Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Encounter at Beach Junction

VIA 1 passing through Beach Junction
I decided to capture the Labour Day VIA Rail "Canadian"... but I didn't want to go out to Dugald or Anola like I had been doing. I wanted to try something... different.

As I scrolled through Google Maps, following the route of VIA 1, I found the highway overpass near Beach Junction and the north entrance to CN's Symington Yard. This overpass is where the 4-lane Lagimodiere Boulevard crosses over the two-track CN Redditt subdivision.

Looking at the satellite view, I saw that the shoulders on each side were really wide - more than a lane's worth - so I was not very concerned about safety from the cars zooming by at 80+ km/hr. You have to watch that with overpasses - some of them have very little space between the cars and the guard rails. Safety first!

There's no place to park on the overpass, but there are side streets nearby, and I don't mind walking a bit.

My alarm went off at 6:03 AM on Monday morning, and I hopped out of bed and checked VIA's web site to see where VIA 1 was. It was approaching Elma, supposedly an hour away from Winnipeg, so I had lots of time. I quickly dressed and grabbed my Lowepro SlingShot 102 AW and hit the road. I normally bring my AmazonBasics camera bag, but since I knew I was going to be away from my car for an extended period, a small camera bag seemed more appropriate.

Waiting for the sun to rise
Within 20 minutes, I was "on station". It was a chilly 8 degrees Celsius, and I was glad I wore a light coat. I was wishing I had brought my gloves, too!

The First Train

I noted there was an east-facing CN train stopped just west of the overpass, just before Panet Road. These days, CN's trains pause a bit as they wait for their turn to enter a yard or proceed farther down the line. That's the curse of having so much traffic...

Eventually that train started to roll forward, and I took a few photos as they rolled under me and proceeded into Symington Yard.
CN 2438 and 2023
It was a nice cowl leader - a Dash-8!

After nine minutes, the tail end passed me and they curved around into the yard.
Round the bend
It was not long before the second train came along... and the third.

The Second and Third Trains

I saw a train coming out of Symington Yard, led by CN 2951. I decided I would shoot video, to show the train squealing around the curve and onto the main line.

I was glad I brought my monopod, as I could record the train easily without too much camera shake or strain on my arms. As I kept recording, I heard another train behind me, and after about 4m 45s after I started recording, CN 2596 East rolled past on the north track and went into the yard.

It was really cool to see the two trains passing on the curve. They almost looked like model trains!

The Fourth Train, and a Friend

CN 8833 East
It was a container train, crossing over from the north to the south track - and carrying on past the yard.

Just before this train showed up, I received a message from Mark Perry. In the past few weeks, Mark and I have both gone out to photograph VIA 1 coming into the city, both in the same area, but we never ran into each other. It's been amusing, really. Anyway, he messaged me asking if I was out shooting VIA. I replied and told him where I was, and he said he'd be there shortly.

Note the track curving off to the left in the photo above. That's the CEMR Pine Falls subdivision, leading to their yard on Day Street. The Central Manitoba Railway runs down that track onto CN and then into Symington to interchange cars with CN. They also continue west on the Redditt and then the Rivers sub to get to the CEMR Carman subdivision.

Here's a black-and-white photo, in homage to Mark, who likes black and white photos.
Black and white rules!
This was definitely "cowl day", with two cowl units on this train - CN 2418 and BC Rail 4601.
BC Rail 4601 and a CN cowl unit!
Mark drove by while the train was going by, and parked nearby. He walked up to the other side of the overpass and photographed the train going away.
Mark and the "going away" angle
There was a hot air balloon nearby. It would have been a great morning for going up!
CN and the hot air balloon
We had about a 25 minute wait for VIA 1 to arrive.

Mark is a great railway photographer. His photos and articles have been published in a number of books, and magazines such as TRAINS. I admire his work and his photographic style. I keep urging him to write a book but so far, he's not interested. I'll keep trying!


It's coming right for us
The "Canadian" came around the corner out of Transcona yard and started down the straight section.

I took a few overhead shots, then switched to the sun side.
The problem with shooting into the sun... dark nose
I suppose I could have stayed and kept shooting "head on" - I do like head on photos - but I had visualized the shot I wanted before I came to that location, and I wanted to get it.

Here it is.
The side glint
Three locomotives, four domes, stainless steel... I feel very lucky to be able to see this train.

Some day I want to ride this train
The only problem with this location is that the "going away" shot is no good... you can't sprint across four lanes of traffic and jump the giant gap in the middle between the pairs of lanes. Not safely, anyway.

Not a good "going away" photo
After VIA passed, Mark and I both packed up our gear and headed out. I had family stuff to do and Mark had to get to work!

Post Game Analysis

Overall, I was very pleased with that location. I feel it has a lot of potential for overhead shots, which are certainly in short supply in the Winnipeg area. You can see signals to the west, which are very helpful for knowing when a train is coming. Parking is available at the mall or nearby side streets.

The only downsides I see are that you can't switch sides easily, and you are definitely in the public eye when you're up on the overpass in such a high traffic area.

I'll probably be back!

It was great to see Mark again and finally meet up after a few inadvertent joint VIA photo sessions.

See Also


Brad said...

Hey I saw two of the same trains you did! What are the odds. :D


Eric said...

Great post and photos, Steve.

Don't know what it's going to take to get Mark and his book going. Facebook campaign? Website to 'draft' him? It's not like he doesn't have the time, now that he's retired. ha ha.

I won't give up and I don't imagine you will either!

Thanks for sharing,