Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The best of 2019

It's been an interesting year as one of Ottawa's few dedicated railway observers. My trackside time thankfully increased a great deal this year, although much of what I saw happened outside of Eastern Ontario. But there were some interesting developments locally, not the least of which was the ongoing drama and countless setbacks for the O-Train Confederation Line. Of course, we are now preparing for CN's departure from the city and wondering what might come next for freight rail in the area.

But, putting aside all the drama, there was some interesting action to see this year. I was thankful to catch up with the Arnprior Turn in March. It was being led by a GATX leased geep, which made this meet in Bells Corners a lot of fun. It also helped that I was able to stand on pile of snow that was about 10-12 feet high, which allowed me to get some decent shots of the short train. Oh, did I mention that the train rumbled through Bells Corners in the middle of a snow squall? It was a great catch, and what might be my last time catching this CN train. Who knows?

Right around the same time, I did find myself with a few minutes of free time on St. Patrick's Day, which allowed me to catch up with this Via 40 clad F40PH-2 on the tail end of the westbound corridor train en route to Toronto. It was the first time I have caught up with an F40 in this wrap scheme. I did catch up with one more later on in the year. Read on for that meet. One of the bonuses of Via's new policy of placing a locomotive on either end of its corridor trains is that we now have double the chances of catching a wrapped locomotive, if that's your thing. I took a few shots of this trailing unit and was happy with how the photo came together, with the beautiful late winter sky providing some great contrast to grimy F40.

Just last week, I found myself in the eastern half of the city with a few minutes to spare so I dropped by the central station to see if there was anything to capture. It was a dark, foggy day, which made any attempt at crisp photos a real challenge. I did snag this wrapped F40, but this was the only vantage point that was useable, since all other points of view were marred by the overhead wires that obscured my preferred angles. I left the wire in the shot below since it allows you to see the fog blanketing the cityscape behind the trains. An eastbound Via corridor train is about to leave the main en route to Montreal via the Alexandria Subdivision. I'll have more to share of this quick jaunt to the station in a future post.

My summer trip to Southwestern Ontario ended up being a gold mine for me, as I was able to catch up with a number of trains, including this genset idling along the edge of the Nova Corunna plant near Corunna, Ontario. This switching operation has expanded in recent years, as the plant is undergoing a massive multibillion-dollar expansion. I like this shot, since it captures a busy industrial operation that is almost never seen. I was really lucky to get this shot.

Back in June, I had some time to myself and I used it to spend some time at one of my favourite trackside locations, Bedell, Ontario, just outside Kemptville. The CP Winchester Sub is not terribly busy but I did get lucky. I snagged a few shots of this eastbound mixed freight making its way to Montreal on the south track. I caught up with a few railfans in Smiths Falls, who told me the frequency of trains on this line is something like 8-10 per day. However, new CTC signals are being installed on the sub, which has many wondering if there will be an increase in traffic to follow. We can only hope!

Speaking of Smiths Falls, I did manage to make my way here twice this summer. One day in June, I was lucky enough to catch a number of Via Rail trains, but also the Perth Turn, which was making its way to Omya. The going away shot around this curve makes for some interesting photographs. I know this is not a preferred vantage point for many photographers, but I always like to get a shot that is different every now and then. Anything to avoid stockpiling countless wedge shots. Again, with the new signals coming online on the Winchester Sub, who knows what's in store here?

Speaking of the Via meet, this was my favourite shot of a westbound train sitting tight as an eastbound train makes its way past the old passenger station en route to Ottawa. I caught a number of corridor consists in Smiths Falls that day, but capturing this meet offered something different. My fellow railfans who were camped out like me barely moved for a number of the Via trains that rushed by, but did they get up for this meet. There was even an interesting repainted streamliner on the westbound train, which you can read about in this post.

On August 16th, I had some spare time to sit at the historic Stratford, Ontario train station on the former GEXR ( now CN) Guelph Subdivision. There were no CN trains that morning, but I did catch a short GEXR train getting started for its run to Goderich. The little train had a Southern Ontario Railway unit leading the way. This was only the third time I have caught active GEXR operations on the Guelph Subdivision. The fact that I could frame this train in front of an elevator made it even more satisfying. This was my shot of the year.

Getting back to my trip to Southern Ontario for a moment, this westbound train through Mandaumin also featured some sort of elevator in the shot as well as a CN 100 clad road unit, which made it a cool catch. You can also barely make out that the first car behind the power is an old Southern Railway boxcar. I really liked this shot as well. In total, I was able to catch two long-distance freights on the Strathroy Subdivision this year.

So those are my highlights as a blogger this year. In the new year, I can promise you that I will at least have some great random reader photos to share. I have a stockpile of them that I have yet to sort out thematically. I intend to tackle that backlog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that.

Also, I will be travelling with my family over the holiays, which means train shots at an exotic (at least for me) location. I don't want to divulge too much more, since I want it to be a surprise.

I am also hoping that I can get out there in Ottawa and possibly capture some local railway action, as I know that is what a lot of readers come to see. I appreciate that there is a local following that keeps coming back. To be honest, it's quite humbling because the people who read this blog are very knowledgeable and they still see value in what little I bring to the table. So thank you to everyone for dropping by.

That will wrap up this year's adventures on the Beachburg Sub. My best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone out there. Thank you so much for stopping by and spending a few minutes here and commenting. I appreciate it all.


hammond.michael77 AT gmail dot com.


Eric said...

'Twas a good year indeed, Michael!

Enjoy your holidays and thanks for keeping in suspense!

Canadian Train Geek said...

It was a very good year! I like that lead snow shot the best - foul weather railroading makes good photographs.

All the best for the holidays and I look forward to seeing what you captured over the holidays.

Michael said...

Thank you, gents. All the best to your families in the new year!

J D Lowe said...

Happy New Year! Thanks for the great blog. I live in Ottawa and look forward to all your posts, especially the ones that show me what's happening around here.