Saturday, March 31, 2012

Photos and Video of New NBSR Engines

HLCX 6315 and 8144 in Saint John
The engines have arrived in Saint John!

Matt aka Saintjohnrailfan caught them coming through Rothesay on CN 406 in this great video.   

Friday, March 30, 2012

New NB Southern Units Arriving

HLCX 6315 and HLCX 8144 arrived in Moncton late Thursday night. They are two more SD40-2 engines leased from Helm for NBSR.

HLCX 6315 is ex-CP 5522, built in 1966. It was recently repainted to dark red. It has a rebuilt engine.

HLCX 8144 is ex-BN 8144, built in July 1980. It looks like it is wearing solid dark blue paint.

What is driving this need for more power? Crude oil shipments from the west, increased lumber traffic, the theories abound. A recent NBSR freight from Saint John had 8000 feet of cars on it, a good sized train for any railway.

PS - sorry for not posting much, I just haven't had time to blog. Hopefully by the end of next week I will have some more free time.

Monday, March 26, 2012

New BNSF Engine in Winnipeg

BNSF 2322 in Winnipeg
I honestly thought I had posted about this earlier, but I guess I had just sent it to MB-SKRails and not here.

BNSF 2322 is the new BNSF Manitoba engine in Winnipeg. I shot it on March 22 in their yard.

BNSF 2322 is a GP38-2 built in December 1976. It started life as SLSF 467, becoming BN 2322 shortly after the Frisco's merger with Burlington Northern on 1980, and finally BNSF 2322.

BNSF 2322 in Winnipeg

Here's the list of BNSF engines I've seen in Winnipeg, from earliest at top to latest at bottom.
  • BNSF 1685
  • BNSF 2743
  • BNSF 2886
  • BNSF 2001
  • BNSF 2978
  • BNSF 3028
  • BNSF 2756
  • BNSF 2968
  • BNSF 2322
I don't think I've missed any since BNSF 2743.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Recent Canadians

Here's a couple of Canadian trains I saw recently. I have to credit David Morris for encouraging me to get out and shoot, because he does love the stainless steel and enjoys receiving my photos. David is a passenger train "nut" and is a good resource about the Atlantic and Ocean, but more importantly he is a good friend. I'm happy to do it.

OK, first train - Thursday's Canadian with a little surprise on the head end. I went out to St. James Junction to shoot this one, and chatted with a couple of railfans who were already there. When I saw VIA 1 in the distance, I knew they had a couple of deadhead cars, just by the height of them.
VIA 64424 and Rocky Mountaineer cars

Note how the two Canada Geese photobombed me!

The two Rocky Mountaineer cars were RM 3213 and RM 9523.
VIA's Canadian

While tagging this post, I realized that this was not the first time I've seen RM 9523. I saw it on April 14 2011, also westbound on the Canadian. VIA 1 looked a little different that day because it still had the unrefurbished engines on it.
VIA 1 with Rocky Mountaineer cars
The background is different, too, because a small strip mall has sprung up on the north side of the tracks since spring 2011.

Saturday's Canadian was a pretty normal one. I shot it at Carman Junction at mile 8.2 of the CN Rivers subdivision. CEMR's track can be seen branching off to the right. Note the "Clear to Stop" indication on the right (south) track. I didn't stick around to see what was coming next.
VIA 1 out of Winnipeg

VIA's Canadian train leaving Winnipeg

Here's the video. It's quite low because I only had my GorillaPod tripod with me... use what you have!

In doing a bit of Googling for this post, I stumbled across this lovely blog post referencing Carman Junction. A photo by frequent commenter (and blogger) VW Busman was prominently featured. Check it out!

Friday, March 23, 2012

CN Buying New Power

IC 2458 in Winnipeg
Reuters is reporting that CN will purchase 65 new and 96 used locomotives to handle "heavier traffic". The new locomotives, for delivery in 2013-2014, are to be:
  • 35 GE ES44AC
  • 30 GM SD70ACe
This is remarkable because these will be the first locomotives CN has purchased with AC traction motors. Traditionally CN has used direct-current (DC) traction motors in its entire fleet. Canadian Pacific has used AC locomotives for years but their traffic tends to be more bulk hauling than intermodal.

AC traction motors are better suited for low speed, heavy hauling like coal, sulphur, and other big, heavy unit trains. DC units have a lower purchase cost and easier to maintain. See this EMD presentation to see the merits of AC traction.

CN's news release says that CN will purchase the following used locomotives this year:
  • 42 GE Dash 8-40C
  • 11 GE Dash 8-40C that were leased (ex-LMS, see above photo for an example)
  • 43 EMD SD60 (rumoured to be ex-GMTX)
I shot IC 2458 a couple of days ago and it should be one of the 11 Dash-840Cs to be purchased from lease. See Trackside Treasure's excellent article on CN leased locomotives for more information on these and others.

So... new locomotive types on CN in 2013 and 2014. Something to look forward to!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Meeting Place

Late in the afternoon of February 29, I was rolling down Wilkes Avenue in Winnipeg to see if there were any trains about. As it happened, I overtook a westbound freight train (CN 301) with CN 5761 on the head end. I got ahead of them and shot them coming around the bend at Carman Junction.
CN 5761 in Winnipeg

Note the yellow-over-red Clear to Stop signal (rule 411) on the north track.

I jumped back into my car and headed west, intending to shoot them again somewhere near Diamond. I heard that another train was coming east so I headed to Hall Road just west of the Perimeter Highway. I pulled up near the crossing and jumped out to wait for the trains.

Hall Road is a good place to shoot eastbounds because it is wide open to the west. It is not good for westbounds because there are buildings close to the tracks on the south (sun) side. You have to step pretty close to the tracks to get a shot without all the junk on the right.... not safe when a train is coming! One could always cross the tracks and shoot from the north, but then you are shooting against the sun and that only works on cloudy days.

I saw that the signal facing the eastbound container train was a single flashing yellow light. If I'm correct, this is Advance Clear to Stop (rule 415) meaning the next signal is displaying Clear to Stop. The next signal for that train would be at St. James Junction so they had a few miles before having to stop.

Very soon the container train approached. It turns out this was CN 196, with CN 2264 on the head end.
CN 2264 in Winnipeg

Fortunately I was close enough to get the meet with my 55-250mm lens. I stepped in to get a few shots then retreated from the crossing before the train was too close.
CN 5761 and 2264 meet

I took off west to get one more shot of CN 5761 before giving up. As I headed out I saw CN 2335 pushing on the end of train 196, seen in between the cars of train 301.

Here's a closeup of CN 5761 approaching Diamond.
CN 5761 outside Winnipeg

Grubby CN 2629 was the second unit behind 5761, and they had a GP38 as a third unit, CN 4790.

Here you can see they had a red-over-green-over-red signal. This one actually is Limited-to-Clear (rule 416), because there is an "L" plate on the signal mast.
CN 4790 2629 5761 Winnipeg

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vale Locos in Halifax

A set of EMD SD80ACe locomotives for export arrived in Halifax on CN 120. These locomotives are destined for Vale's mining operations in Brazil. Vale is a very large mining company and its Brazilian iron ore operations are simply huge.

Dave shot CN 120 rolling through Truro.

CN 120 had four CN engines on the head end, followed by two Vale engines on their own wheels, a couple of freight cars, then several Vale engines on flatcars with regular freight cars in between as spacers.

David Othen shot CN 120 coming into Rockingham Yard.

Caleb Wentzell shot the engines in Rockingham yard. The light was great for these shots.
SD80ACe Vale Locomotives: Destination: Brazil - Rockingham, NS

Here's Caleb's closeup of Vale 102.
SD80ACe Vale 102 on KRL 70987 - Rockingham, NS

The locomotives will be loaded on a ship and sent to Brazil to join the rest of the iron ore fleet.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Relocate the CP Yards?

CP Winnipeg Yard
Colourful Winnipeg Member of Parliament Pat Martin wants the Canadian Pacific Railway yard moved out of downtown, north to the new CentrePort area. The CBC article says that he favours redevelopment of the yard into housing, green space, recreation space and so forth.

Pat is well known for his tweets and outspoken views. He says there is a good business case to move it to CentrePort. In the interview it was stated that in 1980 the costs to relocate the yard were estimated at $80-$100 million, but the interviewer pointed out that environmental remediation was not included and these days that is very expensive.

Winnipeg Diesel Repair
Pat mentioned the federal "Rail Relocation Act", technically the Railway Relocation and Crossing Act, that can fund up to 50% of the costs of relocating railway tracks. I was unaware of this act.

Far be it for me to dump all over this idea, but I do think this would be a massive cost that CP would fight tooth and nail to avoid. I'm sure CP would be happy to build a new yard but would not be happy to pay for it. I know CP is moving out of Regina's downtown, but their yard in Regina is quite small in comparison with Winnipeg's. CP's main yard in Saskatchewan is in Moose Jaw.

I found it amusing that Pat called Canadian railways "the biggest welfare case in Canadian history." In the past they certainly were massive public works projects, given the size of the land grants they were given, but I would argue that today's transportation welfare cases are trucks, not railways. A debate for another time.

Pat says it's a "slam dunk natural." I am highly skeptical.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dirty Pig

No, this isn't a rant against police.

I saw CN 111 heading west out of Winnipeg around noon on Thursday, March 15. I was waiting for the Canadian near Diamond. I had my Canon S3 on a tripod waiting to video it, and shot a few long distance shots of the approaching freight before turning the S3 on... and having it turn itself off and complain about low batteries. Drat.

CN 2676 was the lead engine, with CN 2677 behind it. Funny to see two engines in numeric order.
CN 2676 leading CN 111 in Winnipeg

This was scrawled in the dirt on the rear of CN 2676.
Dirty Pig
I guess it was an editorial comment about CN's maintenance practices.

Farther down the train, CN 2663 was the first DPU engine.
CN 2663 in Winnipeg

Oddly enough, there was a second DPU engine right behind 2663, ex-BC Rail engine BCOL 4645, yet another Dash-9. Four in one train!
Ex BC Rail BCOL 4645 in Winnipeg

I was interested to hear that they were detouring! They told the RTC that they were detouring through Dauphin (rather than going through Melville SK) and the RTC said they would pick up their pilot in Portage la Prairie. They need a pilot when the crew is unfamiliar with the territory, much like ships need pilots to enter unknown harbours.

CN had a 22-car derailment on the Rivers subdivision about 40km east of Melville at about 03:30 Thursday morning. VIA 1 and 2 were delayed so I never saw VIA 1 on Thursday.

Clayton Chaloner reported that he saw CN 101, CN 401, CN 111 and two others detour before the derailment was cleared. Canada Newswire reported that the TSB was sent. The Regina Leader-Post reported that the derailment site was clear by 6 PM Thursday and that the derailed cars were empty tank cars. 40km east of Melville is around Bangor or Atwater on the CN Rivers subdivision.

EDIT: Corrected engine type of BCOL 4645. Thanks Zartok!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Activity in Thompson!

I mentioned in my last post about Thompson that Wednesday (March 7) was a busy time in the train yard.

First thing in the morning, this engine was at the north end of the yard.
Hudson Bay Railroad engine 3001 in Thompson

HBRY 3001 is obviously an ex-CN unit, based on the sergeant stripes. It's a GP40-2LW. I didn't have time in the morning to do more than take this shot... oh, and this shot of caboose HBRY 79851.
Caboose HBRY 79851 in Thompson Manitoba

It was coupled to a boxcar and some trailers-on-flatcars.

At noon I went back to the yard because I knew the VIA train should be there. Little did I know there were... *two* VIA trains.
VIA 6405 in Thompson

I *think* this was VIA 692 from Churchill. It was backed right up to the south end of the yard. It was the standard length, two engines, baggage car, two coaches, diner, and Chateau car.

As I watched, Château Verchères was backing up on the same track.
Chateau Vercheres in Thompson Manitoba

They pulled up to within a couple of car lengths of VIA 6405, then the step boxes came out and passengers disembarked.

I walked the length of the first train to get the full consist and then did the same with the newly-arrived train. Here's its consist.
VIA 8228 Chateau Vercheres in Thompson Manitoba

VIA 6409 was the lead engine on that train.
VIA 6409 in Thompson Manitoba

They had seen a fair bit of snow and ice on their trip...

I didn't have time to hang around (again) but it was nice to see those trains there... given that I've seen them often enough in Winnipeg.

I came back late in the day and HBRY 3001 was still there, down by the yard office and coupled up to the caboose and a few cars.
HBRY 3001 in Thompson

The light was failing and I had to go (story of my life) so that was the end of my train day in Thompson. I'm glad I saw what I did!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thompson, Manitoba

I was in Thompson, Manitoba last week, and saw a glimpse of the Hudson Bay Railway. Thompson is at mile 30.5 of the Thompson subdivision off the main Hudson Bay Railway line from The Pas to Churchill. VIA Rail's trains 692 and 693 (ex-Hudson Bay) have to back up in one direction because there are no turning facilities in Thompson large enough. If you've seen my photos or video of the Hudson Bay you may have noticed a large light in the rear of the last car... exactly for this reason. There is a wye at "WINGATE" just outside Thompson but the curvature is too sharp for passenger cars.

The rail line comes from the east into Thompson and the yard is oriented more or less north-south, although it slants more like NNE to SSW. The VIA Rail station is at the south end.
VIA Rail station in Thompson Manitoba

Looking toward the rest of the yard:
Rail yard in Thompson Manitoba

Pretty empty! At the north end of the yard, there is a small yard office, a couple of loading platforms for flatcars and a variety of rolling stock. An ex-CN snowplow HBRY 55376 was on a back track.
Hudson Bay plow 55376

The Hudson Bay Railway owns a fair bit of its own rolling stock. There are a number of boxcars like this long boxcar, HBRY 73680.
HBRY 73680 in Thompson Manitoba

Both that boxcar and HBRY 446589 below are obviously ex-CN. 446589 was built in March 1957.
HBRY 446589 in Thompson Manitoba

I had no idea that the Hudson Bay Railway offered trailer-on-flatcar (TOFC) service, but here it is. I saw Gardewine North trailers being loaded onto these HBRY flatcars.
 HBRY 687219 and a Gardewine trailer

There were regular flatcars and bulkhead flatcars in the yard as well, all lettered for the Hudson Bay Railway. I saw tank cars there too, lettered and labeled for private tank car fleets.

The major freight customer in Thompson is the nickel mine at Vale (formerly Inco). They receive some chemicals via tank cars, as well as ore from the Voisey's Bay deposit in Labrador. The ore is coming to Sudbury and to Thompson because the processing facility in Labrador is not scheduled to come online until 2013 according to Vale. I don't know Vale ships the finished nickel out by rail or not.

Vale has a Titan railcar mover (PDF) to shuffle cars around, and it looks like they interchange with the Hudson Bay Railway at the end of the HBRY yard. At one time Vale had a narrow gauge G8 and up to three RS-18s according to Colin Churcher, but they were all sold in the 1990s.

Esso and Petro-Canada both have facilities near the yard to take fuel from tank cars.

Tuesday was very quiet there but Wednesday was a beehive of activity. I'll describe that in another post.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Death of a Bridge

The Hiram Creek trestle center
Partial demolition of the Hiram Creek trestle, March 1 2012. Photo by Anonymous.
The old Hiram Creek bridge has come down. This wooden trestle, the highlight of the Salem and Hillsborough Railroad's train ride "back in the day", has been demolished.

The bridge had not seen passenger traffic since 2003, the last year of full operation of the railroad. In 2004 the New Brunswick Railway Museum operated trains up to highway 114 but did not go past the Weldon Creek (steel) bridge due to structural issues with that bridge and with this trestle. So the trestle sat idle for almost 10 years before its final removal.

The railway museum made the decision years ago to terminate the line at Weldon Creek. The majority of the rail line was leased from the province, who took ownership of it following CN's abandonment of the Albert subdivision. The NBRM released the majority of the line several years ago when it was determined that they would never raise enough funds for the repair of the two bridges.

I believe the bridge was becoming a safety issue. Also, you can see that the road was limited to one lane under the bridge.

The trestle was 209 feet long, and the deck was 44 feet above the roadway below. The railroad had a 7 MPH permanent slow order over the bridge and no brakes or throttle were to be applied while on the bridge. I remember the engine would sound very quiet as it coasted over the bridge.

Here's the bridge in happier times. One of the things that made the trestle special was that it was a curved wooden trestle, a relative rarity. Note the "escape platform" in the middle, a refuge for anyone caught on the bridge when a train came along.
Hiram Creek trestle

I took the next two photos on June 29, 2002. There was a dinner train operating, but I don't know why they had both diesels operating. Here's RSC-14 engine 1754 running light over the trestle.
Hiram Creek trestle

Next engine 8245 brings the dinner train back to Hillsborough.
Hiram Creek trestle

Contrast the scene above to this photo (by Art Clowes) from Friday, March 9 showing the cleanup after the trestle removal. It's the same viewpoint.
Hiram Creek trestle

I went over it many times when volunteering at the railway. Here's a video I took of the dinner train back in 2003. You can see engine 1754 drifting over the trestle starting at 1:25.

Farewell, old friend.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Slides for Sale

Slide for sale
I have some surplus slides in my collection for sale. The complete gallery is here. I'm offering them here first to ye faithful blog readers. What doesn't sell is going on eBay.

I did not take any of these slides. I bought them quite a few years ago. I'm selling these because I already have slides of the same units from a similar angle. They were taken in the Maritimes in the 1980s. The names in the gallery show when and where the slide was shot.

The slides were scanned "as is" with no attempt to correct for exposure, composition, etc. A few of the scans show that the slides weren't mounted exactly straight in the scanner!

I'm asking $3 per slide, shipping extra. Buy 3, get 1 free.

They are going on a first-come, first-served basis... email me at
Slides for sale

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Saint John Potash Derailment

Potash derailment. Photo by Ron Grant.
 CN derailed some potash cars in Saint John early Tuesday morning. CN 594 was working the Courtenay Bay potash yard and several potash cars went on the ground around 1 AM. Four cars went over on their sides and eight others appeared to be derailed upright. No one was hurt.

Derailed cars and "spare parts". Photo by Ron Grant.

Potash derailment. Photo by Ron Grant.
The derailment happened behind Coastal Tire on Crown Street. CN 5756, CN 2660 and CN 5795 were on the potash terminal end of the train and were therefore trapped by the derailment.
CN 5756 and the rest of CN train 594 stuck behind the derailment. Photo by Ron Grant.

The NB Southern wreck crew was on site by 11:30 AM and CBC reports that by 4 PM six of the eight derailed cars were back on the rails. The spilled potash was being removed at 7 PM and the track is expected to re-open by mid-afternoon on Wednesday.
Repairing the damage. Photo by Ron Grant.
Thanks to the gang at RailsNB for all the news and to Ron Grant for providing the pictures.