Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Ocean in Quebec

On Saturday, after hearing that the Ocean was over three hours late due to an electrical fire in Montreal, we decided to head to Amqui, Quebec to get her there. Of course it was raining, but we made the best of it. VIA 14 eventually rolled up to the station at 07:38 Eastern, over 3.5 hours late.

The consist was VIA 6431, 6440, 6425, 8609, 8124, 8507, BIENVILLE, RICHELIEU, 7009, 7220, 7108, 7316, 7402, 7308, 7518, 7517, 7509, 7311, 7516, 7504. The 6425 and the next five cars became the Chaleur at Matapedia.

We booted it to Causapscal next, where the bridge was damaged last September after CFMG derailed there. I shot video, so this is David Morris' shot at 08:08:

The next spot was a real treat. It was just past Routhierville, and we shot from the highway bridge across the river at 08:21. I shot video but I had a chance to take a few photos and I love how they turned out.

Our next shot was at a place David calls Glen Emma, and I shot video there.

For Matapedia, I decided to head up the steep path to the bluff overlooking Matapedia to get some overhead shots. It's quite a hike and you definitely need to be moderately fit to make the climb. I shot video of the Ocean arriving but then took a bunch of stills. Here's the full train at the station.

They pulled the three engines and the first five cars off the Ocean and ran up to the bridge, then backed down past the station to the other end of the yard. David was up by the bridge supervising.

They then cut off 6425 and the five cars and ran them up the other side of the engine to become the Chaleur. 6431 and 6440 ran back up to the bridge and then backed onto the Ocean consist.

I headed down the hill, and just as I reached the ground I heard two toots as the Chaleur headed out. I ran to the car and we gave chase.

Read the next post!

Friday, May 29, 2009

VIA 15 Friday

David Morris and I are in Tide Head tonight, after a chase of VIA 15 from Rogersville to Campbellton in the rain.

We arrived in Rogersville with plenty of time. I was resolved not to stupidly watch the train go by like last time, so we were ready when the train rocketed past at 18:36 with VIA 6415 and 6414.

We gave chase to Miramichi. The rain was persistent but so were we! We arrived at Miramichi ahead of the train and shot him coming into the main yard at 19:11.

CN 5346 and 5299 were in the yard.

After a short stop, VIA 15 was on the road again.

6415's headlight was in sight when we passed over the track on highway 11 just coming into Bathurst, and we decided to get him at Jacquet River next. It was getting dark but I think the video will turn out OK. The train stopped there to drop someone off, then headed out.

We gave chase and arrived at Campbellton about 15 minutes before they did. We stood at the platform to give the "rollby inspection" but didn't take any shots in the dark and rain.

The word is that VIA 14 was delayed about 3 hours leaving Montreal, so we plan to go to Amqui tomorrow to shoot him there before following him to Matapedia. From there we plan to chase the Chaleur as far as it goes. David expects they will turn at New Carlisle rather than go the full distance to Gaspe. Hopefully the rain will not be too bad!

Ready To Railfan!

Railfan gear
I'm ready to go railfanning!

- Canon S3 IS still camera
- Sony DCR-TRV25 video camera
- Uniden BC72XLT Scanner
- tripod
- teeny tripod
- inverter (provides 120V power in car)
- battery charger
- spare batteries
- spare video tape
- spare memory card
- scanner power supply
- Trackside Guide
- camera bag

Not shown:
- Garmin 255W GPS
- video camera charger
- car

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Passenger Trains This Weekend

VIA Chaleur
Don't forget this Saturday's NB Southern passenger excursion! I'd love to chase it but I will be chasing a different passenger train... VIA's Chaleur, on the Gaspe.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Subsidize Railways!

The CBC is reporting that the subsidies for the CB&CNS are due to end next March. The company is urging that the province renew their agreement to supply up to $2 million per year to cover operations and maintenance costs on the line between Port Hawkesbury and Sydney (the former CN Sydney subdivision).

Obviously as a railfan I am in favour of this subsidy. But hear me out. All across Canada, communities are kicking themselves for allowing rail lines to be removed. With high fuel costs, congested roads, and the advent of the green movement, we need every inch of rail we have now. Allowing the CB&CNS to fail will lead to the removal of the rail line and any future potential for Sydney.

You can argue that government should not subsidize private industry. It's nothing new. Look at, oh, the Irving tax deal the City of Saint John negotiated with Irving Oil. They gave a 25 year tax break to the new LNG terminal. If that isn't a subsidy, I don't know what is.

Bottom line, the government of Nova Scotia must continue the subsidy to the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway to preserve the future of Cape Breton's industries.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Manic Monday in Saint John

I was in Saint John on Monday for most of the day and saw a few trains here and there.

At 10 AM the power for CN 405 was still in Island Yard. CN 5634 and 5738 were resting at their usual spot by the shops. It's nice to see SD75s back in Saint John. SW1200 NBSR 3703 is still parked on the other side of the shop building. I wonder why that is not in use any more? CN 7060 was shunting the yard.

I saw a large maintenance of way (MOW) crew at work by the Staples off Russell Street. I shot this little video of the tie crane rolling by with my Canon S3. Sorry for the jerky zooms - I'm not used to zooming with this camera. My video camera is much smoother.
There were a lot of ties beside the track so clearly they were changing them out.

Maintenance equipment near Russell Street in Saint John, NB
At noon the MOW crew was still at work. I talked very briefly with saintjohnrailfan nbsrfan before heading back to work.

On my way out, I saw CN 7038 and NBSR 9803 parked by Irving Paper off Bayside Drive. I parked at the top of River Avenue and ran over to the overpass to take a few shots.
CN 7038 and NBSR 9803 near Irving Paper
When I returned, a woman came out of the house and was curious what I was doing. She said that I was the second person to park there that day and she was getting concerned. I assured her I was taking photos of trains, not of her kids or anything weird like that. OK, maybe taking photos of trains IS weird, but it's a GOOD weird.

On my way out, I noticed some MOW equipment in the siding at Westfield Beach.
NB Southern's Harsco 6700 production/switch tamper
Eastern Maine Railway ballast tamper
See also:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Dad's CB&CNS Photos

My mom and dad went on a Cape Breton vacation several years ago, and my dad the train nut took a few photos of a Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia coal train. He didn't have a great camera so they aren't great photos, but since my dad is gone these will have to do. I'm just happy to have these few.

LLPX 1504 on the end.

LLPX 1508.

Caboose CBNS 2000 leads the way.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The End of Eastern Rail Services

Today Eastern Rail Services, the shops at Campbellton, shut down. ERS performed locomotive and car repair work out of the facility. Eight people were laid off.

Six carmen will be working out of the building to support CN's operations through Campbellton, but the days of locomotive repair are over... at least for now. The last time the shops were closed were in 1988 when CN sold the facility to the Quebec Railway Corporation.

The five RTCs will be done on May 28.

Best of luck to the former ERS employees.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I don't understand people sometimes. I don't get what the thrill is to set someone's property on fire. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy burning stuff in campfires but I don't get why people burn other people's stuff.

I was reading an article about how a suspected arsonist has been burning things in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg. The latest item to burn was the water tower for Tim Buzunis' railway in the park. He operates a small steam engine on his property. So far he has lost the tower and a shed, and someone attempted to burn his ticket booth. The rumour is that a teenager or teenager(s) have been setting the fires.

Years ago, I owned a house in Kingsclear just up river from the Mactaquac dam. One night I looked out my front window and the field across the highway from my house was ablaze. I called the fire department and they came and monitored the fire. Fortunately there was no property damage (other than the grass), but if the wind was blowing the other way, my house could have been threatened. The firefighters told me this was a regular spring thing around the area.

What is wrong with people?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Combined Ocean and Chaleur

Jean-Rafael Parent aka cfmgd recorded an interesting time at Matapedia, Quebec on the evening of May 16. CN 402 rolled past the station with CN 5662 and 2694 on the head end. While 402 was rolling by, the Chaleur arrived off the Gaspe line with 6421 for power. Then VIA 15 came by!

He also posted a video of the combined Ocean/Chaleur leaving.

Good work!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rally of Hope Train Rides For 2009

It's that time of year! NB Southern Railway will be operating their yearly excursion train for the Rally of Hope fundraising drive to benefit the Saint John Regional Hospital.

Trains leave the NB Southern yard at Dever Road on Saturday, May 30 at 10 AM and 2 PM, and again on Saturday June 13 at the same times. The train goes to Welsford, then back to Dever Road.

Tickets cost $20.00 per adult and $12.00 per child (12 & under).

Call 632-5823 to reserve tickets. You will pick the tickets up at the NB Southern yard at 11 Gifford Road on the West Side.

Thanks to Carman Graham for the tip.

Campbellton's Other Railway

In a railfan's mind, Campbellton is known for the CN line that runs through it, and especially for the Eastern Railway Services shop that (for the next week or so) services locomotives and rolling stock for the former New Brunswick East Coast Railway. But did you know there is another railway in Campbellton?

That's right, I'm talking about the Campbellton Railway. It is/was a narrow-gauge line running along the Bay of Chaleur. The track runs beside Salmon Boulevard from Ramsay Street around to terminate in a field near Riverview Drive. Presumably this line was built to give tourists a little ride along the waterfront.

For rolling stock, it appears there is one engine ("steam", but actually powered by an internal combustion engine), the caboose pictured, and a passenger car down by Ramsay Street.

It is clear that this has not run for a long time. Does anyone know the history of the line and when, if ever, it operated?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mmmmm... Alco

Here's a video of Ontario Midland #36, an Alco RS-11 belonging to the Ontario Midland Railroad in western New York. The Ontario Midland looks like an Alco stronghold, with three S-4s, an RS-36, an S-2, two RS-3s and an RS-11 on the roster!

David Graham has s nice photo of it too.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Photography and the Police

I was reading an article in the Winnipeg Free Press about police and photography. The article talks about police seizing the videotape of a documentary filmmaker recording the destruction of a house. It is clear from the article that the police overstepped their bounds.

It reminded me of the various run-ins that railfans have had with police and railway police in particular. In some cases, (idiot) railfans have made a nuisance of themselves and deserved the attention. However, in many cases (such as this) railfans have been harassed for no good reason.

Know your rights. And follow the railfan etiquette.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Steam Ahoy!

I'm no big fan of steam, but this video of the first run of the refurbished Prairie Dog Central #3 almost made a convert of me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An Unexpected Stop

I was heading home from the Saint John area late this afternoon when I was told the NB Southern eastbound might be nearing Saint John. I took exit 80 to highway 102, then turned left at the intersection onto the Nerepis Road (highway 177) toward Fredericton. Within a mile I saw NBSR 9801!

One quick turn later, and I was headed back southward. I overtook the freight and decided to shoot them once at Westfield Beach. I didn't have a lot of time so I wanted to make sure I was well ahead to compose my shot. I pulled into the area by the NB Southern antenna and waited...

I quickly realized the train had stopped, so I hopped back into the van and went to investigate. The train was halfway through the underpass under highway 102, with NBSR 9801 and 2317 and about 10 cars ahead of the underpass and the other 20 or so cars on the other side. I took a few shots at 16:30.
NBSR 9801 at Westfield Beach, NB

Since I was short of time, I figured I should just head out. As I drove closer to the engine, the engineer beckoned for me to stop. I think he recognized me - I have seen him before. I pulled over and got out to talk. He said that the train suddenly slowed down, for no apparent reason. The conductor was walking the river side of the train.

The engineer asked if I would take a drive down to the other end and see if any cars were off the rails or if I could see anything unusual. I agreed and drove slowly down to the end. All the cars were on, and I checked the last crossing they had passed and there were no signs of anything dragging. I returned and reported this.

The engineer said that they had lost the air reading on the end (from the End of Train (EOT) device) but the train never dumped the air. He was wondering if they had an air hose kink and then fix itself. He thanked me for checking, and I went on my way.

A few minutes later I heard someone say "angle cock" on the scanner, so it does sound like there was a problem with the air on the train. Very curious. I hope they didn't have too much trouble finding and fixing the problem!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Prairie Dog Central Steam Engine Back!

My father-in-law and son at Inkster Junction.

The Prairie Dog Central Railway has a steam engine, 1882 vintage #3, that has been out of service for several years. After a half million dollar rebuild, it's back!. The Winnipeg Free Press documented its first revenue trip this past weekend. I look forward to riding behind that engine soon! Read article.

The Chaleur

CFMGD, aka Jean-Rafael Parent, posted a video of the same Chaleur that I saw last Monday. He shot it along the Gaspe line: at Chandler, and turning in Gaspe.

He also has a nice video of the combined Ocean/Chaleur through Rimouski. This was the eastbound train, not the one I saw.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

1907 Intercolonial Railway Timetable Online

I recently purchased the July 20, 1907 Intercolonial Railway Timetable on eBay for a price I'd rather not mention (*cough* $24.88 US *cough*, actually quite a bargain). I have scanned all 24 pages and put them online for your viewing pleasure.

There are lots of interesting details in this timetable. I was amused to note that the Indiantown Branch was still in existence at this time, served by a single mixed train. That branch went southwest from Newcastle and basically paralleled the Northern & Western line that became CN's Miramichi subdivision.

Go view and enjoy!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Switching the Chaleur

The Chaleur at Matapedia, Quebec
As I mentioned, I saw the Ocean and Chaleur switch at Matapedia this past Monday night. You may or may not know that the two trains travel together from Montreal, then split at Matapedia and go their separate ways. When the Chaleur returns later that day, it is merged back into the Ocean and they travel as one train back to Montreal.

They start with the Chaleur on the track leading to the Gaspe coast, and the Ocean beside the station on the other side. Both trains face railway west.

The basic procedure is this:
- Uncouple the engines from the Ocean and run forward to the switch
- Back those engines onto the head of the Chaleur
- Take the entire Chaleur consist forward to the switch
- Back the entire Chaleur consist onto the Ocean's cars.

Of course, there is lots to do in between, because all the various cables and hoses have to be detached and attached on every movement. There are a lot of connections!
Cabling between VIA engines

On Monday the procedure was done by one person on the ground together with one of the Ocean engineers. The Chaleur head end crew was not involved. I'm not sure if they were onboard or had booked off.
Switching the Chaleur

I was glad I could see the procedure. It was quite a little dance.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Tag Cloud

I found this cool service called Wordle. It looks at blogs and makes a cloud of the words in it, where more frequently used words are bigger than less common words. Here is my blog, as a cloud of words.

Apparently I used the words "freight", "VIA", "yard" and "NBEC" a lot recently.

RS18s in Campbellton

On Monday night I had the opportunity to tour the Campbellton yard. With permission, of course! NBEC 1819 was in the shop track, having received a new head. It was being readied for its new career.
NBEC 1819, Campbellton

Outside, NBEC 1845 was resting in the yard. 1845 is operational and is currently used as the shop switcher.

There are three dead RS18s around the yard, 1809, 1830 and 1855.

There were a few MOW (Maintenance Of Way) pieces around the yard. Plow NBEC 55420 was the only one left, since its sister 55419 went to the Bay.

Two cars are waiting for the scrapper. The plaque on Jordan Spreader 50955 reads "JORDAN SPREADER O.F. JORDAN CO. EAST CHICAGO INDIANA PATENTED OTHER PATENTS PENDING".

Rare flanger NBEC 56201 is also destined for the scrapper. Yes, it's a flanger, not a caboose.

A quick hat tip to CJF - it was very nice to meet you. Thanks to all the Eastern Railway Services people for your hospitality! I wish you all the best of luck.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Northern New Brunswick Monday and Tuesday

I went up north on Monday, returning Tuesday, and I saw a few things along the way.


I heard CN 9524 get clearance to work north of Bathurst at 11:15. I knew the southbound freight was due in soon, so they would have to meet somewhere on the road. I heard them get clearance from Belledune so I ducked into Pointe Verte and shot them there at 11:45 with CN 5346 and 5288 leading a longish train.

I caught the northbound freight returning to Campbellton at 17:25 with 5288 leading this time. There were quite a few empty container flats on the end of the train.

Michel Boudreau caught the same freight outside Bathurst.

Later, VIA 15 arrived around 22:00 with VIA 6401 and 6412 leading the usual Renaissance consist. I went to Matapedia to watch them cut the Chaleur into the train. I'll get into that in another post, but the Chaleur's consist was 6446, 8609, coach 8124, Skyline 8507, Chateaus Bienville and Richelieu.


The next morning, I saw VIA 14 roll through Belledune after stopping to reline the switch at 08:20. VIA 6449 and 6420 provided the motive power.

I saw the tail end of the southbound freight leaving Miramichi, with the Ultramar tank cars on the end, but I didn't see the power.

Not a bad trip!

The Maine View of the Last Train From Calais

Maine Central 321 in Saint Stephen
Isaac "Skippy" Greenlaw wrote a nice post about the last train from Calais that I saw last Friday.