Saturday, September 10, 2016

Railfanning With Michael Berry, Part 1

Michael Berry at Diamond
Montreal railfan Michael Berry was in Winnipeg in late August / early September, visiting family with his wife and baby daughter.

He had been in touch with me prior to the trip, looking for some tips on railfanning locations, and we arranged to get together to railfan the Diamond area sometime during his visit.

The Plan

Sunrise near Dugald
Michael wanted to railfan the "famous" Diamond on the CN Rivers subdivision. We Winnipeg railfans often talk about Diamond on the RailsMBSK Facebook group and joke that one of the local railfans is the "mayor" if Diamond, as he is often found there, observing trains with his girlfriend.

Diamond is a good location because it has a lot of trains, it has wide open prairie and it's close to the city... and sometimes CP shows up for a cameo.

He also wanted to photograph the VIA Rail Canadian, which leaves Winnipeg at 11:45 AM (if it's on time) on Monday, Thursday and Saturday during the summer.

A "nice to have" for him was to photograph the Prairie Dog Central tourist train, which had a few departures at 11 AM... and the Central Manitoba Railway (CEMR) if it happened to be around.


Dugald - the start of a glorious day
We arranged for me to pick him up at 07:45 on Saturday September 3rd. I was up bright and early and decided to head out a bit early and catch the sunrise (and maybe the VIA Rail Canadian) at Dugald just east of Winnipeg.

The sunrise was pretty.

I was running a bit short of time but I saw the green signal indicating an eastbound was approaching. I drove just east of Dugald and saw a headlight approaching, so I decided to risk being a few minutes late picking Michael up to get the train. I figured Michael would understand.
CN 111 approaching Dugald
This was CN 2815 and 2927 leading train CN 111. I shot the DPU unit, CN 2821, at the highway crossing then headed into the city to pick Michael up.


Old Diamond sign
I picked Michael up, exchanged pleasantries then we hit the road for Diamond. We crossed over a few empty tracks on the way around the Perimeter Highway before arriving at the CN Rivers subdivision. Everything was quiet there, so we took a brief detour over to the Assiniboine River to photograph the CP bridge there.
CP bridge over the Assiniboine River
We returned to Diamond to wait for a train... any train. The nice thing about the CN Rivers subdivision is that you don't have to wait hours for a train. We had arrived at Diamond by about 08:30 and our first train was at 09:30. It looked a bit... familiar.

We meet again, Mr. Bond.
CN 2815 and 2927 leading a container train... hey, that's the CN 111 I saw two hours before! I imagine they stopped in Transcona for a crew change and maybe some fuel, then carried on west to pass me again.

Since I keep talking about Diamond, I might as well show you the actual diamond... here's the DPU locomotive CN 2821 crossing the CP Glenboro subdivision.
CN 2821 crossing the diamond at Diamond
In about 15 minutes, another train came along. Fortunately this one came from the west, so the morning light was much better on this train. Michael positioned himself closer to the actual diamond than I did, and you can see his photo on

Here's mine, showing CN 318 splitting the east-facing signals.
CN 8893 and 2140 leading train 318 past Diamond
CN 8893 and CN 2140 were leading a longish manifest train. I amused myself by photographing a few of the freight cars, including these centerbeam flatcars carrying Tolko wrapped lumber.
Tolko, soon not to be made in The Pas
Tolko is topical because they've announced they are closing their mill in The Pas, Manitoba. They are the major employer in the town but unfortunately they haven't been able to make a go of it.

We waited for a while after CN 318 passed, hoping for another train, but nothing showed up except for another railfan. We chatted with him for a while but it was time to head up to the Prairie Dog Central for the 11 AM departure of the steam train.

That's in the next post... featuring the steam train, of course, more steam engines, and repainted ex CN 5232.


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