Monday, June 19, 2017

Some random notes

When I started this blog back in 2013, I knew it would sometimes be tough to keep up the pace. Truthfully, I have had some trouble of late keeping up with my usually weekly entries. However, I did just want to share that I have lots of idea for future posts although I am finding that it is taking me longer to develop them than I had anticipated. Sadly, my railfanning has been severely curtailed in recent months. And even when I have had time, the railways have slapped me in the face with some skunkings.

Case in point: During the March Break, my family made its way to the Toronto area for a short little getaway, mainly for the purpose of taking the kids to the Toronto Zoo. I had some time during that week to sit trackside just a little way down the road from Macmillan Yard. You'd think that would guarantee some train sightings, but I managed to find the one period of the day where there was nothing going on along that sub.

Anyway, be patient with me. This too shall pass. The school year is ending and some opportunities are popping up. I have some great stuff still to come.


This shot above is from my May meet with a CN freight train in Wyoming, Ontario along the Strathroy Sub. I am including it for two reasons. One is that it shows the old siding that once served Wyoming industry, including its feed mill. I could not find a good shot from that meet that properly catured this disused rail line until I uploaded this one. This shot shows you that, although the line has seen better days, it appears to be intact. Whether it actually still connects to the main line is another question.

You can read about this meet here.

The other reason I am showing this shot is because I am planning a few posts that hopefully showcase some of my better shots of rolling stock. I find the rail blogs that interest me the most are the ones that feature not only the motive power fronting trains, but also the cars as well. As has been mentioned in a few blogs of late, there are a number of pieces of old rolling stock that are fast disappearing, soon to be replaced with faceless, nameless leased private car fleets. So, I'm hoping a post or two about rolling stock might further stimulate some interest in my fellow rail enthusiasts to get out there and capture some great pieces of rolling stock as well.


A few notes about the O-Train Confederation Line work. The work is proceeding pretty quickly right now as a number of the rail stations are starting to take shape, which I am able to track as my bus passes by them on my daily commute to downtown. The interesting things I've noticed about the new light rail line are as follows:
  • The line is using a number of concrete rail ties
  • The grades on the line are sudden and steep. This makes sense since the electrified light rail trains would be able to mount these grades given their rather short consists and, well, light weight
  • It was mentioned a few years ago that the city might be open to freight operations to share this line at some point. I don't think this will ever happen, given the grades I saw.
  • Some sort of light show will indeed proceed at the Lyon LRT station (below ground) in downtown Ottawa, although not on July 1st, as was originally planned. The show will start shortly after Canada's birthday and will run through September. You will need a ticket to get into this show
Here's an embarrassing confession about light rail. I have to say I can't believe I didn't figure this out sooner, but here goes. I didn't realize in all my reading about the Confederation light rail line that all express buses would unload their passengers at Tunney's Pasture in the west and Blair in the east. I know that the city has said all along that the train would reduce the number of buses in the core substantially, but it was never clear to me that all express buses would stop at Tunney's and Blair, at which point all riders would be forced to hop on a train for the last few minutes of their commute. This means all buses picking up riders in Orleans and Kanata, for example, will go no further than the end of the Confederation Line.

This means all express bus riders will no longer have a seamless commute. They will be forced to get off their bus and ride the train downtown. I don't like the idea that I will have to do this, but if it saves time, I'll get used to it. I have my doubts that this arrangement will work as has been advertised. We'll see.

That being said, I still think Tunney's and Blair were poor choices for the initial east-west LRT line. Both stations do not really have much of a population immediately around them to capture riders in their immediate vicinity. I know this will be a moot point when Phase 2 is completed. Speaking of, the federal government has committed up to $1.9 billion toward the second phase of the LRT in Ottawa. This phase will extend the Confederation Line to Trim Road in the east and Moody Drive in the west. The second phase will also see the Trillium Line extension proceed all the way to the airport.


At work, I have been put in charge of a promotion campaign, which has required me to design internal posters. One of the overriding themes of this campaign is that the workplace will be thoroughly modernized and ridded of much of its paper-based processes. I was asked to come up with some ideas, so I obviously suggested that the modernization project is like going on a long journey, which can often be tiring but ultimately satisfying at the end. I suggested a train or airplane theme (Am I a good public servant or what? Did you notice the lack of favoritism?)

Well, the train theme was chosen, so I have been able to indulge my passion a bit at work, which has been great for me. I was busy searching for images of passenger trains when I noticed that Via Rail Canada now has a private archive of photographs which are available for use, under certain conditions, the most important being that the images be used in a way that promotes Via and train travel. I contacted the railway and told them what I was doing and was granted access to the archives. I just thought I would pass the information along to anyone who might be interested. I don't think I will use these images on the blog right now, but I may in the future. There are some great shots of the Canadian, in particular.


One final note. I am planning more historic posts in light of all the Canada 150 hoopla this year. My next post will focus on a railway town on the edge of Eastern Ontario that might just one day see its importance as a railway hub re-emerge. Stay tuned.

Canada 150 Posts

Almonte, Ontario
Chateau Laurier
The History of Walkley Yard

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Prince of Wales Bridge: Oh, no, not again

Just when you thought it was safe to put this piece of Ottawa's rail past and future on the back burner, the Prince of Wales Bridge has once again made headlines. The bridge, which has not seen action in many years, has long been neglected by its current owner, the City of Ottawa. After years of rejecting calls to preserve the bridge for use as an interprovincial light rail link, the city has finally come around to the idea of using the bridge for commuter trains in the future. So, all is well right? Well, not so, apparently.

As many locals know, the Prince of Wales Bridge was once a key piece of the Canadian Pacific Railway's rail network in Ottawa. It once played a key role in connecting the CP Ellwood, Prescott, Lachute and Maniwaki Subdivisions in the National Capital Region. In the final days of the Canadian Pacific's presence in the region in the late 1990s, the bridge was lightly used although it did connect CP to its last remaining customers on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. After CP left Ottawa, the bridge was purchased by the city as part of the deal it struck to buy the Ellwood Subdivision, which is now the O-Train Trillium Line.


In recent months, the city has been busy putting the final touches on the O-Train Confederation Line. The new electrified light rail line crosses over the old  Ellwood Subdivision. The contractor building the line is in the midst of constructing the new Bayview O-Train station, which will allow commuters to transfer from the electrified Confederation Line with the diesel-powered Trillium Line (there will be no rail connection like a diamond due to interoperability issues between the two O-Train systems).

The problem that the city has now is that the old rail line that leads to the bridge was removed, which is a no-no under federal laws. This is the position of the Moose Consortium, a organization that has plans to establish a private regional commuter service on the existing rail lines in the capital region. Now the city is in big trouble, it seems, with the Canadian Transportation Agency, which is the body that grants permission for rail lines to be removed. Making matters worse for the city, it appears that it okayed permanent structures to be built atop the old rail line. Now the city has until the end of the month to explain to the federal agency why it has removed rail without following the proper procedures, according to local coverage.

In my former life as a journalist, I spoke to the man behind the Moose Consortium Joseph Potvin and he told me flat out he was going to make sure that the city lived up to its obligations as the owner of the rail line and the Prince of Wales Bridge. He told me more than once that he would do everything he could to make sure that the infrastructure at Bayview was kept in some sort of operational condition. He says fixing this mistake will cost the city $20 million.

Here's what I am wondering. If the city is serious about using this bridge for rail, which finally appears to be the case, why is the city building over this line? If what Moose is saying to true, why would there not be a plan in place to preserve this rail?

Here's the biggest question in my mind: Am I the only one who noticed when the Trillium Line was rebuilt that the Trillium Line's connection to the old trackage to the bridge was disconnected and buried? It's been several years since this part of the rail line was removed, but nothing was said then. While I appreciate that the removal of the 250 or so metres near the new Bayview Station is much more noticeable, I wonder why nothing was said about the original disconnection of the Prince of Wales trackage years ago.


I can only shake my head as a railfan and as a taxpayer that this situation is resolved properly.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A little fun on the 401

When my family recently travelled down to the Sarnia area for the Mother's Day weekend, I once again played one of my favourite games. Whenever we travel Highway 401, I bring along a camera to see if we can get some shots of trains at speed. I've done this many times, with varying results. At the very least, it's a good way to pass the time on what is always a very long ride.

Here's what we got this time around.

When we were passing through Kingston Friday morning at around 110 km/h, a westbound Via Rail train from Montreal overtook us. My wife snapped a pretty cool shot of wrapped P42 912, a renaissance-painted Business Class coach and a wrapped coach.


This stretch of CN's Kingston Subdivision is a gold mine for railfanning, even if you're in a car. A little further west of this spot, the subdivision crosses under the 401 near Montreal Street (I think), which is where we caught a glimpse of this freight heading east. I was a little disappointed with our timing. Had we travelled a little slower, we would have met this one at a better spot along the highway. Oh well.


Not the best shot, but it still works for me. There's just one unit pulling some centre beam lumber cars and a few gondolas and some covered hoppers (out of frame). Maybe a local? I suspect my friend Eric Gagnon might be able to comment on this.

One the way home to Ottawa, we didn't have the same kind of luck, but I did manage to snag a shot of some GO Trains idling near the 401 east of Toronto. You can see some of the glare from the window, which I was not able to photoshop out completely.


And, as we usually do, we came across an endless container train. We usually see a few of these when we travel the highway, although we often catch them mid-train. Still, a good collection of trailers to see, if that's your thing.


Here are two final shots, which illustrate how tough this game can be, although I have to hand it to my wife for being a gamer. Here's a shot she got from the passenger seat, shooting across the driver's seat and across the westbound 401. The first shot is completely untouched.


Another wrap! Here's my attempt to work with one of the shots.


You get the idea. It's sometimes a game of diminishing returns, but it makes the drive much more fun, for me at least.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Perfect afternoon in Wyoming

My family recently made a quick trip to Southwestern Ontario to attend two family gatherings. It was a hectic weekend, which was not made any better when bookended it with an eight-hour car ride each way. I did manage to get some quiet time in Wyoming, along the CN Strathroy Subdivision on the Saturday. It was a perfectly sunny afternoon, with the temperature reaching 20C. I sat at the Wyoming Via Rail station, hoping to catch a freight train. After about 40 minutes of waiting, my limited window was waning, as I had to head back to my Dad's house in Petrolia and get ready for a family reunion in Thamesville, near Chatham. While waiting for a train, I snapped a quick photo of the CN Wyoming sign, which is right at the end of the Via Rail platform. You can see the old ramp used to load rail cars off to the right.


This platform, which is in remarkably good condition considering it hasn't been used in some time, feeds a disconnected siding* running behind the Via station. This track used to feed the Wanstead Farmers Co-operative elevators just west of the station (see photos below). It's a bit of an anomaly. The rails are still in place and you need to cross the tracks to get to the Via Rail station. But it's obvious that the line hasn't been used in a long time. You'd have thought CN would have pulled this old trackage long ago, as it still crosses Wyoming's main street.


The train finally did emerge from the east, right around when I was ready to pack it in. I figured something might happen since the signal you see in the photo was mostly blinking yellow as I sat at the station and switched to straight red. I hoped that meant something might be coming from the east. I'm glad I waited.


The only let down was the fact that I was on the shadow side of the train, although beggars can't be choosers, since all other vantage points on the other side of the tracks were private property, so I had to make do with my spot as it was. What a surprise as the train came into view. I was expecting the usual two units leading the train, but there were a few more. In fact, there were five. I can't recall the last time I saw five units up front on a train. I figured there were a few units being taken somewhere, possibly for maintenance or possibly for assignments further west.


I was happy with this shot, especially after colour corrections. You can't really see it, but the old CN trackage is buried in the grass. It starts in the bottom right corner of the shot and makes its way on an angle to the main line.


The train was flying through town, so I tried to get a few different shots that incorporated different elements of Wyoming. In this shot below, you can see the town's water tower and the tiny Via Rail station.


And in this shot, you can see the five units crossing Broadway Street, Wyoming's main street. You can also see the CN communications tower and my Mazda 5, making its first cameo on the blog.


There were a few cool pieces of rolling stock on this mixed freight, like this unit strapped to a TTX flat car.


And here's another oldie, a RailBox boxcar in its original scheme, not the repatched TTX scheme. Following it is another flatcar with unknown contents beneath a black tarp. I'm so glad I caught a mixed freight instead of a container train.


I tried to incorporate the Wanstead Farmer's Co-op in a shot, so I framed the end of the train with the elevators. You can also see Wyoming's Home Hardware on Broadway.


So, that was my meet with a rumbling westbound CN freight on its way to Sarnia Yard and beyond. I was pretty happy to be able to spend some time in Wyoming and catch a freight rolling through town. I've had this spot on my wish list for years, so I can now cross it off. Mission accomplished.

* - A reader pointed out that the disconnected trackage running behind the Via station was not a siding, but a spur. I always assumed that a spur was a track branching off a main line that leads to a dead end. I assumed a siding was a track branching off a main line that reconnects to the main line at the other end. And, yes, I do understand what the purpose of a siding is, which the track in Wyoming likely was not intended for (it was for local service). So, I'm open to being corrected, but this Wyoming siding branched off near the Co-op, in the photo above, and reconnected to the main line further east, beyond the station. Hence, I called it a siding. Please let me know if I'm off base.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Something old, something new, something borrowed and all that

It's been a hectic week for me, as my family travelled to Southwestern Ontario for a quick trip to see family and attend a few family functions over the Mother's Day weekend. I made sure to try and fit some trains into the weekend. I got mixed results, but I thought I'd share a few shots from the weekend as well as a few other recent items of interest.

So, here's the new. Via P42 906 brings a Toronto-bound corridor consist into Fallowfield Station a few days before our trip.


The train was a mixed lot, with a refurbed Business Class car, this Canada 150 coach and two older painted coaches. This is probably the first time in a while that I've actively sought out Via Rail trains with any regularity. It's a great time to live near a Via Rail station.

Okay, something old. I managed to find the remnants of the CN Petrolia Spur, which is still slightly visible near the intersection of LaSalle Line and Tank Street, right on the edge of Petrolia. I recently read a local book, The Petrolia Spur, by local author Tom Walter.

The book details the fascinating history of the railway line, stretching back to its earliest days when it was financed by the town's business interests when the Great Western Railway didn't think it was worthwhile to build a rail line to the oil fields. In a few years, the line paid for itself.

Amazingly, the spur remained in place until 1997, even though it was rarely used in its later years. The last CN train delivered some pipe before the railway pulled up the track shortly afterward. Trying to find the remnants of the line in the town is tough but the right-of-way is more visible from LaSalle.


Here's the old railway line in the evening. I really wanted to explore, but I was a little scared of the mosquitoes in the shade!


Petrolia is a town very proud of its history. This mural was recently added to the back of the old train station (now library). This is one of the pictures that is in the Petrolia Spur book. Those looking to buy this book need to go to Petrolia and speak to Tom. I sourced my copy through my Dad, who lives there.

Read about Petrolia's historic train station here or the old Canada Southern Railway branch, which also served the town.

Okay, something borrowed. Ottawa train watcher, Keith B. kindly shared this shot of a CN freight crossing Ramsayville Road. Keith has encouraged me to check out the rail action in the east end of the city, which I intend to do this summer. Note the two locomotive lash-up. That's something you don't see west of Walkley Yard.


Keith has an interesting collection of rail images at Ottawa & Area Railways on Pinterest, which is worth checking out, if you are on Pinterest.

Okay, one last image, which was from a meet I had with a westbound freight train in Wyoming. I will save that for another post.


I really like how the heat lines worked in this shot. All in all, it's been an interest week.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The history of Walkley Yard

This post is the third in a rail history series I intend to extend through 2017 as we celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. Click the links to read the first and second rail history posts.

Here's an anniversary to consider this year. Sixty-two years ago, Walkley Yard was constructed,  a significant component to the changing face of Ottawa. The impact of this rail yard is not to be underestimated. Even though it's a shadow of what it once was, the rail yard played a key role in the transformation of the Ottawa that we now take for granted.

Walkley Yard today, as seen from the Bank Street overpass. The rail yard is quieter than it once was, but it still sees activity most mornings. This shot shows from maintenance of way happening earlier in April.

Let's take a brief tour of the yard today, to give you an idea of what can be found in the yard now.


While most people in the city likely don't pay this yard any mind, there was a time when it was big news. That was because by the early 1950s, politicians of all stripes were finally ready to remake the face of Ottawa, which at the time was an anomaly of a capital city. Within much of the city's older sections, rails were extremely prominent along with heavy industry. Many photos of Ottawa from the late 1940s and early 1950s illustrate this. Many felt that a capital city should not look like Ottawa did in the 1950s.

Of course, today, much of this heavy industrial imprint is long gone, but in the late 1940s and early 1950s, it was still very much scattered through old Ottawa. Politicians were finally able to agree that something had to be done. It's important to note that plans to remove rail and heavy industry from the core of Ottawa began to gain traction in the early 1900s. However, two world wars and numerous changes in government ensured that any plan to remake the city was shelved. That changed with the government of William Lyon Mackenzie King.

The end result was the 1950 Greber Plan, which called for several radical changes to Ottawa, including the relocation of rails and heavy industry from central Ottawa. The most important element of the report for our purposes was the section calling for the relocation of rails and industry from central Ottawa, which was done.

Amazingly, this is where the Queensway now splits the Ottawa neighbourhoods of Centretown and the Glebe. This is CN's old Bank Street Yard on the former CN Renfrew Subdivision in 1948. Canada Science and Technology Museum image.


Walkley Yard began life as a necessary evil. When it was clear that politicians were finally going to plow ahead with some key elements of the Greber Plan to build an expressway through the city, the Canadian National’s Renfrew Subdivision was the ideal choice. It was an 80-foot wide right-of-way through the heart of the city, but it was already beginning to see diminished traffic. The predecessor to the National Capital Commission bought the land from CN and began acquiring additional properties to expand the right-of-way’s width to 180 feet in order to accommodate the highway.

This all took place quickly. The Greber Plan to remake Ottawa was unveiled in 1950. CN operated its final trains on the old Renfrew Subdivision in 1952 and the old right of way through Ottawa was lifted in 1953.

Before the Greber Plan began to take effect, CN had several rail yards in the core of the city, including its Bank and Elgin Street yard, which stretched from Bank Street all the way to the Rideau Canal (see above image). CN also had a rail yard along the Rideau Canal, which served the old Union Station in downtown Ottawa, and an engine roundhouse on Mann Avenue.

This undated photo from the Canada Science and Technology Museum archives only states that this is one of the earliest shots of the Walkley Yard. The heavyweight coaches, early SW switchers and numerous wooden cabooses give you an idea of the era. Note the absence of any development around the rail yard, which was then on the fringes of Ottawa.

With the rationalization of railway lines throughout Ottawa, there was a need to centralize this function and so Walkley Yard was created in a rural area south of the city.



An interesting fact about Walkley Yard. The yard is not all that close to the road for which it is named. When the yard was built, there was no development between Walkley Road and the yard, but over the last half century plus, development has surrounded the yard on all sides. A railfan coming to Ottawa for the first time would be hard pressed to find it, since it is not all that accessible, except via the end of Albion Road and via Conroy Road on its eastern fringe. Housing development surrounds the yard on its north and south sides.


A UP hopper car sits on the Rideau Bulk transloading spur in Walkley Yard. Note the proximity of housing on the yard's south side.

Another interesting fact about Walkley Yard. This is one of the few yards in Canada that can lay claim to serving four railways over its lifespan. Obviously, the yard was built by CN, although its rival Canadian Pacific did not choose to locate its operations there until 1967, when it abandoned its Ottawa West railyard at what is now known as Bayview. CN and CP shared the yard, with CN using the south tracks and CP using the north tracks. This was a year after CP and CN also left Union Station in downtown Ottawa and began to route their passenger trains through the new Central Station on Tremblay Road, just east of the downtown.



An early shot of CP's operations at Walkley Yard in 1971. Note the old maroon and red scheme on the Alco switchers. This is the north side of Walkley Yard. Canada Science and Technology Museum image.

These two railways used Walkley Yard until 1997 when CP discontinued operations in the region as its last customers across the river in Hull dried up and the Ellwood/Prescott Subdivision was discontinued. A year later, CN sold off its railway operations in Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley to the Ottawa Central Railway, which operated between Pembroke and Coteau, along the Beachburg Subdivision and the Alexandria Subdivision.

Two old OCR warhorses at Walkley Yard. Photo print courtesy of Eric Gagnon of Trackside Treasure, although Eric was quick to point out he didn't actually take the shot. Maybe it's better to say it's from the Eric Gagnon collection?

CN reacquired the OCR and resumed operations in the region in 2008, albeit on a much smaller system.

Summer 2015 shot of Walkley Yard with cars set out for a run to Ivaco Steel in L'Orignal

The fourth railway to use Walkley Yard is the Capital Railway, otherwise known as OC Transpo’s O-Train. This yard has been used by the Capital Railway since commuter service was launched on CR’s Ellwood Subdivision in 2001. That line is publicly known as the Trillium Line. In addition to storing its Alstom diesel trainsets at Walkley overnight, CR also uses this yard as a maintenance facility.

The old and the new: The Capital Railway's new Alstom trainset sits next to an older Bombardier Talent trainset in the summer of 2013.

What's next for the yard? Well, its northern half is largely empty and the activity here is pretty sparse. It's a sad site for a railfan, but the yard has played a major role in Ottawa's railway history. For years, it hosted transcontinental freights from the Beachburg and Alexandria Subs, when they comprised part of CN's former northern transcontinental main line.

A triple header freight rests at Walkley Yard in 1972. Canada Science and Technology Museum image.

Given how CN has downsized its operations in Eastern Ontario, including the scrapping of the Beachburg Sub from Pembroke to Nepean Junction, it's likely that Walkley Yard will never again play a role as important as its role in decades past. Still, it's an important piece of Ottawa's railway history. That's something to celebrate.

Postscript: There was a conversation recently on the Eastern Ontario Rails Facebook group about the extension of Albion Road, which lines the south side of Walkley Yard. There have been questions about whether this road is in fact fair game for railfans or private property. The access road serves Rideau Bulk facilities, but signs do remind people that the yard is private property. I have used this access road in the past but am now of the opinion that this road is a private road. I no longer use it and would remind any local railfan to steer clear. Railways are very serious about security and it's not worth the trouble. Besides, there is so little happening here, it's more worthwhile to focus on more active operations.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Thank you for four years

Two hundred and seven posts later, I have reached four years with this blog. Rather than spend too much time on a victory lap, I wanted to share a few words of thanks to everyone who has happened to stop by the Beachburg Sub.


Let's be honest. Without any readers, how long can a blog last? I don't know if I would have stayed with the Beachburg Sub as long as I have if not for everyone who reads, comments and shares material with me.

This has been the biggest surprise for me. Not only are my readers as passionate as I am, they are also quite generous with their time and resources. I can't tell you how much I appreciate everyone who has contributed guest posts, shared links, sent me photos and relayed information about operations both here in Ottawa and elsewhere.

I have had a lifelong passion for railways. The industry is in my blood. I am also a fierce advocate of railways, especially here in Ottawa. I'd like to think that we have done our little bit to bring about a small revival of railway fortunes here in Ottawa. After all, we now have a solid rail future for the Prince of Wales Bridge, we are on the cusp of the Confederation Line's grand opening, the Canada Museum of Science and Technology is expanding its railway pavilion (Well done, Bytown Railway Society!) and we might possibly see the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam Train operate again. And it appears we have a solid lead on the Arnprior Local!

Things couldn't be better, at least for now.

In all seriousness, thanks to everyone for following along and indulging me.

More to come.

Michael

hammond.michael77 AT gmail.com

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hello again

Recently, I was able to shift my work hours around on a Wednesday, which allowed me to try and catch the ever elusive Arnprior local, CN 589. The Arnprior Turn, as many in the city call it, makes a weekly run of caprolactam out to Nylene Canada in Arnprior. The train departs Walkley Yard in the morning, waits for clearance from dispatch in Montreal to cross the Walkley Diamond and the Capital Railway Ellwood Subdivision in between O-Train trips. It then proceeds west toward Arnprior on the Beachburg Subdivision before proceeding on the Renfrew Spur past the old Nepean Junction.

In recent months, local rail watchers have said that 589 passes through Kanata at March Road around 9:30 a.m. A few told me they caught it at this time recently, so I figured I would set up at my favourite spot, the Trans-Canada Trail crossing near Corkstown Road. At around 9:30, I saw GP9 4139 rounding the corner from Bells Corners.


The sightlines along this stretch of Beachburg are better in the spring, since the trackside brush has yet to bloom. I took a few long shots of the train as it made its way to my spot.


As the train neared what CN calls the Cyclepath crossing, I backed up on the trail to reduce the wedge factor. It's very easy to get a bunch of wedge shots at this crossing, so I made a mental note to plan a wider shot so I backed up before the train even came into view.


I took a few shots of the train emerging from behind this brush, since I wanted to try and catch the train's reflection in the trackside ditches. Anyone who lives in this area knows we have been getting record rainfall over the last month. That makes for some photo opportunities trackside, since most of the tracks in the city are surrounded by water right now. Call it a glass-half-full take on a dreary stretch of weather.


This was my favourite shot. The old GP9, the scruffy trackside brush, a few hints of green and nary a shadow to contend with. For a train enthusiast in Ottawa, it doesn't get much better than this.


One final going away shot as 589 proceeds beneath the Queensway, or the 417. The tank cars were pretty standard GATX standard issue black, although the lead car appeared to be blue. I checked the number, UTLX 220919 and found that it belongs to the T096 class, which typically consist of white tanks with a centre black band. Some call it a saddle style tank car. It would make sense since this train often uses those types of saddle tank cars.

Anyway, that was my meet with 589. I am compiling a post of some of my favourite shots of this train, which still seems to be the favourite among local railfans. I can only imagine people from outside Ottawa rolling their eyes. Imagine looking forward to a single weekly train that usually consists of three to five cars.

That's the life of a railfan in Ottawa.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sometimes, it pays to miss a deadline

I was busy preparing another rail history post for this week when I realized that the idea I was working on was much larger than I had anticipated. This presented a small predicament. While I have enjoyed digging in to this latest historic post, it left me wondering what I might want to share in its place this week.

Well, credit two rambunctious kids for this week's post. I love my daughters, but they were getting a little crazy by the end of the Easter long weekend. My wife was giving that look like she needed a break so I packed my kids in the car and took them to Fallowfield Station. My goal was to catch Train 42 from Toronto. I singled out this train for two reasons. One, it's a double ender, which means it has a P42 on each end of the consist. Two, I have seen recently that it has consistently featured a wrapped P42. I had a camera freeze up the last time I tried to catch the wrapped P42. This was the best shot I got at the Twin Elm crossing back in early March. Can you see the Canada 150 wrapped P42 at the back?


I wanted to make up for that camera malfunction and was pleased when I saw Train 42 approaching Fallowfield Road. This is what I saw. Made me smile. It also made me realize this might be the first time I have ever looked forward to seeing a P42. Ever.


I rolled down the windows and let my daughters hear and see the train from the safety of the car. I stepped out to get a better shot. Here's my favourite shot of the meet.


Via 918 leads the way. I've noticed Train 42 is typically a five-car consist with a GE unit on either end. This one in particular had a repainted Business Class car, a Canada 150 wrap, an older LRC coach in the old colours and two renaissance-painted LRC cars. The consist was trailed by P42 902, which was in the renaissance scheme.

Here's the shot of the wrapped car. Hello, Halifax, Stratford, White River and Montreal. Note the train's reflection in the puddles in the ditch. A nice surprise when I was reviewing the images.


Here's one final shot from the platform. You can see P42 902 with the trailing lights glowing orange. Or so it appears in this photo.


Actually, here's a bonus shot of the trailing P42, showing signs of wear near the rear. Those new wraps sure are hiding a lot of nicks! The units that have not been wrapped look positively beat up by comparison.


As mentioned, this week's post is a bit of a impromptu post, since my original idea was not ready, but I am really excited by the next post. It includes a bit of everything. Stay tuned.