Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Starting year six with 589

It just goes to show you that there's no substitute for your being observant. When it comes to the famous Arnprior Turn, you really have to track it week to week and try to find trends, if you want to catch it. You've likely read in this blog before that there is no trackside signal to watch, no scanner to listen to. You just have to know when CN's 589 makes its way over the Beachburg Sub and Renfrew Spur as it services Nylene Canada in Arnprior each Wednesday.

In February and March, I noticed many times on my walk home from the bus that I would hear 589 blowing its horn as it crossed Corkstown Road. I live fairly close to that crossing, but it's easy to notice this horn as the sound carries a great distance. And it is decidedly different from the Via trains I hear on the Smiths Falls Sub, which is farther from where I live..

In early April, I made mental note that 589 was passing through my neighbourhood around 4:10 p.m. to about 4:20 p.m. for several weeks in a row. One day after work, I was home early so I decided to see if my observations would pay off. I camped out near a massive snow bank near Northside Road in Bells Corners to maybe catch this train.

Turns out, I was right. I heard the train's horn around 4:10, but had to wait another five minutes before the train trundled its way over the Robertson Road flyover before strutting past my vantage point. I hopped onto the nearby seven-foot high snowbank (now long gone) and clicked away.

No leased power in Ottawa! Just the standard tired old geeps that work the Ottawa jobs, in this case 4708 with the old safety scheme. And I'm not sure why the cars and SUVs were parked like this in the lot.

Given the unchecked growth near the tracks, these shots will not be possible once the green takes hold and blocks much of the view.

Look at those sad old telegraph poles. I'm surprised they have lasted this long. Many have been knocked down trackside or taken down by weeds and the elements.

There's a reason I don't set up at this spot often. Way too many visual hazards, but in this case, I only had time to make it here. Beggars can't be choosers.

Those who know this part of the city know that the train in this last shot is crossing over Highway 416, which is located well below Northside Road.

Alas, the Arnprior train has shifted its times since I caught it in early April. I tried to get out there to catch it at the same time the following week, but had no luck. Such is the life of an Ottawa railfan, I guess.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Five years

Five years ago (April 30, 2013), I began this blog by posting my first entry. Five years later, I'm still here blogging about railways in Ottawa and beyond. It's been a fun experience to engage in discussion with many fellow railfans from the region and across Canada and elsewhere. I've learned so much from all of you. For that, I am grateful.

Five years ago, the Beachburg Sub still existed beyond Nepean Junction. Today, it's just another barren right-of-way, sadly one of many in the Ottawa area. But it's not all bad news. Since I've started this blog, the city has made tremendous progress in preparing the first phase of its light rail system from Tunney's Pasture to Blair (although it should be pointed out that the first phase is months behind schedule).

Five years ago, there was no plan for the rail link across the Ottawa River on the Prince of Wales Bridge. After much foot-dragging, the city has finally come around to the idea that maybe this critical piece of rail infrastructure would be a valuable rail link. It's not a sure shot, by any means, but at least the will is finally there. I should point out that the group looking to establish a commuter rail system in Eastern Ontario, the Moose Consortium, recently won a legal victory when a federal regular ordered the city to re-connect the severed portion of the old Ellwood Subdivision, which is now covered over by part of the Bayview O-Train station, or begin formal discontinuance proceedings for the old bridge. The city is fighting the decision and has been granted an extension, but it appears that Moose is at least forcing the city's hand. That may not be a bad thing.

While we're on the subject, the city finally came around to the benefits of extending the O-Train to the Ottawa airport and to the city's southern suburbs via an existing portion of the old Prescott Subdivision. This was not the case five years ago. Progress.

Since I've begun this blog, Via has invested pretty heavily in its local rail infrastructure in the city. Although Via Rail has cut back its operations elsewhere in its network, its Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor remains a vibrant portion of the network, to say the least.

It would be great to mention that CN has done great things in the region since I've begun blogging but the truth is its local operations have continued limping along much as they have been for years. CN has scrapped not only the Beachburg Sub from Nepean Junction to Fitzroy Harbour, it has also removed other small pieces of its local network, including the last section of the old Carleton Place Sub in Bells Corners (the line was technically called the Carleton Spur in recent years).

In the five years since I've started, I've been able to share some of my railfanning photos from the Sarnia area, Toronto, Markham, Kitchener-Waterloo, St. Jacobs, London, Ottawa, Bedell, Finch, Kingston, Windsor, Corunna, Banff, Montreal, Quebec City and Kissimmee, Florida, to name but a few.

Thanks to my contributors and fellow railfans, I've been able to share more photos and railfanning material from across North America and even Europe. I've mentioned it many times before but it always bears repeating. I really do rely on the contributions of my fellow railfans to help round out this blog. So a big thank you to everyone who has helped out along the way.

Thanks to all.

Michael Hammond

hammond.michael77 AT gmail dot com