Monday, January 4, 2016

Trains de banlieue and other Montreal sightings

I recently made a quick daytrip to Montreal for an appointment, which meant I took the train into the heart of one of Canada's great railway towns. In my previous post, I featured some grainy shots of trackside industry, bridges and other items of interest.

When I made it into Montreal, I had to hop aboard the city's subway, the Metro, to make my way to the Westmount neighbourhood where I had my appointment. The city's subway is a great system with frequent subway trains making their way in either direction on a set of double tracks. For those not familiar with these blue and white gems, they are different from conventional subways in that the subway cars run on rubber tires. I have ridden this system several times and have always been impressed.

After a few station stops, I emerged from the underground at Vendome station, which is both a subway stop and a station for Montreal's trains de banlieue, or suburban commuter trains. Much like GO Transit does in the Greater Toronto Area, AMT connects suburbs on and around the island of Montreal. Here is a link to the system's map, which gives you an idea of this railway's reach.

I had a few minutes to have a snack outside, so I sat down as close to the tracks as possible and waited for a few trains to appear. I didn't have to wait long before I saw some action.

I was a little limited by my vantage point, but it was enough to get a few shots of some AMT (Agence m√©tropolitaine de transport) Bombardier ALP-45DPs (including top photo). These rather unsightly units have the ability to operate using overheard catenary or via the locomotive's twin diesel engines. My research shows there are 20 of these units in revenue service.

This shot above gives you an idea of the rolling stock used. Like GO Transit in Toronto, AMT trains also use Bombardier bi-level coaches, although the coaches are not tapered at the ends in the same way. There are 160 of these cars in the fleet.

Not long after the first train made its way toward the downtown, another came rumbling up into the station while another arrived from the downtown, making its way west toward the suburbs. The train that was headed downtown was being pulled by F59PH, which were once more common on the GO Trains. AMT has 21 in its fleet including a few it purchased from GO. I was a little underwhelmed by the livery on these engines.

You will notice, unlike GO, AMT also uses single-level coaches in its fleet, like the cars on this train, above. There are 24 of these coaches in the fleet. A better (albeit obstructed) view of the consist heading downtown (below).

One interesting element of this system in the downtown is that many of these trains stop right at the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens. When you make your way through the arena, you can easily find the AMT station stop, which allows you great sightlines to take photos of these trains, if you're so inclined. I arrived there during off hours, so there was nothing to shoot, but I filed it away for the next time I might find myself in the city.

Like the GO Trains, the AMT trains operate in a push-pull fashion, with cab units on the opposite end of the consist to the locomotive. This was taken aboard Via Train 30 as it made its way to Montreal's Central Station.

Later in the day, I did some wandering around the downtown, trying to see if there was anything else to shoot and share. There is a raised viaduct-like structure that allows trains to make their way downtown to the Central Station without disrupting traffic below. It makes photography difficult from street level, but I did manage to capture a few interesting sites.

Below you can see an AMT consist idling as it waits to head into the Central Station for its evening run to the suburbs. I couldn't get any closer since pedestrian access near the viaduct was limited.

As mentioned in my previous post, here is the shot of Via Rail P42 pushing a string of Renaissance coaches into the Central Station. This is the first time I have seen these cars since 2013. In the shot below, you can see a conductor (see explanation below, thanks to Jeff) watching out as the train backs into the station.

And here's a shot of the head end of the consist being pushed by P42 917.

Just before the tracks make their way below a hotel and into the station, there is an old piece of railway architecture with this logo.

And one last shot as I made my way out of the city and back home.

Quick railfan question: For those who have seen both AMT and GO Trains or have travelled on both systems, which do you prefer? Which one of these commuter systems is more pleasing to your railfan eye?


Jeff said...

The person with the safety vest you see standing in the vestibule would be 1 of the 2 locomotive engineers on the train. He/she calls out the signals to the operating engineer in the locomotive during a back-up movement. Via Rail abolished most of the conductor jobs around October 31, 1997. After this date the locomotive engineers started performing the operational duties of the conductor and the service manager started performing the non-operational duties of the conductor. Service managers are not operating employees and are not authorized to perform switching duties, etc.

Michael said...

Thanks for the explanation. My Dad and I always referred to the service managers as conductors, so that is a term that is hard to shake from my vocab. It makes sense that it's one of the two cab personnel manning the back of the train, or the front in this case.