Friday, June 24, 2011

Herzog Ballast Trains in Saint John

I was in southern New Brunswick earlier this week on business. I arrived on the afternoon of Sunday June 19, so my thoughts turned to railfanning in one of my old haunts. Who am I kidding... when do my thoughts turn AWAY from railfanning?

I found a CN ballast train parked near Crosby's. CN 2512 and CN 5694 were the power on the head end of a string of Herzog ballast cars.
CN 2512 in Saint John

The Herzog cars were in New Brunswick back in July 2009 on the northern line.

What's special about the Herzog cars? The "PLUS" train basically automatically dumps ballast at up to 20 MPH at pre-programmed locations. It uses GPS to determine the location and drops the ballast as it goes. This eliminates the need for ground crew, making it safer and faster than traditional ballast cars.

CN has been getting ballast from NBSR in the past few weeks. Apparently it is being dumped on the CN Springhill subdivision. One load was dumped around Sackville, NB and another around Folly Lake, NS. There has been a lot of chatter about these trains on the excellent RailsNB mailing list.

CN seems to be providing the power and the Herzog cars. Dave Dineen shot a great video showing the train being loaded in NBSR's Dever Road yard, then rolling across the Reversing Falls bridge. The train was run as CN 439.

You can see that spacer (box)cars were used to separate the engines from the train, and there is a boxcar between every four loaded Herzog cars on the front part of the train. This is done to reduce loading on the bridge.

Saint John train watchers may remember that NBSR did a similar thing in 2005 when they were taking loaded gypsum cars across the Reversing Falls bridge while doing maintenance.

The empties seem to come back to Saint John on CN 406 with the two units on the head end. Here's a video from Gerald aka SD40dash2fan showing CN 406 around mile 71 coming into Saint John.

He has another one showing 406 rolling over the little CN bridge at the far end of Rothesay Avenue in Saint John.

PS - I saw the Herzog cars on CN 303 at Elie, Manitoba a while ago.

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