Thursday, September 29, 2016

ARS Canada Rolling Stock Hiring

ARS Canada Rolling Stock acquired the assets of the former Industrial Rail Services / IRSI in Moncton back in October 2015, and they are now hiring. They intend to create 200 jobs in their first phase, according to ARS' CEO Arturo Contreras (CBC article).

They intend to produce 1,500 cars in their first year of production, an ambitious target. They intend to produce grain hoppers and tank cars.

Rail Cars

Canada's grain hopper fleet (the "Trudeau hoppers") is aging and many will need to be replaced in the next 10-15 years. ARS Canada intends to be in that market.
ARS Canada grain hopper drawing

Another market they are aiming for is the pending obsolescence of the DOT-111 tank cars. These cars, made notorious by the Lac-Megantic rail disaster, will no longer be allowed to carry crude oil in Canada after November 1. Tank car owners will need new TC-117 tank cars and ARS Canada has plans to be in that market too.
ARS Canada TC-117 tank car drawing

The Chinese Connection

ARS is reported to be a partnership between CRRC Meshan Inc. (a Chinese company also known as China Southern Railway or CSR) and CNR (China Northern Railway).

CRRC is the largest freight car manufacturer in the world, and is currently building 284 cars for Boston's subway.

I'm wondering if ARS will be using or adapting Chinese designs for its freight cars. This would lead to some unique new looks for Canadian railways!

IRSI, Reborn?

IRSI, 2003
They will be based in the former IRSI facility located at 299 Humpyard Road in Moncton. After IRSI went into receivership in April 2012, the facility dwindled and eventually closed.

ARS will have the main building, the former CN diesel shop, 125,000 square feet with 18 service bays, as well as the machine shop, paint shop and more.

I imagine many former IRSI employees will be applying for the open positions, so it may end up being IRSI 2.0.

Government Support?

There has been no announcement yet from the province, but I imagine there has been some subsidies and/or loan guarantees promised by the NB government. The government lost $20 million from loans and loan guarantees to IRSI, so let's hope this doesn't happen again with ARS.

The Future

Keep an eye on ARS in the next few months. Currently ARS doesn't have much of an investment beyond buying the IRSI facility (no doubt at fire sale prices). I imagine they will ramp up quickly if and when they get a contract to build new cars, or service existing rail car fleets.

I wish them well!

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Different Perspective

"It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view." - George Eliot, "Middlemarch"
I've photographed VIA Rail's Canadian in Winnipeg many times... 131 times at the time of writing. That's a lot!

I've shot the eastbound Canadian, at many locations along its route out of Winnipeg, but there are a couple that I have shot at many times.

St. James Junction

VIA 1 passing a CN container train
When I first moved to Winnipeg I often photographed it at or near St. James Junction, because that was close to my office and I could spend my lunch time trackside catching VIA 1 and whatever else came by.

It was great because it was close and also because you could also see BNSF and CP there at times.


The Canadian approaching Diamond
Once I started working from home, that became less convenient and I opted to shoot VIA 1 at or near Diamond, just west of Winnipeg on the Rivers subdivision.

I've written about Diamond a lot (even recently) and it is certainly my "go to" location.

Scratching the Itch

This past Thursday, I had the itch to try something different. I feel a bit stuck in a rut, creatively speaking, so I wanted to go to a new location that I'd never tried before. I pulled up Google Maps and looked at the route of the Canadian from Union Station downtown through Winnipeg and out past Diamond.
Route of the westbound Canadian through Winnipeg
The Canadian leaves Union Station at top right and rolls along the Red River, past Fort Rouge yard and the VIA Maintenance Centre, through Portage Junction, then past St. James Junction and Carman Junction out of the city. Around mile 10 (where they pass under the Perimeter Highway) they usually put the hammer down and accelerate up to 60+ MPH and pass Diamond and hurtle westward to Vancouver.

I feel I've covered that stretch from Diamond east to Portage Junction very well - maybe too well. There is a little bit between Waverley Street and Portage Junction that I haven't photographed much, but honestly I have tried it and I am not really that impressed by the possibilities there. 

A New Hope

How about here??
I did notice an intriguing section of track just south of Union Station that I had never photographed at before.

There is a walking path between the tracks and the Red River that seemed to come pretty close to the tracks, and it would be on the east side of the tracks for morning photography.

I asked on the RailsMBSK Facebook group and people seemed to think it was an OK location, but I was warned that there is a fence between the walking path and the tracks. 

Sunlight... Camera.. Action

On Thursday I arrived behind the Mulvey Flea Market off Osborne Street at about 11:15 AM. I parked, grabbed my camera bag, and walked down the path to check out the view.

There was indeed a chain-link fence between the trail and the track. It has a gate and it was wide open. I believe that fuel trucks use that gate to refuel locomotives here. I didn't go in.

I had prepared for this eventuality. I went back to my car and fetched a stepladder out of the trunk, then set it up by the fence and waited.

I had a few odd looks from the passing joggers and walkers, but that was it. As a railfan, I'm used to that.

It took about half an hour, but the first train was a big one. CN 3025 was leading what may have been CN 111.
CN 3025 approaching Subway in Winnipeg
I like the going away shot too.
CN 3025 approaching the Osborne Street bus rapid transit station

As I watched the containers roll by, there was time for a selfie.

There's always time for a selfie, right? ;)

I'm not quite sure what podcast I was listening to at that time....

The train had a mid-train locomotive, CN 2856.
CN 2856 in Winnipeg as mid-train power
Finally the end of the train came in sight, with a third locomotive pushing hard.
CN 2821 passing under the signal bridge
So that was exciting!

I picked up my stepladder and did a little more scouting, looking for different angles or better locations. I strongly considered a location further east, across from the apartment building visible above, but in the end I ruled it out. It wasn't bad but it didn't "feel" right.
Not quite
I went back to where I shot the CN train and waited for VIA.

I didn't bring my scanner - I hardly ever do - and so I was reduced to listening for locomotive noise and obsessively checking VIA's web site to see if the departure time for VIA 1 had been updated.

In the end my listening was what alerted me to the approaching Canadian, as VIA's web site wasn't updated in time.
VIA 1 leaving Winnipeg
Just a bit of fence in the shot...

I was being adventurous and recording video with my iPhone while snapping photos with my camera. I've tried doing both before, with mediocre results, but I felt confident that day for some reason.

I shot every car as it went by, to record the consist, and you can see my phone-holding hand in a few shots..
Taking video
Here's the video:

Like most Canadian photos, the going-away shot is just as good as the approach. Nothing like a PARK car to finish off a train!
Glacier Park on the rear
That was all of the time I could spend there, but I was pleased with the location and pleased with my photos. It's definitely a spot I could return to!

If you're interested, I posted some photos of the Manitoba Mega Train Show on one of my other blogs... lots of model trains and a great show!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

40 Mile Rail Starts Up

The new 40 Mile Rail locomotive, JLCX 4004
Congratulations to new Alberta shortline railway 40 Mile Rail on receiving their locomotive and 20 grain cars on Wednesday!

About 40 Mile Rail

Forty Mile Rail (FMR) label on crossing post.
Near Wrentham, AB - Jason Sailer photo
I wrote about 40 Mile Rail in my description of the grain elevators of the CP Stirling subdivision back in April. Back then 40 Mile was planning for a June 1 startup.

That slipped, obviously.

Forty Mile Rail was originally called Red Coat Rail and was discussed by local farmers, including Paul Laqua, about a decade ago.

The last train ran on the CP Stirling subdivision sometime in 2002. CP used Brandt rail trucks for a period after that but it appears that nothing has run on the line since perhaps 2006.

There was some work being done on the line in early to mid September. Between 50 and 60 crossings were fixed up and a transfer track was built near the Pioneer grain elevator for CP and 40 Mile to interchange cars.

The Locomotive

Bright blue JLCX 4004 has been leased by 40 Mile to work their line. This locomotive is a GP9 originally built as Southern Pacific 3877. It was acquired by RaiLink as RLK 4004 and worked on the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway in Nova Scotia. It was leased to the nearby Windsor and Hantsport Railway for a period of time.

The loco became JLCX 4004 sometime in 2013. It looks like it spent the last few years in Montreal. The J&L Consulting Facebook page shows it being prepared for service in July 2016.

JLCX 4004 was on the move in September and went via CP through Sudbury, Ontario through Winnipeg. It arrived in Moose Jaw, SK on September 17 and was photographed by Ken McCutcheon there.
JLCX 4004 in Moose Jaw, SK - photo by Ken McCutcheon

It continued on to Swift Current on the 19th then arrived in Lethbridge, AB early on the 20th. Jason Paul Sailer shot it there from the highway.
JLCX 4004 in Kidd outside Lethbridge - photo by Jason Paul Sailer


Early on the 21st, a CP "toaster" locomotive took it and the 20 hopper cars to Stirling, AB, then and crawled along the Stirling subdivision to the new interchange track, where the CP unit cut off and left.

Frontier Signworks shared this Facebook live video of the arrival of 4004 in Foremost, AB around 7:30 PM. The locomotive and the grain cars are pulling past the Buffalo elevator in the town.

Dalton Photography shared a large collection of photos taken of 4004's arrival in Foremost.

The Future

Hopefully this new shortline, only Alberta's second (after the Battle River Railway), has a bright future ahead of it. The Foremost elevator has a new employee and will be loading pulse crops for rail loading.

I'm assuming the railway acquired their own cars to help with car availability, so they aren't kept waiting for CP to supply cars from their pool.

I'm looking forward to photos of the train on the line and maybe I'll get some photos myself the next time I am in the Lethbridge area!


See also

Monday, September 19, 2016

The CN Family Day Train

This post is dedicated to David Othen.

The CN Family Day train
On September 10 CN hosted a Family Day in Symington Yard in Winnipeg. CN brought in a ferris wheel and hosted shop tours and other activities for employees and their families. As part of the activities, CN ran a short excursion train along the CN Terminals Cutoff track several times during the day. This track is sometimes known as the St. Boniface spur because it goes through the St. Boniface neighbourhood of Winnipeg, but it's not really a spur at all since it connects to Symington Yard at one end and the CN Redditt subdivision at the other.

The train started just inside Symington Yard, in front of the shops, and headed down the ruler-straight spur over Marion Street and Archibald Street. It stopped on the bridge over the Seine River then back to Symington for the next group of passengers.
CN "Sandford Fleming" car
The train's route
I looked at the line on Google Maps and it was obvious that the light was going to be a... challenge. Basically the light would be behind the train at the start, and as the afternoon wore on it would shift to the front, but in all cases it would be high in the sky.

The train was scheduled to run from 11 AM to 4 PM and I was only able to be there for the first few runs, so... high noon sun. Oh well, work with what you have!

I elected to go to Dawson Road to shoot it shortly after it came out of the yard and crossed over Lagimodiere Boulevard. I parked by the side of the road, and a railfan on the other side of the tracks waved at me and told me the light was much better on his side. I had time so I drove around to Speers Road and parked behind him.

It turned out to be Jim Burnside, a local railfan whose photos appear often on RailsMBSK. We had never met so it was nice to finally put a face to the name.

We chatted for a bit and I agreed the light was better on this side. As it happened we were standing on what used to be route 59, so there is broken and overgrown pavement visible in a few of these shots.
CN 102 in Winnipeg
The train was scheduled to start at 11 and we heard a few toots from the yard but nothing came. I assume they were loading at 11 so it took a bit of time for them to get underway. During this time, another local railfan, Tim Burridge, showed up. We had met before but it had been a few years!

The train finally got underway and was upon us at 11:24. The sequence of shots around this text is the first run.

CN 3105 on the Family Day train
I swapped lenses to get the long shot on 3105 with the sun in its face. I was a little slow deciding to do this, so I had to crop in pretty far.
CN 3105, going away
I said my goodbyes to Jim and Tim and tried to beat them to Archibald Street. Unfortunately I had not planned my route, so I took a right turn leaving Speers Road and got stuck in a subdivision with no exit. Sheepishly, I drove back around and down Dawson Road to see the train coming back up the spur.

I took a moment to photograph the line of GWWD maintenance cars sitting outside their yard - a couple of flatcars, a ballast hopper and five Hart cars.
GWWD maintenance cars

Run 2

I returned to Dawson Road and waited by the side of the road for the second train. I knew the light would be terrible but I wanted to be ready to beat them to Archibald Street.

Yep, the light was terrible
11:51 for the second train.

The going-away shot was OK, though.
CN 3105 going away
I hopped in my car and drove down Dawson Road to try to beat them to Archibald. The lights and traffic were in my favour and I arrived beside the crossing a good 30 seconds before they crossed at 11:56.

Backlit CN 3090
The going-away shot looked pretty fine.
CN 3105 going away.. again
In retrospect I should have stepped across the intersection once they had passed, to get at least a bit of sun on the side, but A) I wasn't sure how far they were going and how much time I had to cross over, and B) it honestly never occurred to me.
Sun and shadow
They did not spend any time on the bridge; they pulled onto the bridge, stopped, then started back up the spur. I decided to shoot video with my iPhone, since I had all the stills I needed from the last minute!

I liked the little guy in the cab of CN 3090!

The conductor waving from the vestibule is Mark Perry, noted photographer and one of the many CN volunteers giving up their Saturdays for the train and the festivities. Many thanks to Mark for the intel on the train and thanks to all of the volunteers for their time and effort.

Round 3

I thought I could maybe squeeze one more train in before I had to leave. I went to Marion Street, midway along the route, and waited near the crossing there for the train to come along.

Unfortunately CN had to pay the bills so they ran a freight train on the "X track" which blocked the Family Day train from leaving. When I saw that, I decided it was time to leave. I headed out on Dawson but as I passed the location where I first shot the train, I saw the Family Day train was en route.

I pulled off the road and jumped out to take video of the train passing by. Jim was right - the light was much better on the other side.

That was it for me.

About the Train

The train was:
  • CN 3090
  • "SANDFORD FLEMING" / IC 800653
  • "TAWAW" / CN 1059
  • CN 102
  • CN 3105

CN 3090 and CN 3105 are shiny new GE ET44AC locomotives, the latest in CN's fleet.

CN 102 was shiny but not at all new, being an E9 unit built in January 1950 as Chicago, Burlington and Quincy #9940A. It was acquired by Illinois Central in 1996 and may still be an IC unit for all I know. You may have noticed that some locomotives labelled as CN are actually IC units, with a little "IC" under the side numbers. I don't see that here but that might not mean much... I'm just a railfan reporting what I see or don't see.

CN 102 was just along for the ride... it wasn't running. In 2014 it was "leading" on the Family Day train, which was better for railfans!
2014 Family Day Train with CN 102
SANDFORD FLEMING is an observation car, lettered for the Illinois Central. It's too bad that it was in the middle of the consist so passengers couldn't see anything out of the end picture window besides the end of TAWAW. I last saw SANDFORD FLEMING in January 2016.

TAWAW is an ex CN car, ex "CAPE CHIGNECTO". It has been extensively rebuilt and is quite nice inside, based on the photos I've seen.

Other Coverage

Many other area railfans were out to shoot the train, and I'll link to a couple:

See Other "business train" blog entries

Thursday, September 15, 2016

10 Questions for Owen Laukkanen

This series is modeled after the "Interesting Railfan" series in Railroad magazine from years ago. I'm asking each railfan 10 questions, some standard and some customized for the particular person. I hope you enjoy it. (See all in the series)

I put 10 questions to Owen Laukkanen, who is an author and a railfan in British Columbia. I first became aware of him through his Instagram profile. He was kind enough to take a break from writing his next novel to answer my 10 questions.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an author and railfan from Vancouver. I write a series of FBI thrillers about a beautiful Federal agent and her (decidedly less beautiful) counterpart on the Minnesota state police. We’re five books in, and the sixth is out next year.

I’ve also written two obnoxious young adult books novels under the name Owen Matthews, and besides that, I’ve worked in professional poker around the world and as a commercial fisherman on both coasts—but I’m a Vancouver guy at heart. You can’t beat the scenery, the weather or the railfanning out here!

2. Why do you like trains?

Near Spences Bridge, BC
I’m not sure, to be honest! I’ve always been fascinated by transportation—ships, planes, cars—but trains have always been closest to my heart. I got into trains when I was really young, walking along the tracks with my dad, and I guess we pick things up when we’re young and sometimes hold onto them for life. Trains have certainly been that way for me.

Plus, I’m a passenger train freak. I’ve taken VIA’s Canadian across the country a couple dozen times, and a bunch of Amtrak routes, and whenever I have to travel I try to go by rail. It’s partially because I’m a tall guy and I hate cramming myself into an economy seat on a 737, but also because I can’t think of anything more relaxing than spending a couple days in a sleeping car (or better yet, the Park car), watching the country go by.

In the last few years, though, I’ve become more and more interested in photography, and trains make a wonderful subject. I’m a pretty outdoorsy guy, so anything that can combine a good hike with a couple decent shots is a perfect day, in my book.

3. How long have you been a railfan?

CN 3072 near Boston Bar, BC
Since I was five or six, I guess. I remember riding on the Royal Hudson steam train about that age, and that was around the same time my parents bought me my first Life-Like train set. Even though my dad wasn’t a railfan, he and I would go for walks along CP’s Arbutus line, and on one memorable occasion we were invited up into the cab of a switcher for a short ride through Marpole. I was hooked!

After that, we moved to southern Ontario, where I grew up on a steady diet of rebuilt CN geeps, CP SD40-2s and VIA LRC equipment, plus the occasional visitor from Conrail, NS or CSX. My heart was back on the west coast, though, for the trains and the scenery, and by the time I turned eighteen I was making semi-annual pilgrimages back to BC on the Canadian. So it was only a matter of time before I came back to mountain railroading for good.

4. What's the best part about being an author?

I mean, the best part is getting to do what I love as a career. I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve been able to make a living writing crime fiction, but I would still be writing if nobody wanted to pay me for it. And if one day I woke up rich beyond my wildest dreams and never had to work again, I would still write, and I think that’s the true test of what makes a person happy. Writing is essential for me, it makes me happy, and I’m so fortunate to get to do it full time.

A close second is getting to make my own schedule and having free time to chase trains!

5. What's the worst part about being an author?

Reviews. I’ve been pretty lucky in that regard, too, but even good reviews are painful to read. I try to avoid seeing any of that, or focusing on sales figures, or whatever. I learned pretty quickly to uncouple my sense of self worth from how the books were being received in the world, but that’s a tough skill to master, especially when that critical reception is going to determine whether you can pay the rent next month.

That’s one of the reasons I really enjoy train photography, incidentally. It’s a creative pursuit that I’m never going to monetize; it’s just something fun and challenging that I can throw myself into without worrying about a critical reception, or sales figures. There’s such a great and supportive community of railfans online, so many talented photographers, and the joy is really in just going out and shooting.
CN work train at Goldpan Provincial Park, BC

6. Are there any trains in your books? I saw shipping containers on the cover of "The Stolen Ones"...

Yeah! I try to chuck in a reference or two to trains in all of the books, but next year’s novel, The Forgotten Girls, is about a serial killer who stalks train hoppers on a fictionalized version of BNSF’s Hi-Line through the Rocky Mountains.

I had to tone down my railfan side while I was writing it, obviously, because people are reading for the murder and not to hear me wax poetic about a GEVO in Marias Pass, but it was still really fun to mix my love of trains in with the writing.

7. You have some really great locations for your train photos. How do you find them?

Thanks! It’s a fun challenge, seeking out new spots to shoot. I grew up devouring Greg McDonnell’s photo books, and J.F. Garden’s, and basically compiling a mental list of the iconic shots. Southwestern BC is pretty much an amusement park for railfans, and as a kid growing up in Ontario, I could only long for the day I’d have a chance to get out here and explore it.
Lytton, BC
So nowadays, I do plenty of exploring, and through railfanning I’ve met a number of cool people to go on adventures with. I tend to scrutinize Google Earth for potential spots, and then I just drive around a lot and poke around trackside until I find something cool. The exploration is definitely half of the fun, and I always feel like the more effort I put into a photo, the more rewarding it is.

8. Are you a railway modeller as well?

I am, but since I live in a downtown apartment, I’m more of a collector at this point. My dream is to build a basement representation of the places I like to railfan, circa the early 80s, from the passenger station in downtown Vancouver out through the canyons on both the CP and CN mainline. I model in HO scale, so I’m going to need a big basement!

Nowadays, I’m busy accumulating locomotives and rolling stock for whenever I get the space, which is fun, but also kind of torture. My Rapido Canadian has never seen revenue service, and it’s driving me crazy!

9. Who are your favourite authors?

I was a huge fan of John Steinbeck when I was growing up—his passage in Cannery Row about the tuna fleet going out to sea pretty well sealed the deal as far as me becoming a writer—and I really dug Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming, too. I read all the James Bond novels when I was traveling to poker tournaments around the world, to imagine that I was a secret agent instead of some hack going to watch a bunch of gamblers throw cards around.

Nowadays, I’m a big fan of Don Winslow, who writes amazing and insanely visceral novels about the drug war in Mexico and the western United States. I really enjoyed Sam Wiebe’s novel Invisible Dead, based loosely on the serial killer Robert Pickton’s murders in my part of Vancouver, and I love John McFetridge’s Eddie Dougherty series about an anglophone cop in Montreal in the sixties and seventies.

And obviously I have a ton of books about Canadian railroading on my bookshelves, as well!

10. What's your next project?

My next project is actually a fun departure for me. I grew up in a fishing family; my grandfather was a fisherman and boat builder in BC, and my uncle was a professional fisherman for decades. Even my dad, who was a doctor, also fishes for lobster in Prince Edward Island. I worked on both of their boats for a few summers, and I’ve definitely inherited the love of the sea.

So my next book is a nautical adventure novel, featuring a shipwreck in the Aleutian Islands and the rush to claim its cargo. There’s also secret stolen bearer bonds onboard, and plenty of gunplay in store, so it’s kind of a pulpy read, but it’s been a heck of a lot of fun to write!

Thanks, Owen! To see more of Owen, visit his web sites at and; see his Instagram profile at @owenlaukkan or see him on Twitter as @owenlaukkanen

See all of the 10 Questions series

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Railfanning with Michael Berry, Part 3

Michael Berry and I went railfanning on Saturday September 3rd. Michael is from Montreal and wanted to experience Winnipeg's railfan scene. In part 1 we went to CN's Diamond and in part 2 we visited the Prairie Dog Central Railway. This is the third and last part of the story.

After we finished photographing the Prairie Dog Central's steam train, we drove back down the Perimeter Highway toward CN's main line. We wanted to catch VIA's Canadian out there and we didn't have a lot of time.

However, we were hungry.

Wizard Needs Food, Badly

Am I the only one here who played Gauntlet?
We stopped at the Tim Horton's near the raceway on Portage Avenue to grab a quick sandwich... so we thought. The lineup wasn't long but the service was quite slow... so slow that we had to ask if our orders had been forgotten. We were reassured that they hadn't.

Michael was checking the VIA web site on his phone and noted that VIA 1 hadn't left the Winnipeg station. Note that due to some quirk on VIA's site, you can't see VIA 1's status using their normal web site but you can see it on the mobile site. It's and it's important to include the "s" in https.

Eventually our food came, and we raced back to my car and hit the road. As we approached the CN Rivers subdivision, we saw a westbound intermodal train. We crossed over the train - thank you overpass - then set off in pursuit. It was clear that we weren't going to catch up to the head end, but the train had a DPU on the rear, facing the sun, so it was worth chasing to get that. We caught up to it just before Diamond and we bailed out to get the shot.
Trailing but still a worthwhile shot!
We hopped back in and chased it for a few more kilometres, to try to get it on the curve at mile 16. I like this photo because it shows the super elevation at the curve.
CN 2938, taking the turn
We left off the chase here. On our way back to Diamond we ran into Brian, the "Mayor of Diamond", and his girlfriend Deanne. I need her to convince my wife to accompany me on more railfan trips! ;)

After a brief chat with His Honour, we set up a little east of Diamond to get VIA 1 in the wide open spaces.

CN had other plans, though, and sent CN 347 along first.

CN 347

This train is an interesting one, certainly one of the most recognizable CN freights in the Winnipeg area. It always has a lot of empty centerbeam flatcars on it, empties going back to British Columbia for more lumber loads.

This CN 347 had CN 8924 and CN 5695 for power, followed by... nothing but centerbeam flats.
Grab a chair!
I noticed two discarded lawn chairs nearby and stood them up as props for this train. Something different...

Michael was a little closer to the tracks... though not as close as this might indicate.
Getting the shot
Empty car after empty car rolled by, seemingly without end. After what seemed like forever, but was actually only 3 1/2 minutes, the end of the train passed.
Finally, the end of CN 347
After that, things were quiet for a few minutes, until the next train came along...

The Canadian

Here's one little chair for one of you, and a bigger chair for two more to curl up in. For someone who likes to rock, a rocking chair in the middle. - The Friendly Giant

This was a good summer length train, two locomotives and 23 cars. It wasn't going as fast as I would have expected.

I was very happy with the going-away shot. Glacier Park was beautiful in the early afternoon sun.
One of the few trains that looks better leaving than coming liked it. They also liked Michael's version of the same shot.

Michael was listening on his scanner and he heard them call a "Clear to Stop" signal. I urged him to jump in the car and we set off in hot pursuit.

Normally you can't chase VIA 1 as it is rolling along at 60 MPH or greater, but with a "Clear to Stop" indication, they would not be going too fast. We hurtled along the dirt road, observing the speed limit, and overtook the train within a couple of miles. We jumped out to get the second series of photos.
VIA 6452 on the open prairie
There was a friendly table in the Acadian diner!
Friendly waves and intense focus
I found it interesting to contrast Michael's shot choices with mine. In general we never stood beside each other and took the same photo. He seems to prefer a more head-on approach whereas I like the wide open vista photos. Maybe it's a city versus prairie perspective?

After VIA 1 passed for the second time, we jumped back in the car and chased it for a few more kilometres. We came to the highway 424 crossing - with a stop sign - and I decided that would be it for the chase. We bailed out once more and I shot video at the crossing while Michael took some more photos.

That was the Canadian.

Over the Hump

We left Diamond after that, and as I was driving back toward where Michael was staying, we decided to take a few minutes to visit the hump at Symington Yard. This hump is one of the few hump yards still operating in Canada (CP's Winnipeg hump shut down several years ago) and there are usually three sets of power either at work or ready for work. This day was no exception.

A set with CN 7522 / 7511 was on the hump itself.
CN 7522 / 7511 on the hump in Symington Yard
Another set with CN 7500 / 7513 was sitting to the side.
CN 7500 / 7513 in Symington Yard
The third set was pushing cars over the hump. This was the set that Michael was really looking for, the one with three SD40-2 units! CN 6015 / 6005 / 6012 and 225 were well down toward Navin.
Slug and three SD40-2 units... what could be better?

While we were looking at the hump set, CN 3047 was pulling south/east out of the yard. We believe this was train CN 438.
CN 3047 leaving Symington
That was the end of our time together, and I dropped Michael off to meet up with his family and I headed home to my own family. Railfanning is fun but family is way more important!


We saw 7 trains over 6 hours, which is pretty good, I think. I hope Michael was pleased with his Diamond experience and I look forward to see more photos from him from this trip and from his normal Montreal railfanning! Thanks for reading and thank you Michael for the company and the experience.

Further reading: