Sunday, September 30, 2012

Another Passenger Car for the NB Southern

The New Brunswick Southern Railway is getting another passenger car. "Table car" #508 was in Moncton, New Brunswick on Saturday evening, having arrived on CN 474 from Joffre Quebec where it has been since September 26.

#508 was originally built by the Canadian Car and Foundry company for CN as a coach. It was rebuilt into a 60-seat table car and was owned by the New York Susquehanna and Western. One end has a little snack bar area and it looks like it would be perfect for serving snacks on a little excursion.

I found this listing showing the car was listed for $33,300 and was sold. Judging by the photo of the shiny car, it seems to have weathered quite a bit before being sold again by Ozark Mountain Railcar to NB Southern.

This album (by Ozark Mountain Railcar, apparently) has some very detailed photos of #508. Here are a few samples.
Ex NYS&W #508

interior of #508

Thanks to Ron Pelletier, JP Veilleux and Mike R for the sightings, and to Steve Hunter for the detailed information on #508.

The End of the Northlander

The Northlander made its last run on Friday, September 28. The Ontario Northland Transport Commission terminated the train, ending 110 years of history.

I won't get into the politics of the decision, given that I am not very familiar with them. Instead I will share a few photos and video that railfans took of this event.

The last Northlander had engines 1809 and 1800 leading power car 202, coaches 604, 615, 612, 606, 600 and 702 through Bracebridge, Ontario and apparently dropped a couple of coaches before arriving at Union Station in Toronto.

There were articles by the CBC and The Star covering the event. Stephen Gardiner posted a few photos on Flickr.

Here are some videos on YouTube. First, from TEHTRAKS111.

Next, this long video from RPS19 of the train in Bracebridge.

Here is the northbound #697 in Thornhill, the last northbound train.

EDIT: Corrected caption for the last video.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

BNSF Tenant Raising Concerns

Tanks in the BNSF Yard in Winnipeg

Some residents of Winnipeg are concerned about eight new storage tanks that sprung up in the BNSF Manitoba yard. According to this article, "property owners were given no notice" that these tanks would be built. The article goes on to say that a city councillor has asked various departments in the city to investigate to see if any zoning bylaws were violated, although the article says that railways are federally regulated. Of course the article also claims that "rail corridors are located on Crown land", which is patently false.

I had a look at them last week and took these photos. I would say they probably should have been painted before being erected, but they are not a huge eyesore in my opinion and they are not so large that they dominate the neighbourhood. Have a look at this shot of the BNSF yard, with the engine house at the left and the tanks on the right.
BNSF yard in Winnipeg

The tanks were erected by Fort Distributors, a shipper leasing space in the BNSF yard. It looks like the company sells road de-icing chemicals as well as magnesium chloride for dust control.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Don't Try This At Home

Deer under train in Winnipeg

I was out with my son and we spotted a CN crew working the Fort Garry industrial area. This is by the former Manitoba Sugar plant. GP9 CN 7044 and GMD1 CN 1405 were shuttling some cars around on and off the main line, under the tender care of the CN crew with their remote control devices. While we were waiting and I was photographing, a deer came running into the field by the tracks, intent on crossing over. Unfortunately, the train was in the way. After a minute or so, the deer ran under the train car. Fortunately the train had stopped for a minute and the deer made it safely.

Don't ever do this. Trains can move at any time in any direction.
CN 7044 and CN 1405 in Winnipeg

Here's one of my favourite engine types, a GMD1.
CN 1405 in Winnipeg

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Grenfell, Saskatchewan

Grain elevator in Grenfell Saskatchewan
I had always wanted to photograph the elevator in Grenfell, Saskatchewan, and last month I was able to do so. I arranged to stop there on our way to Regina and I spent about 10 minutes photographing the rail area.

Grain elevator in Grenfell Saskatchewan

The elevator is quite a handsome structure, with fresh paint and it is obviously well maintained.
Grenfell grain elevator

At one point there was a Saskatchewan Pool elevator in Grenfell, but it has been replaced by a concrete Viterrra structure outside town.
Grain elevator in Grenfell Saskatchewan

Here's another view of the Viterra structure, taken from the highway a few days later.
Qu'Appelle Valley grain elevator in Grenfell Saskatchewan

Check out this cool postcard I found at the Saskatchewan Archival Information Network site, showing at least six elevators in Grenfell.

Oh, when I was in Grenfell I saw two CP SD40-2 engines idling away, coupled up to a spreader. I guess they were part of a work train but there was noone in sight.
CP 5912 and 5927 in Grenfell SK

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 24, 2012

VIA Plus One

On September 20 I went out to shoot the Canadian. It had been a "long" time since I last saw VIA 1 and I wanted to correct that. When I drove out Wilkes Avenue, I could see their headlights in my side mirror so I knew I had to be quick. I parked on the shoulder near Shaftesbury Boulevard and took the shot. Fortunately they were not going terribly fast.
VIA 6409 in Winnipeg

I also processed this as black and white with a slightly different crop, just for the heck of it. Over on Google+ I asked which people liked more and most chose the colour version.
VIA 6409 in black and white

Here's the going away shot.
VIA's Canadian

Since it was so bright, I shot at 1/800s shutter speed so everything is nice and sharp. I've found in the past that I did not set the shutter speed fast enough and I would get a tiny bit of blur, especially with the fast passenger trains. I also set my camera to center focus instead of using all of the focus points, and I think it helps avoid the "focus hunt" that dooms some shots.

After the Canadian ambled past, I hopped into my car and chased them. I easily overtook them before the Perimeter and proceeded out on the gravel road. Unfortunately for me, someone had dumped some new gravel on the road and it made it treacherous to drive more than about 60 km/hr there (limit: 90) so I decided I had to take my next shot quickly. I went onto Hall Road and took video there.

After that I chased on after them but they did not stop at Diamond, so there was no catching them. I saw fellow railfan Brian S. out there, so we had a good chat about train shows, idiot railfans and Eric Gagnon's upcoming book. Soon enough, a westbound CN container train came into view so we shot that too.
CN 2676 in Winnipeg

CN 2676 splits the westbound signals at mile 14.4. CN 8022 was in the middle of the train and CN 2281 was on the rear.

CN 2281 in Winnipeg

Saturday, September 22, 2012

National Dream Renewed

VIA 8507 in Winnipeg

There's a new initiative called the National Dream Renewed aimed at promoting passenger rail in Canada, and rolling back the recent VIA Rail cuts. It is a joint project of the national Transport Action Canada and its regional rail groups. They are touring the country holding town hall meetings to bring the message to the people.

Next week they are in Atlantic Canada (starting in Halifax on Monday) and if you are in the area, get out and show your support! Please pre-register on their site first so they will know how many people will be attending. They had a town hall meeting in Sudbury, Ontario last week that was well attended.

Transport Action (formerly Transport 2000) does good work in all aspects of public transit but especially in rail. I have been a member for many years and I support their work. Why not join them?

Friday, September 21, 2012


I was driving on the Perimeter Highway over the CN Letellier subdivision in Winnipeg when I spied CN 533 coming home. It was really the most remarkable coincidence, as there is only a short stretch of track visible to the south, and there was the head end of 533 rolling along, with two engines including a grey one leading!

I exited at Waverley Street and headed up to Bison Drive, intending to get well ahead of the train to photograph this mysterious grey engine. They were going a lot faster than I thought, as the gates were coming down at the crossing as I approached it. I ended up stopping and clawing for my camera as the train approached. Good thing I keep the camera on the passenger seat. (Doesn't everyone?)

Here's the grey engine.
Ex GTW 5948 in Winnipeg

This engine is former Grand Trunk and Western (GTW) 5948, an SD40-3 now owned by Alstom and lettered GCFX 5948. It was apparently originally built for the Kansas City Southern railway.

The above shot was through the windshield, and I rolled my window down to take the "going away" photo below. You can see where the large white "CN" on the side has been painted over.
Alstom 5948 in Winnipeg

On my return from my errand, I noticed that there was a CN freight train parked just west of Diamond outside Winnipeg. The train had IC 2703 on the point and was apparently waiting for a westbound freight before heading into Winnipeg. I set up my video camera to point at 2703 for the meet... and then they rolled ahead a few hundred feet! Maybe they were shy.
IC 2703 near Winnipeg

In good time the westbound train arrived. It was led by a Dash-9.
CN 2597 near Winnipeg

The crew of 2703 were on the ground to inspect the train.
Meet at Diamond with IC 2703 and CN 2597

Not bad for Yet Another Meet!
CN 2597 and IC 2703 near Winnipeg

Here's the video.

Oh yes, after 2703 started rolling, I headed out to get another shot of it. First, a pacing shot.
IC 2703 and CN 2538 in Winnipeg

They were not going especially fast yet. I decided to nab them on the other side of Diamond and call it a day. Here's that shot.
IC 2703 in Winnipeg

You can see they were crossing over to the south track here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Dominion of Canada Has Arrived

The Dominion of Canada in Halifax, photo by David Tindall

The Dominion of Canada has arrived in Halifax, on CN 120 as mentioned earlier. The above shot by David Tindall through the fence at the Ceres terminal shows the two steam engines parked, waiting for the Atlantic Conveyor to come pick them up next Tuesday September 25 to begin their journey across the Atlantic.

Matt aka Saintjohnrailfan caught the Dominion of Canada on CN 120 en route.

They are headed over to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Mallard's world steam engine speed record. Here is a nice web site listing all of the festivities.

Thanks to David Tindall, David Othen, Bob Liming and Matt for information, photos and video.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Some Recent Grain Elevators

Some of you may know I'm a bit obsessed with grain elevators as well as trains. Heck, I have a whole grain elevator photo gallery for them. Here are a few I've seen this month.

This is the Viterra elevator at Pense, Saskatchewan, on the Canadian Pacific main line. This one is not new to me. I took this shortly after sunrise.
Pense elevator in Saskatchewan

Later that morning, I shot this grand complex in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. This Viterra elevator apparently handles mustard seed, and is served by CN off the Central Butte subdivision. The elevator dominates this area of Moose Jaw by its height, rivaled only by the Parrish-Heimbecker elevator on the other side of the Canadian Pacific yard.
The Viterra mustard elevator in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Just a bit west of Moose Jaw is this grain elevator, another Viterra property. It is basically right on the Canadian Pacific main line.
The Viterra grain elevator in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Lest you think there are only Viterra elevators in Saskatchewan, here is the Cargill elevator just outside Moose Jaw. Sorry for the blurry shot, it was a long distance photo.
Cargill grain elevator in Moose Jaw

Switching provinces, here are two views of a grain elevator complex in Maidstone, Ontario near Windsor. Until fairly recently this was served by CN off the Caso subdivision.
ADM elevator complex in Maidstone, Ontario

As I mentioned before, the Caso subdivision is now idle and the trains don't come here no more. You can see the rails are still in the ground here.
Elevator in Maidstone Ontario

Aerial Photos of CP Winnipeg Yard

Bryan Scott, of the great blog (and book) Winnipeg: Love It Or Hate It, posted some aerial photos of Winnipeg to his Flickr account, including this great one of the Canadian Pacific Railway yard in Winnipeg. I'd post it here but he has disabled embedding of the photo. Just follow the link - it's worth it.

The photo is looking east-south-east, with the Arlington Street bridge just visible in the bottom right of the photo and the Slaw Rebchuk bridge in the distance. The hump yard is visible on the left side. I've heard rumours that the hump yard is to be shut down or has been shut down. I haven't been there in a while so I can't verify that.

You can also find aerial photos of the yard on the Winnipeg Aerial Photos blog but the real treat is at the Winnipeg Free Press from July 2012! There are some beautiful aerial photos of the yard, including this gem:

This is viewing the yard from the other end, looking more or less west. The Slaw Rebchuk bridge is in the foreground and the CP Carberry subdivision stretches off the top of the photo.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dominion of Canada on the Move

338. DoC loaded and about to be sheeted over.
The Dominion of Canada, a British-built A4 steam engine, has almost completed its journey from the Canadian Railway Museum in Delson, Quebec to the docks in Halifax, Nova Scotia for its trip to England. You may remember that its sister, the Dwight D. Eisenhower, traveled to Halifax in mid August. The two are going to join their A4 sisters for the 75th anniversary of the world record performance of fellow A4 engine Mallard.

Here's its journey so far:
  • September 11: Delson, QC. CP took the Dominion of Canada to CN's yard (pictures)
  • September 13: Montreal, QC. Left CN's Taschereau yard for Joffre, Quebec.
  • September 14: Joffre, QC. Arrived late afternoon.
  • September 15: Joffre, QC. Departed on CN 308 around 8 AM.
  • September 16: Moncton, NB. Shunted onto CN 120 outgoing track.
  • September 17: Arrival in Halifax, NS on CN 120?
Moveright has a new Flickr photo set for the Dominion of Canada move. Check it out, they are really good. The photos in this post are from that set.
318. Jean-Paul at Montreal.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Upcoming Train-Related Events in Winnipeg

I visited the Winnipeg Railway Museum today during the two-day free Railway Days event, and found out about some upcoming events.

Busy times!

Monday, September 10, 2012

CN and EcoConnexions

Back on August 25 I was driving around Winnipeg with my kids. We drove up Waverley and as I crossed the CN Rivers subdivision, I saw a train parked just west of the crossing. I parked nearby and took a shot of it. CN 2571 and an ex-BNSF C40-8 were parked on the north track. There was a crew in it but they were not visible in this shot.
CN 2571 in Winnipeg

The reason for their parking there became apparent when another CN train came around Portage Junction toward them, also on the north track!
CN 2555 in Winnipeg

Lest you think they collided, there are crossover switches located just east of Waverley Street that allow trains to change tracks. You can see one of the crossovers in the photo above, and the other one is closer to the street. CN 2555 West crossed over and passed the standing CN train using the south track.
CN 2571 in Winnipeg

I noticed a sticker on the nose of CN 2555, advertising the EcoConnexions program. In true Canadian fashion, the sticker on the engineer's side was in English and the sticker on the conductor's side was in French.
CN 2555 in Winnipeg

Back in May, CN announced the launch of the EcoConnexions From The Ground Up program. CN is supporting the "greening" of communities through its partners Tree Canada and Communities in BloomFull program details are here. Apparently CN announced the 25 communities selected this past Friday. CN had intended to distribute $150,000 but upped it to a cool half-million based on the "overwhelming" response. You can see the list at the bottom of the press release. Sorry, New Brunswick, we know CN has two lines going through your province but you got nuttin' - why beautify the north shore when CN might not run through there soon? Nova Scotia received one award for Elmsdale.

Anyway, once I shot the meet, I jumped in the car and headed down Taylor Avenue to try to get ahead of them. I easily got to Shaftesbury Boulevard before them and shot CN 2555 coming out of the morning sun.
CN 2555 in Winnipeg

Good on CN for investing in local communities.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

A Big Ol' Grain Train

Back on August 23 I saw a couple of trains in the late afternoon. First I saw CN 199 heading out of town, with CN 8874 and BCOL 4601. I saw it just short of mile 10 at first...
CN 8874 in Winnipeg

I headed west on Wilkes and got ahead of it before it reached Diamond. I set up the video camera and then took this pan shot as they came by. Note the weird clean panel on the ex BC Rail unit.
CN 8874 near Winnipeg

After that I headed out on the Perimeter. As I approached the crossing where the CP La Riviere subdivision cuts across the highway, I saw a long grain train heading south. I crossed and then headed down highway 330 a bit. I pulled across the track and waited for the train to roll along. It was doing a fair speed, with big engines CP 9662 and CP 8777 doing the work.
CP 9662 in Winnipeg

Here's the train heading south down toward La Salle and beyond.
A grain train out of Winnipeg

It's nice to see big power on the La Riviere subdivision. Usually all I see are the GP38 / slug pairs of CP 3028/1128 or 3027/1127.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Just a little meet

On June 21 I witnessed a little meet between a CN train and the VIA Rail Canadian. I was out on the CN Rivers subdivision around mile 7 or so. First came VIA on the south track with VIA 6449 leading.
VIA 6449 and the Canadian in Winnipeg

That's the HDR version. Below is the non-HDR version. I was using a circular polarizer to make the sky nice and blue.
VIA 6449 non-HDR in Winnipeg

Lovely sky and light on that day!
VIA's Canadian in Winnipeg

They met the CN train down the track from me. I did shoot it but it was too far to get a decent photo of the meet. Soon enough CN 5736, CN 2152 and CN 2343 passed my position.
CN 5736 in Winnipeg

CN 2152 was the second unit... shot because it's "new" to CN.

Just a little meet...