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.

1 comment:

Zartok-35 said...

They're using ex-CN piggyback cars! It's good to see those weren't all lost to the scrap heap. Now we know which direction to point when someone wants to model them.
I'd better get going!