Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Return to Portage, Part 1

Amidst all the house hunting I have been doing here in Winnipeg, I decided I needed wanted to do some railfanning. So I arose yesterday (Tuesday) at the early hour of 04:50 to head to Portage la Prairie. The sun was already up, so it was time to see some trains!

As I rounded the Perimeter Highway, I heard CN 312 call in to find out where they were bringing the train. The signal was strong on the scanner so I knew they were nearby. I exited the Perimeter at Wilkes Avenue and parked just west of the highway. CN 312 was just approaching Winnipeg at 05:42 on the north track, with CN 2511 and 5630 pulling 81 cars, half of which were autoracks.
CN 2511 in Winnipeg Manitoba
You probably can't see it in the small version, but there is a green signal light on the east-facing signal.

My GPS told me to continue west on Wilkes Avenue, so I did. As I travelled along, I thought I heard a train behind me blowing for crossings, and I pulled up to a private crossing and looked east toward Winnipeg. Headlights! I quickly set up and shot a westbound freight at 05:55 with CN 2603 and 5732.
CN 2603 at Winnipeg
You see the problem of shooting westbounds so early in the morning!

I chased it along the Trans-Canada Highway out toward Portage. I tried a few out-the-window shots as I slowly overtook it at 100 km/h, and they turned out OK. I saw an elevator in the distance at Oakville, MB and I resolved to shoot it there. I love grain elevators and I love trains, so I must love the combination, right?
CN 2603 at Oakville Manitoba
At 06:35 the light was still not good.

As I stood admiring the train, I looked west and saw... more headlights! Quickly I turned and shot an eastbound tank train with CN 5683 and 2572 and 101? tank cars. I didn't get any stills of that, as I was too busy setting up the video camera.

As I approached Portage, I heard a westbound CP freight talking on the scanner. The westbound CN freight just barely beat me to Portage, so I decided to go around to the west side and shoot the CP freight. I went to the Can-Oat Road and waited by the elevator there for the freight. My friend CN 2603 West shot past at 07:02, and shortly afterward at 07:10 CP 8638, CP 9567 and CEFX 1046 pulled a train past the Can-Oat elevator.
CP 8638 at the Can-Oat facility in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

Three trains down, four more to come!

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