with CP 9700 and 9663 leading a long doublestack train.

CP 3120 pushed a short train out of the yard with a boarded-up CP caboose at the head end.

Right after that, the two big CP units hooked on to their train, and left at 12:03 with CEFX 118 and CP 9138 leading 88 cars.

I hit the road back to Winnipeg. I heard a CN track foreman on the scanner talk to the RTC, and the RTC mentioned there were two westbounds coming through shortly. Sure enough, I heard CN 115 call its way through Portage at 12:20. Therefore, one more westbound on the way! I decided to try to get it at Oakville. As I turned off the highway, I saw it approaching across the wide open prairie. As I zoomed down highway 13 I was trying to figure out who would get to the crossing first. I'll cut the suspense... it was me by at least 5 seconds. I screeched to a halt before the gates, hopped out and started filming. Westbound CN 303 rolled through with CN 2554?, IC 6058, and 113 cars (I knew it was CN 303 by some later scanner traffic).

With that I headed back to Winnipeg, a little annoyed by the lack of CP traffic but otherwise satisfied. I was especially pleased to bag two VIA trains. 4 CN trains, 3 CP trains, and 2 VIA trains... not too bad.

See Also

Friday, January 04, 2008

VIA Rail Froze Up

The air lines on the Ocean froze up yesterday, so VIA 15 did not leave Halifax. VIA 14 was turned at Moncton and returned as VIA 15, with passengers being bussed between Moncton and Halifax.

Geoff Doane put a great shot on NERAIL of the Halifax VIA train being turned, covered in snow and ice.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Jordan Spreader At Work

Dave Dineen shot a fantastic video of NB Southern's Jordan spreader at work on the main line. He paced the spreader at several spots for some great footage, and got an overhead shot at Westfield Beach. You can read Dave's account of the chase on his blog.

Here's a photo by Dave of the spreader in the Dever Road yard in Saint John in a past year.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Winnipeg Railfanning, Part 2

CN 115 in Winnipeg
This is the second part of my Winnipeg railfanning report, which began with part 1.

On my way to Wilkes Avenue, I noted CN 5663 and 5548 at the intermodal terminal at Symington yard at 10:56.

I went to my favourite spot on Wilkes, where the CP La Riviere sub crosses the CN mainline. I climbed a tall pile of snow there and saw a headlight to the east, but it was not moving. I waited for a while, then drove down Taylor Avenue to the back of the Sobeys past Waverley Avenue. There I saw a long train with a grimy CN 5336, BC Rail 4641, and CN 5690 sitting there.

One of the crew was out on the "front porch" of 5336, so I walked up and had a chat with him for a few minutes. The train was CN 115 and he figured they would be on their way in 15 minutes or so. It turns out they left at 12:47. I started to tape them but I hit end-of-tape before I could get the whole train of 146 (!) cars.

On the scanner I heard a track foreman request permission to come up to near my location. The RTC said OK but CN 111 would be coming from Transcona. The high-railer rolled by at 13:27 and stopped just short of Waverley Avenue. At 13:44 CN 111 came through with CN 2272 and CN 5385 with 83 platforms.

After that, I pulled up stakes and headed over to Polo Park to spend 15 minutes parking, then meet up with my wife for some lunch and shopping. On my way back I crossed over the CP La Riviere sub on route 90 and saw a headlight to the west. I pulled onto the next side street near Costco and waded through some snow to wait for the train. In due time a short CP local came by at 16:30 with GP9s CP 1507 and 1532, with 3 covered hoppers and maybe a dozen tank cars.

They stopped in front of me and started to do some switching, dropping the hoppers off. I happened to notice that the conductor was a woman (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, just a little unusual).

I didn't stick around to watch as the light was failing and I had to get to supper.

That was it for that day. On the following day (the 27th), I went to Portage la Prairie to catch some mainline action. Stay tuned for part 3 of my Winnipeg railfanning.

Read next

NBEC 4214 On Ottawa Central

What was once NBEC 4214 appears to be OCRR 4214 (Ottawa Central) in this video from Maxime Larouche.

Compare that to this video from 2004 where 4214 was labelled "NBEC".

I last saw 4214 on December 29, 2006 in NBEC train 403 at Dalhousie Junction. Obviously it has moved on since then!