Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Winter observations in Ottawa

Happy New Year everyone. I just returned home from a family vacation in Florida. I was planning to do some railfanning down in the Sunshine State and managed to spend some time trackside, the results of which I will share in the coming weeks. I did have a few Ottawa specific items and images to share, so I thought I would start off the year with those.

A few housekeeping items to pass along before I get into my images. The first is that, despite the questions about CN's status in Ottawa, the railway is still operating its freight services as per usual. Several posts have appeared on the Eastern Ontario Rails Facebook group that show the railway making the rounds on local rails. Of course, we don't know what will happen to freight services in the capital once CN officially discontinues service here, but I would be very surprised if someone doesn't at least attempt to step forward to carry on these operations such as they are.

Keep in mind that the railway is planning some sort of event from June 30 to July 5. Wouldn't it be ironic if the railway held this event after it officially pulled out all its services from the city and region?

Secondly, I should point out that several readers have contributed rail images in the last few weeks, which I will share in a future post. Many thanks to those who reached out to me over the Christmas break with images and thoughts for new posts. One of the shots that was contributed featured the GATX leased geep that is serving as CN's power in the region right now. It makes me want to get out there and try to capture it again. I did get a shot of it last year, which you can see here.

So, on to business. In mid-December, I found myself on my way to a Christmas party in Orleans when I found the time to stop at the Central Station to get a few photos. Sadly for railfans, Via Rail has erected tall chain-link fencing between its tracks and the eastern parking lot, which will make photographs especially difficult.

Seeing this barrier, I opted to try and get some shots in the fog from the Belfast Road overpass. I snagged this shot below of a wrapped Love The Way Via F40PH-2. This was the only angle I could get without having to deal with the mess of hydro wires that obscure much of the view from this overpass.

Even in this shot below, you can see a hydro wire in the bottom left. This was the only way I could capture this shot of the three trains in the station yard. The one on the far right is loading while the other two are parked. You can just make out the P42 on the other end of the consist from the wrapped F40.

I wasn't expecting to get anything great, but a corridor train from Montreal just happened to be making its way to the station when I was there, which allowed me to snap a few quick shots. You can see the fog obscuring much of the cityscape just beyond the station's platforms. Also, you can just make out the wrapped F40 in this shot as well. As you can see from the overhead wires, getting a good shot of the side of the wrapped unit was tough, as I did not have anything to steady my hands when I zoomed the camera in for a closer shot.

This shot gives you an idea of the visual hazard that the overhead wires present when you're shooting from this vantage point.

I also wanted to share this photo below that my wife took from the passenger seat of our car as we headed down to visit family for Thanksgiving in October. She took some shots of a conjoined train with three locomotives, but sadly the trees all but ruined all the shots. This is a tricky spot along the Kingston Subdivision, especially when you're shooting from the 401 while travelling at 110 km/h in the opposite direction. Oh well. It made me think that I should put together a post of some of my best (or worst?) visual hazard shots.

So those are the few observations from Ottawa. I could add in a few lines about the O-Train Confederation Line, but I won't get into it. It's still an unreliable and problem-plagued service, which has the city's commuters growing more impatient by the day.That is hardly news anymore. C'est la vie.


Matt said...

Happy new year! I found an interesting file (link below) regarding CN lines up for discontinuance. From the chart, it would seem that in Ottawa, CN is at an early part of the process, not actively doing anything at the moment. It seems that they have classified the lines for discontinuance and exploring their options. There is obviously significant business in the Ottawa area, but it would seem that CN does not want to pay for maintenance of the assets in the area, and possibly the logistics of getting crews there might also be a nuisance. The most likely outcome in my mind would be that interested parties would take control of the lines and yards, with CN or some other provider operating on a contract.


Michael said...

Yep, it's a matter of possibly finding a better deal for themselves where they own essentially nothing and are brought on as a contractor to run what little freight services remain here. Or it's just a move to set themselves up to pass the torch to a smaller railway. I doubt this is the end of freight services here.