Friday, February 29, 2008

See you tomorrow?

Weather permitting, I will be at the annual Saint John model railroad show at St. Malachy's High School tomorrow, March 1. I'll probably be there in the afternoon. I'm looking forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I normally don't buy much at these shows but I keep my eye open for railway paperwork and photos.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dominion Atlantic Railway

A fellow named Steven Meredith has created a site to preserve the history of the Dominion Atlantic Railway (DAR). The DAR was a shortline of the Canadian Pacific in Nova Scotia that ran from Windsor Junction to Yarmouth. The remnant of the DAR is owned by the Windsor & Hantsport Railway.

Visit the Dominion Atlantic Railway Digital Preservation Initiative.

The timetable cover at right is from a 1934 DAR public timetable.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Update on VIA Railfan Trip

(this is an update to my last post about a planned Montreal railfan trip)

Railfan’s Weekend

Train number 15 the Ocean will depart [Halifax] at 12:35 P.M., Saturday, April 19th and arrive in Montreal on Sunday, April 20th at 8:15 A.M.. On arrival in Montreal the group will travel to the C.A.D. plant for a three-hour tour. The C.A.D. facility is where VIA Rail is modernizing the F-40 engines and is a very large group of buildings. After the tour a high traffic spot for picture taking will be on the agenda with a return to the Montreal train at 5:00 P.M. for a 6:30 P.M. departure. HEP equipment will run both ways with this being the last set coming into Halifax. There will not be a Dome car on the train but the Sky car will be in use.


Section (Upper and lower berths) Two people $336.18 each tax in return
Bedroom Private room and bathroom Two people $403.41 each tax in return
Lower berth One person $363.86 tax in return
Upper berth One person $308.50 tax in return
Roomette Private room One person $403.42 tax in return
coach seat Per person $240.00 tax in return
Drawing Room triple bedroom Two people $468.96 each tax in return
Drawing Room Three people $375.16 each tax in return

Approved Safety vests and Hardhats are mandatory.

Transportation to and from CAD and for Railfaning to be arranged by the group.

For more information contact Ron Jackson at 902 494-7920


Monday, February 25, 2008

New Brunswick Videos

Michel R posted a video of NBEC 402 leaving Bathurst for Miramichi on February 21, shortly after I saw it in Belledune!

Dave Dineen got his own train fix with a chase of NB Southern's eastbound freight NBSR 9802 East on Saturday February 23. He describes in his blog how he got the pacing video using a tripod in the front seat of his vehicle.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Day 2 in Northern NB

Bright and early Friday morning, NBEC 1821 was waiting at the Bathurst station.

I headed north from there. As I approached the tracks at Belledune, I saw VIA 14 stopped just north/west of the crossing. They had to stop to reline the switch that the NBEC ore train had left. Within a few minutes, VIA 6406 pulled the stainless steel train past me on its way to Halifax.

Right after that, I heard NBEC 1821 (as train 597) request permission from the RTC to proceed from Bathurst to Nepisiguit Junction.

Later on in the day, I was just approaching Miramichi when I heard someone calling the RTC at about 15:00. I couldn't hear the conversation but I assumed it was NBEC 403 getting clearance to leave. When I got to the yard, I talked to the crossing guard and he said the freight left at about 15:10. I called Chris M and let him know, and Chris was able to catch the train as it approached Campbellton. He wrote about it in his blog.

I also heard the NBEC local train entering the Loggieville subdivision, which explained why there was no power at all in the Miramichi yard. I assume the local was taking the Ultramar tank cars over.

That was it for trains for me on Friday!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wallboad Plant Ships!

Steven O'Brien reported that four centerbeam flatcars (probably the ones that Ron Grant saw on the 16th) have been loaded, and were pushed into Island Yard "shortly after five p.m. today [Feb 21] after their little journey from the new wall board plant." Thanks for the report, Steven!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I Got My Fix

I'm writing this from Bathurst, NB tonight and boy, is it cold! I shouldn't complain too much, as the prairie provinces seem to be having a far colder winter this year, but -12 (or -20 with wind chill) is cool enough.

I passed through Miramichi at about 09:40 this morning. I was surprised to see that half of the NBEC yard is not plowed... I guess it shows how little local business there is now. NBEC 6905 was idling away in the yard but there were no RS18s to be found. Tim Dryden has seen SD40s on the Loggieville Sub so perhaps the RS18s are rare in Miramichi now.
NBEC 6905 in Miramichi

I passed Bathurst and there was no talking at all on the scanner. I was beginning to wonder where NBEC 402 was, when I heard it near Belledune. I went to the west end of the Belledune siding, and there was NBEC 6904, CFMG 6903, and NBEC 1821 rolling light out of the Chaleur Lumber spur. They coupled up to the four lumber loads and pushed them back onto the rest of the train. They must have just put some empties in when I arrived. Train 402 left Belledune at 11:15 with 42 cars. (4 lumber loads, 6 boxcars, 3 empty log cars, 5 woodchip cars, 3 CN covered gondolas, 1 tank car, 3 86' boxcars, and the 17-car Ultramar ram).
NBEC 6904 with train NBEC 402 in Belledune

When I came to Bathurst after supper, I found the ore train NBEC 586 at the VIA station. RS18s 1813 and 1868 were idling at the head of a short train. Plow 616-20 was just finishing plowing part of the Bathurst yard. NBEC 586 left at 16:37 with 13 cars (8 NBEC ore cars, 3 CN covered gondolas, and 2 AOK covered hoppers). Probably the same CN gondolas that came in on 402! No photos, as it was dark.

For my final trick, I went to the Bathurst station to see VIA 15 arrive. As I watched the light approach from the distance, I realized the tape in my camera had less than one minute of tape left. I quickly but calmly swapped a new tape (#24) for the old one and put the camera back on the tripod in time for the train to arrive at 20:04 with 6415 and 6418 leading 11 Renaissance cars. They headed out within 8 minutes.
VIA 6415 in Bathurst

After whining about not having seen any trains for exactly one month, it feels good to be back. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Acadian Railway Update

Here is the latest news from Peter Swire, the promoter of the Acadian Railway:

"Based on confidential submissions from area shippers and our own assessment of the likelihood of migrating from road to rail on a shipper by shipper basis, it is probable that shipments could be as high as 100 cars per day. The volume is across a broad spectrum of former rail shippers now relegated to road transport; small road oriented shippers and two (and maybe three) new bulk commodity businesses being courted to locate within the Acadian Peninsula. Forty percent of the traffic is inbound and could reach parity in about 10 years. The peat traffic, while significant, will hold a reducing share of total loads as the line develops."

"Assuming these levels, the locomotive of choice will be the EMD SD 70 ACe. Two new units will be ordered. We do have pricing which is reasonable. We still need to develop a logo for the line. I would like to see a logo which, if possible, incorporates the both the spirit of the people and the hard working nature of local business leaders."

"As mentioned previously, we will be purchasing new rolling stock the bulk of which will be jumbo boxcars to meet the needs of two larger shippers. These cars will be utilized in both directions leaving very little empty movements. The balance of the rolling stock will be an assortment of flats and gondolas."

"The EA [Environmental Assessment] planning process will begin shortly and we expect their draft report by the end of the summer. It is this process that will determine which route that we should make application to construct."

"As things would happen, the rail contractor of choice is also the one the tore the line out nearly 20 years earlier. In discussions with them, we have agreed on using CWR the entire length including the sidings. The switches will more than likely be № 12 so that the line speed can be kept up. The size of ties is still being discussed vis-à-vis the soil stability. The contractors draft quote should be ready by the end of the month."

"Before the end of the summer, I fully expect the financing package to be in place on terms which are commercially attractive."

"We have identified potential traffic for the NBEC line which we will share with them in the not too distance future. We have had some productive discussions for some short-haul movements between NBEC and our firm that make sense for the shipper and the carrier alike."

New CN Videos

After a long drought, I have posted two CN videos to YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

The first has CN 305 through McGivney on August 5, 2004 with three units, 5707, 5720, and 5250 with 102 cars. Quite a high-speed transit!

The second features an eastbound CN freight between Portage la Prairie, Manitoba and Winnipeg on July 27, 2004. The train had two units. I liked this location - you can hear the wildlife chirping away as the train rolls by.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Next Pipe Train

Another pipe train is due through New Brunswick on Wednesday. I think this is the fifth one.
RJMA pipe train. Photo by Bob Driscoll
Photo by Bob Driscoll

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New Timetable Online

Thanks to the generosity of John Falconer, I have a new public timetable online for your viewing pleasure here. This is the Canadian National Railways (and Grand Trunk Railway System) public timetable issued April 27, 1941. I scanned the first 25 pages, which includes all of the Maritime schedules and the national ones as well. There are 86 pages inside the covers and I couldn't see ever finishing scanning the whole timetable!

Saint John Gypsum Plant Receives Empties

Ron Grant reports that there are three empty centerbeam flatcars at the Irving Wallboard plant in Saint John. The line into the plant was completed in late September 2007 but has not seen any traffic until now.
Irving Wallboard rail cars, by Ron Grant
Ron confirmed that finished loads will be the only rail traffic for the plant. The incoming gypsum is stockpiled near Irving Paper and trucked to the plant. As I reported before, some of the gypsum is brought by rail from Belledune.
Irving Wallboard rail cars, by Ron Grant
Thanks for the report and photos, Ron!

Friday, February 15, 2008


The last time I saw a train with my own eyes was January 21. I swear I'm getting the shakes from withdrawal.
CFMG 6903 near Bathurst

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An Interesting Phone Call

I get the occasional email or phone call out of the blue. People do a web search and stumble across my web site and/or blog, and then contact me about their question. I usually enjoy getting these contacts!

Last night I took a call from a woman named Nikkie who was looking at a house in Ontario that was near some tracks, and wondered how heavy the rail traffic was. I was curious how she decided to contact me, in New Brunswick, about Ontario rail traffic. It turned out that she knew the line was a Canadian Pacific line, and was searching for CP timetables and came across my site. As it happens my site is #1 on Google for Canadian Pacific Timetables. (try it yourself: Google)

I told her I didn't have any idea what the traffic would be, but I knew where to find out. I took down her address and contact information, then posted a message to the Yahoo groups C-P-R mailing list. Within a couple of hours I was told that the house was on the CP MacTier subdivision, CP's main line between Toronto and Vancouver, and that traffic would be quite heavy. I called her back and left a message to that effect.

One poster pointed me to the Proximity Issues web site, run by the Railway Association of Canada, that has maps of different regions of Canada showing which railway owns which line. That's a useful resource!

Ain't the Internet great?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Montreal Railfan Adventure 2008

From Andrew Reid:

Given the resounding success of the Railfan trip to Montreal on VIA Rail in the spring of 2007, it was decided that, perhaps, we should look into planning another event of similar nature. The people who went on the trip last year had a great time, VIA Rail Canada seemed impressed with the trip, and the VIA Montreal Maintenance Center (MMC) employees couldn't stop talking about it! With that in mind, Ron and I met to discuss various options for a trip this year.

This year, to keep things different, we're planning on doing the tour at Canadian Allied Diesel (CAD), the company contracted to do the rebuilds on VIA's F40 locomotives. Ron has spoke with CAD already, and not only are they willing, they're excited about the possibility, and Ron mentioned that our large group would be broken into several smaller groups and taken around on more personal tours by some of CAD's upper management. The tour would likely be 3-4 hours, leaving us the afternoon to do as we please. More on that later, though.

So, I come to you with some of the options for the year…

I had originally planned on trying to arrange this trip for October sometime…fall foliage, different scenery, and a generally different experience then we had last spring. I figured this, and the greater time between trips might encourage some people to come, and perhaps bring their families to see the scenery on the trip up and back. The problem with October is that Ron, who has hinted in the past he wouldn't be with VIA forever, will very likely be retired by then. He also noted that the odds of the stainless coming back in the fall were, right now, fairly slim. Thus, he suggested we go in April again, allowing us to ride the Stainless Steel HEP equipment. I agreed that it would be nice to have Stainless. October would be a bit more expensive then April…VIA would have Winter pricing in effect, but wouldn't yet be into their half-off winter booking sales, like they would be in April. My preference for traveling would be in October, however, I'd like the chance to work with Ron one last time before he leaves. Having met his potential replacement, I have no doubts that we'll be able to do this in the future…but Ron's been good to me so
far, and I'd like to do one last trip with him.

Something else we discussed was the possibility of a 3-day trip, versus last year's 4-day trip. Ron suggested a departure from Halifax on Saturday the 19th of April, traveling to Montreal in HEP Stainless cars. We'd then have all day Sunday to tour the CAD facility, as well as the afternoon to do what we wanted. We'd board the train in the evening on Sunday, and return to Halifax in Stainless HEP cars, arriving late-afternoon on Monday. The 19th is the last round-trip weekend of the Stainless Steel equipment for this year.

A 3-day trip means some cost savings…there's no hotel rooms to pay for, there's one less day of missed work, for those who have to worry about such things, there's less meals to purchase, and overall expenses would be lower. Transportation is a bit of a sticky issue - it proved troublesome last year, and I'm reluctant to go through the trouble of vehicle rental again, if only for the one partial day's events. Ron suggested that taxis might be the way to go, since as long as we agreed in advance were we were going, travel would be fairly limited, and thus, not stupidly expensive.

A 4-day trip is a possibility…it does mean we should rent vehicles again, which adds to the cost and confusion. A hotel would have to be factored in, as well. The downside to a 4-day trip, however, is the returning trip would be aboard a RenSet, not the HEP equipment. Those who went last year can attest that the trip on the RenSet was less enjoyable. The lack of a dome made it that much less enjoyable. The HEP wouldn't have a Park Car, however, it would have the Skyline Dome like last year, and we would have access to it again (albeit in moderation, right David? *really big grin*) we'd also need something to `do' on the extra day…I'm open to any and all suggestions.

Essentially, what I'm looking for right now (the sooner the better, really) is some form of confirmation from you folks…would anyone like to do this trip again? What time of year would you prefer? 3 or 4 day trip? Opinions on transportation? Suggestions on places to go if we do a 4-day trip? Any and all comments are welcome! This is in no way democratic - I'm just looking for what the masses would prefer, and we'll arrange everything from there. I appreciate the input!

If you're interested, contact Andrew Reid at

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I want to congratulate railfan and fellow blogger Dave Dineen and his wife Christina on the birth of their son, Joseph, on Monday morning. Word is that Joey was born with a video camera in his hand, ready to shoot his first GP38. Congratulations to the Dineen family!

Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad Equipment For Sale

The home page of has a bunch of B&ML equipment for sale. For example, their steam engine is listed for $175,000, the RDC is listed for $165,000 and the passenger cars are listed for $10,000 to $55,000. (PDF)

There's a story about it at the Waldo County Citizen.

A real shame.

Another Pipe Train

Looks like another pipe train on the move.

"RJMA 347 has permisson into 169 at 19:32hrs on 2/11/2008 but NO
permission in to Greene Just leaving 169 moving Eastward"
Tom Nanos, GRS_Railfans

I can't parse that very well but it sounds like a Wednesday arrival in New Brunswick.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad Closing Down

Press release

Regretfully, the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad aka the Unity Train Museum in Maine is shutting its doors. The current management took over the operation in 2005 and had two losing years before deciding to give up.

I am glad I visited it last August. Too bad for them.

Friday, February 08, 2008

NBEC Plow Train

On Sunday, Chris M caught an NBEC plow train returning from the Gaspe. His photos of NBEC 1816 and the plow are on his blog. Check it out!

NBEC Plow Train

NBEC Videos a-plenty!

Chris M, aka clam502, took a video of NBEC 595 with NBEC 1813 returning to Campbellton from Dalhousie. I enjoyed the sound of his child yelling "here comes choo-choos!" Nice to see the kids enthusiastic about trains!

Michel Boudreau, aka NBECMich, took a few videos in the Bathurst area of NBEC 402/403 (the mainline freight) and NBEC 597 (the local shunter).

First, here's NBEC 597 with 1821 as power, leaving Bathurst for Superior Propane in Beresford with 3 tank cars. Poor Michel got a bit shook up by the horn.

Next, NBEC 402 became train 403 in Bathurst. They had no traffic for Miramichi so they didn't need to go there. Power was 6900 and 6904.

1821 came back light from Beresford, just before 403 left for Campbellton.

Thanks for posting those, guys! Someday I'll be trackside again, I promise...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

NBEC and CFC videos, with a twist

Michel R posted a video of NBEC 586, the ore train, leaving Bathurst in the evening for the Brunswick Mines site on the Nepisiguit subdivision. The train had NBEC 1868 and NBEC 1819 with 10 of the short ore cars (345xxx series), 12 CN covered gondolas, and 3 AOK covered hoppers.

This one from Nicober100 is a little different! It features a Microsoft Train Simulator view of former NBEC 4214 on the Chemin de Fer de Charlevoix (CFC) with two LLPX GP-15 units.

As I blogged earlier it appears 4214 has gone to another Quebec Railway Corporation line.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

VIA Ocean and Chaleur Combined

As many of you know, VIA often runs the Ocean and Chaleur trains together to Matapedia, Quebec, where the Chaleur is detached and runs up the Gaspe peninsula. Sometimes they run separately all the way from Montreal.

This weekend, there was a storm and there were problems with two of the engines. The combined train had Operation Lifesaver 6411, 6413, and Spiderman 6434. At Matapedia only 6434 was still working, but they managed to restart 6411 and it departed at 10:30 (5.5 hours late) on Saturday February 2.
VIA 6411 Operation Lifesaver unit at Matapedia. Photo by Jim Babcock
Photo by Jim Babcock

Chaleur passengers were bussed from Matapedia. However, the train itself continued on to Halifax as part of the Ocean. It was an odd train, with three engines, 5 stainless steel cars, and the Ocean's 10 Renaissance cars on the end.

The train finally arrived at Halifax station at about 23:00, or 6.5 hours late. It departed on time the next day.

David Chiasson caught the weird Ocean coming into Bathurst.

He caught it again at Gloucester Junction on the other side of Bathurst, lead engine smoking like crazy.

Good catch, David!

Pipe Train Today

The third pipe train should be coming through New Brunswick today. It was reported leaving Portland, Maine "yesterday at 1030 with 4 units heading to NMJ".

Here's a link to photos of the pipe train from yesterday.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Link Posts

For those who read my blog by going to the web site, this will make no sense to you. :)

For those who read it via an RSS reader, you probably noticed a deluge of link posts. I occasionally stick an interesting link on, a global bookmarking site. I just updated my RSS feed to post those to my blog and it sent all of the links to the feed. From now on, it should only post them when I put a new link there. Sorry for the avalanche. :)

NBSR 3700 and 3701

Here are a few recent photos (from an anonymous source) of NB Southern GP9 units 3700 and 3701. You may recall that 3700's engine was removed in September 2006 and put into NBSR 9803. 3701's nose was chopped in the summer of 2006.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Punching Snow

I love this video by Julien Boily. He took it near Shawinigan, Quebec.

NBEC and VIA Videos from NBECMich

Michel R has posted a few videos from the Bathurst area. Welcome!

Here's NBEC 402 arriving in Bathurst with 6902 leading, on January 30 2008.

This one shows the Bathurst shunter, train 597, moving some cars around in Bathurst with NBEC 1821 on January 15 2008. It's a bit long but worth watching. I like the overhead view.

Next, two VIA videos. This one shows VIA 15 arriving in Bathurst with the Operation Lifesaver unit (6411) leading on January 5 2008.

Finally, VIA 15 leaving Bathurst on December 29 2007. It still seems weird to see a stainless steel train without a Park car on the end. It's like a sentence without a period at the end