Monday, February 15, 2016

Snowblind in Portage la Prairie

I'm snowblind, can't live without you
So fine, I just can't get away
Now I'm snowblind, snowblind, snowblind
 - Styx (video)

I felt a little snowblind yesterday when I was out railfanning. Tom Sajnovic was in town and we decided to go railfanning on Sunday, which happened to be Valentine's Day.

After getting the OK from my wife to spend the morning chasing trains, I picked Tom up at 8 AM and we headed over to the CP yards to start the morning.

The usual suspects
It was not a promising start. There was the usual array of active and stored units at the shops, with nothing special around except for a peek of blue from a unit in the second row that had no number boards. That might have been DME 6359 aka Mount Rushmore, reported stricken from the roster in January 2016.

We decided to head west to Portage la Prairie and try to catch some action there. I was a bit apprehensive of the weather - relatively mild but with lots of blowing snow - but I decided to give it a try.

We headed out toward Rosser with the intention of following CP to Marquette then continuing on to Portage. Very quickly we spotted a CP freight heading east into Makwa, just west of the Perimeter Highway. We pulled over and got the shot. CP 9717 was the sole engine on the head end.
Visibility Poor
The mid train DPU was CP 8574 - photograph by Tom Sajnovic.
Mid train by Tom Sajnovic
Tom's camera batteries died when he tried to get the approach shot, but he managed to resuscitate it to grab the mid-train DPU.

With that train in the bag, I decided not to continue along the CP as the highway was drifting pretty badly. We turned around and headed back to the Perimeter Highway to head to Headingley and the Trans-Canada Highway. After stopping at a gas station to get more batteries for Tom, we headed west.

The highway itself was OK, with some drifting snow in the passing lane but in general it was clear. The visibility was pretty bad and I don't think we reached the speed limit at all en route to Portage. We kept an eye toward the CN line to our left but we couldn't see it most of the time, so if trains were passing, we didn't see them. The weather cleared up a bit as we approached Portage.

We arrived in Portage la Prairie and headed to the area between the CN and CP tracks, just east of the stations and the Tupper Street overpass. Shortly thereafter, a CN eastbound rolled into view, with CN 2571 and CN 2008.

The train had a few of these blue NOKL Dynastack cars on them, a car I haven't seen before. The blue really stands out.

After that train passed, Tom needed to go to Shoppers Drug Mart to pick something up, so we headed over and parked in front of the store. As we were getting out of the car, Tom heard a horn... so we hopped back in and drove over the Tupper St. overpass, spotting an eastbound CN train to the west, and went to the VIA station to capture CN 5477 East.

Here's Tom capturing 5477.
Tom getting the shot
... and here's Tom's viewpoint.
CN 5477 East, by Tom Sajnovic
I was a little behind Tom and a bit closer to the tracks. Here's my view.
Wedgie shot
I think I like his viewpoint better!

Poor tired CN 5513 was the trailing unit on the train. I was surprised to find out this was the first time I'd photographed 5513. I thought I'd probably grabbed all of the extant SD60Fs but I guess not!
Worn CN 5513
After we gave that train the roll-by inspection, we headed back to Shoppers Drug Mart again. We parked in front of the store, got out... and both of us heard a horn this time.

Back in the car... back to the tracks, for the third CN eastbound train in a row, CN 8935 East with a blue IC unit trailing.
CN 8935
IC 2459 was the trailing unit, with a door open in the hood for some reason. I suppose railfans call this a "blue devil" or "blue meanie" or whatever. I don't want to refer to it by its nickname because, chances are, I'll get it "wrong". I learned my lesson when trying to refer to a "toaster". Railfans... so picky. ;)
IC 2459 in Portage la Prairie
This train had mixed freight on the head end, with containers on the rear. Maybe it was CN 198? In any case, it had one of CN's distributed braking containers, CNSU0007, in the middle of the freight cars.
Distributed Braking Container CNSU0007

After that train passed, we headed back to Shoppers for the third time and parked. This time someone was blowing snow off the sidewalks with a leaf blower, so there was no way we were going to hear any train horns! Tom bought what he needed, and as we drove back to the tracks we saw a fourth CN eastbound train rolling by. I didn't know it was parade day on CN!

After the containers finished rolling by, we went over the Tupper Street overpass and noted a green signal on CP indicating a CP eastbound was coming. We parked by the Canadian Pacific Railway Heritage Park and Interpretive Centre aka the old CP station.

Tom elected to stay on the station side of the tracks and I went over to the other side to capture the station in the shot. Here's Tom's view:
Tom's view of CP 8931
Here's my view. Railpictures.NET liked this one.
CP 8931 passes the former CP station in Portage la Prairie
It was time for me to go home, so we headed back along the Trans-Canada Highway. There was a westbound CP intermodal over at Tupper by the Viterra elevator but we had no time to catch it. We ducked into Oakville but there was no action there, so we came back out and proceeded into Winnipeg. On the way we saw the intermodal train we missed, dimly and in the distance.

I elected to come in along Wilkes and we spotted CN 8935 East again with the IC unit trailing. I overtook it before Shaftesbury and we bailed out to capture the other side of the train. I'm quite happy with this photo, showing IC 2459 with a little bit of CN red.
IC 2459 with a CN air conditioner
That was our day of railfanning between Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie. Thanks to Tom for inspiring me to get out and shoot some trains!

More "railfanning with Tom":


Matthew said...

Those are some spectacular shots!


Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Matt! I'm enjoying reading your blog.

Eric said...

Never made it to Portage in the winter, for the reasons you two encountered! Great shots despite the adverse weather. Thanks for not asking us to vote for which shot(s) we liked better. Glad you made it home safely!
Thanks for sharing,

Canadian Train Geek said...

Eric: I love winter train photos but I don't love the driving. I've resolved to get out more in the winter to get the blowing snow shots I love to take. The winter tires get a workout but train chasing is out of the question in bad weather.

Michael said...

Some great catches. I love the shots of the blue CN units. Can't say that I've ever seen any of those.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Michael! I've seen the blue IC units a few times. They are gradually being repainted so catch 'em while you can!