Wednesday, October 19, 2011

VIA Rail's Winnipeg Maintenance Centre Part 1

VIA Rail Winnipeg Maintenance Centre

I was recently offered the chance to tour VIA Rail's Winnipeg Maintenance Centre. VIA Rail engineer Tommy Bozyk, who is also active with Operation Lifesaver, made the offer and I gladly accepted. We eventually settled on Friday, October 14th, as it is least busy there during the day with no Canadian (VIA 1/2) or Hudson Bay Winnipeg-Churchill train (VIA 693/692) departing Winnipeg.

The maintenance centre is at the end of Brandon Avenue, off Osborne Street behind the bus depot. I arrived there at 10 sharp and met Tommy at the entrance. After signing a waiver and the visitor log, I met the shop foreman and began the tour. I was given the run of the place and the only restriction was that I could not take pictures of any VIA Rail employees. Tommy had already cleared my presence with VIA management so everything was on the "up and up".

The shop building has four tracks numbered 1-4 with 4 being closest to the CN main line in Fort Rouge. Sleeper cars Chateau Brule (8203) and Chateau Viger (8229) were both on track 1. Brule is the one on the right in the photo below.
Inside the VIA Rail Winnipeg Maintenance Centre
VIA 6449 (left) and 6429 (right) were also in the building, on track 1.
VIA 6449 and 6429 in the Winnipeg VIA Rail Maintenance Centre
Track 2 has a drop table and track 3 has a selection of traction motors parked on it.

The WMC does all the servicing for the Winnipeg-Churchill train, as well as any incidental work that needs to be done on the Canadian as it passes through Winnipeg. The WMC is capable of doing any repairs and maintenance short of a rebuild.

We went to look at the passenger cars first. This is Chateau Brule (VIA 8203).
VIA 8203 - Chateau Brule
As you can see from the photo above, there was some work going on underneath. Chateau Brule was undergoing a wheel changeout. In the photo below, you can see that one end of the truck is jacked up and the supporting rails were removed to allow access to the wheels.
Chateau Brule wheel changeout
Since the cars were being worked on, we did not go inside the ones inside the building.

Here's a shot from the south end of track 4, showing VIA's Trackmobile attached to the end of Chateau Viger. The Trackmobile is used to move cars around.
Trackmobile in the VIA Rail Maintenance Centre
When the trains are brought to the centre, the VIA engineers deliver the train to one of the tracks on the east side of the building. Employees at the centre then break up the train and move cars and/or engines around on the grounds.

VIA 692 returns from Churchill and goes to Union Station in downtown Winnipeg. When they are done unloading passengers, it continues east to Beach Junction just north of CN's Symington Yard, turns on the wye there, and comes to the Winnipeg Maintenance Centre pointing "railway west". Once or twice it has been spotted turning at Portage Junction instead.

Two engines were inside the facility, VIA 6449 and 6429. As you can see from the photo below, they are pointing "railway west" or south as the rest of us call it.

VIA 6429 in the Winnipeg VIA Rail Maintenance Centre
Tommy took me into VIA 6429 and went into great detail on the locomotive systems. That'll be part 2!


Blair Ivey said...

I. Am. Jealous. I worked in a number of Boeing facilities as part of my job with an engineering company, and would often be distracted by the machinery attached to the systems I was evaluating. I imagine your tour engendered a similar response. Thanks for a nice post with some great images.

Tim said...

Awesome! Looking forward to part 2!

bluetoolman302 said...

great article on the Via maintenace facility!You took some great pictures.