Friday, June 26, 2015

One Last Rocky

This is the fifth in a series. To start at the beginning, read A Tranquille Afternoon.

On May 13th, I went out to shoot the Rocky Mountaineer one more time. I had a particular shot I wanted to get, "somewhere on the north side" between the bridge I had already featured and the CN yard.

First I wanted to shoot the arrival. I thought I might get them before they entered CN track, but I was too late and I found them stopped at the switch to the CN-CP interchange, so I rushed back to the downtown area to get them. I decided to shoot them in the open area just east of the Red Bridge, because I had noted some unusual power on the train...

They had a little helper in third position. CN 5472 was tucked in behind RMRX 8014 and NREX 2903.

Given that this train had come off of CP track, the CN unit must have been added when the train departed Kamloops on its way to Banff. Since the train power on Rocky Mountaineer trains is delivered by a generator car (seen here behind 5472), they don't need locomotives with HEP (Head End Power) generators like VIA does.

I shot this artsy glint photo as they passed by.

There were lots of happy people in the dome!

It was tricky to edit this photo to be able to see into the dome. All of the windows are tinted so it's pretty hard to see in, but through the magic of Lightroom I can "enhance" it... much like CSI! ;)

Anyway, it was time to go set up the shot I wanted. I drove across the Red Bridge and went trackside. I found a church that I thought would look great in the shot. It is the St. Joseph's Church, a "Tk'emlups te Seewepemc Historic Site" according to the sign. Did you know that Kamloops is the English translation of the Shuswap word Tk'emlups, meaning "where the rivers meet?"

The church is located on the reserve and was built in the late 19th century, and is the oldest church in Kamloops.

I walked around and took a few photos while waiting for the train, including this HDR one.

I was there a good 45 minutes before the train finally showed up. The sun was playing hide-and-seek so I didn't really get great light, but you use what you have.

I'd say that was a pretty good location.

I said this was the last post, but I was mistaken. The next post will be the last in the series, featuring CP action in downtown Kamloops.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Return to Tranquille

Previous posts: A Tranquille Afternoon, A Rocky Mountaineer evening, and Into the Mountains, Briefly.

On May 12th I went to the excellent Kelly's Kaboose shop after work. This model train / antique store is located in downtown Kamloops, BC. They have a great selection of model train equipment, lots of railway paperwork (my favourite!) and lots of other interesting items like signs, photos, and other railway memorabilia. I highly recommend the store. I walked away with a selection of BC railway timetables to fill out my collection.

When I stepped out of the store, I saw a Rocky Mountaineer bus unloading passengers at a nearby hotel. I hadn't really intended on seeing the Rocky this evening but hey, since I was only a couple of blocks away...

They were parked with the locomotives under the Red Bridge again. All of the passengers were gone and the staff were packing things up prior to the train heading over to the shops. A worker was walking along the train disconnecting the power lines between cars. He told me it was to speed up the switching they were going to do in the shop area once the train got over there.

In good time they pushed back and I shot the train passing the station.

Hey, if you want to do me a favour, go vote for your favourite Rocky Mountaineer photos at - mine are here and here and here and here.

I did a quick jaunt over to the Mission Flats Road area and found CP 3074 waiting at CP Benledi near the Domtar plant.

By the way - there's a nude beach in the area. ;) On a previous visit I was driving past the Domtar plant when I saw two quite naked people walking back to their cars from the park area. Not something you see in Winnipeg!

It was time to head back to Tranquille again. Passing the airport I spied a westbound freight headed by CN 8868. I quickly bagged it before continuing on.

I easily beat them to Tranquille, where they rounded the bend before the crossing.

While I was watching the train, a water bomber flew overhead, so I had to grab that too.

This is a Convair CV580 water tanker, owned by Conair Aerial Firefighting.

As the train rolled by, I noticed a CP eastbound potash train across the water.
Apologies for the photo quality - it was 2.5 km away and hazy in the heat. Lightroom CC's dehaze feature helped a bit.

Notice that the CP train is going through a little tunnel. Here's a Google satellite view of the short tunnel, which is about 80m long.

As the westbound CN train rolled by, and the eastbound CP train rolled by, a third train entered the scene - CN 5652 East, with BCOL 4616 trailing.

Here you are - three trains in one photo.

The CP freight had a pusher on the rear.

Speaking of DPUs, CN 8868 West had a mid-train DPU, CN 2200.

After all of that excitement, I was done for the night.

For my last second-last post from this Kamloops visit, I will visit the Rocky Mountaineer one more time, plus show some downtown Kamloops CP action. Read on!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Into the Mountains.. Briefly

CP passing Kamloops Lake

After a Tranquille afternoon and a Rocky Mountaineer evening, I decided to head west after work on Monday. After a discussion on the BC Railfans Facebook group, I had settled on Ashcroft as a destination. It has both CN and CP together in the Fraser River valley.

I headed west on the Trans-Canada Highway. It was still hot in the late afternoon - about 28C - and I had the AC on full in my little Nissan Versa Note rental. I passed the lookout at Tobiano, and as I descended toward Savona I noted a CP container train below me, also headed west. I grabbed the photo above.

As Savona came into view, I saw a nice curve that would be great for the head end of the train. I jumped out of the car as the train came around the curve.

It would have been better if I had time to get a little closer, but I'm happy with the result. CP 9362 was leading.

I tried to get the train on the other side of Savona, but I didn't know the area and missed the fact that the track crossed under the TCH to head down the Fraser valley. I ended up at the Steelhead Provincial Park, wondering where the rails were.

However, I did spot this.

The Canadian Trackside Guide says the near car was a crane idler car (originally Canadian Northern colonist car 7222 built in 1920) and the caboose was Pointe-St Charles CN 79440. There is a reversed "Gift Shop" sign on the idler car indicating this used to be a business. The prominent NO TRESPASSING sign deterred me from investigating further.

Savona is also where the CN and CP lines come together to go into the Fraser River valley.

I kept going on the TCH for a few kilometres but it became very apparent that the little Versa was not suited for the mountains. It was not possible to maintain 100 km/hr going up the steep grades, and given the hot temperature I was concerned about overheating the car. I turned around and headed back to Kamloops.

After supper, I headed back downtown to catch this day's iteration of the Rocky Mountaineer. This Rocky was coming from the west so it would be coming over the South Thompson River bridge to the station. I resolved to try to photograph it end-on as it crossed the river. A pair of helpful gentlemen on horses (shout-out to the Kamloops Mounted Patrol) suggested I stand on the steps of the Interior Savings Centre to get the right angle. They were right!

Here's the shot I was looking for.

I would have liked more light on the nose, but you take what you can get!

This angle was pretty good too:

You can see the NREX unit in second position.

Here are the two Kamloops Mounted Patrol gentlemen on their way to greet the passengers. I think it's great they do this. It must add to the experience.

There are lots of little touches around the area.

I decided to try a little HDR photo of RMRX 8014 under the Red Bridge.

I processed this with the new HDR functionality of Lightroom 6 (reason 6 why you need Lightroom?). I think it turned out OK. I like the glint from the rails. I'd like to see more detail in the shadows and there's a couple of glitches, but it's not bad for a first try.

It was clear they were going to be there for a while, so I moseyed over to the pedestrian bridge over the CP main line and photographed CP 3074 sitting there with the local caboose collection.

CP has a building on the south side of the tracks for their crews. I noticed this rack set up to hold the FRED/EOT devices. Pretty nice!

I decided to get the Rocky Mountaineer crossing the South Thompson River again, but from a different angle. Kamloops has a great park by the river and there is a walkway that juts out into the river a bit. From there I waited for the train to roll across the bridge... backwards, this time.

That was fun! I went back to the CP line to get a ground level photo of CP 3074 over the fence.

Thanks for reading!

In my next post, I'll write about another day of Rocky Mountaineer photos and return to Tranquille for more CN action. Read on!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Rocky Mountaineer Evening

After my tranquil Tranquille afternoon, I headed over to the south side of Kamloops to see what was going on at the CP side of things.

I'm a little confused on the timing of this train but I think all units are the same train. The time stamps are off because the first photo was taken with my Canon and the other two were taken with my iPhone. CP 8739 and 5004 were the leaders.

I think they must have been the same train because there's no way two westbound coal trains would have passed by me within two or three minutes. I just can't figure out why I would have used my Canon for one and then sat in my car for the other two.

Anyway. After the coal train passed, I went down to the Weyerhauser Domtar mill and spotted spreader CP 402880 and plow CP 400648. There is a wye there that used to service a sawmill and it is a handy place to park equipment, I guess. I spotted a Sperry "doodlebug" there back in August 2013.

I headed back to downtown Kamloops after that, because I knew the Rocky Mountaineer was due in. Very exciting! I have been to Kamloops several times but always when the Rocky was not running, so this was my first chance to see it in Kamloops.

There were several busses arriving by the former CN station (now a Keg restaurant) and I asked one of the bus drivers when the train might show up. He said it was arriving at 7 PM, and sure enough I spotted it coming off the CP main line at 7 on the dot. This train was coming from Banff and had to get onto the CN Okanagan subdivision to A) drop passengers off at the station and B) proceed to their depot in the CN yard.

Here they are.

It might have been nicer if they had closed the door, but I guess they don't cater to railfans... ;)

Here's a little glint shot as they roll under the Red Bridge just before stopping at the station. The main building of the Kamloops Heritage Railway is visible under the bridge.

I have to say that the onboard crew appeared to be universally cheerful. Nice wave from a pair of them here!

They disembarked the passengers at a reasonably brisk pace. They were at the station for just over 30 minutes, so I didn't have a lot of time to grab photos. Here's a photo showing the train in downtown Kamloops at the teeny CN yard there.

The KHR is just visible to the left with a stub end track. The former CN station is visible behind the garish yellow CN "no trespassing" sign. Off camera to my right is the Interior Savings Centre, a multipurpose facility hosting the Kamloops Blazers hockey team as well as a prime concert venue. I was fortunate to see Sarah McLachlan there on my last visit (for maybe the 5th time?).

After taking a few photos of the stationary train, I went down to the South Thompson River. I've wanted to capture the Rocky Mountaineer on the bridge over the river ever since I first visited Kamloops, and this would be my chance.

RMRX 8013 came into view first. Note the Red Bridge in the background.

They crept across the bridge, and I was photographing away, waiting for the perfect opportunity... wait... wait... NOW.

That's what I came for. W00t!

(you can buy this print)

One final frame, and we're good for the night.

Next up.. CP in Savona, more Rocky, lots more CP, and back to Tranquille. Read on! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Gaspé Train Site Now Live

There's a new web site devoted to the return of VIA Rail to the Gaspé peninsula  -

I've been working with Bernard Babin to build the site and it is now live. Please visit and share with friends!

Please visit this page and download and sign the petition (direct link) to show your support. There are sample letters / petitions there as well.

Thanks for your support.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

A Tranquille Afternoon

I was in Kamloops, BC early in May this year. My plane landed early Sunday afternoon (May 10) and I decided to spend the rest of the day railfanning. After discussions on the excellent BC Railfans group, I planned to head a few kilometres west from the airport on the CN Ashcroft subdivision to catch some CN action. On the flight in I shot a photo of the CN yard using my iPhone.
Facing north

First I went to a local store to get some A) sunscreen and B) water. It was hot.

Heading west on Tranquille Road from the airport, I found an eastbound train )(CN 2245, CN 2641) stopped on the south track at the Ord Road.

I waited there for a while, but they weren't moving and nothing else was coming. I carried on west to the mostly abandoned town of Tranquille, where I found a grain train (CN 2277, CN 5547) arriving from the west.

They pulled up and stopped.

Note the deteriorating buildings behind the train, leftovers of the sanatorium that was built in Tranquille at the beginning of the 20th century.

I walked around for a bit, photographing this and that... like this Western Meadowlark.
"@stevetraingeek Welcome to Kamloops #lol #stuffbirdssay"

Eventually I heard a horn from the east and CN 8827 and CN 2697 rolled into view.
We'll be coming around the mountain when we come / we'll be driving 8,700 horses when we come
They came to a stop just before the crossing, which is just off to the right of the photos.
Stopped again.. *sigh*
After they stopped, a crew member dismounted from 8827 to give a quick rollby inspection as the grain train started up.
"Pleased to meet you"

After a bit, he climbed back on and 8827 started rolling too.

I walked up the hill a bit to get this shot of 8827 West rolling through the rock cut west of town.

I decided to head a bit farther west. I drove down the road visible in the photo above, then walked for a bit to try to get closer to the rock cut. I knew I wouldn't be able to walk up to it but I thought I'd try a different view.

As I was walking, another westbound train came rolling along. CN 5676 and CN 2169 powered a stack train.

Here's a heavily cropped view of the rock cut showing the signals. You can see the south track does head off to the tunnel on the left.

After that, I decided to head over to Kamloops to see what was happening on CP, grab some supper, then see the Rocky Mountaineer come in. Next time!

PS Here are a couple of other aerial photos I took en route to Kamloops.
Cowtown from the air

Yep, blades are still there.
Next entry...