Tuesday, November 28, 2017

London Town

VIA 905 in London, Ontario
Think what that money could bring / I'd buy everything
Clean out Vivienne Westwood / In my Galliano gown

No, wouldn't just have one hood / A Hollywood mansion if I could
Please book me first class to my fancy house in London town
- "Rich Girl", Gwen Stefani featuring Eve
When I was in southern Ontario in early August, I planned my route from the Leamington area to Waterloo and realized I would pass right by London, Ontario. A glance at the VIA Rail schedule showed that there was a good chance of catching at least one VIA train at the time I would be near London - VIA 73 at 14:23.

Not knowing the area at all, I decided to get downtown to the station and see what angles were possible there. The tricky part was that although London is basically right beside the 401 highway, the downtown certainly isn't and it took some time to get downtown.

I found the station without trouble (thank you Apple Maps) but parking was a problem. As I drove around, a VIA train slid into the station from the east. I decided to park in the Impark lot across York Street, paid my fare, and sprinted across to try to get any kind of shot before the train left again.
Richmond Street goes under the tracks, and I grabbed this quick shot to record the engine number if nothing else.
Not my best work

VIA 6457

I was on the "wrong" side of the sun so I jogged under the tracks to get to Bathurst Street on the south side of the tracks. I should mention that it was a hot day and of course I had no water with me.

I felt it was a good thing I did jog, because 6457 pulled ahead about 90 seconds after I took the above photo.
VIA 6457 and friends in London
VIA 6457 had coach VIA 8112 and galley business car 4004 in tow.

"Whew," I thought, "glad I caught them before they left."

I turned my attention to the station platform, where I could see a train with a P42DC "Canada 150" unit was waiting.

From where I was, it was very difficult to get any kind of shot. I should mention that there is a chain link fence between Bathurst Street and the tracks.
There's a train there, somewhere
I took all of these photos by holding my camera up above the fence and shooting more or less blindly in the direction of the tracks.

I shoot in manual almost all the time, so I already had the right exposure, but the focus and composition were a bit "hit and miss". This led to tossing about 40% of my photos and a lot of cropping. You do what you have to do!

As I stood there, wondering whether I should move to a new location or stay where I was, I heard the ding-ding-ding of an engine bell. Here was VIA 6457 coming back... on a different track, I presume.
VIA 4004 leading the way
Note the person in the end of 4004 keeping an eye out.

They headed east, and I never saw them again. I'm not sure where they were going, backwards.. I know there's a wye in town so maybe they were going there to turn the train around.

VIA 905

Right after VIA 6457 and friends rolled by, the "Canada 150" train in the station left. It turned out to be VIA 905 leading, the same locomotive I saw two days earlier at Jeannette's Creek.
VIA 905 in London
In fact 905 had the same cars on the train, too, just in a different order. 905-4007-4006-4110-4113.

I'm pretty sure that was VIA 73.

I told you I was shooting more or less blindly by holding my camera above the fence line. Here's an unmodified photo showing some of the "interesting" compositions I was getting.
A little horizon leveling might be in order
Not my best work.

In less than a minute, they were gone.
Gone, baby, gone

Wrapping Up

I can't 100% explain why VIA 6457 and those two cars were there. My theory is that they came with VIA 905 from Toronto as a "J train" (two trains together) to be prepositioned to be a train to Toronto later in the afternoon.

Any other ideas?

Here's a view of the VIA station from across the street.
The VIA Rail station in London, Ontario
I left right after that and headed toward Waterloo... with a side trip to Salford to see the Ontario Southland Railway shops.

Both CN and CP have yards in London but I didn't see any of CP's and very little of CN's. Michael at the Beachburg Sub blog has written three blog posts on London to date, focusing on CN and CP, so head on over there!

I see London has one model train store, Doug's Trains - or is it Pete's? My model train directory has it as Doug's but the Google Street View shows it as Pete's. Who really owns the store???

See Also


Unknown said...

Judging by the time of day, 6457 was probably on train 85 from Toronto (via Stratford) which gets to London about 2:15. They would return to Toronto as train 88 in the evening.

Jenn said...

I kinda like the quirky over the fence shot...guerilla photography!

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks 5879East - I'll make a note - VIA 85.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Jenn that's me, guerilla railfan!

Mike Ferrell said...

As far as the model railway store goes it used to be Doug's but I believe he retired and its now Pete's I was in a few times when it was Doug's and it's a tiny little storefront.

London is also home to Broughdale Hobby www.RRhobby.ca a wonderful model railroad store, with terrific staff and a great selection.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Mike! I'll have to check both of them out when I'm next in London.

Michael said...

I didn't even attempt any shooting at the Via station downtown and now I'm glad I didn't. Sounds like it was a tough spot to shoot from. All I can say about the Via movements is that I also caught a Via train on the GEXR Guelph Subdivision, running light, heading toward somewhere unknown (I wasn't sure of my spot relative to the other yards), so possibly your thought of the trains repositioning or turning around are what was happening.

Tom Box said...

That's definitely #85. The two-car consist is a dead giveaway. #85 and 88 are the only corridor trains that are so short. They are, by the way, a remnant of the Toronto-Chicago International that was cancelled in 2004.

It wouldn't have arrived as part of a J-train. I believe the only J-train to London is Sunday's #75. Half the train remains in London to become Monday's #82, the other half continues on to Windsor. One other combined train operation: after Friday's #83 arrives in London, it is joined tail-to-tail to that evening's #88 to return to Toronto.

I don't know London all that well, but there are crossings at grade within walking distance of the station (Ridout St. to the west, Colborne St. to the east) where you have an unobstructed view of the tracks from public property.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Michael, yes, I didn't pick the best spot and I wouldn't go there again.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks Tom, as always you have great detail. :) I've never actually seen a J-train myself.. someday..

I see on maps that there are crossings around that would be better spots to shoot from. I'm sure I looked a little weird, hanging around the fence on a side street..