Friday, May 25, 2012

Yet More on 6765

Continuing my fascination with CN/VIA 6765, here are two more slides I purchased recently.

First, CN 6765 in May 1974. This slide was taken by Jean Patenaude and was probably taken in the Montreal area.
CN 6765, a slide by Jean Patenaude

Next, VIA 6765 and 6860 at Brockville, Ontario in July 1981. There is no photographer credited on the slide.
VIA 6765 and 6860 in Brockville, ON

Here are the various paint schemes I've seen for CN/VIA 6765 so far:

  1. 1974/02/21 - CN black and white stripes with red nose
  2. 1976/07/24 - CN black and white stripes with red nose
  3. 1977/03/24 - VIA blue and yellow with red CN on yellow nose
  4. 1979/10/19 - VIA blue and yellow with red CN on yellow nose
  5. 1980/04/27 - VIA blue and yellow with red VIA on yellow nose
  6. 1981/07 - VIA blue and yellow with yellow nose
  7. 1988/10/16 - VIA blue and yellow with yellow nose
  8. 2005 - CN green and gold
I've never seen a photo of it in CN green and gold but I have to assume that it wore that sometime between 1958 when it was built and 1974 when I first have proof it was in the sergeant stripes. If Exporail repainted it in green and gold, it must be true!

I have omitted some dates from the above list, where the paint scheme did not change between the dates listed. I'm trying to nail down when it changed liveries.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Just in Time

I went out to shoot the Canadian on May 10. VIA has been leaving before noon these days and I knew I was cutting it close. I decided to head west of Kenaston Boulevard and as I turned off Kenaston, I saw VIA 1 rolling along beside me. I got to Shaftesbury Boulevard before them but the light was red. I shot VIA 6410 passing me as I waited at the light.
VIA's Canadian at Shaftesbury Boulevard

They met CN 106 coming the other way with CN 8902 and CN 8920! I hit the accelerator and tried to catch up to VIA. Fortunately the Canadian was not going at full track speed and I got ahead of them by Carman Junction, where I hopped out to grab a quick shot of them.
VIA 6410 in Winnipeg

The customary going-away shot, of course...
VIA Rail's Canadian in Winnipeg

I got back in my car and pursued, hoping that they would get a stop signal at Diamond. As it turns out, they did not, but they met another train coming east. This was CN 112. I grabbed a few shots of the train as it approached.
CN 8869 near Diamond

I then turned around and headed back east to get far enough ahead that I could shoot video. I slapped the Canon S3 on the ground with my GorillaPod as the tripod, then put the circular polarizer on my Canon T1i and shot CN 8869.
CN 8869 in Winnipeg

That circular polarizer really makes the colours pop, doesn't it? Compare that to the previous shot of 8869 above and you'll see what a different a polarizer makes on a bright sunny day.

CN 8023 was the trailing unit.
CN 8023 in Winnipeg

Here's the video. I like the GorillaPod as it is easy to set up and being low to the ground, it gives a different perspective. Its size makes it easy to bring along. If you ever decide to get one, make sure you get the correct type for your camera. The smaller / cheaper GorillaPods will not support the weight of an SLR without tipping over, and are made for compact "point and shoot" cameras.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Recent NB Southern Videos

Here are a few recent NB Southern videos featuring the "new" leased power.

Dave Dineen aka NBSRfan shot HLCX 6318 and HLCX 8144 leading a fairly short train out of Saint John. The big cars on the head end are trash cars for the steel recycling facility now located in the Port of Saint John.

Gary Lee was in the cab of GMTX 204 in McAdam. I'd really like to get back to McAdam at some point as it is really hopping now!

Jason aka NB Green Machine shot a transfer freight within Saint John. The MP15DC GMTX 203 was ahead of "huff and puff", NBSR 3702 and 3703, and Geep NBSR 2610 was there for extra muscle. Apparently they almost stalled trying to get up Mill Street from Island Yard. Great video!

Doubleiron shot an eastbound NB Southern freight through Harvey. It had a quite colourful consist.

Gary also shot this sizable westbound freight in McAdam, headed by NBSR 2319, HLCX 6200 and MEC 354 in Pan Am colours.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chaleur Running Again... Part Way

André Berthelot reported that the Chaleur is finally running again, at least to New Carlisle. That's André's shot at New Carlisle on May 14. It's been 142 days since they were last there, apparently! I reported on the closure on December 15 of last year.

Searching for reservations on VIA Rail brings up the travel advisory that buses are being used between New Carlisle and Gaspé.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Northern Spirit Cars Gone

VIA 2448 Northern Spirit car in Winnipeg
Gary Klouda reported that the five ex-VIA Northern Spirit cars are finally en route to Mexico. They were spotted in Minnesota on the CPR Paynesville subdivision Thursday afternoon on CP train 490 (Winnipeg-St. Paul).

You may remember I shot all of those cars when they were still in storage at VIA's Winnipeg Maintenance Centre. They have been sold to an outfit in Mexico (Ferromex) and have been at the WMC for quite some time waiting to leave.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The RTC Gods Were Smiling

Coming back to "near present" for a minute, this is what I saw on Thursday. I went out at noon to shoot the Canadian under bright sunny skies. I started at St. James Junction but I moved over to the pumping station (?) by Kenaston Boulevard to get a more wide open view of the Canadian. St. James Junction is great but it has a lot of wires and poles around that detract from the shot.

In due time I saw the headlights of the Canadian in the east as they passed through Portage Junction on the north track.. and to the west I saw headlights of a freight train... on the south track. I was quite concerned that the freight train would get to me first and block my view of the VIA Rail train. As the two trains approached it was clear that the freight would get to me first. Sigh.

CN 2330 was leading train 116.
CN 2330 in Winnipeg

Nice wave from the bearded engineer! As the train passed, it slowed down more and more. I was watching between containers for the Canadian to pass by on the north track... but it never did.

CN 8921 was the sole DPU engine on the train.
CN 8921 in Winnipeg

Eventually CN 116 came to a dead stop. After a few minutes of waiting, 116 started up again and continued east. I think there was a foreman's permit that had to be terminated. Finally, 116 was clear and in the distance I saw that VIA 1 had stopped short of St. James Junction.

As I watched, they crossed over from the north to the south track and slowly rolled past me. After a nice wave from the second engineer, VIA 6404 rolled past on the point of 22 cars.
VIA 6404 in Winnipeg

There was a deadhead baggage car on the train right behind the second engine. Lots of people were waving as they rolled past. Appropriately, Assiniboine Park was the trailing car, given that the real Assiniboine Park is only a few kilometres from where I took the photo.
VIA Canadian in Winnipeg

Saying a silent prayer to the RTC gods (hi Janice) for not skunking me, I started to head out, only to find a CP local heading north on the La Riviere sub. A quick stop yielded this shot of the short train.
CP 1128 and 3028 in Winnipeg
Not a bad lunch time!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Last Yellow F40

VIA 6453 in Winnipeg
VIA Rail has been rebuilding its engines as part of the most recent capital renewal project. The F40PH-2 engines have been upgraded at CAD Railway Industries to modernize the locomotives and make them more fuel-efficient. I went into detail on the upgrades when I visited the Winnipeg Maintenance Centre. CAD delivered the first upgraded engine in July 2009.

Railfans have been watching the engines go in for refurbishment, and now there is only one "original" yellow F40PH-2 roaming the system, VIA 6453. All of the other engines have either been refurbished or are at CAD now being refurbished. The second-last unit was VIA 6440 but it went into CAD in late April.

VIA 6453 has been rattling around Ontario and Quebec for the past couple of months. Here are some car traces published on CanPassRail for this engine. Note that these are read at 9 AM every morning so they are not tracking every movement of the engine, just the last reader it passed before 9 AM.
VIA6453MONTREAL CENTRPQ03 24 0929Arrive In-TransitP63021
VIA6453DE BEAUJEU PQ03 26 2022DepartureP03921
VIA6453DE BEAUJEU PQ03 29 2042DepartureP03921
VIA6453DORVAL PQ03 31 0909DepartureP63021
VIA6453MONTREAL CENTRPQ03 31 0929Arrive In-TransitP63021
VIA6453CABIN E ON04 06 0623DepartureP74031
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 06 2326Arrive In-TransitP08831
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 07 2315Arrive In-TransitP08831
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 09 0621Arrive In-TransitP74031
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 14 0621Arrive In-TransitP74031
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 14 2320Arrive In-TransitP08831
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 21 0621Arrive In-TransitP74031
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 21 2320Arrive In-TransitP08831
VIA6453OTTAWA ON03 27 2232Arrive In-TransitP03921
VIA6453DE BEAUJEU PQ03 28 2021DepartureP03921
VIA6453DE BEAUJEU PQ04 02 0713DepartureP05121
VIA6453CABIN E ON04 03 0623DepartureP74031
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 04 0621Arrive In-TransitP74031
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 05 0621Arrive In-TransitP74031
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 10 0623Arrive In-TransitP74031
VIA6453TORONTO UNION ON04 10 2353Arrive In-TransitP08831
VIA6453COTEAU PQ05 08 2016DepartureP03921
VIA6453OTTAWA ON05 09 2232Arrive In-TransitP03921
VIA6453COTEAU PQ05 10 2017DepartureP03921
VIA6453MONTREAL CENTRPQ05 12 0927Arrive In-TransitP63021
VIA6453BLOOMFIELD ROAON05 14 0944DepartureP07231

Most of this should be self-explanatory. The fifth column has the month, day, time of reading. The last column is the train number P039 = train #39, a Montreal-Ottawa train. I think the last two digits are CN designations for what region the train is in. You can see 21=Quebec and 31=Ontario.

There's a photo of VIA 6453 on from May 14 here. I'd embed a thumbnail but their linking policy is very strict.

I know railfans have complained in the past about the many advertisement-wrapped VIA engines such as the CBC engine, the Spiderman 2 engines, and especially the hated Loto-Quebec engine, but I suspect the complaints will return about the uniform appearance of the refurbished engines. Personally I always liked to see a wrapped engine as it was "something different". Now VIA 6453 is the only "different" engine around and soon it will have its turn to get a make-over and look just like everyone else. It's a little sad.
VIA 6453 in Winnipeg

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CN Derailment in Oakville

An eastbound CN freight train had a minor derailment in Oakville, Manitoba last night (Tuesday at 9:30 PM) after an emergency brake application. The rear wheels of one grain car went off the rails, and sparks from the train started a minor fire. The fire was under control within an hour and CN was running trains on the adjacent track by 11:30 PM. The local highway 13 was closed because of the fire.


This Day, 32 Years Ago

Gary Zuters shot GMD1 CN 1912 (and CN 1914) in Thunder Bay, Ontario on a nice May 16, 1980.

Monday, May 14, 2012

April 19

One week after shooting the Canadian (and CN 199 and the CEMR train), I was out again near St. James Junction to shoot the Canadian again.

VIA 1 came first, with VIA 6457 on the head end.
VIA 6457 in Winnipeg

Here are a few cars on the tail end.
VIA's Canadian in Winnipeg

And there's the Park car about to roll across the CN-CP diamond.
VIA Canadian leaving Winnipeg

For a reason I don't recall now, I decided to relocate a bit west to near Kenaston Boulevard. When I stepped out of my car, this proud fellow was strutting around, so I had to take his photo.
Proud Fellow

Soon, CN 116 rolled into view with CN 2231 leading.
CN 2231 in Winnipeg

That was the sole power on the train until CN 2269 appeared, pushing hard on the rear.
CN 2269 in Winnipeg

Someone made a little editorial comment about CN's cleaning practices on CN 2269.
Wash Me - CN 2269

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Smoking like an Alco

CN 5762 in Winnipeg, Manitoba
I went to St. James Junction in Winnipeg around noon on April 12 to shoot the Canadian, and as often happens I saw a couple of bonus trains.

As soon as I arrived, I noticed headlights to the east. The other railfans there told me that was CN 199 (seen above). It had CN 5762 and CN 5723 for power. I was going to say that this was the first time I'd seen a pair of SD75I engines on CN 199, but that's not true.

Anyway, VIA 1 came trundling along about 15 minutes later with VIA 6405 on point.
VIA 6405 changing tracks in Winnipeg

I want to point out two things about this photograph. First, VIA 1 is crossing over from the south to the north track in this photo. Second, note the headlight in the distance behind the Canadian.

After the Canadian passed, that headlight turned into the CEMR train heading toward their Carman subdivision. As they passed a CN maintenance truck, they opened it up and belched a cloud of smoke that would make an Alco proud.
CEMR 4001 belching smoke

I decided to give chase and headed down to Wilkes Avenue to catch them crossing the road. I beat them easily and had time to turn around, park well off the road, and wait for them to make their crossing.
CEMR 4000 and 4001 cross Wilkes Avenue in Winnipeg

Those old Geeps still look pretty good!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

New Engine Search Feature

Just some rivet-counting geekery today. I've updated the code in the engine search portion of my train sighting database to allow a range of numbers to be entered. A few examples might be in order.

Suppose I wanted to see which VIA F40PH-2 engines I've seen. I know they are numbered 6400-64something, so I would go here and enter VIA for the road name and 6400-6499 for the engine number.

Follow this link for the results. This is what it looks like:

Each engine is listed with the count of the times I've seen it. Clicking on the count goes to a search for that engine number, listing each date/location I've seen a train containing that engine.

Looking at the results, I've never seen VIA 6423, VIA 6430, VIA 6447, or VIA 6450. Why not? Well, all of them were wrecked / retired on or before 2001 when I started getting serious about recording engine numbers.

Which engine did I see most often? VIA 6420.
VIA 6420 in Winnipeg, 2011/07/24

From my first record on May 18, 2003 in Moncton to June 7, 2011 in Winnipeg, I've recorded it 24 times. Note that this is a bit of a cheat because at times I would record it multiple times per day if I was chasing the train. On November 9, 2005 I chased the VIA Veteran Train from Brookfield, NS to Moncton, NB and VIA 6420 was the lead engine.

Which NB Southern engine did I record most often? Surprisingly it was NBSR 2317, 89 times.
NBSR 2317 in McAdam 2006/10/28

Again it was part of a few chases so I saw it on less than 89 separate days. I would have thought it was one of the original GP38-3 engines, NBSR 980x.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bay of Fundy Scenic Railway

NB Southern and Metis at Chesley Drive in Saint John, by David Morris
NB Southern at Chesley Drive. Photo by David Morris.

The New Brunswick Southern Railway is partnering with cruise ships to offer a short train excursion for cruise ship passengers. They are calling it the Bay of Fundy Scenic Railway.

Passengers will be bused to Harbour Station to board the train. The train will then proceed across the Reversing Falls bridge and through Simms Corner, then back up to the Bayshore Yard by the site of the former roundhouse at Sea Street. That batch of passengers will disembark and the next load will be waiting for them, having been bused there from the ship. This will be repeated through the day as necessary.

Disney Cruise Line has a page on it, featuring the NBSR green passenger cars and the Metis. It does not appear to be exclusive to Disney, as Royal Caribbean is also offering it.

The tour will have a guide on board giving a talk on the sights outside the train. Tickets are $55 but I do not believe they will be open to the general public.

This is a great initiative by NB Southern and will enhance the cruise ship experience for visitors... and also provide more railfan opportunities! Thanks to Bob Boudreau for the information.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

NB Southern Charity Run This Weekend

NB Southern 2317 and passenger train in Welsford
The New Brunswick Southern Railway is operating a charity run this Saturday, May 12 from Fredericton Junction to McAdam and back. Tickets are sold out. The train will be departing the Junction at 13:00 (1 PM) and proceeding to McAdam, where passengers will tour the train station there, and return to the Junction for dinner.

The run is to benefit the Oromocto Hospital Foundation.

Thanks to Bob Boudreau and Peter Gough for the information.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

More on Irving Oil Tank Cars

This is a follow-up to my post on Irving Oil tank cars.

SteveO found a couple of great photos of Irving Oil tank cars online and shared them with me.

First, Irving Oil tank cars in 1966. They are labeled as "new tankers". The Irving Oil refinery in Saint John was built in 1960, according to Wikipedia.
Irving Oil tank cars in 1966

The closest car is NCTX 22514. It looks like the other three are also NCTX cars.

Here's one showing Irving Oil tank cars being unloaded at Edmundston in 1971.
Irving Oil tank cars in Edmundston

The tank car in the foreground is CGTX 20578.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Irving Oil Tank Cars

Irving Oil Tank Car, photo by Steve Boyko
Like many oil / chemical companies, Irving leases tank cars. They used to put their logo on the tank cars, but like most companies they don't do that any more.

Taylor asked me if I had ever seen any of the Irving Oil tank cars. I never saw them in Saint John, or at least I was unaware of them. However, I did see one.

I was traveling with my future wife between Regina and Winnipeg when we came across the above tank car on a train. We were overtaking the train and fortunately I was not driving, so I was able to take some shots with my film camera. This is the only one I took of the Irving Oil tank car.

I did some searching and all I could come up with was this model tank car from the South Shore Model Railway Club. I honestly don't know if CGTX 68020 ever looked like this.

Anyone out there have any photos to share?

PS see also Taylor's post!

HEP Explained

I stumbled across this great document explaining the differences between Amtrak and VIA Rail HEP (Head End Power). HEP is how the electricity generated by the Head End locomotives Power the rest of the train.

The essential difference is that Amtrak's HEP is one circuit from one end of the train to another, while VIA's is split into two circuits that alternate between cars. I believe only one Amtrak locomotive supplies HEP, whereas VIA's design allows two locomotives to supply HEP (one for each circuit) with automatic fail-over to the other loco if necessary. VIA's design is more complex but more robust as well, suiting our harsher climates where loss of heat can be dangerous in winter!

The document is on GN Trains' web site. GN Trains rebuilds private passenger cars so the intricacies of HEP are important to them. They have a whole page of interesting documentation.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Expanding NB Southern Railway

According to my notes, the New Brunswick Southern Railway now has 23 engines*. At this time last year, NBSR had 11 engines. Incredible!

* - I'm not sure about the status of the Maine Central (Pan Am) engines that are on some of the main line trains.

The big driver has been the operation of Maine's northern lines as well as increased traffic on its own lines. SteveO and others report that the Irving Oil refinery is expanding its rail operations. They are adding crude oil unloading racks that will have a capacity to unload 192 cars in a 24 hour period (in 4 shunts). It is widely expected that unit oil trains will be arriving from Saskatchewan.

Look at trains like this one, recorded by Brian Barchard. Such a colourful consist!

It looks like a return to the colourful days of 2004-2006!
NBSR 2317 etc. in McAdam in 2004

NB Southern railfanning is getting way more exciting. I kinda wish I was back in New Brunswick to see this.

View my roster page for the complete list.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Be Safe Out There

Containers on the Prairie
Operation Lifesaver has been running their annual Rail Safety Week and posting lots of good stories and video.

Manitoba Public Insurance posted a video about crossing safety. The comments on that web page really bear repeating:

Don't Stop on Railway Tracks
I see this all the time in Winnipeg, especially at crossings like Shaftesbury Boulevard and Waverley Street. There's a red light, cars start to accumulate, and people stop on the tracks. This is dangerous. Trains move quickly and stop slowly, and it's easy enough to leave a couple of cars space and stop on the other side of the tracks.

Trains Move Quicker Than They Appear
Many times when I'm out shooting trains, it looks like the train is going to take forever to reach the section of track I'm standing near. However, as it approaches you realize just how fast the train is going. In many places the VIA Rail trains are going 60+ MPH and there's not a lot of time to "beat" the train. Don't do it.

Watch Out For Two Tracks
In many places there are two (or more) tracks at a crossing. Look at the crossing sign for the "2 TRACKS" sign. There may be a stopped train on one track, and a moving train behind that that you can't see. Be very very careful on 2 track crossings.

Follow Operation Lifesaver on Twitter for more information!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Detective Work

I had an inquiry from a woman whose grandmother took a train from Winnipeg west to Vancouver in early 1983. She was asking about trip times and also whether the Winnipeg Union Station downtown said "VIA" or "CN" on it.

Getting the trip times is easy enough. I have a VIA Rail system timetable dated November 15, 1981 (effective to April 24, 1982) and another dated May 29, 1983. The times for the Canadian in both are the same so I think it's a safe assumption that it did not change in between.

VIA 1 arrived in Winnipeg at 10:00 AM daily and departed at 13:30, on CN to Portage la Prairie and then switching to CP tracks for the remainder of its westward journey. It arrived in Brandon at 16:50 and departed at 17:05. The Canadian then passed through Regina, Calgary and Banff before arriving at Kamloops at 22:30 and departing 15 minutes later at 22:45. It finally arrived in Vancouver, BC at 07:00, almost two days after arriving in Winnipeg.

The Super Continental had been cancelled in 1981 (only to return briefly in 1985) so it had to be the Canadian that her grandmother took.

Here are the two relevant pages from the November 15, 1981 VIA Rail System Timetable. First, page 32 (Montreal - Toronto - Sudbury - Winnipeg).

Next, page 33 (Winnipeg - Regina - Calgary - Banff - Lake Louise - Vancouver).

Click on either page to see a larger version.

Her other question was whether the Union Station in Winnipeg showed CN or VIA. Since CN owned the station until 1986, it was a good question. It turns out that the station did show CN until at least June 3, 1986 when Eric Gagnon took this photo.
Union Station in Winnipeg. Photo by Eric Gagnon

Click on the photo to see Eric's original blog post about laying over in Winnipeg.

Mark Perry found a photo on Flickr of Union Station from 1967 prominently featuring the CN logo.
CNR Station at Winnipeg, Manitoba

I love this kind of detective work!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

GMTX in Saint John

Byron Thomas graciously allowed me to post these photos of NB Southern's newest engines, GMTX 2639 and 2645. Here they are hard at work pulling a transfer freight from the Island Yard in Saint John across the Reversing Falls bridge.
GMTX 2645 in Saint John. Photo by Byron Thomas

Here they are just coming off the bridge.
GMTX 2639 in Saint John. Photo by Byron Thomas

Byron also shot GMTX 2639 working by itself.
GMTX 2639 in Saint John. Photo by Byron Thomas

No word on GMTX 2666 yet.

Two railfans caught GMTX 2639 working the main line. First Gary Lee shot it in McAdam. The train had GMTX 2639 followed by MEC 354, HLCX 6200 and HLCX 6315. Odd to see an NB Southern train with no NB Southern engines on it.

Dave Dineen then shot the train in the dark as it approached Saint John.

Here's another one from Gary Lee, maybe from May 1, featuring HLCX 8144, NBSR 2612, NBSR 9802 and GMTX 2645.

In other leased engine news, Wendell Lemon noted that GMTX 204 was on Tuesday's CN 406 behind the two CN engines. 204 is another MP15DC like GMTX 203.

Thanks to Byron for the photos,Wendell for the heads-up, and Gary and Dave for the videos.