Friday, April 30, 2010

CEMR Units Leaving Windsor & Hantsport?

David Othen reported that CEMR 4011 and 4014 are "now coupled nose to nose with 5 or 6 empty grain cars" at Windsor Junction outside Halifax, Nova Scotia. Windsor Junction is where the Windsor & Hantsport Railway interchanges traffic with CN. These two GP9s have had some mechanical problems. It appears that now that the W&H's GE units are on site, and at least somewhat operational, the CEMR units are being sent back.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Decisions, Decisions Round 2

I think I've just about decided which camera to get. As you may recall, I was considering the Canon XSi versus the Nikon D5000. Many of you commented, and I really appreciate the feedback. Some liked the Canon, some the Nikon, and there were a couple of other recommendations: the Fuji S100fs and the Olympus E620.

Since my last post, I've decided that I do want video on the camera, so that rules out the Olympus. The Fuji has video but it is pretty low-resolution. Now I'm comparing the Canon T1i versus the Nikon D5000, a worthy match-up.


I think in the end, I like Canon and that's what is going to tip the scales for me. Unless something else comes along shortly, my mind is made up. Now I just have to figure out the best way to finance it! :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


On Monday (April 26) I worked from home in the morning, and intended to work from my office in the afternoon. I drove up Wilkes Avenue at noon, planning to catch the Canadian on the way. I did see VIA about halfway between Kenaston and the Perimeter, right on time. The Canadian was extra-long, with 3 deadhead cars on the head end and 13 cars in revenue service.

VIA's Canadian in Winnipeg
Full consist.

Right after that, I was brought into a conference call. Rather than drive while talking on my cell phone (have you signed Oprah's No Phone Zone pledge? Neither have I), I elected to pull over. While I was on the phone, several more trains rolled on by.

CN 199 followed VIA out of the city, with CN 5641 and CN 2401 providing the power. The container traffic was on the head end here, with the miscellaneous junk trailing. I was able to step out of my car, take a shot, then get back to the call.
CN 5641 on train 199

Shortly after that, an eastbound rolled by with CN 8907 and CN 2423. It may have been CN 198 but I'm just guessing. 198 often rolls into Winnipeg around noon. No photos for that one.

The fourth train was the twice-weekly CEMR train heading for the Carman subdivision. CCGX 4010, CEMR 4001 and CEMR 4000 pulled about 70 cars. I took a few shots through the windshield and this is the best of them.
CEMR westbound train
Soon after that, my call was done and I continued on to the office. Maybe I need to relocate my office...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Save the LRC?

Jason Shron, well-known to modelers as the founder of the excellent Rapido Trains, has launched a campaign to save VIA LRC 6917 from the scrappers. 6917 and two other LRC engines (6914, 6919) are at VIA's Toronto Maintenance Centre and are slated to be scrapped soon. The intent is for 6917 to be restored to at least display condition, and moved to the site of soon-to-open Toronto Railway Heritage Centre at the bottom of John Street in Toronto, at the former CP roundhouse. They need to raise well over $100,000 to purchase the locomotive and move it to the centre. Toronto Sun article

Fellow LRC VIA 6921 is at the Canadian Railway Museum. I shot it in July 2005.
Ex-VIA LRC 6921 at the Canadian Railway Museum

The LRC units were built by Bombardier (successor to MLW in Canada) between 1980 and 1984. VIA had 33? of these units at one point, and they operated for close to 20 years on VIA before being replaced by the F40PH-2s we all know and love.

I was going to go on a bit of a rant about spending a lot of money to preserve a second LRC, when one is already preserved, but that would be wrong. It's great that Jason is passionate about preserving the LRC and supporting the new museum in Toronto. It's great that he is putting a lot of his own money and time into the project, and nobody should discourage him from that. More people and more funds are needed for railway preservation, and I'd like to hear more stories like this.

What are your thoughts on preservation of railway items, like locomotives and cars?

Chasing Trains

VIA's War Brides train at Beaver Brook, NB
VIA 6406 leads the War Brides train of 2006 through Beaver Brook, NB at the beginning of one of my train chases.
If you've been a long-time reader, you may remember some of my long-distance train chases. For example, chasing VIA's Chaleur in 2007 and 2009, the Veteran Train chase of 2005, following the NB Southern dimensional test train in 2007, or chasing the "last" Budd train of 2006.

On Friday night, I was sitting with my wife and kids at the Dairy Queen on Pembina Highway near the university. I remarked to my wife that I love railfanning in Winnipeg, since there are so many trains (and seven railways!), but the one thing I miss is chasing trains. These days I park somewhere and let the trains come to me. Occasionally I chase one but in general I am in the city and chasing is not possible. As I said to my wife, if you miss one train, chances are another will be along in a little while.

A minute or two after we had that conversation, CN 522 rolled past, right behind the restaurant, with CN 5786 and 2706, proving my point. I couldn't have scheduled it better if I had tried.

I think I will have to get out of the city and do a little more chasing. I like the adrenaline rush of leapfrogging the train to get a series of shots.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Today's Hudson Bay

VIA 6458 and the Hudson Bay train
I was visiting with Roger the collector in Lasalle this morning. I left with a boxful of timetables and magazines, and as I drove to the Perimeter Highway I noticed the time was right for the Hudson Bay to leave Winnipeg. The kids and I drove up to Wilkes Avenue and went out to just east of Diamond to get the shot. Within two or three minutes after we unloaded, I heard the train blowing for the crossings to the east. At 12:27 the Hudson Bay came into view.
VIA's Hudson Bay train
Here's the consist.

NB Southern Power Update

NBSR 2318 at Vespra, August 4, 2008
Word has it that NBSR 2317 is coming back to New Brunswick next week. It has been at Canadian Allied Diesel since January.

NBSR 2318 has been restricted to yard duty in Saint John due to an engine problem. Its daughter unit, NBSR 008, has been performing well.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Switcher at Night

CP 1587 at sunset in Winnipeg
I was visiting my sister-in-law in the north end of Winnipeg on Thursday evening, and on my way home I spotted a CP switcher by the Safeway distribution center just northeast of the airport. I stopped to take a sunset shot. The conductor was on the ground walking the train. I think they must have had the locomotive lights off so as not to blind the passing motorists on route 90.

Tag Cloud, Round 2

Last May, I used a service called Wordle to create a cloud of words that were found in my blog. I ran the same thing yesterday to get this cloud.
Wordle tag cloud of
Clearly I have Canon and cameras on the mind!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blog of Note

NBEC 1819 on the Nepisiguit Subdivision
Hey, my blog made the Blog of Note for today. I'm honoured - thank you!

(read a history of Blogger's Blogs of Note)

Decisions, Decisions

I'm nearing a decision on replacing my venerable Canon S3 IS camera with a digital SLR camera. Right now I'm torn between two cameras.

The Canon XSi looks like a really nice camera. But... the Nikon D5000 seems to be just as good as the Canon, plus it does video.

If you compare side-by-side, you can see the Nikon has a slight edge. The sensor is a bit bigger, it can do ISO 3200, the screen can flip and tilt, and as I mentioned it does video.

My heart is with Canon but the Nikon seems better... for $150 more. What to do???

Thursday, April 22, 2010

VIA Rail Issues Tender to Repair Cars

VIA Derailment, by Bernard Babin
VIA Rail has issued an Invitation To Tender (ITT) to repair four cars damaged in the February derailment in Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse, Quebec.

"This train was composed of two F-40 (2) locomotives and seven (7) stainless steel HEP1 passenger cars. VIA has elected to repair four (4) cars externally. For this reason, VIA is seeking the services of an external Service Provider to perform the required repairs in order to bring the cars back to their running condition."

IRSI? :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Canadian Pacific Local

CP 1530 in Winnipeg
I was out and about yesterday afternoon, circling the CN Symington Yard, when I heard a CP freight get a clearance from CN to cross the St. Boniface spur. That meant they would be going along Archibald Street, an easily viewed area not far from where I was. I headed over to Plinguet Street (by the GWWD) to get a shot at the crossing. My son and I hopped out of the car.

The train stopped just west of the crossing, and the conductor got out to reline a switch for the main line. Then they proceeded slowly into the crossing and headed east.

A few things that interested me about this train: the crewman riding the flatcar a few cars from the end, and the "model train switch" in the CP service gondola on the end.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CN TEST Train in Town

CN TEST train logo
The CN TEST train is in town. A little birdie told me that train CN 496 was tying up for the evening at the Fort Rouge yard, after working the Rivers and Reddit subdivisions today. I went over to see if I could see the train. It is visible but badly backlit.
CN 15007 in Winnipeg
The train consists of CN 4807, CN 15007 (above) and CN 15008 (below).
CN 15008 in Winnipeg
The little birdie also told me that this train will be traveling down the Letellier subdivision tomorrow.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Light Rail for Winnipeg?

Phoenix Light Rail Transit (LRT)
LRT vehicle in Phoenix, Arizona, April 14 2010

Our esteemed mayor Sam Katz is keen to move on LRT in Winnipeg. LRT=Light Rail Transit.

Currently the city is building phase one of the "Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor", a busway between Queen Elizabeth Way (near the Forks and the VIA station) to Jubilee Avenue at Pembina Highway (aka CN Fort Rouge). Part of this work involves a tunnel under the CN yards at Fort Rouge. This is scheduled to be completed next year. The plans allow for replacement of the rapid transit bus by a light rail system sometime in the future.

Let's hope Mayor Katz gets his way.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chinatown Calculation

Caleb posted a nice video of VIA 15 and 14 at the China Town restaurant in Halifax. I like that spot... both for railfanning and for eating.

The title of this post refers to the old song by Doug & the Slugs, of course. The Slugs had quite a few good hits, including "Too Bad", "Tomcat Prowl", and "Making it Work" among others. Poor Doug Bennett passed away in 2004, alas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Meadows Grain Elevator

Paterson Grain, Meadows, MB
Back in mid-March, I drove west on the CP mainline for a little while to take a few pictures of the grain elevator at Meadows, MB (here).
Meadows, Manitoba
The elevator has a single-ended siding (points face east).
Grain elevator, Meadows, Manitoba
There is a beautiful shot of this elevator here. According to that page, the elevator was one of the first built by Paterson around the turn of the century (meaning the 19th-20th century!), and is now abandoned. The nearby modern elevator at Rosser handles all the traffic.
Meadows grain elevator, Manitoba
I found a list of wood elevators in Manitoba... good reference material.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

User Favourites - Alco chugging as NBEC 587 leaving Bathurst

Here's another user favourite video, with 9,577 views... little Alco power!

I blogged about this one. This was NBEC train 587 taking loaded ore cars to the smelter at Belledune on September 14, 2007.

I love that Alco noise!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Article on TEC Trains

CP TEC train
Someone posted a link to a great article on track evaluation trains ("TEC trains"). As you may know, a TEC train is used to detect rail defects, through ultrasonics and other methods. I have seen a few in my time.

I encourage you to read the article.

Monday, April 12, 2010

User Favourites - CP in Winnipeg

Occasionally I will post an older video of mine that has become a favourite on YouTube. This one is the most viewed video I have, at 18,739 views as of this writing. Well, that's not exactly true. I have two other videos that are more popular but they are LEGO train videos. :)

This particular video was taken in December 2003 during one of my many visits to Winnipeg. Two trains are shown - first CP 9571 pulls a train east past the CP shops on December 27.

Personally I like the second train better, because it features "red barn" CP 9013 rolling right under me while I stood on the Arlington Street bridge. I'm pretty proud of that little bit of tape.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thursday's 114

CN 8003 near Diamond
On Thursday (April 8) I went up to the CN mainline to try to catch the Canadian at noon. I was one red light too late. I saw VIA roll by in lovely sunlight as I approached the Wilkes Avenue overpass, but there was no chance for any pictures. Oh well.

I heard that CN 114 was coming into Diamond, so I went out to the bend west of Diamond to shoot them. I was just in time to get them coming around the bend. The video (below) had some focus problems, unfortunately, but the still shot turned out fine.

They slowed as they approached the CP Glenboro subdivision, and the conductor got out to manually reline the switch so they could go from the south to the north track. Here it is a ground throw switch and it looked like a fair bit of work to get the switch relined. I think they had to do it manually because they were already in the block and the RTC couldn't do it remotely.
Conductor lines a switch
Once the head end was through the switch, the conductor got back on board and they crossed the CP Glenboro subdivision.
CN 8003 crosses the diamond
I took a few more shots as they slowly came up to speed, then headed home. Here's the video!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Big CEMR Train

CEMR 4001 and train
I saw the twice-weekly CEMR train rolling across the prairie yesterday just after lunch. They pulled up to a crossing just north of the Perimeter Highway to wait for the conductor to show up. Their normal practice is for the conductor to stay at Carman Junction to reline the switch for the mainline, then get a taxi to the head end.
CEMR 4001
I talked with the friendly engineer for a few minutes. They had 107 cars and 6400 feet, and were to do a bit of switching at Oak Bluff before taking a block of 100 grain cars farther down the line. The engineer used to work on the now-defunct Southern Manitoba Railway.

Here's a quick video I took of the train pulling up to the crossing. Those GP9 engines make a distinctive noise.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

St. Quentin Update

St. Quentin railway station and train. Photo by David Chiasson
David Chiasson discovered that the former Smurfit-Stone caboose, lately NBEC 1000, at the St. Quentin museum.
Former Smurfit-Stone caboose at St. Quentin. Photo by David Chiasson
The caboose seems to be at the end of the replica train, but not in line with it. Perhaps they need a little more rail before they can put it in line with the rest of the train.
Former NBEC 1000 at St. Quentin. Photo by David Chiasson
You may remember I visited that station back in August 2007. At that time the station was done but there was no train present.

Here's the first photo I ever took of that caboose, when it was sitting under the highway 11 overpass in the Smurfit interchange track.
Smurfit Stone caboose

Nice to see the caboose get a new lease on life!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Goose on the Loose

Canada Goose and CN 199
The Canada Geese are back in Winnipeg and making a nuisance of themselves as usual. This goose was lazing on the tracks until CN 199 came by. The goose waited until the last minute before taking off, no doubt honking angrily all the while.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


RDCs 6220, 6216 and 6206 at IRSI in Moncton
There was a recent announcement that VIA is contracting with IRSI to purchase six refurbished RDCs for use on the existing Sudbury-White River run in Ontario and the Vancouver Island run. I'm curious what will happen to the RDCs that are already on the run. One can hope they will be deployed to new services...

A little birdie sent me some photos of the RDCs outside the IRSI shops in Moncton, taken this March.
Farmrail 6130 at IRSI in Moncton, NB

In the next photo, note the coach 5581 sandwiched between RDCs 6200 and 6122.
RDCs 6200 and 6122 and coach 5122 at IRSI in Moncton

Monday, April 05, 2010

Export Train in the Maritimes

An export train, CN 436, is probably arriving in Halifax right about now. Here's a video taken at Painsec just east of Moncton today of the train with CN 5504 as the power.

EDIT: Corrected location... thanks Peter G.

Fredericton Train Station Article

Here's another article on the rebuilding of the Fredericton train station. There are a few inaccuracies in the history of the station (i.e. it had passenger service again from November 15, 1981 to early 1985) but it is worth a read.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Road Trip

I was on vacation Thursday (April 1) to look after the kids. Of course my thoughts turned to railfanning, and we were on the road by 11:15 to go shoot the Canadian. I wanted to go to Elie to shoot it by the elevator on the west side. We headed down Wilkes Avenue and then onto highway 1, seeing no trains in the meantime. We arrived at Elie and set up to wait for the Canadian. I broke out sandwiches and we had a little picnic while we waited.

Just after 12:30, I heard VIA 1 calling the signals at east Elie. I got ready and soon enough they rolled on by. This is exactly the shot I wanted.
VIA Canadian at Elie Manitoba
The video, not so great. It started OK but the camera had focus problems and I caught the tripod's arm with my camera's strap and yanked it to the right. Sigh.

I decided that we should proceed on to Portage la Prairie and see if we could catch the Canadian on the west side. They beat us to Portage, but I heard them call a "clear to stop" signal meaning they were stopping, so that was good for me. As we went around to the west side, I saw a CP local heading west with a single unit pushing, five Simplot boxcars, six covered hoppers, and a rider caboose on the head end. No time for photos.

As we reached the west side of Portage, I saw an eastbound CN freight (CN 312) coming into town. 312 had two units on the head end. This is why the Canadian had to stop, since the Rivers sub is single track west of Portage. We set up in a field near the mall and waited for the Canadian.

The Canadian rolled by at about 13:25. Here's the whole train, again.
VIA Canadian in Portage la Prairie

After that excitement, we drove around a bit in downtown Portage until CN 199 showed up. I decided to shoot it from the CN station. It had a very interesting consist.
CN 2525 and Dash-8 units in Portage la Prairie, MB
It had Dash-9 CN 2525 followed by four Dash-8 units... BC Rail 4610, CN 2434, CN 2416, and CN 2429. Nice to see so many Draper Taper units!

We headed home after that. Somewhere along the way I saw a westbound CN freight and shot it from a long distance away. If I had to guess, I would say it had CN 8849 and CN 2649 for power but that is just a guess. The lead unit was definitely an SD70M-2, though.

It was a good outing!

EDIT: Scott Duffus shot the two lead units of CN 199 on Sunday in Prince Rupert.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

This Day, 18 Years Ago

CP 5661 in London Ontario. Slide by David T Stowe
Another blast from the past! This slide shows CP 5661 and CP 474x rolling through London, Ontario and was taken by David T Stowe. CP 5661 definitely looks like it could have used a new paint job.

Friday, April 02, 2010

CN 619-28

CN 619-28
I saw the oddest thing when I was waiting to shoot the Canadian on Monday (March 29). In the siding at mile 10.1 or so of the Rivers sub was a Plasser unit, CN 619-28.
CN 619-28 in Winnipeg

There's a photo of the same unit in British Columbia in late 2004 here, with a plows on the front and back. He was apparently trying to find out what it was with not much success. There is reference to it being a tamper.

It turns out that it is a Plasser PTS-62, a "dynamic track stabilizer" which I guess is kind of like a tamper. From this site and others, what it appears to do is vibrate the heck out of the track horizontally while putting a vertical load on it.

The data sheet on the side of the unit has been modified to include metric units, as well as an increased weight. You can see the PTS-62 label at the bottom.
CN 619-28 data plate

The Plasser site says this puppy can roll along at 50 MPH, although when working it crawls along at 1 MPH.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

This Day, 34 Years Ago

Around 03:00 on the morning of April 1, 1976, a washout happened near Bath, New Brunswick at mile 82.7 of the Canadian Pacific Railway Shogomoc subdivision. CP RS-18 8739 dropped into the gap caused by the washout. Trainman G.H. Sisson lost his life in the accident.

The engine was stripped of parts, including the diesel engine, main generator, electrical cabinet, and #2 truck complete with traction motors. The rest of the wreck could not be lifted, and was covered over and still remains there today.

Thanks to Brian Barchard and Danny McCracken for the details.