Thursday, June 30, 2016

Chasing Trains Through Banff, Part 3 - Field to Canmore

This is the third and last in the series. In part 1 I chased a train from Seebe to Banff, and in part 2 I chased from Morant's Curve to Field.

In my last post, I was just grabbing a sandwich at a deli in Field, British Columbia when an eastbound grain train was doing a crew change. I was just barely able to get down to the one crossing before CP 8775 East rolled through. I hope the crew didn't think I was trying to beat them to the crossing... I guess I was trying to get there first, but only to park, not to cross.

CP 8775 leads the charge
I amused myself with photographing some of the grain cars while waiting to see if there was a DPU locomotive. I assumed there was because one loco for so many grain cars - in the mountains - seemed a little crazy.

I don't know who CLEVZz is but it's all over this DME car
There was in fact one DPU, on the rear.
CP 8613 brings up the rear
This was one of those situations where the "going away" shot was better than the "coming" shot. I'm glad the sun was peeking out now and then.

I went back to the town proper and there was another train pulling into Field from the west. This was a container train led by CP 8768 and 8807. I shot the head end and then took off in pursuit of the eastbound grain train.

My understanding is that the whole area by the Field station is off limits, based on the signage I saw, so I did not approach it. The above photo was taken from a picnic area in the town. I'm not sure how close you can get to the tracks without trespassing - you can see there are no fences to mark the boundary.

I headed for the Spiral Tunnels overlook to try to catch CP 8775 going through the tunnels. You may know that there are actually two spiral tunnels in the Kicking Horse Pass. The public viewpoint is overlooking the Lower Spiral Tunnel.

The place was pretty full of tourists, and the train was just through the lower tunnel mouth when I got there. I took a few photographs and I was marveling at how much this was overgrown - as bad as Morant's Curve from the previous post.

Here's CP 8775 about to cross over her train.
CP 8775 in the Spiral Tunnels
There might be an angle to actually see both tunnel mouths at the same time, or it might be too overgrown by now. It was too crowded to be able to choose your angle. I basically inserted myself between a couple of people to get the shot, then got out of there and kept going east.

I wanted to catch the train by Wapta Lake, where I had paused earlier in the morning, so I drove just past the lake and parked at the pull-out there.
It's all scenic around here
That's the little car I was driving there on the right.

I jogged back to the lake to await the arrival of CP 8775 East. It took a while for them to finish climbing the 2.2% grade but they showed up in fine style and I got the shot I was looking for.
CP 8775 by Wapta Lake / Cathedral Mountain
It would have been nice to have some sunshine, but at least the track wasn't shadowed and there was some light on the train.

I overtook them en route to Lake Louise, and I found a spot where the track paralleled the highway for a quick grab shot as they rolled by. They were proceeding at a good clip by this point.
Roadside grab shot
Nearer to Lake Louise, the track goes under the highway at Stephen (hey, my name!) and splits into two tracks. Originally there was a single track between Stephen and Lake Louise, but the grade was up to 1.8% and CP wanted to reduce this. A new track was built north of the original to reduce the grade to just over 1%.

I was surprised to see my first train of the day, potash train CP 8646 West, sitting in the siding at Stephen and under the highway. They weren't making good time!

I found a safe spot to pull off and walked back to photograph CP 8775 East passing CP 8646 West. By this time it was raining and I had a few water droplets on my lens. I really need to get a lens hood for my 18-55mm lens.
Waiting for Godot, I mean, CP 8775
CP 8775 came peeking around the curve.
They rolled by and kept heading east. I think this would be a nice location with better weather, and maybe a slightly better angle. Everything is fenced off so you can't go down and wander around, which is probably for the best.
Two trains passing in the rain
There was another train waiting between Stephen and Lake Louise, an intermodal train with CP 8725 mid-train.

I dropped into Lake Louise very quickly and spotted this unusual car on the spur track there. Apologies for the poor lighting conditions - I was in a hurry and didn't take any time to get a decent angle.
CP 421372 at Lake Louise
I asked what this car was on RailsAB, and I was told it is basically a giant air blower to force air into the Spiral Tunnels to help the workers there.

In the background, CP 8775 East is rolling past, so I wasn't able to get any shots of the train here.

I elected to take the Trans-Canada Highway east toward Banff, rather than trying to keep up with the train along the 1A / Bow River Parkway. The weather was getting worse and worse and making any time on the 1A is difficult.

At the highway 93 intersection I took the exit and went to the tracks near Castle Junction. I decided on a telephoto shot - I had been using my wide angle 18-55mm lens all morning - so I broke out the 70-200mm and popped this one.

CP 8775 up close and personal
After the head end passed the crossing, I hopped back in my car and returned to the Trans-Canada. I wanted to catch them at the Banff station and that would be it for my train chasing.

At the station, I decided to shoot video with my iPhone.

At about the 2:25 mark in the video, you'll see me move, since apparently I was standing in the middle of the access road and someone wanted to use the road. Ooops. :)

After recording their passage, I got back into my car yet again (I wonder how many times I got in and out of that car?) and headed toward Calgary. I passed the train as it ground toward Canmore, and just for fun, I shot it one more time near the tourist information building in Canmore. Not a great shot, but what the heck, it's digital, play around!
Getting a little arty with CP 8775
There's a bike path parallelling the tracks at places between Banff and Canmore. I tried to capture a cyclist and the train and I really like how this one turned out:
Bikes and trains
OK, that was the end of my chase of CP 8775.

After that I went to the city and visited some of the fine Calgary train stores!

Thanks for reading along; I hope you've enjoyed these chases through Banff National Park. I love the area and always look forward to visiting the Rockies. Thanks to CP for sending a few trains along to liven things up!

Further reading:

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