Thursday, June 01, 2017

Hit and Miss in Kamloops

I was in Kamloops, British Columbia and had a very "hit and miss" evening on May 1. Let's go.


Aerial view of Alyth yard in Calgary, Alberta
I flew from Winnipeg (YWG) to Kamloops (YKA) via Calgary (YYC). Normally I book an aisle seat in airplanes, so I can lean into the aisle and not feel trapped against the wall by my seatmate. This time I decided to flip things around and take a window seat on both flights. I'm glad I did! It was a lovely clear morning and I was able to snap a few photos of CP's Alyth yard as we were on final approach to the Calgary airport.

I've been to Alyth on the ground several times but I appreciated the aerial view to get a better sense of the places that non-railway people like me cannot see. For instance, I had no idea there was a large - car repair? - area jutting out of the yard.

I was also struck by how empty the yard is. I understand that one of the many changes made in CP in the past several years is that a lot of switching that used to be done at Alyth is being done elsewhere instead. I know that a full yard means cars not moving, but you expect a certain number of cars in a yard as an indication of a healthy volume of traffic. I don't see that here.

Anyway, I also took some photos of the mountains between Calgary and Kamloops.
The Rockies?
You can see from the prop in the upper right of the photo that I was sitting in front of the wing.

My flights were uneventful - thank you - and we landed in Kamloops on time at 9 AM. After collecting my rental car, I headed to my workplace and spent the day there.


After work, I drove out to Tranquille to try to catch a few CN trains there. I've been there before and I had a great afternoon there once.

On my way out, along the aptly named Tranquille Road, I was surprised by the eastbound Rocky Mountaineer rolling into Kamloops. Oops! Probably should have checked their schedule to know when they were running...

A quick U turn and I was in pursuit. The road has an 80 km/hr speed limit and I was slowly gaining on the train as we both approached Kamloops. I knew that soon the road would diverge and I would not be able to keep up, so I got a bit ahead and bailed out to grab a quick photo.
Rocky Mountaineer 8011 and 8016
It's really not the angle or location that I would have wanted... but it was the best I could get.

I snapped a few photos of the train as it rolled past, and bid it adieu.
Rocky Mountaineer cars
So, it was a miss, but not by that much. At least I did photograph it.

On to Tranquille.


As I approached Tranquille proper, I saw a westbound CN train receding in the distance. Clearly a miss and no opportunity to chase on the north side of the Thompson River, as there is no road past Tranquille.

I settled in to wait for the next train... eastbound or westbound.


After about 25 minutes, I heard a train horn. Great!

But... it seemed distant. Too distant.

It turns out it was CP on the other side of the river..
CP from far away
It was a westbound potash train, led by the two Pacifics, Canadian and Union. They came to a stop, clearly for a meet.

The light was all wrong to photograph them from the north but I did what I could. They were about 2.5 km away so it was a bit of a reach to photograph them!

It wasn't long before the eastbound train came along for the meet. The eastbound was a general freight with a couple of CP units on the head end.
Distant Meet
As soon as the eastbound train passed, the potash train started moving and soon they were gone. I took a video, and you can see it at the end of this post.

Hit - Finally

It was 6 PM when the CP train disappeared from my view. I paced around, waiting for some sweet CN action. My stomach was getting a bit grumbly but it would have to wait.

The sun started playing peek-a-boo with clouds, and finally disappeared behind a big cloud bank. I wasn't impressed, but what are you going to do?

After 40 minutes of waiting, a CN train presented itself.
CN 2926 at Tranquille
I was definitely wishing the sun was out!

I was still set up for video, but I had neglected to change the batteries in my Canon S3 and it refused to start up... so no video of this train. Miss.

Given the low light, a pan shot was in order. 1/50s at f/8.0.
Panning CN 2926
The mid-train unit was CN 3104.
She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes
Might as well pan that one too!
CN 3104
I waited a while longer, but nothing seemed to be coming. I was a little disappointed with the sun but again, what can you do?

A Surprise Hit

I packed up and started driving back toward Kamloops. I noticed a headlight in the distance, from another CN train snaking its way along the hills, so I quickly returned to Tranquille to grab a video of CN 5708 and 2298 rolling westward with my iPhone. It's at the end of this post.

I didn't take any stills because I didn't want to juggle my camera and iPhone. Trying to do both at once is often a recipe for disaster!

Visiting Cando

I posted back in January 2016 that Cando Rail Services were building a facility outside Kamloops. This facility will do rail car storage and transloads. I decided to see how it was coming along... and it looks almost ready for service!
Cando bumpers in Kamloops
Literally miles of track at the Cando facility in Kamloops

Absolutely! All photos taken from the "good" side of the fence

A Big Miss

As I was driving back along Mission Flats road, I saw a CP train rolling west. I took a brief video (see below) of CP 9622, CP 8744 and CP 9739 as they came to a stop short of the crossing. "Huh," thought I, and turned my camera off and got back into my car. As I drove away, I saw a second CP train pass them with a UP unit... so I recorded the "boring" train and missed the good one. Miss.

The Video

Here's the video of three trains in or near Kamloops, BC.

There are three trains in this video, the CP potash train, a CN general freight train and CP 9622 and company.

Lessons Learned

I can take away a few lessons from this day:

  • Charge your dang batteries. I am usually very good at this for my DSLR but not as diligent for my AA batteries.
  • Look for a second train. Often one train is followed by another so if you have the time, wait a few minutes to see if a second one shows up.

See Also


Jenn said...

Those kind of days drives me the most crazy. Often I will get home from somewhere and discover I was a gravel road or 2 away from something cool. Ah well!
I like the photo of the train curving around that bend!

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Jenn! Those near misses drive me crazy too.

I like that curve very much - coming from Winnipeg with our straight track, I look for curves.

Eric said...

Alyth looks so...empty.
Thanks for sharing this trip report!

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Eric, I agree, Alyth looked very empty indeed.

Unknown said...

hey Steve i hear Alyth Can Be Pretty Busy same can be said for St LUC In Montreal

Unknown said...

hey Steve u should see St Luc in Montreal it can be pretty Busy at times

Anonymous said...

The Alyth hump and classification yard is no longer used. The tracks have been pulled up.