Friday, June 29, 2012

VIA 693 and VIA 1

Here are VIA 693 from Tuesday and VIA 1 from Thursday.

VIA 693, ex-Hudson Bay, first. I waited just west of Carman Junction for the train in the bright sunshine. I had brought along my Canon S3 to use as a video camera, but when I went to set up I realized I forgot the tripod. I didn't even have my GorillaPod with me so there was no place to set the camera down and take decent video. Oh well.

I mentioned previously that shooting the Hudson Bay is a bit dull, so I figured I would try a little blur shot. I set the shutter speed on my T1i to 1/30s and took this shot.
VIA 6417 in Winnipeg Manitoba

I'm fairly pleased with the outcome. The engine nose could be a bit sharper. I shot each car as it went by and then got the David Morris Going-Away Shot™.
VIA 693 out of Winnipeg

Note the bit of yellow behind the train, canola in a far-away field. I have to find a place to shoot trains with canola in the foreground!

I went out on June 28 (Thursday) to shoot the Canadian. I waited a little west of Shaftesbury Boulevard for VIA 1 and it came along on time.
VIA 6401 in Winnipeg

This time I remembered the tripod. Here's the video from my Canon S3.

As soon as the Canadian went by, I took off in pursuit. I was hoping for a stop signal at Diamond or at least a Limited to slow it down enough for me to catch up. I was held up by a slow driver on Wilkes so I didn't draw abreast of the train until after the hotbox detector at mile 10. Unfortunately VIA called out "Clear to Diamond" so there would be no chance to get ahead. I pointed my camera out the side window of the car and took a few pacing shots totally blind. I was quite pleased with how this one turned out.
VIA 6401 and 6404 pacing photo

I didn't even have to level the horizon!

After that I slowed and the Canadian disappeared in the distance. I turned around and headed back east... only to.... well, that's another post.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

VIA Rail Cuts

The VIA Rail Ocean in Amherst, Nova Scotia
VIA Rail held meetings with its employees cross-country this morning, and then issued a press release. The press release basically states that VIA is cutting its workforce by about 200 people, or 9%. At the same time the release says it is adding trains in some areas.

However the release also says VIA Rail is "adjusting our services to better align with customer demand". VIA's president and CEO Marc Laliberté stated ominously, "Where the demand varies dramatically by season, we need to adjust frequencies in order to remain efficient." (emphasis mine)

At the bottom of the release, the cuts are spelled out.
  • The Ocean: It will now depart Halifax only three times a week, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays (down from the current 6/week).
  • The Canadian will be reduced during the winter from 3 departures/week to 2/week.
  • Some Southern Ontario trains are cancelled.
Surprisingly, the Chaleur (Montreal-Gaspé) is unaffected.

With cuts taking place across the federal government, these were not unexpected. It was widely anticipated that the Ocean and Canadian would take hits as both are suffering in ridership during certain periods.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Catching Up

CN 8812 in Winnipeg
Here are a few "catch up" photos of individual trains I've seen over the past couple of months. The above is CN 8812 leading IC 2700 into Winnipeg on April 18. The early morning sunlight is bright on the nose of 8812 and its waving crew.
CN crew waves to photographer

Later that same day, I caught another Illinois Central unit, IC 2714, leading train 198 into Winnipeg ahead of CN 2513.
IC 2714 in Winnipeg

Fast-forwarding a bit, I had a bit of luck and caught CN 532 on June 14. I was driving over the tracks at the Perimeter when I spied a headlight to the north. A quick exit brought me to the nearest crossing (mile 5.30) where I shot faded CN 2414 leading a very long train.
CN 2414 leads train 532 out of Winnipeg

It's amazing how one little engine can pull so many cars. The Letellier subdivision that CN 532 runs on is very straight and flat.

There were several interesting flatcars on the train. They were all bearing the COER reporting mark, belonging to the impressively-named shortline the Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad. Any idea what these cars were used for?
Crab Orchard and Egyptian (COER) flatcar

Two days afterward, I caught a large CN freight near Carman Junction. The train had CN 8927 leading CN 2440 and CN 8862.
CN 8927 in Winnipeg

They had a clear signal on the south track.
Clear signal at Carman Junction

As I watched the train roll by, I was surprised to see a DPU engine, CN 8007, midway through the train. Not many of CN's general freight trains have DPU engines.

Monday, June 25, 2012

May 5

As I alluded to in a previous post, I saw a lot of stuff on May 5. I was out with the kids, shooting trains and doing kid stuff.

First up was VIA 1, the Canadian, at St. James Junction. Photos are here and here. They had a couple of dead-heading cars that I neglected to mention in my previous post, namely diner Acadian and this HEP 2 car, VIA 4122.
VIA 4122 in Winnipeg
It's always neat to see deadheading cars on the Canadian.

The kids and I headed up Pembina Highway, as I was intending on seeing what was around the CP Winnipeg shops. On the way, I saw an eastbound freight stopped at Subway by the Winnipeg Maintenance Centre, with CN 8003 and CN 5701 for power.

As we approached the yard, driving down Logan Avenue, I noticed a train working a grain elevator nearby. A quick detour brought me to view CP 3106 working the elevator.
CP 3106 in Winnipeg

I watched for a few minutes, and lo! the train started to roll toward me.
CP 3106 at a grain elevator in Winnipeg
This was not my first time shooting CP 3106!

Continuing on, we ended up at the sports field just south of the shops. We went across the field and I started shooting.

There was a variety of power there. There were a fair number of SD40-2 engines were there, including multimark units CP 5927, CP 6019 and CP 6055.
CP 6019 in Winnipeg
Red SOO-painted 6062 was there as well, although not in a very photogenic location.

The usual GP38/slug pairs were there, CP 1127/3027 and CP 1128/3028. I'm getting so used to seeing those particular engines that I hardly ever bother to photograph them any more. I know it's crazy, but how many photos of the exact same engines in the exact same locations can you have? :)

The usual few AC4400 engines were around, such as CP 8515.
CP 8515 in Winnipeg
Also present were ES44AC engines CP 8764 and CP 8823.
CP 8823 in Winnipeg
Dual-flag SD90 CP 9550 was present, but again was not in a location that I could show the dual flag logo very well. The paint used for the under-cab numbers on the SD90s seems to have been very poor. It seems like every CP 95xx engine has faded numbers.

I spotted new engine CP 9355 bringing an intermodal train in, but it was far away and all I managed was a shot through some trees.

By this time, my kids were getting pretty bored so we went to the playground and had some fun there, then headed home.

As always, you can see the complete day's sightings in my database.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Recent VIAs

Here are a few recent VIA trains that I've seen.

On April 23 I shot the Canadian rocketing out of Winnipeg. I was near Diamond but I didn't have a lot of time to get ready. I got this shot of VIA 1 but did not get the full consist, since the train was zooming along at 60+ MPH.
VIA 6446 outside Winnipeg
That was fast!

On May 5 I had a busy day of railfanning (to be detailed in another post) and I made sure to see the Canadian first. This time I was at St. James Junction.
VIA 6441 in Winnipeg

Nice to see the big summer trains again.
VIA Rail Canadian in Winnipeg

Here's the video. I shot it with my Canon S3 mounted on my GorillaPod so it's pretty low to the ground.

Finally, I shot the Hudson Bay VIA 693 leaving Winnipeg on June 20. This was taken just west of Shaftesbury Boulevard. This is a very typical 693 with two engines, a baggage car, two coaches, a diner, and a Chateau car.
VIA 6456 in Winnipeg

The going-away shot... notice the large backup light on the end for the long backup move into Thompson.
The VIA Rail Hudson Bay train leaves Winnipeg

It's been a while since I've shot VIA 693! I'm much more interested in the Canadian because A) it's much longer, and B) the equipment varies. The Winnipeg-Churchill train tends to have two units and exactly the same type of cars on it every time. Not quite as interesting but hey, it's a train, it's all good!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


CN 7044 and CN 1435 in Winnipeg
It's been a while since I've seen a GMD1. I stumbled across this pair working the local industries just north of Symington Yard here in Winnipeg.

CN 7044 and CN 1435 were just north of Canada Gypsum (here). I honestly had no idea they were there when I turned onto Camiel Systems Street. I saw them approaching the road crossing just as I was, so I came to a stop, and so did they. It was raining so I did not spend a lot of time photographing them.

CN 7044 in Winnipeg

It looked like they were doing a crew change. I think they had trainees (in the bright green vests).

CN 7044 is equipped for remote control operation, as indicated by the light on the roof. Note the odd looking number boards.

There are a few industries on that spur. I've indicated the type of traffic they would have.

It would make a nice little industrial park on a model train layout. Sometime when the weather is nicer, I'd like to go take some photos.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Yet More Humpyard Dogs

Slug CN 203 and operator
On June 8 I took a quick trip over to Symington yard to see what was going on. I finally saw the three SD40 engines and the slug up close and took a few photos. The consist was CN 203, CN 6005, CN 6009 and CN 6012.

CN 6009 in Winnipeg

They were running light through the yard, maybe to go pick up another string of cars.
CN 6012 in Winnipeg

I shot another set of the "dogs", GP38 CN 7528, slugs CN 504 and CN 502, and GP38 CN 7532. Look closely behind the slugs.
CN 7528 in Winnipeg

Yeah, that's right, Rocky Mountaineer cars. It's a real shame I didn't actually notice those cars at the time. Grrrr.

CN 2282 and ex-BNSF CN 2197 were pushing a train back into the yard. I've never seen CN 2197 before but I saw CN 2282 back on January 30, 2010.
CN 2197 in the Winnipeg yard

PS: I wrote about Symington's "humpyard dogs" here and here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

April 26

Here's a contrast of two VIA trains seen on April 26... April 26 2012 and April 26 2010 (both in Winnipeg).

In 2012, VIA 6431 led the Canadian out of Winnipeg.
VIA 6431 in Winnipeg, by Steve Boyko

In 2010, it was VIA 6420 leading the Canadian.
VIA 6420 in Winnipeg, by Steve Boyko
Notice a few differences. The obvious one is that the 2010 version had unrefurbished engines leading the train. Also, the 2010 version had three deadhead cars: Diner Empress and two coaches.

Tweedsmuir Park was on the tail end in 2012.
VIA's Canadian passenger train in Winnipeg, by Steve Boyko

In 2010, Prince Albert Park brought up the markers.
VIA's Canadian passenger train in Winnipeg, by Steve Boyko

A difference to note here. Excepting the deadhead cars in 2010, the trains were the same length, but the 2010 version had one less Skyline car in the consist. The 2010 train had another Manor car instead.

The two trains had only one car in common, VIA 8326, Franklin Manor.

Postscript: When I was photographing the 2012 version, I made a point of shooting the dome of Tweedsmuir Park. One of the passengers had a good look at me as they passed by.
Tweedsmuir Park passenger


Here's the video of the 2010/04/26 Canadian.

CN Meets VIA

This past Thursday I went out to shoot the Canadian, something I haven't done for what seems like a month! I parked at St. James Junction and waited. I set up my Canon S3 on the tripod to shoot video, only to find that its batteries were dead. sigh

While I was waiting, I heard the detector at mile 10 go off, so I knew something was coming from that direction. After a bit longer, I saw headlights to the west. It turned out to be CN 2525 and CN 2602 leading a shortish general freight train on the south track. Right after that, I saw VIA 1's lights come around the corner at Portage Junction to the east. I was quite concerned that I would get skunked by the freight train.

First things first, shoot the freight.
CN 2525 in Winnipeg

As VIA approached, it looked like they were slowing down. I was hoping they would have to stop short of the junction to change tracks after the freight went by. Here's the two trains approaching the meet.
CN meets VIA

My hopes of a VIA stop were unfounded. The Canadian rolled right on by, shielded from my view by the freight train. This was basically my view of VIA 1 passing.
Skunked in Winnipeg

I did take a couple of long-range shots of the Canadian going away, after the freight train got out of the way.
VIA Rail's Canadian leaving Winnipeg

I knew there was no point in trying to chase the Canadian as it was very unlikely I would catch up to it. Oh well, you can't win them all.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Trains at the Gare du Nord

Here are some trains I saw at the Gare du Nord in Paris, France. Most of the platforms are accessible without any tickets or security checks, which I found a bit odd. The Eurostar platforms are glassed off and you must go through significant security to gain access to the trains. I'll get into that in another post. The local RER trains require a ticket to access those platforms.

SNCF is the French state railway system. They operate numerous trains, including the TGV high-speed long distance train and local trains under the banner of SNCF Proximités. One of the local train brands is the TER, for Transport Express Régional. I spotted a couple of TER trainsets at the Gare du Nord.
TER 430 in Paris

These are multiple-unit trains made by Bombardier. I can't figure out if these are diesel or electric or both. TER operates several different types. I remember seeing a TER train flashing by at one of the castles we were visiting (Chenonceau).
TER 428 in Paris

This ugly duckling was at the head of a train. SNCF 116043 is a "class BB 16000" electric locomotive. It operates on 25 kV power, and 62 of these were built between 1958 and 1963. This locomotive has more tractive effort than a GP38-2.
SNCF 116043 in Paris

I think this was another locomotive-hauled train. I did not walk down any of the platforms so I don't know what was at the other end. Maybe another "ugly duckling"?
SNCF train in Paris

Of course, there were TGV trains in the Gare du Nord as well. This one is a little different than the TGV sets I showed at the Gare de l'Est.
TGV trainset in Gare du Nord in Paris

Set 3226 is a British Rail Class 373 train. It was built by GEC-Alsthom for Channel Tunnel operation between London, Paris and Brussels and the series is called "Three Capitals". I don't believe these SNCF-owned trainsets actually go through the Channel Tunnel any more.

Here's a Thalys high-speed train.
Thalys TGV trainset in Gare du Nord in Paris

Extra: The VIA Rail Renaissance cars were originally intended for the "Nightstar" cross-channel service. The intention of Nightstar was to provide sleeper service between Paris or Brussels and English cities north of London. For several reasons, mostly due to the privatization of Britain's rail network and the cancellation of regional Eurostar services, they never operated and were put in storage before being purchased by VIA Rail.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Gare du Nord

Gare du Nord / Chemin de Fer
As I mentioned, I was in France last month. I already blogged about the Gare de l'Est in Paris and now it's time to talk about the Gare du Nord.

The Gare du Nord ("north station") is quite large and serves local trains, long-distance trains to the north of France, as well as international trains to Belgium, the Netherlands, northern Germany, and of course the UK using Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel (incorrectly known as the "Chunnel").

The front of the station is quite imposing, with the big columns and statues.
Gare du Nord station in Paris

Inside it is big and airy. It was quite busy all three times I was in the station, with many people standing around looking at the arrivals or departures boards, or shopping at the various vendors. The arrivals and departures boards are quite imposing.
Departures board at Gare du Nord in Paris

One evening I took a walk through and shot some of the trains waiting at the platforms. Here's SNCF TGV trainsets 13 and 81 waiting at the platforms. Both sets are TGV Sud-Est types originally built for Paris-Lyons service. They carry a maximum of 345 passengers and most are capable of 300 km/hr travel on the dedicated TGV tracks, or 200 km/hr on normal track (lignes classiques).
TGV 13 in Paris France

I also saw a couple of Thalys trainsets, including set 4533 here. These are TGV Réseau sets dedicated to Thalys service between Paris and Amsterdam. You may remember I saw a Thalys train in Amsterdam back in 2008.
Thalys 4533 in Paris France

I have some more train photos from the Gare du Nord from my other visit and I will post them next.
Detail of the Gare du Nord train station