Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Hampton Train Station

Hampton train station
After I chased CN 406 last night, I stopped in Hampton to take some photos of the preserved train station there. I have photos I took of that station around somewhere, but why not take more? :)

Tourist information in the Hampton train station
The station houses the local tourist information centre. It was closed when I was there after 7 PM, and I wouldn't expect it to be open much during the "shoulder" season. In fact, the gift shop has a sign on the door that states "OPEN BY CHANCE FROM AUG 29 TO OCT 10".

There is still a strip of asphalt by the tracks, presumably from when the station saw passenger trains. That hasn't happened since the cancellation of the Atlantic in December 1994. I'm not sure if the Atlantic actually stopped in Hampton in its latter days, and I don't have my VIA timetables with me tonight.The Wikipedia article on the Atlantic seems to indicate it did not.The June 8, 1980 CN employee timetable does show the Atlantic stopping in Hampton. That timetable also shows Hampton as a flag stop for the Railliner (RDC) service.
Hampton train station

I was last in Hampton on January 21, 2006, so you can see a few (small) photos of the station as it appeared then. Not much has changed!

Matt and CN 406

On Wednesday night, I met up with Matt aka saintjohnrailfan near the Rothesay train station. We set up for CN 406 and shot the breeze while we waited. In good time we heard the horn blowing in Renforth and she came around the corner at about 18:16.

CN 5743 in Rothesay NB

Before CN 406 came, a young couple with their boy arrived and sat down to watch the train. I think they might have placed a penny or two on the tracks. I remember doing that when I was a kid in Shearwater, NS.

When 406 came, they were given an enthusiastic wave from the onlookers.

CN 5743 and family waving

Matt was taking video (see his videos) and captured this great video. I was very sad to see the deer run out in front of the train at about 1:00. One of them didn't make it. :(  I hadn't noticed them at the time as they were far away from us.

As the train passed, Matt and I said our goodbyes and I took off to try to catch CN 406 around Hampton. I got my directions a bit confused and ended up exiting the highway at Bloomfield. I backtracked a few kilometres and ended up on Odell Loop Road on an old iron bridge over the tracks. As you can see, I was shooting directly into the setting sun. Still, it was fun to chase the train.

It was great to see Matt again after so many years... I remember meeting him by the Staples near Rothesay Avenue quite a few years ago. Hopefully it won't be so long before I see him again!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rothesay Station Revisited

Last week I was in the Saint John / St. George area for a quick trip, to give some training. I had a brief opportunity to do a different kind of training when I chased CN 406 in the evening of September 21. I drove from St. George to Saint John in the late afternoon, and had supper while 406 was in Island Yard. When I left the restaurant, I could see that 406 was rolling out of Saint John. Since I had to go that way to get to the airport, I gave chase!

I caught up with the head end at the end of Rothesay Avenue, by Highway 1. I crossed under the green CN bridge just before CN 5743 did. I was able to get ahead of it enough to get to the overpass a few kilometres down the road, park and sprint back to grab this shot.

CN 5743 in Rothesay

The trailing engine was CN 2612.

Afterward, I continued down into Rothesay. I had my windows down so I could hear the engines working to bring 406 up to speed... sweet, sweet music. The traffic was fairly slow but fortunately there are no stop signs or stop lights along the way. As I turned toward the tracks near the old Rothesay station, I could hear the train blowing for crossings... it had caught up to me! Quickly I drove past the station and parked, leaving the car running while I sprinted across the crossing to set up for the approaching train. I had enough time to get the camera out, change lenses, and start shooting as they passed the old Rothesay station.

CN 5743 by the old Rothesay station

I had to do a fair amount of post-processing in Digital Photo Professional to get this photo to work, as it was getting fairly dark and there were a lot of shadows. Still, I think it worked out OK.

CN 5743 is an old friend. I saw it on train 314 last July and you can see it in this video. Back in 2006 it was the 3rd unit on train 307 just outside Amherst, Nova Scotia.

I've seen CN 2612 once before, in Island Yard in Saint John on June 22, 2001. I'm not sure I have a photo of it from that time.

The only other time I've shot a train in Rothesay was on February 25, 2007 when I shot CN 5617 leading train 305. There's a video too.

CN 5617 at Rothesay station

The trees have grown a bit in the last 4 years. Besides the snow and lack of leaves, do you notice one other difference between the two station photos?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just Railfanning... Or Worse?

CN 2542 at St. James Junction
I ran into a railfan friend of mine last weekend. While we were talking, he asked if I had ever had any trouble at St. James Junction in Winnipeg. "No," said I, then he proceeded to relate an incident to me.

While my friend was waiting for trains at the diamond, someone from the apartment buildings near the diamond (just off the right edge of the above photo) came out and started yelling at him. He was accusing my friend (and railfans in general) of being pedophiles and photographing his kids. The gentleman threatened to call the police, and my friend said, "sure, go ahead."

The police did come and talked to both people. They saw nothing wrong with what my friend was doing and encouraged my friend to call them should he be confronted again.

If you knew my friend, you would know that he is not confrontational but is also willing to stand up for his rights. I respect that in him.

I'm sure there are stories like this all over the railfan community. I've never had any run-ins like this and I hope I never do. I know I'm not trespassing and there's nothing wrong with taking pictures and video of trains. I encourage every railfan to know their rights but also to be responsible and enjoy their hobby legally and safely.

What stories do you have?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

BDRV 1889

BDRV 1889 in Winnipeg
I had a heads-up from the MB-SK Rails Yahoo! group that there was an interesting locomotive in the CP Winnipeg yard. It was painted black and lettered BLACK RIVER. As it happened, I was going to be in the vicinity, so I tracked it down.

The unit was located just east of the Arlington Street bridge, on the south side of the yard, and was accessible from Higgins Avenue (here). The unit was coupled to a string of freight cars.

A little digging shows that BDRV 1889 was sold to the Belvedere and Delaware River Railroad, part of the Black River Railroad System. The Black River system operates in western New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania and runs freight and tourist railroads.

BDRV 1889 was originally Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo 402, a GP9. It became CP 1689 and was sold to J&L Consulting (JLCX), who sold it to Black River.

UPDATE: Apparently it has been working for Dominion Terminal Associates, who operate a coal shipping terminal in Newport News, Virginia.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Clever Title Here

I was out for an extended lunch break on Thursday (September 22) and I saw a few trains. My intended target was the Canadian and she did not disappoint.

There is crossing work going on at the Shaftesbury crossing off Wilkes Avenue, just west of the former Winnipeg Intermodal Terminal. This is related to the new IKEA store and I think they are widening the crossing to put an extra lane there to handle IKEA traffic. The crossing is closed to northbound traffic while they do the work, which is good for railfans because trains must call in to the foreman to get permission to pass their red flags. This means we get advance warning on the scanner and the trains run a little slower through there.

I set up just west of the crossing to shoot the Canadian, and it was through on time with VIA 6425 leading.
VIA 6425 in Winnipeg
The standard "going away" shot...
VIA Canadian passenger train in Winnipeg Manitoba
I chased them west down Wilkes, barely pacing them as they were going the maximum 55 MPH. I heard them call "Clear to Limited" for the Diamond signal, meaning they would have to slow down at Diamond. I hurtled down the gravel portion of the road and slowly caught up to the head end. It would have made a great pacing video if there was someone in the passenger seat to film it! They crossed over from the north track to the south track at Diamond - hence the Limited speed.

Unfortunately once they crossed over, the engineer put the pedal to the metal and they pulled away. Still, it was fun to chase them.

I returned east to Wilkes and waited for more trains to come. From the scanner traffic I could tell that CN 199 and CN 852 would be passing by soon. CN 199 was first with CN 2629 and CN 2429.

I really need to clean my lens!

Next, CN 852 came along with CN 5659 leading and ex-BNSF Dash-8 CN 2194 trailing. CN 2194 was originally ATSF (Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe) 859, which became BNSF 859. CN purchased it and a number of Dash-8s recently. This is my first sighting of an ex-BNSF Dash-8. You may recall I've seen a few of the ex-UP units.

That was all I waited around for. It was clear there would be no more trains for a while.

Later in the afternoon, I headed home along Wilkes and stumbled across CN 114. They had just met CN 117 at Diamond and were rolling into Winnipeg. It was odd to see non-container traffic on 114.

That was it for the day... now if only I had a clever title for this post.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Diamond Is My Best Friend

CP 6029 at Diamond
I was out on Friday September 16 during the day, spending some time with my son. We headed up to Assiniboine Park to play at the new Nature Playground. It's a very cool place.

On the way we stopped at Wilkes Avenue to see if there was any CN action. Nothing seemed to be happening, so I drove west out to Diamond. There I found the above train on the CP Glenboro subdivision waiting to go south across the CN Rivers subdivision. It had CP 6029 and CP 5920 with a long string of grain hoppers.
CP 6029 at Diamond
Why was it waiting? Well, after I shot the CP photos I saw a headlight to the west. It turned out to be a CN freight headed by CN 2241.
CN 2241 at Diamond

The second unit was CN 2240. 2241, 2240... if they had a third unit it would have to have been CN 2239.

CN 2241 East was not going very fast, so we gave chase. I passed it just east of the Perimeter and shot it again.
CN 2241 in Winnipeg
By this time my son was getting tired of the trains, so we headed off to the Nature Park for some running around.

On our way back, I ducked out on Wilkes Avenue again and I saw the CEMR freight train was parked at the end of their Carman subdivision. CEMR 4000 was the lead unit but the real surprise was the second unit, SD40 CEMR 5396. That unit has been for sale for almost two years!.
CEMR 4000 in Winnipeg

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that the Loram ballast cleaner was parked just west of the Perimeter on the little stub siding there. The covers were off the side of the power unit and a few workers were servicing it.

Loram SBC-9 in Winnipeg

There was lots of stuff around to see!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rowatt, Saskatchewan and the Lewvan Subdivision

Elevators at Rowatt
Back on August 8, I spent the morning driving around south and west of Regina looking for trains and grain elevators. I had noticed a few elevators on Google Maps that I wanted to investigate, so I drove south of Regina on highway 6. A place known as Rowatt is located a few kilometres south of the Ring Road.

If you look at Google Maps, you can see that the elevators are served by a spur off the CN Lewvan sub.
Map of Rowatt Saskatchewan

The spur ends just short of highway 6 as you can see here.

Closest to the highway is the Cargill elevator complex:
Cargill elevator in Rowatt

Next is the Viterra elevator.
The Viterra elevator in Rowatt

Finally there is a small "elevator" complex that doesn't look like an elevator but clearly has a similar function. Maybe it just has no storage in it.
Grain hoppers at Rowatt

Rowatt is served by CN on the remnant of the Lewvan subdivision. Rowatt is mile 106.8. It was announced in October 2005 that the remainder of the subdivision was to be "discontinued". CN's 2009 Network Plan listed only 7.8 miles of the Lewvan sub, ending at Rowatt. The 2011 plan is the same.

My guess from doing some online reading is that some of the rails are still in place for the rest of the Lewvan, but they have not been used in years. I came across this photo of Estlin Saskatchewan just a bit farther down the Lewvan, taken in February 2009. The rails were in place but cut at crossings.

I did some Google Maps browsing and a little south of Rowatt you can see what appears to be rail removal in progress, and in fact the rails are missing from highway crossings south of Rowatt. I guess removal is in progress or maybe has already been finished.

Eric Gagnon posted a great article on the Lewvan as he saw it in 1985... worth seeing how it used to be!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Union Station!

Winnipeg Union Station

VIA Rail's Union Station in downtown Winnipeg is 100 years old. I'm a little late with this, because the first train arrived at the station on August 7, 1911. Its official opening was June 24, 1912 so there is a bit of time before the "real" opening.

I'm embarrassed to say that I don't have a good external shot of the station, so these interior shots I took today will have to do for now.

Below the dome of the Winnipeg Union Station

Check out the coverage on One Man Committee's blog as well as the Winnipeg Free Press.

Inside the dome of the Winnipeg Union Station

Railroadiana For Sale

If you're looking for railroadiana at reasonable prices, check out Dean Ogle's site. He has railway timetables, both public and employee, for sale as well as many books.

Some people sell these for outrageous prices like this but Dean has good prices. For the October 28, 1979 CN employee timetable I just linked to, Dean charges $4.50 versus the $14.64 it is listed for on eBay.

Here's my general guidelines for ETT pricing. For CN or CP employee timetables, I'm comfortable spending $5-$6 for ETTs from the 1970s to 1980s. ETTs from the 1960s will be more, probably in the $7-$10 range. ETTS for the 1950s and earlier tend to be much more expensive, starting at $20 and going up. Modern ETTs are also more expensive than the 1970s timetables because they are more rare.

Anyway, check Dean's site out.

You can always go look at my railway timetables if you're doing some research. I don't have all of mine scanned (by a long shot) but there are a number of them online for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Newcastle Sub To Be Abandoned?

CN 2560 in Belledune, NB on May 1, 2008
CTV is reporting that CN is considering abandoning all or a portion of their northern line in New Brunswick and Quebec.This is the former NBEC / CFMG territory they purchased a scant 3 years ago in November 2008.

CN's Julie Senecal said that the line has not experienced any growth in traffic. No doubt the line is losing money for CN. The CTV report goes on to say that once Brunswick Mines shuts down in 2013 as planned, VIA Rail will be the largest customer on the line. CTV went on to say that if VIA were to shift to the CN main line, it would be "quicker and faster".

Now my opinions. First off, I have never understood why CN bought the line back from NBEC / CFMG in the first place. It was obvious that there was not going to be any growth on the line, with the pulp and paper mill closures, and nothing has emerged. It has been suggested that CN bought it to prevent any competitors from purchasing it. Perhaps.

VIA 6400 in Miramichi
CTV missed the obvious point that if VIA were to switch the Ocean to the CN main line between Edmundston and Moncton, VIA would not be serving the communities of northern New Brunswick and Quebec, major users of the Ocean... and don't forget that the whole Gaspe coast would be cut off and the Chaleur would be lost as well.

Personally, I think CN is making a case for government support of the line to retain VIA's route. I'm not against that, given the economics of the situation. CN is in business and is not going to keep supporting a money-losing line. Government should step in and help with the maintenance cost.

I'm still wondering why CN bought the line in the first place...

PS - it would be nice if CTV actually took a photo or video of the line in question. Their footage shows VIA in Halifax and apparently the Corridor, with a few shots of the CN Gordon Yard in Moncton. Do they still have any reporters in northern New Brunswick?  The shots in this blog entry were actually taken on that line! ;)

There I Am!

I was reviewing the comments on my YouTube videos recently and I saw one that indicated the commenter and I shot the same train... in the same location. "Huh," thought I.

This was the video he was commenting on.

The commenter is cprailes44ac and this is his video of the same train.  He was behind me and up on a bit of a hill.

I was standing at the little crossing. You can see my bald head at 1:00 in the video and you can see me sprinting for the car at the end of the video, when the skies opened up and dumped rain on us.

I blogged about this evening in Keith, Alberta back in June 2010. Keith is a little yard just west of Calgary.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Loram Ballast Cleaner in Winnipeg

Loram ballast cleaner in Winnipeg
I was driving on the Sterling Lyon Parkway here in Winnipeg on Wednesday afternoon, passing the future site of our IKEA, when I saw an odd contraption parked on the nearby stub track. It turned out to be a Loram ballast cleaner.

What does a ballast cleaner do? Well, Loram is glad you asked. It basically scoops up all the ballast from the ends of the ties outward, cleans it, and puts it back. It takes all the mud, clay, etc. that accumulates in the ballast and shoots it away well clear of the track. This mean looking contraption is what scoops up the ballast.
Closeup of Loram ballast cleaner in Winnipeg
From here, the ballast goes by conveyor to the next piece, where it is cleaned and put back beside the track in the profile specified by the railway. You have to have the right slope to allow proper drainage. I think the back end of the contraption below (left of photo) swings out to discharge the "fines" aka dirt and clay. Note the spare brushes on top. They also brush the ends of the ties to get the loose ballast off them.
Loram ballast cleaner in Winnipeg

Next comes a tank car. I assume this is for fuel. On Loram grinders they carry their own water for fire-fighting, but I can't see how a ballast cleaner can cause fires. Maybe I'm missing something.
Loram ballast cleaner in Winnipeg
Finally, a caboose. You can see that caboose SBC-9 has been modified fairly extensively.
Caboose SBC-9 with Loram ballast cleaner in Winnipeg

There are several videos of these babies on YouTube.

They sure make a lot of dust!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Borden Station and Caboose

Borden station and caboose, PEI
As I mentioned, I was on Prince Edward Island in late August to see the Atlantic Canada International Air Show. I decided to shoot the Borden station as we arrived on the island, because there was no caboose there the last time I saw it in 2003.

The caboose has some new paint on it, but alas, no markings.

Borden station and caboose, PEI

The caboose is a CN Pointe-St. Charles caboose, rebuilt in November 1941 from the Grand Trunk boxcar 23368 that was itself built in October 1912. It was CN 78301, and after its retirement it spent a long time in Riverview, NB at a sandblasting business. It was put up for sale in June 2003 by the Town of Riverview after the New Brunswick Railway Museum passed on it. In late 2003 it was donated to Borden and was trucked up there.

Michael Taylor has a photo of it from August 2004 in front of the station... with the CNR logo Serves All Canada but in poor condition. There are lots of good photos on his site, by the way!

There is a small plaque on the caboose that reads DONATED TO BORDEN / CARLETON MARINE RAIL PARK - 2003 BY THE TOWN OF RIVERVIEW N.B.

Friday, September 09, 2011

VIA 1 on Thursday

I went out Thursday at noon to see the westbound Canadian. I drove west on Wilkes Avenue to find a spot to shoot VIA 1.A CN crew was hard at work at Elmhurst Road repaving the crossing. VIA 1 called to get permission to pass through their work block and were told that the workers were clear of both tracks. I parked just west of Carman Junction and waited for the Canadian to arrive.

They rolled past in bright sunshine with two refurbished units, VIA 6458 and VIA 6416.

VIA 6458 in Winnipeg

As soon as they passed, I jumped in the car and headed west after them. They were doing a good 55 MPH so there was no chance of catching them... or was there? As they passed the hotbox detector at mile 10, they called out "Clear to Stop approaching Diamond". This meant that they would have to stop short of Diamond, unless the signal changed before they got there. I had a chance of catching them!

Sure enough, they slowed as they approached Diamond and came to a halt. I jumped out and took a quick shot of them.

VIA 6458 near Diamond

The engineer gave two quick blasts on the horn and they started up again and accelerated out of view. I switched to video and took this "okay" video. I was waving to some of the passengers so the camera shake is kind of annoying. I wish I had my tripod with me at the time.

It was nice to see the Canadian again while it still has its summer length. I hadn't seen VIA 1 since July 28.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Winnipeg Content!

Maybe you're tired of Maritime content, so here's some actual Winnipeg content... fresh from Tuesday!

I went out at noon to shoot the Hudson Bay aka VIA 693.  I went north on Waverley Street and saw a big line just south of the tracks, but no train, so something must have just gone by. I turned left onto the Sterling Lyon Parkway and soon I saw a container train... edging east.  I turned around and crossed Waverley heading toward Portage Junction, hoping to get there before the train.  I figured I had a fighting chance despite the many stop signs, because the train was just getting underway.  Long story short, I made it to Heatherdale Avenue just south of the Junction before the train did.

The train was CN 116 and had nothing unusual for power, CN 2530 and CN 2336.
CN 2530 and CN 2336 in Winnipeg

I waited there for the Hudson Bay to show up, but what came around the corner was not VIA 693. It was train CN 101, with engine CN 8912 on the point.

CN 8912 at Portage Junction in Winnipeg

They were not rolling very fast, and in fact it was clear that CN 101 was coming to a stop short of Waverley Street.

So, CN 116 rolling east on the north track, CN 101 stopping on the south track... how is VIA 693 going to get through?  I figured that 693 must be east of this mess and would come through on the north track past 101... in good time.

I headed to St. James Junction to have a chance of seeing the Hudson Bay without 101 blocking the shot. Soon I saw a CP train heading north on the La Riviere sub. While I waited for them to come closer so I could shoot them, a gentleman who works in the nearby warehouse told me that CP ran a 187 car train over the La Riviere a week previous. That's quite a train for this little branch line!

The power for the CP train turned out to be CP 3027 and daughter CP 1127. Since the light isn't good here for a head-on shot, I elected to include the Golf Dome in the shot.

CP 3027 in Winnipeg

After a few minutes of waiting, VIA 693 finally showed up. Faded VIA 6421 and refurbished VIA 6452 provided the power for a typical consist: baggage, 2 coaches, diner, Chateau sleeper. I didn't get the numbers of the diner and the sleeper.

VIA 6431 in Winnipeg

I assume CN 101 started up after the Hudson Bay went through, but I did not wait around for them. I hear they had 222 cars and 13,940 feet of train!  There must have been a couple more engines scattered through the train. In the past I've noticed that 101 has one or two engines on the head end and one on the tail.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

HLCX 917 in Saint John

The third Helm leasing unit I saw in Saint John was HLCX 917. I first saw 917 on Friday August 26 on my way through to Fredericton. It was shunting the Moosehead Breweries area with NBSR 3703.
HLCX 917 in Saint John New Brunswick
I watched him for a while from the Green Head Road overpass, then I headed down to the end of Gifford Road to try to shoot him at ground level. Soon another car pulled in, and a nice gentleman named Bill C. introduced himself. He saw me on the overpass and thought it was me, and wanted to say hi. He saw my library presentation in 2009. We had a good chat for a while, then HLCX 917 and NBSR 3703 rolled by into the yard with their train. I shot them through the chain link fence, as you will see in the video.

Soon I headed up to Fredericton and then to Summerside for the air show, as I mentioned earlier. On my return on Sunday, I passed through Saint John and spied HLCX 917 shunting containers on the west end of the Dever Road yard with NBSR 3703 again.
HLCX 917 in Saint John New Brunswick
They pushed their consist into the yard and I went to Green Head Road to see the other end. Soon they came through and it was apparent they were going to carry on out of the yard and down to the Port. I gave chase and handily beat them to the infamous Simms Corner. I waited there and shot video of them coming through. This was the first time I've shot a train coming through there.

I took off past the Martello Tower toward where the Digby Ferry docks. I ended up deciding on Germain Street (here) since it has a decent curve there. The train had to pass through the old Bayshore Yard so I knew I had plenty of time. Eventually it showed up with the conductor riding the head end.
HLCX 917 in Saint John
That concludes the three Helm leasing units that I saw. I assume HLCX 911 was in Maine or McAdam.

Monday, September 05, 2011

HLCX 906 in Saint John

HLCX 906 in Saint John
On my last day in New Brunswick, I had some time before I had to catch my plane home. I drove by the NB Southern Dever Road yard and found NBSR 3703 and CN 4141 shunting the west end of the yard. I took a quick video...

On the east end of the yard, it looks like the mainline train was just putting its train away. NBSR 2318, slug NBSR 008, Maine Northern 9801, HLCX 906 and HLCX 917 were the power for this train. I watched them for a while and took a few shots.
HLCX 906 in Saint John
One obvious difference I see between HLCX 906 and HLCX 913 is that 906 has the headlights in the short hood, whereas 913's lights are above the windows. It's clear that the headlights on 906 used to be above the windows. 906 also has the struck-out UNION PACIFIC on the side instead of the grayed-out version on 913.
I'll leave you with the video I took from the Green Head Road overpass. The engineer was really making some noise!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

HLCX 913 in Saint John

I was in New Brunswick on business recently. After I landed at YSJ I headed into Saint John for a bit of railfanning before heading to St. George for my workplace. I found HLCX 913 and CN 7060 heading out to Irving Paper / Irving Refinery, so I gave chase. I managed to catch them in the fog just before they crossed under Bayside Drive.
HLCX 913 and CN 7060 in Saint John
You can see that Helm had tried to cover up the Union Pacific livery on this unit, with only limited success. HLCX 913 with a Union Pacific logo
I drove around for a while and had some supper. When I returned, they were back in Island Yard. CN 7060 had been taken off and was doing some work, and HLCX 913 was sitting in the fog. I used my circular polarizer to try to cut through the fog a bit.
HLCX 913 in Island Yard in Saint John
It was nice to finally see one of the NB Southern leased units with my own eyes! In the next two weeks I was able to see a couple more.