Thursday, May 29, 2014

The CP Carman Subdivision

Oh yes, the Carman subdivision, that runs between Carman Junction and Graysville, Manitoba.. oh, wait, you said the Canadian Pacific Railway Carman subdivision? What's that?

Well, I'm glad you asked. The CP Carman subdivision is a long-forgotten section of track that used to run between Elm Creek, Manitoba and Plum Coulee, Manitoba. This was a classic grain-hauling branch line and it served as such until it was lifted in the 1980s.

Early History

Most of this line was part of the original Midland Railway of Manitoba, and it was built from Neche, North Dakota north into Manitoba. The line crossed the border near Gretna and passed through that town and Carman on its way to Portage la Prairie. The line was built in 1906 and purchased by the Manitoba Great Northern Railway on July 1, 1909.

The line was one of three railways from the US into Manitoba, as part of James Jerome Hill's Great Northern railway empire. The others went to Winnipeg (now the CN Letellier subdivision) and The Pas via Brandon.

Apparently the line did not do well. In 1928 the centre portion between Plum Coulee and Carman was taken over by the Canadian Pacific Railway and it became the CP Carman subdivision.

The portion from Gretna to Plum Coulee and the portion from Carman to Portage la Prairie were abandoned and removed.

Elm Creek to Carman

The portion from Elm Creek to Carman was built by the Manitoba South-Western Colonization Railway Company. Well, at least it was supposed to be built by them. The MSWCRC built three lines in Manitoba:

  • a line from Rugby Junction (Winnipeg) through Elm Creek to Glenboro, most of which is today's CP Glenboro subdivision;
  • a line from Manitou to Deloraine, which was part of the CP La Riviere subdivision and is now all gone; and
  • a line from Elm Creek to Carman.

The problem is that the MSWCRC ran out of money before they reached Carman. The line reached Barnsley, roughly midway between Elm Creek and Barnsley, and for a time farmers in Carman had to haul their grain to Barnsley to load there. When the CPR took over the MSWCRC they completed the line into Carman in 1889.

In 1938

Here's how it was in the September 25th, 1938 CP Employee Timetable.
Mile Station Siding
0.0 ELM CREEK Junction with CP Glenboro subdivision 65
12.2 CARMAN 35
13.2 CN interlocked crossing (CN Carman subdivision?) -
20.2 GRAHAM 26
24.1 CN interlocked crossing (CN Miami subdivision) -
24.4 ROLAND 49
29.0 HEENAN -

Or, if you'd prefer, here's a scan of the 1938 timetable.

You can see that mixed train service was offered between Winnipeg and Gretna via trains 233 and 234, twice a week. The April 28, 1940 public timetable service shows pretty much the same information.

In 1952

In the next employee timetable I have, the 1952/04/27 CP Prairie (Manitoba) employee timetable, the mileages are the same but many of the sidings have been removed from the timetable. The mixed train was still running, though!

The next several 1950s timetables show no changes.

A great article in Canadian Rail #285 (PDF) says that the section between Carman and Kronsgart was not used since 1964.

In 1973

The April 29, 1973 timetable shows a number of changes:
  • No mixed train!
  • The sidings are back, reduced slightly in capacity, perhaps due to longer cars in use.
  • The CNR crossing at mile 24.2 is no longer interlocked.

The October 27, 1974 timetable is the same except that all sidings show "Nil".

In 1976

The Carman subdivision was downgraded to a spur by the April 25, 1976 timetable:
CARMAN SPUR Westward; Elm Creek to Carman... 15.0 miles. Rule 105 applies. MAXIMUM SPEED 15 M.P.H. PERMANENT SLOW ORDER 10 M.P.H. Carman to end of track.
The spur is still present in the October 30, 1983 timetable.

In 1984

Oddly enough, in the June 3, 1984 timetable, the Carman subdivision reappeared!
It's quite simplified, of course, but it was still there, to Carman and another 2.8 miles past it.

In 1992

The CP Carman subdivision was finally abandoned in 1992.


Barnsley grain elevators
There's not much left of the CP Carman subdivision now. The former Pool elevator in Elm Creek is on the wye that was the north end of the subdivision.

There are two grain elevators in Barnsley that were once on the Carman subdivision.

In Carman, there is a Viterra facility at the north end of town that is on a piece of the former Carman subdivision.

Plum Coulee still exists, of course, on the CP La Riviere subdivision. There is no trace of the line to Carman in the town, although it is pretty easy to trace from Google Maps.

See also

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New Brunswick Rail Route Will Remain Intact

VIA 6400 in Miramichi
VIA 6400 in Miramichi, August 2007
VIA Rail will provide $10.2 million to preserve the 70 km of rail line between Nelson Junction and Nepisiguit Junction in New Brunswick. Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt made the announcement in Fredericton in Monday. Together with the province's $25 million investment, this means that rail access in northern New Brunswick will be preserved... at least for now.

A lot of people worked very hard to convince the federal government, er, VIA Rail to step up. Groups like Save Our Trains in Northern NB put a lot of pressure on local MPs, who in turn "stalked" the Transport Minister to convince her to convince VIA Rail to step in. Maybe not so coincidentally, VIA Rail's interim CEO, Steve Del Bosco, was turfed a week ago and replaced by Yves Desjardins-Siciliano.

Well done, everyone.

The new CEO stated that he wanted to see the ridership grow by 50%. Hey, I have an idea - restore the Ocean to six departures/week. Ridership was cut by about 50% when they went to 3/week. It should double back again...

The mayor of Miramichi, Gerry Cormier, says that New Brunswick now has to use it or lose it. I agree. Local leaders, VIA Rail, and Maritime Bus have to work together to really promote and integrate all forms of public transit in New Brunswick.

Get on the train!

PS VIA Rail's 2013 annual report (PDF) is now available. It shows an average of 1,468 passengers/week on the Ocean and a cost recovery of only 24%. I have to believe that if you restore the Ocean to 6 departures/week, the cost recovery will be better. Some costs are proportional to the number of trains but a lot will be fixed, such as station and station staff costs, advertising (although that's pretty low right now) and so forth. I'd love to see the cost recovery prior to the Ocean cutback.

MM&A and Employees Charged

Associated Press photo, Paul Chiasson
Just over 9 months after the railway disaster in Lac-Mégantic on July 6 2013, three men were arrested by the Sûreté du Québec (the Quebec provincial police) and each will be charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death on Tuesday. The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway itself also received the same charges.

The three are:
  • Thomas Harding, the engineer of the train that rolled into Lac-Mégantic;
  • Richard Labrie, a railway traffic controller for the railway; and
  • Jean Demaitre, the director of operations for the railway.
It's said that Harding was arrested by a SWAT team, even though his lawyer (Thomas Walsh) had already communicated that he would voluntarily turn himself in if charged.

I'm curious why it took so long to lay charges. It's possible that there is a draft of the upcoming Transportation Safety Board report being privately circulated that contained enough to get warrants for their arrests. I'm sure it'll come out soon.

I'm also a little surprised that more people weren't charged.

EDIT: The Transport Minister, Lisa Raitt, is announcing new rail tanker rules right now, another direct result of the Lac-Mégantic disaster.