Friday, July 31, 2009

BNSF Videos

Here are two videos from my July 24 visit to Moorhead, North Dakota.

I forgot all about this first train. It was a westbound empty coal train arriving at the yard with BNSF 9951, 9187 and 6029 on the head end.

Next, BNSF 8834 and 9292 leaving with BNSF pushing on the end. I cut out most of the train so you would not have to wait 5 minutes for the pusher engine.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lack of Posts

After the daily postings of late, I will be taking a break for a few days. I just took possession of my house yesterday and the movers came today with our stuff, so I will be a bit busy putting things away for a day or two! I hope by the weekend to get out and see some Western trains and post some photos and video for your enjoyment. Until then... here's a photo of CN 2532 through Diamond, Manitoba from last August.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CP 4241 in McAdam

One more eBay photo for you, this time from a black and white negative. It shows CP 4241 in front of the roundhouse in McAdam on June 25, 1978. I am not sure when the roundhouse came down in McAdam but it must not have been long after this photo, given the apparent lack of a roof.
CP 4241 in McAdam
4241 is ahead of another C-424 unit, followed by two other units that might be RS-18s. RS-18 CP 8731 is the unit on the right track.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Death of the Chaleur?

I read in Canadian Railway Observations that VIA Rail has dropped the names of the Chaleur, the Hudson Bay and the Skeena. Instead, they will refer to them by their origin and destination. In the Chaleur's case, it is referred to as the Montréal-Gaspé train. Depressing. I greatly prefer the named trains. Hopefully VIA Rail will reverse this decision.

Incidentally, VIA's recent strike is over and service is resuming. VIA's web site is very slow today, no doubt due to many stranded passengers checking trains and reserving online.

BNSF in North Dakota

On my recent cross-US trip to Winnipeg, I saw a lot of track but not a lot of trains. That changed on July 24 in Fargo, North Dakota. My wife had some shopping she wanted to do in Fargo, so my son and I went in search of trains! I knew BNSF was the railroad to see in Fargo, and after a little driving, we found their yard along route 10 in Moorhead next to Fargo.

We first saw ES44AC BNSF 5806 at rest in the yard.

Next, I saw BNSF 8961 disappearing to the east. I saw it was the DPU on an eastbound coal train leaving the yard, so we gave chase up route 10 to try to get ahead of the train. We found a grain elevator at the east end of the yard and parked there to get the shot. SD70MAC BNSF 8834 and SD70ACe BNSF 9292 were at the head end, parked just before the crossing. Presumably they were getting their orders.
BNSF 8834 leaving the Fargo area

I saw Dash 9-44CW BNSF 4057 just east of the highway, waiting to enter the yard with a manifest train. 8834 finally got underway and I took this shot of them passing 4057 at "WATT".
BNSF 4057 at Fargo

As the tail end went by, I took a little video with my Canon S3.

One more shot of 8961...
BNSF 8961 in Fargo

There was a remote-control unit working the Moorhead yard. It turned out to be GP39-2 BNSF 2859.
BNSF 2859, Moorhead, ND

I had to get back at that point, but I was satisfied to get a few BNSF shots.

We headed north along I-29. The BNSF line parallels the road at many points and would be a great line to railfan. I saw some BNSF maintenance-of-way equipment near Fargo, including a mobile crane, plus a local in a siding and a southbound freight.

Later, I saw another local in the siding at Drayton, ND. GP38s BNSF 2300 and 2285 were at the head of a short train.
BNSF 2300, Drayton, North Dakota

At the border, I saw two CN units on the Canadian side shunting a train. I didn't feel it was appropriate to start taking shots while waiting in line for Customs! :)

See Also

Sunday, July 26, 2009

CP RS-23s

Here's an eBay purchase for you to see... three Canadian Pacific Railway RS-23 units with a transfer freight in CN's Island Yard in Saint John. This photo dates from July 1975. The photo quality isn't the best but I like the material. I'm still trying to figure out exactly where this was taken.

Note the lanterns on top of the switch stands in the foreground! This must have been one of the last years the railways did that.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Six Passenger Trains in Saint John

OK, it was 1980, but still... David Morris sent along the consists of 6 trains he and Bill Linley saw on December 20 and 21, 1980 in Saint John, all in 24 hours.

--December 20--

1. VIA #616
RDC-1 VIA 6105, RDC-2 VIA 6202

2. VIA #11 (First Section)
VIA 6775-VIA 6871-CP 8561
VIA 9645-5426-5409-5389-752

3. VIA #11 (Second Section)
VIA 6768-6628-6864
VIA 9636-5621-5405-5394-3035

4. VIA #615
VIA RDC-2 6211, VIA RDC-1 6107

--December 21--

5. VIA #12 (First Section)
VIA 6772-6634-6773

6. VIA #12 (Second Section)
VIA 6776-6865-6780
VIA 9627-5580-5407-3039-432

What's up with the first and second sections? This dates from the timetable & train order period. Scheduled trains like VIA 11 and 12 ran on the times from the employee timetable. Sometimes there was more traffic than could fit on one train, so the dispatcher would run a second "section" of the same scheduled train after the first section. The trains would be referred to as "first 11" and "second 11" to show there were two sections. There could be third, fourth, fifth, etc. sections too.

For example, a January 29, 1957 order to train 113 reads: "No 113 Eng MEC 711 Meet Second 68 Eng 5302 at Bailey". So train #113, led by Maine Central 711, should meet the second section of train #68 (led by CP 5302) at Bailey.

The second section would have the same precedence over other trains that the first section had, and nobody could run in between the two sections unless a train order overrode that. The lead engine of the first* section flew green flags to indicate a second section was following.

(more reading about timetable and train order rules)

* actually, the lead engine of every section except the last flew green engines to indicate another section was following.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Railfan Canada

Blackbird and train
A blackbird chirps while a train rushes past. Near Winnipeg, 2009.

As some of you are likely aware, there is a new railway magazine out, Railfan Canada. I am always looking for more Canadian-oriented rail publications, so I was very excited to hear about this. I subscribed right away and waited for the first issue.

Volume 1 Number 1 came a while ago and I read it instantly. I was... a little underwhelmed. I think the main reason I was underwhelmed was the focus on CP 2816. I am not a steam fan so it left me a little cold. I also think I had very high expectations and they were not quite met by this issue.

The magazine is printed on high-quality paper and the photos are of high quality as well. I like the layout, although I do have a quibble with how the photo captions are presented. They intrude into the photo itself, and they need to have their own background or a border to set them off from the photo better. The Western Manitoba article was a great example of what I would like to see in this magazine.

Volume 1 Number 2 arrived a few days ago, and I read it with a bit of trepidation, expecting the same kind of letdown. Perhaps my expectations had been ratcheted down, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. Beyond minor quibbles like the caption issue and a puzzling article on Three Valley Gap (was that an advertisement? Very little about trains there), the issue was very good and very entertaining to read. Jason Shron had a nice article about VIA Rail post-1990, and the passenger train theme was well-produced throughout the issue.

The theme of Number 3 is shortlines, one of my favourite railway themes, so my expectations are high again. Let's see if they are met!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

GO Transit

I blogged before about my quick April 27 visit to Toronto. Here are a few photos from that visit.

First, GO 607 at the Port Credit, ON station platform.
GO 607, Port Credit Ontario

Next, cab car GO 205 at the same location.
GO 205, Port Credit Ontario

One shot of the modern GO Lisgar station.
GO Lisgar Station

And finally, two shots of the beautiful GO Brampton station. I think I left my 2009 Trackside Guide here.
GO Brampton station

GO Brampton station

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Semaphores and Diesels

Here's a video with very nice composition. billrafoss framed a CN train with an old semaphore signal at the Saskatchewan Railway Museum and I like the result. Very inspiring.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

VIA 6202 in Moncton

VIA's RDC 6202 was out and about in Moncton on June 13 to give rides for CN's Safety Day. 6202 was refurbished by IRSI and later sold to VIA. David Morris sent me some photos he took of the unit in the Moncton area.

In Gordon Yard with CN 8853.

At Marsh Junction.

Crossing the new underpass near the downtown station.

Monday, July 20, 2009

CP 8638 West

Here's a little video I shot in Portage la Prairie back in June (blog entry). CP 8638, CP 9567 and CEFX 1046 pulled a moderately long train past the Can-Oat facility in Portage at 07:10.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

CP 9514

CP 9514
I totally forgot to mention this train I saw on June 16. We were traveling from Regina to Winnipeg when I spotted this train stopped in a siding. I took a minute to pull over and grab a few shots of the power, CP 9514 and 9754.
CP 9514
The decal on the cab intrigued me, so I took a closer shot. I did not realize there were crew in the cab until just now!
CP 9514 cab
You can see the decal is for the RCMP Musical Ride.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fine Dining in Bristol

Dining car in Bristol
I was sent a nice article about dining aboard the train in Bristol, NB. The restaurant is called Fresh Fine Dining and features a variety of interesting-sounding entrees. I haven't had the opportunity to dine there myself but any meal aboard a train car can't be that bad!

I wrote about Bristol back in October 2007. It's nice to see them get some recognition for their hard work!

Friday, July 17, 2009

French Village Train Station

I was looking through some old photos and found these. In July 2004 we took a drive down to Peggy's Cove and the area around it in Nova Scotia. As we drove through French Village, I saw the old train station there and pulled over for a visit. At the time it was the Train Station Gift Shop.
Train Station Gift Shop Sign

The first thing I saw was the big ol' caboose attached to the station. Too bad there was no lettering on it.
Ex-CN Caboose, French Village, Nova Scotia

I walked around and took a few more photos of the station and caboose from different angles. As you can see, it was later in the afternoon and the shadows were getting long.
French Village Railway Station
Standing on the former Halifax & South Western Railway mainline...
French Village Railway Station

It was very pretty inside the station, and you could walk through the caboose as well. It was a very nice store.

Now it is the Train Station Bike and Bean, where you can relax in their cafe, rent bikes to tour the Rails to Trails path, or purchase bikes and bike equipment. Someday I hope to get back down that way and explore the trails where trains once ruled.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CN 1754 on Prince Edward Island

I saw this slide on eBay and I knew I had to have it! It's a lovely scene of CN 1754 leading a local freight past the beautiful Kensington station on Prince Edward Island.
CN 1754, Kensington, PEI
You can see that 1754 is running long hood forward, which was normal operation for the CN RS18s.

Nowadays, CN 1754 is one of the two diesel engines at the New Brunswick Railway Museum in Hillsborough, New Brunswick. Here's my video of it leading the dinner train on October 19, 2002... long hood forward, of course.

It's a shame she hasn't pulled any trains since 2004. Maybe someday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Herzog Ballast Train

The Herzog ballast train worked its way east on the CN (ex-CFMG) Mont-Joli subdivision to Campbellton this afternoon and evening, and is currently in Campbellton. Tomorrow (Thursday) it will work back west. It ran as train 906 today. It has two engines at each end, running in DPU mode as the first DPU train ever on the Mont-Joli subdivision.

Herzog calls it a PLUS train - Programmable Linear Unloading System. Basically the locations to dump ballast are preprogrammed, and the train uses GPS to determine its location and automatically dumps ballast at the correct locations. No ground personnel are required (unlike an ordinary ballast train) so it can operate 24 hours a day in any weather. Herzog operates the train itself, perhaps with a pilot from the host railroad.

Cordova Station

I stumbled across the Cordova Station site today, again. I had found it in a search a few years ago, but it came up again in another search. It's operated by William C. Slim with contributors. Cordova Station has a continuing stream of Canadian railway news. It might be worth bookmarking and coming back to. Check it out

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


If you're looking for photos, sound recordings and especially drawings of train engines, head on over to to get your fill. He has some great scale drawings of a wide variety of train engines, very useful for modeling or just for looking at.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Photos of Spring 2009's Last Stainless Ocean

David Morris chased the "last" stainless steel Ocean from Oxford Junction to Miramichi on April 29. I say "last" because it is the last of the season. VIA Rail has traditionally taken one Renaissance trainset out of service at a time during the winter, replacing it with the HEP stainless steel cars. Perhaps this really was the last stainless steel Ocean? We'll see.

Here it is at Oxford Junction, NS. The curving track to the left is the remainder of what used to be a wye track.
VIA's Ocean through Oxford Junction. Photo by David Morris.

The next shot is at what David calls the "Bull Barn" near Memramcook, NB.
The Ocean at Memramcook. Photo by David Morris.

Finally, a shot in Miramichi as the Ocean approaches the station.
The Ocean approaching Miramichi. Photo by David Morris.

The consist of the train was engines 6435, 6440, baggage car 8621, coaches 8109 and 8140, Skyline 8503, diner LOUISE, and Chateau sleepers IBERVILLE, CADILLAC, LASALLE, and DOLLARD.

VIA Over The Weekend

VIA's Chaleur at Matapedia
The Chaleur at Matapedia on August 11, 2007.

David Morris sent along the consists of most of the VIA Ocean trains this weekend. David was chasing the Chaleur so he was up bright and early to get the train at Matapedia.

2009-07-11 VIA #14 at Matapedia
(This implies the Chaleur was 6412 with the six stainless cars right after 6412)

2009-07-11 VIA #15 at Matapedia

2009-07-12 VIA #14 at Matapedia

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Two Fans, Same Train

Saintjohnrailfan and NBSRFan both shot the same train at the same location. It was an NB Southern Railway westbound freight train at the Ketepec Road near Saint John on May 4. NBSR 9801, 2317 and 9802 led 49 cars. Have a look at the two videos.



Saturday, July 11, 2009

More Ex-NBEC Updates

NBEC 1851, Bathurst, May 1 2008
Ken Lanovich reported the following on Friday:

JLCX 1818 and 1851 (ex NBEC RS-18s) were ready to be shipped out of Markham yard on Friday.

Ex-NBEC 1813 was relettered JLCX 1813 in CN's Woodcrest shop in Illinois.

Ex-NBEC SD40 6905 was relettered DMVW 6905. DMVX is the Dakota Missouri Valley & Western in North and South Dakota. I guess 6905 won't be TOO far away from me in Winnipeg!

Friday, July 10, 2009

JLCX 1816

Former NBEC 1816, now JLCX 1816, was shot by Ken Lanovich shortly before its trip to the Jabco scrap yard in Chicago Heights, Illinois. It along with other ex-NBEC RS18s were purchased by J&L Contracting for parts & scrap.

Note how the CP NBEC Rail on the side has been roughly painted over, and a rough JLCX was added. No need for finesse when it's going to be scrapped in a few days.

Ex-NBEC 1854 was behind it in this photo.

Here was NBEC 1816 in happier days, in Miramichi on September 16, 2006.
NBEC 1816 in Miramichi

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Gary's Photos from NB Southern Announcement

Gary Lee posted some great photos in Facebook that he took at the NB Southern announcement this past Tuesday. I stole a few of them for your viewing pleasure.

Rolling in
Here are some of the guests rolling up to the station on the head end of NBSR 2319. From the sequence of photos, it looks like they got on a little west of the station and the train pulled up to the station.

Driving the golden spike
I believe this is James Irving driving one of the three "golden" spikes.

L-R: Frank Carroll, Mayor of McAdam; Rodney Weston, Saint John MP; Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson; James Irving, President, NBSR; Premier Shawn Graham; Denis Landry, MLA and Minister of Transportation; Rick Miles, Fredericton-Silverwood MLA.

The spikes
The "golden" spikes in the tie. Notice how the gold paint came off when they hammered them in. The spikes were later extracted.

McAdam Yard Sign
The yard sign at McAdam.

Great shots, Gary!

EDIT: Filled in unknowns in photo, thanks everyone.

New Kevin Gaudet Videos

Kevin was out shooting on July 6 and posted a few nice videos.

First, VIA 14 through Memramcook with two smoking units and a Park car on the end.

Next, a shot of CN 407 at the same location. I'm not sure which video comes first.

Here's another from Kevin from July 3, showing local CN 539 returning to Gordon Yard in Moncton.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Analysis of NB Southern Announcement

So what does $18 million buy? And is this a good investment by the governments?

I should say, what does $36 million buy, because some of the more recent articles about the announcement state that J.D. Irving will match the federal and provincial funds.

Given 90 miles of mainline track (Saint John to Maine border) and 34 miles of branchline track (St. Stephen line), that is an average of $290,000/mile.
A recent Iowa Department of Transportation analysis determined that rehabilitation of lines to 286K standards generally costs about US $265,000/mile. That falls very much in line with the figures above.

The newer articles (below) talk about upgrading the line to the the 286K standard. Many of New Brunswick's railway lines can only handle cars that weigh up to 263,000 lbs. Most class 1 railways in North America, aka the larger ones, handle cars up to 286,000 lbs and more. It makes it hard for shippers to send cars across the continent when they can only use 263,000 pound cars.

This upgrade will allow easier interchange of traffic. Marwood (just north of Fredericton Junction) is quoted as saying they will use the rail line once it is upgraded. I should point out that Marwood is owned by J.D. Irving, as are all the newspapers quoted below.

I know there are people who say government should not invest in private companies, and in general I agree with that. But a railway is not exactly a private company - it provides a public service as a transportation corridor. Governments should be very involved in transportation, especially to promote greener, more fuel efficient transportation methods such as railways. I would much rather see $18 million of my money go to a railway than to build a few miles of twinned highways for more gas guzzlers.

I also know many people don't think the Irvings should get any public funds. Ask yourself if NB Southern was owned by a publicly-listed company, if you'd feel any different. Irving has their faults but they have done a lot for New Brunswick.

I think this is a good investment by the federal and provincial governments.

More coverage: NB Business Journal, Daily Gleaner (again), Telegraph Journal.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Big NBSR Announcement

NBSR 2319 and Supporters. Photo from Province of New Brunswick web site
L-R: John Murphy, VP Transportation, JD Irving Ltd; Premier Shawn Graham; Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson; James Irving, President, NBSR; Rick Miles, Fredericton-Silverwood MLA; Ian Simpson, General Manager of NBSR. Photo courtesy Province of New Brunswick.

The announcement was made this morning. The federal and provincial governments will each invest up to $9 million in right-of-way improvements, including ties, rails, bridges, and yard improvements in Saint John and McAdam. NB Southern Railway will invest an unspecified amount. The track from Saint John to the Maine border will be upgraded, as well as the McAdam to Saint Stephen branch. The money is to be spent in 2009 and 2010.

Provincial announcement, J.D. Irving announcement, CBC, Daily Gleaner

I enjoyed the comments in the CBC article from Kevin Gaudet, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, who called the federal investment "fiscal child abuse" and "these silly wastes of taxpayers' money".

Monday, July 06, 2009

Big Announcement Tuesday?

McAdam Station
There is supposed to be a big announcement in McAdam on Tuesday at 10 AM. The rumour is that the NB Southern line from Saint John to Brownville is to be upgraded to 130 lb. rail. I'm told the premier, the Irvings, MP Greg Thompson and others will be there. I assume there must be some provincial and/or federal investment for the politicians to be present.

The yard has been spruced up, with new signage, crushed rock, and even special ties for a ceremonial spike driving.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

NB Southern Railway Repainting Passenger Cars

Several people have noticed that NB Southern has had their passenger cars in the Island Yard shops. Speculation was that they were preparing them for the New Brunswick Day excursion with the Premier. Well, they are definitely repainting them!
NBSR 5471 crossing the Reversing Falls bridge in Saint John, NB. Photo by Bob Boudreau

Bob Boudreau got these shots of NBSR 5471 crossing the Reversing Falls bridge this weekend.
NBSR 5471. Photo by Bob Boudreau

It looks like they painted the roof and undersides too, and maybe even replaced the diaphragms! They look sharp so far. I assume they will be decaled in the Dever Road yard.

This is what the three passenger cars used to look like. This is NBSR 5448 but they all had the VIA colours with NBSR on one end.
NBSR 5448 at Harvey Lake, 2007/09/15

Thanks to Bob for the photos!

Woodstock Bridge Washout, 1976

I'm just jotting down a quick note I saw in the May 1977 "Railroad" magazine.

"CP Rail has fully restored rail service to its 105-mile line between McAdam and Aroostook, N.B. The line had been in partial operation since April, 1976, when spring floods washed out a 449-foot bridge at Woodstock. Cost of reopening the line was over $1 million, with some $1,700,000 being used to rebuild the bridge. CP Rail will run about three trains a day over the reopened line and grant running rights to CN Rail trains into Woodstock."

There is also a CP Rail photo of a high-hood RS-18 leading a train of several boxcars over the bridge, the first train over since it was rebuilt. I can't read the unit number but it is 87xx. Anyone know what it was?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

NBEC 1818 Sold

NBEC 1818, Miramichi
Ex-NBEC RS-18 1818 has been sold by CN. Ken Lanovich reports on the LocoNotes group that it has been relettered JLCX 1818. It is still parked at CN's Woodcrest, Illinois faclity. JLCX is the reporting mark for JL Consulting Ltd., a Canadian locomotive buyer. Presumably it is en route to one of their customers.

Friday, July 03, 2009

NB Southern Thursday

I was in Saint John yesterday. Just after getting off highway 1, I saw NBSR 2612 and 3702 parked in the siding at the east end of Island Yard.
NBSR 2612 and 3702 in Saint John

There was a string of freight cars by the former VIA station, presumably brought over by them from Dever Road. As I took a few photos, the carman drove by in his ATV and joined the conductor waiting by the freight cars.

I saw freight cars being pushed up the hill from Island Yard. Presumably CN 405 (or 406, whatever CN is calling it now) was pushing uphill to get the rest of the freight cars. Here's a short video in the rain.

CN 7060 was parked by the shop building in Island Yard. I noted one of the blue NBSR passenger cars was parked near the shop with the NBSR "office" caboose 422990, presumably to get ready for the New Brunswick Day excursion between Harvey and McAdam.

NBSR Slug On The Road

I hear NB Southern's slug 008 was on the road Thursday, presumably with "mother" 2318. Apparently it went to McAdam Wednesday night as part of the westbound freight. It was returning to Saint John Thursday afternoon, departing around 15:30. It was probably a slow trip, given the numerous slow orders on the main line, courtesy of the recent track evaluation (TEC) train.