Wednesday, November 23, 2011

RDCs in Town

VIA 6135 and 6148 in Winnipeg. Photo by Jeff Keddy
VIA 6135 and 6148 in Winnipeg. Photo by Jeff Keddy

For years, VIA Rail has provided passenger service on Vancouver Island. In recent years that was provided by RDCs (Rail Diesel Cars), but that came to an end early this year when track conditions forced VIA to suspend service and replace the RDCs with buses. The bus service was terminated on August 7 and VIA is, at least temporarily, out of the passenger business on Vancouver Island. There is an travel advisory by VIA about this.

The two RDCs (VIA 6135 and 6148) providing that service were stored in Nanaimo on the Island since May. VIA decided to move them off the island and on Saturday, November 5 they were put on a barge and shipped to the mainland. In the fine tradition of the excellent Oil-Electric blog, I'll talk about the barge too. ;)  The barge in question was the MV Carrier Princess operated by Seaspan Ferries. The Carrier Princess was launched in 1973, is 380 feet long, and has a capacity of 38 truck trailers and 22 rail cars. Oddly, she is powered by four EMD 645 engines, the same family of engine in such diesel-electric locomotives as the GP38, GP40, F40 and so on.  Here's a little video I found of the Carrier Princess.

There's a nice Flickr photo showing her deck with the embedded rails. More information on MV Carrier Princess.

Hey, did you know you can track her position? This link shows her position and you can see her route very well.

Anyway, the RDCs reached the mainland and were put on the Canadian for shipment east. They were spliced between the two F40PH-2 engines, because they do not have HEP connections and therefore could not be placed in the regular consist, much like the Rocky Mountaineer cars are carried. VIA 6434 was leading, followed by 6135 and 6148, with VIA 6412 providing HEP power after.

VIA 2 was almost 2 hours late coming into Winnipeg on Sunday, November 19. Jeff Keddy braved the bitter night cold to shoot them at the depot in downtown Winnipeg. Here's VIA 6135.
VIA 6135 in Winnipeg. Photo by Jeff Keddy

This is VIA 6148:
VIA 6148 in Winnipeg. Photo by Jeff Keddy

The depot is not very accessible for photographs and Jeff did a good job getting these photos. Thanks for sharing!

The building looming in the background is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, under construction. When complete it will be a valuable addition to Winnipeg's downtown.

Tom Jankowski shot VIA 2 with the RDCs in Thornhill in the Greater Toronto Area. Nice job!


Robert in Port Townsend said...

How sad to see the famous Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railroad bite the dust.

My late wife and I rode the Budd cars from Victoria to end of passenger service at Courtenay several times.

Our last trip was in August 1988. Southbound at Shawnigan Lake, the Conductor asked me if I'd like to shoot some video from the cab.

In my eagerness to get situated in the cab, sitting in the conductors jump seat, I thudded my very expensive Hi-8 camera on the door jamb, killing the auto white balance circuit! (A Budd car cab is about this deep! Overweight engineers must have suffered!)

I began shooting when we departed Shawnigan Lake. And never took my finger off the trigger.

My wife shot stills and I shot video all the way to Victoria Station. As we disembarked, and were shooting the 6140 from the front, the battery finally died.

On several occasions, I was aware of the Conductor staring at me. But I kept on shooting and never responded to his eye contact! You never ever ask McDonald into the cab, unless you want to lose you seat!

The line interchanged with Canadian Collieries Limited (Steven Dunsmuir's coal mines,) at Union Bay. I have written several blog articles about that connection. (Namesake of "Dunsmuir, California.")

Several years later, I watched a news story about a little girl who was bringing railroad spikes to her room. Her mom inquired as to where she was getting them. The little girl took her to the E&N station near The Gorge, and showed how she simply pulled them out of the ties with her tiny six year old fingers!

There were operator changes but no one had the money required to bring the tracks up to code.

So, it is indeed sad, yet not unexpected, to see the end of the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railroad. A road with a very rich and colorful history...

pjcrozier-smith said...

The E&N is not dead yet! There is still minimal freight service. The line is in terrible shape though.