Sunday, October 23, 2011

VIA Rail's Winnipeg Maintenance Centre Part 6

This is the conclusion of my report on VIA Rail's Winnipeg Maintenance Centre. See part 1, part 2part 3part 4, and part 5.

VIA Rail has five cars stored at the Winnipeg Maintenance Centre. These are all labeled "Northern Spirit" and were acquired from Amtrak for use on the Hudson Bay between Winnipeg and Churchill. The cars are all sleepers. They were put into service on the Hudson Bay in 2000 (ref VIA Rail annual report) and were withdrawn from service.... in 2006, I believe. The cars were leased from Amtrak in 2000 and purchased by VIA in 2004. They have been stored at the WMC for some time and are for sale. They are moved every six months to ensure the wheels are still functional.

Each is decorated with a different northern animal.

VIA 2448polar bearex Amtrak 2448 (Oak Grove), ex Amtrak 2684, ex SP 90041950
VIA 2449snowy owlex Amtrak 2449 (Maple Grove), ex Amtrak 2686, ex SP 90061950
VIA 2455caribouex Amtrak 2455 (Elm Grove), ex Amtrak 2680, ex SP 90001950
VIA 2462 beluga whaleex Amtrak 2462 (Silver Chasm), ex Amtrak 2657, ex CB&Q 4301952
VIA 2463peregrine falconex Amtrak 2463 (Silver Dale), ex Amtrak 2658, ex CB&Q 431 1952

Let's look at each one in numerical order.

Here's 2448, with 2462 in the middle and 2449 at the far end.
VIA 2448 in Winnipeg

VIA 2448 has a nice polar bear on it.
Polar Bear on VIA 2448 in Winnipeg

VIA 2448 was leased to Canadian Pacific for a while and was located in the West Coast Express yard in Vancouver for use by WCE crews to sleep in. Apparently their regular rooms in the CPR Vancouver station were closed for a construction project. Here's a Flickr photo showing the car in Vancouver in late 2007.

Here's VIA 2449 with what looks like a snowy owl on it. There are a number of condemned wheel sets rusting away next to the Northern Spirit cars.
VIA 2449 in Winnipeg

This is VIA 2455 with a moose? elk? caribou on it.
VIA 2455 in Winnipeg

Strangely I did not shoot 2462 directly. This photo shows it has a beluga whale some kind of sea creature on it.

Here's VIA 2463.VIA 2463 in Winnipeg

I noticed that 2463's Burlington heritage is showing through - note the B U R L I N G T O N showing through the paint. Any idea what type of bird this is? EDIT: It's an osprey. EDIT2: It's a peregrine falcon.
Burlington name on VIA 2463 in Winnipeg

There's some discussion of these cars here.

That concluded my tour of the Winnipeg Maintenance Centre.

I want to thank VIA Rail for permission to roam through their facility and photograph whatever I pleased, the shop foreman for answering my questions, and especially engineer Tommy Bozyk for arranging this and being my tour guide. His knowledge of the equipment and facility is first-rate and I appreciate the time he spent arranging it and showing me around.

Thanks for reading.

EDIT: Thanks for the help identifying the various animals!


Luc Mallet said...

Great report! Thanks for posting!

Unknown said...

Excellent blog post Steve.
Thanks for giving us the guided tour.
Very well done, encore please.

Blair Ivey said...

I believe the bird is an osprey.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks for the nice comments and the bird identification! :)

One Man Committee said...

Epic series... I enjoyed this very much. Thanks for the great photos.

As to the Northern Spirit cars, I find their history peculiar. Surely VIA had leased them long enough to become familiar with their shortcomings, yet soon after they bought them the cars were mothballed?! Was there a rebuild plan that was axed at some point along the way?

I recall riding to Churchill in a Northern Spirit bedroom back in 2003 and although my recollection is murky I wasn't impressed by them. They were definitely a notch or two below the ex-CP sleepers in terms of comfort, and I recall a nasty creaking sound for the entire ride there and back. However, I suppose it's nothing that a rebuild wouldn't have cured.