Saturday, April 30, 2011

Uno Derailment

CN train #105 (Q10541-29) derailed at mile 185.7 on the CN Rivers subdivision at 05:40 local time this morning. This is near Uno, Manitoba and was apparently on a bridge.

VIA 1, the westbound Canadian, was held at Winnipeg for 8 hours before finally departing at 8 PM.

CN detoured at least three westbound trains (CN 115, CN 111, CN 101) over their Prairie Northern Line. They left the Rivers sub at Portage la Prairie, heading northwest on the CN Gladstone subdivision to Dauphin MB, then onto the CN Togo subdivision to Canora, SK then down the CN Yorkton subdivision to Melville SK where they would rejoin the CN main line.

CBC News reported that 11 loaded and 33 empty containers went off. One source told me that they blew off the train in high winds. I know it was quite windy in Winnipeg last night.

CN's state of the railway still shows the derailment in effect.

Jason Jongen reported a very late VIA 2 into Washago, ON due to another CN derailment, this time "on the Bala subdivision south of Drocourt". Jason reported that VIA ended up running on CP tracks, an unusual routing for the Canadian.

Book Review: North American Railroad Bridges

North American Railroad Bridges by Brian Solomon
I stumbled across the book North American Railroad Bridges in Winnipeg's Millennium Library a while ago. The author (Brian Solomon) writes about the various types of railway bridges that were built in North America in great detail. He clearly has a lot of engineering knowledge of the bridge types and communicates that knowledge in a clear, easy to read way. Numerous excellent photographs accompany the text.

I have one major criticism of this book. It is titled wrong. It should really be titled North American Railroad Bridges. There are only two photographs of railroad bridges in Canada (the Pratt bridge at Beoloeil, Quebec and the former Halifax & Southwestern Railway bridge at Martins River, NS) and no photographs of any bridges in Mexico. There is practically no discussion in the text of bridges in Canada, not even of the impressive spans in Lethbridge, AB or over the Little Salmon River in New Brunswick. Calling it "North American" is really a reach.

Don't let that stop you from reading the book. It is a "good read" and really helped me understand the history and construction of railway bridges, something I had not really understood before. Now I have a shot at telling the difference between a Pratt and a Warren truss bridge (hint: Pratt bridges have an X in the middle and Warren bridges look like a W from the side).

Buy North American Railroad Bridges.

Below, a 6-span Pennsylvania? truss bridge over the Miramichi River in New Brunswick. Photo by David Morris.
VIA 6432 at Nelson Junction, by David Morris

Friday, April 29, 2011

Train Orders Online

Intercolonial Railway train order
Ken Secrest has been selling train orders on eBay for quite some time. I know I've sent my fair share of money his way, purchasing orders from CN and CP and Devco. Ken has a web site listing some of the train orders he is selling. For example, you can buy CN train orders, CP train orders, Dominion Atlantic Railway train orders, and even train orders for Devco.

He has recently put some scans from his permanent collection online. So far it is mostly American content but there are some great Newfoundland Railway train orders to be seen.

I have some train order scans of my own online... for CN, CP, Devco and even a few Intercolonial Railway train orders.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Coors Light Pictures and Videos

Adam Walker shot VIA 2 with the Coors Light engines near Washago, ON on April 21st. You can see the photos on his excellent blog. The two lead engines were VIA 6424 and VIA 6419, with the two Coors engines 6445 and 6408 trailing.

Gord Henwood shot VIA 6408 by itself Wednesday morning (April 27) on VIA train 70 through Brantford, Ontario.

MuskokaMoFo shot VIA 1 with the Coors Light Silver Bullet Express cars rolling through Washago, Ontario on April 10 in the night time.

TorontoChap1 caught a local VIA train in Toronto on April 23 with the two Coors Light engines pulling a strange assortment of cars - two LRC cars, one HEP1 car, a P42 engine, and four more LRC cars.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Designing the Coors Light Silver Bullet Engines

I was contacted recently by Mike Carter of Mike Carter Studio Inc.. He read my blog posts on the Coors Light Silver Bullet Express. Mike designed the graphics for the two engines used on the Express. He was given an "elevation" of the engine, basically the layout of the engine's sides, and designed the graphics to fit around the various windows and vents and hatches and so forth.

At least two versions of the graphics were done. Part of the reason for the second version was to put the engine number under the windows. It was not known until the day before the wrap which engines were to be used, so they had numbers printed up to be applied on top of the area.

Here's the version 1 diagram done by Mike. The lead engine is on top and the trailing engine is shown on the bottom.

Compare that to what VIA 6445 actually wore.
VIA 6445 Coors Light
There are several changes apparent. The numbers were not shown on the version 1 diagram, and the logos applied to the engines ended up being different than the version 1 diagram.

It was also not known whether they would get a two or three headlight engine to lead, so the design had to be flexible enough to handle both options. As it happens VIA 6445 had three headlights. Mike Photoshopped the Coors Light nose onto a photo of VIA 6424 to test the look.
Photoshop of Coors Light logo on nose of VIA 6424, by Mike Carter

Mike generated huge (1.3 GB) files which were supplied to Molson and then sent to Toronto Digital Imaging to be printed on the vinyl transfer. TDI does very large format printing, and has done work for GO Transit in the past, producing bi-level wraps for CIT, Enbridge, and Ontario Power Generation.

TDI also did the actual application of the vinyl transfer onto the engines. You can see the transfer in this video.

Note the blank space for the engine numbers under the engineer's window at about 0:45 in the video!

The smaller Coors logos that were applied to every other car in the Silver Bullet Express were created by the design team at Molson/Coors in Toronto.

Thanks, Mike for giving us the story behind the engines (and for permission to tell it here). I think everyone agrees that Mike produced a very sharp looking and distinctive design.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

30 Years of Operation Lifesaver

Operation Lifesaver logo, photo by Nicholas Kiss
Operation Lifesaver Turns 30

Congratulations to the excellent Operation Lifesaver program on turning 30. OL has been very effective in improving rail safety and reducing injuries and deaths from collisions betweeen trains and vehicles and pedestrians.

In 1981 there were almost 800 crossing incidents reported. In 2010 there were 180, a 77% decrease. More work needs to be done, as evidenced by this incident from last Friday where a man walking along the tracks was hit by a BNSF train and lost a foot. Do NOT walk along tracks and be vigilant. As one rules trainer told me, "any time is train time. Trains can come at any time, from any direction, on any track."

Don't forget that Rail Safety Week begins next week, running from May 2 to May 8.

Monday, April 25, 2011

VIA Safety Day in Halifax

VIA Rail will hold a Safety Day on Tuesday, May 3 from 9 AM to 4 PM at the VIA Rail station in downtown Halifax.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Coors Light Silver Bullet End

The Coors Light Silver Bullet train finished its trip in Kamloops, BC and the train set was then taken to Edmonton, AB to wait for the eastbound Canadian. It was attached to VIA 2 (the Canadian) on Monday April 18 and headed east.

The Canadian was a bit late coming through Winnipeg, arriving at Union Station at 21:40. They dropped diner Princess (VIA 8415) off, presumably to become the diner on the Hudson Bay to replace the Skyline that has been operating on it.

VIA 6408 in Winnipeg, by Jeff Keddy

VIA 2 was spotted by Jason Jongen in Washago, Ontario 2 hours and 2 minutes late at 09:07 the next day (April 20).

Tom8201 shot the train in Thornhil, ON en route to Toronto.

The train arrived in Toronto on April 21. It is expected that the units will go for refurbishment soon, so there are probably not a lot of chances to shoot the engines with the Coors Light decoration on them. Hopefully they will do a bit of a tour before being repainted.

Jeff Keddy did a mashup with Coors Light's video and his own shots and video of the train.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


There's a new rail photo web site, It's a moderated rail photo site, similar to It's still in beta so the interface is a bit rough, but there are some nice pictures there.

I don't intend to submit any photos there. I gave up on long ago, as their editorial standards and my idea of a good picture don't seem to agree, and it's not worth my time to try to get on the site. I'm content to post here. :)

Anyway, go check it out!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Flooding Update

Here's an update on the flooding situation in Manitoba as it affects railroad operations.

  • Dikes went up on the CP Emerson line on April 19, so that is cut off.
  • Dikes also went up around Morris so the CP La Riviere and the CN Letellier subdivisions are severed.
  • The washout on the CP Carberry sub just east of Brandon was repaired and the line was reopened on April 15 at 07:30. It was severed on April 12.

CN Eight Naught Naught Naught

CN 8000 and 2256 on the Floodway
On April 16 I was over around CN Symington and shot a few trains. As I approached the area on the Perimeter Highway I could see that a freight train was pulling out of the yard to head south on the Sprague subdivision. I wanted to shoot them on the Floodway bridge so I took the Kenora exit and parked just north of the Floodway.

As it turns out, the lead unit was CN 8000.
CN 8000

The Floodway is open and working hard to keep the Red River away from Winnipeg.
CN train over Floodway

Contrast that with this shot of the Floodway from September 2010.
CN 8822 in Winnipeg
I imagine the Floodway is even more full now. I plan on going out this weekend to see how high the flood waters are.

The train was going fairly slowly so I headed south on the highway to get another shot. I didn't want to get it at Deacon's Corner because I would be rushing the shot, so I took the next crossing after that and waited.

By the time the train reached me, it had picked up some speed. These red winged blackbirds weren't sticking around to watch the train!
CN 8000 and birds

CN 8000 nose

A nice wave from the conductor, then they were on their way. "Clear signal at Lorette."
CN 2256 and a green signal

Monday, April 18, 2011

More Humpyard Dogs

Steve Vallis was out shooting at CN's Symington Yard here in Winnipeg last week and took some photos of CN's GP38 humpyard units (see previous post about humpyard dogs).

On the 11th he caught CN 7530 and 7513 (with slugs) working the yard. CN 7530 is definitely looking grubby.
CN 7530 in Winnipeg, by Steve Vallis

CN 7513, on the other hand, is looking nice and shiny.
CN 7513 in Winnipeg. By Steve Vallis

While he was there, he saw a train come off the Sprague subdivision. Here it is at CN Navin, with CN 5600 (SD75) and CN 2433 (Dash-8). You can see the shiny new signals on the right, installed when they extended the switching lead through Navin.
CN 5600 in Winnipeg, by Steve Vallis

Gotta love those Dash-8s!
CN 2433 in Winnipeg, by Steve Vallis

On the 17th, Steve caught one of the newly painted GP38s with the "15 Years" emblem, CN 7505. They are celebrating the 15 years since CN was privatized.
CN 7505 in Winnipeg

It was part of a set with CN 7522 and slugs 511 and 502.
CN 7522 511 502 and 7505 in Winnipeg, by Steve Vallis

Great shots, Steve!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Coors Light Silver Bullet Update

Coors Light Silver Bullet engines
The train should be on its way from Edmonton soon. Newswire has a good article on the Silver Bullet.

For Twitter users, you can follow tweets about it by looking for the hash tag #CoorsLightSBE.

Did you know I'm on Twitter? You can find me as SteveTrainGeek.

Local railfan Paul Sincerny has three photos on Railpictures of the train at Union Station, crossing the Red River, and near Diamond.

More Rocky Mountaineer Cars

Canada Goose near tracks
I had a tip that Thursday's Canadian would have a couple of Rocky Mountaineer cars, so I went out at noon to see them. It was another beautiful but cold day. When I arrived at Wilkes Avenue I saw an eastbound freight train stopped a little west of St. James Junction. The power was SD60 CN 5506 and Dash-8 BCOL 4618. Old power!

BCOL 4618 has been repainted in CN colours.
BCOL 4618 in Winnipeg
BCOL 4618 in Winnipeg
The number sounded familiar, so I looked it up after and I realized I shot this unit in her BC Rail colours back on August 21, 2009.
BCOL 4618 in Winnipeg
BCOL 4618 still in BC Rail colours
I went over to the Junction and waited with another railfan for the Canadian. It was about 10-15 minutes late.
VIA 6424 and Rocky Mountaineer cars
VIA Rail with Rocky Mountaineer cars
The lead Rocky Mountaineer car was RMR 9523, a dome car built by Colorado Railcar.
Rocky Mountaineer dome 9523
RMR 9523, Rocky Mountaineer
Trailing that was Rocky Mountaineer 5506, a former CN/VIA Dayniter.
RMR 5701
Rocky Mountaineer #5506
That was fun!

VIA Canadian
VIA Rail "going away"
Shortly after the Canadian left, the freight started rolling. It turns out it was CN train 852.
CN 5506 in Winnipeg
CN 5506 in Winnipeg

While it was rolling by, CN 101 passed on the north track. CN 852 had to stop because 101 was crossing over from the south to the north track in front of 852.

Another nice day for photos and video.

See Also

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Flooding Update

The spring flood is underway in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It is still unclear how severe it will be, but it is already affecting railways in Manitoba:

  • The CN Letellier subdivision has been severed at Emerson, MB as the town has closed its dike (CTV News)
  • A washout on CP just east of Brandon on the CP Carberry subdivision occurred on Tuesday. Detours are planned but customers should expect up to 48 hours' delay (CP Update)
  • The CP Emerson subdivision is expected to be closed late next week as the community of Morris will close their dike.  The CP La Riviere subdivision will likely close a day or two later.
  • A train struck a breached culvert on the CP Estevan subdivision at Menteith SW of Souris. The line is expected to re-open tonight.
I heard rumours of CP detouring on the CP Glenboro subdivision but I haven't heard any proof yet. Apparently there was a CP freight near Diamond in Headingley.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Recent Trains

After all the excitement of the Coors Light Silver Bullet Express, yesterday and today featured more mundane trains.

On Tuesday I forgot my laptop's power cord at home, so I had to do the Drive of Shame to go get it. Fortunately, I saw trains on the way. Outbound I saw CN 198 from a distance. They were passing the former Winnipeg Intermodal Terminal, soon to be a shopping plaza near the future IKEA.
CN 2507 in Winnipeg
The train had CN 2507 and 5672.

About an hour later, I was back and saw CN 111 near the same location. CN 8813 and 2659 were on the head end, and CN 8943 was a bit over halfway back in the train.
CN 8813 in Winnipeg

The train had 154 platforms... pretty normal for that train.

Today (Wednesday the 13th) I saw CN 2651 at the beginning of the Letellier subdivision, ready to head south to flood-threatened Morris and Emerson. With a few horn blasts, they were on their way.
CN 2651 and train 532 in Winnipeg

It was easy to jump ahead of them on Pembina to get this video behind the Rexall at McGillivray.

Not as exciting as a wrapped VIA unit, but the trains keep on rolling.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Video of Silver Bullet Creation

The Coors Light Facebook page posted a video of how they tricked out VIA 6445 and the baggage cars (direct link). It looks like the wrapping of 6445 took place over two days, based on the period of blackness in the middle of the video, with four or five people doing the wrapping. The baggage cars appear to have faux ice sheeting stuck to the walls, and some black lighting in them.

Jeff Keddy posted video of Monday's VIA 1 with the Coors Light equipment near Diamond, a few miles west of where I shot it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Number One With A Bullet

Coors Light Silver Bullet
I was determined to do my railfan duty and shoot the unique Coors Light Silver Bullet Express as it passed through Winnipeg as part of the Canadian. I woke up early and headed up to Transcona to shoot VIA 1 as it came into Winnipeg. It is scheduled to arrive by 8 AM but the nice fellow at 1-888-VIA-RAIL (1-888-842-7245) told me it was running 30 minutes late. I went to Dugald and shot the grain elevator as the sun rose. Very pretty. Another call to VIA confirmed the train was going to be an hour late. I couldn't wait around due to prior commitments, so I reluctantly left without seeing it.

I was able to go downtown soon afterward, and arrived at 08:55 to see the Canadian backing in to the station. VIA 6445 and 6408 were third and fourth units on the Canadian and they looked great in the bright sunshine.
VIA 6445 6408 Coors Light Silver Bullet
Note that the two units are not decorated the same.

There were two railfans there. They told me they had chased the train from Toronto! I went up the tower in the Forks to try to get an overhead shot but the outside balcony was closed. I took some shots through the glass but there are a lot of reflections visible. I headed out and resolved to catch VIA 1 at noon when they headed west.

I set up just east of Kenaston / route 90 to wait. CN 314 came first, rolling by on the north track, with CN 5679 and old friend CN 5746.
CN 5679 and train 314 in Winnipeg

I saw the headlights of VIA 1 on the north track way down the track. As CN 314 passed Waverley they crossed over to the south track. This forced VIA 1 to wait until the freight was clear. Soon enough the Canadian rolled through St. James Junction and past my lenses.
VIA 6435 and the Canadian

The head end had VIA 6435, refurbished VIA 6410, and the two Coors Light engines 6445 and 6408.
VIA Canadian with Coors Light Silver Bullet Express engines

Here's the two Coors Light engines.
VIA 6445 6408 Coors Light Silver Bullet Express

The passenger cars on the head end were all for the Coors Light Silver Bullet Express and will be cut out of the Canadian in Edmonton. I didn't notice any external differences except that every other car had a Coors Light logo.
VIA Bell Manor with Coors Light logo

I was glad to see VIA 1721, one of the three ex-BC Rail "Panorama" cars. Now I've seen two of the three (I've seen 1722 twice). Sorry for the blurriness.
VIA 1721 in Winnipeg

Four engines and 23 cars rolled quickly by and were gone (full consist). Job complete!
VIA's Canadian in Winnipeg

PS - Could there be a better title for this post? :)

See also:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coors Silver Bullet Express

The Coors Light Silver Bullet Express is on its way to Edmonton!

Coors Light had a contest where 100 lucky people won a trip from Edmonton, Alberta to Kamloops, British Columbia. The train is supposed to have "100 of your closest friends, 16 party cars, seven exclusive custom experiences". They will have movies, a spa, a night club, sports, an arcade, a gaming area, karaoke, and of course a bar. Good

There area few shots of VIA 6445 on the Coors Light Facebook page.

Two VIA engines have been wrapped in Coors Light colours, 6445 and 6408. As a point of curiousity, VIA 6408 was the last of the Spiderman 2 units. That wrap is now gone, a mere seven years after the movie came out. Here's 6408 at the head of the Canadian on March 1, 2010.
VIA 6408 in Winnipeg

The equipment is en route now, having left Toronto on the front of the Canadian. Sadly the Coors Light units are not leading. The four engines are VIA 6435 (original), 6410 (rebuilt), 6445 (Coors), and 6408 (Coors). The Coors Light cars are six Manor cars, a diner, a Skyline, an ex-BC Rail Panorama car, 5 baggage cars and Banff Park, all deadheading ahead of the regular Canadian consist. The total train has 4 engines and 23 cars. The baggage cars have all been fitted out as the party cars.

It will be in Winnipeg Monday (April 11), arriving at or before 8 AM and leaving at noon. I hope to get out and shoot it coming into Winnipeg, and leaving too!

A Different Kind of TOFC

Many readers will understand the usual meaning of TOFC - Trailers On Flat Cars. On the 8th I saw a different kind.

I was out and about in Winnipeg in the morning. First I saw CN 532 head south on the Letellier. I think the lead unit was CN 8927 but I could be wrong. Later, I saw a CN intermodal train roll west into Transcona. I didn't see the head end but it had a DPU and the engine on the end was CN 2533.

At the west end of Transcona, a CN intermodal was stopped, getting refueled by a tanker truck.
CN 2524 in Winnipeg

I went down to the south end of Symington and saw this very interesting sight.
Tanks on trains

There were twelve Leopard tanks and one engineering vehicle on the train. Tanks On Flat Cars!
A Leopard tank on a flat car

They were on a train being shoved up the hump by CN 7513, among others. I assume / hope that these cars were cut out of the train and not sent over the hump! There was one engineering vehicle there too.
Army engineering vehicle on a train

It was nice to see some of Canada's military together with my favourite hobby.