Friday, February 10, 2023

A busy day on the mainline in Kingston: Part II

As I mentioned in Part I, I had the chance to spend the better part of a day trackside at Kingston's Via Rail station, as my family was in the Limestone City for a music conference downtown. After dropping off my children for their musical activities, I spent much of my time watching the steady flow of rail action at Kingston station, which resulted in five Via Rail trains in the morning, including the 60/50 J-Train eastbound along with the 62/52 J-Train eastbound, along with a westbound later on. So, for those keeping score, that's five trains in just a few hours. Still, I was waiting for a freight train, as that was what I was there to see. As many railfans south of Ottawa know, much of the CN freight movements happen earlier in the morning before the onslaught of passenger trains between Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto in the mid morning to afternoon.

My afternoon began with the arrival of another westbound Via Rail corridor train, being led by an F40 in the blue-ish scheme. Once again, staff was on the platform ready to greet the crew in the engine.

For much of the day, it was cloudy, which was actually a real plus for me, as the sun was making shots from my side of the platform tricky, given the sharp shadows, as you can see in this shot. I did take this shot of the corridor train boarding passengers with 6432 reflecting the brief moment of sun through the many clouds. As it was a windy day, the blue skies didn't last long. And for once, I was thankful for the return of the clouds.

That was because the next train through was an eastbound mixed freight, just minutes after the Via Rail westbound left. The train was led by ES44AC 2993. I mentioned that the sun was mostly gone by this point, but it was still wreaking havoc with shadows as the train came closer to the station.

Given that that train was being led by a single engine, I was pretty sure I was going to see a mid-train DPU. I was right. The DPU snuck up on me, so I wasn't able to get a great shot, but I did like this shot of the unit sandwiched between an ADM covered hopper and a RailBox boxcar. It was one of the former Citi units that CN has regularly used on this main line.

As always, I was on the hunt for interesting pieces of rolling stock to shoot, possibly with fallen flags on the side. Sadly, there wasn't much to shoot, so I at least got a going away shot of the DPU 3977 in better sunlight. This shot also reveals the size and length of the RailBox car. This type of boxcar reminds me of the auto parts boxcars I used to see regularly on the CSX trains that passed through my hometown, back when CSX shuttled oversized cars from Chatham to Sarnia.

I thought getting an overall shot of the train was a good idea. I took a few going away shots toward the station, but those shots weren't as interesting as this shot, given the colour and assortment of rolling stock.

After that afternoon mixed freight passed, I stuck around to see what else there was to see, as I still had time to kill before picking up my daughters and heading home to Ottawa. Not surprisingly, the afternoon was filled with more Via Rail corridor trains, including this westbnound, led by F40 6416 at 4:17 p.m. This as on my third trip to the station. The intermittent sun peaking through the clouds cast a glare on this train, which washed out most of my shots. This one I was able to touch up a bit. It was a tricky day at times for photos.

I was still holding out hope for another freight, but the Via Rail corridor train parade continued, with an eastbound about 10 minutes afterward, led by wrapped P42 913.

The LRC cars were pretty standard, but it was nice to see this outlier, a reminder of Via's branding efforts from a few years ago, which started with Canada 150 and then continued on during Via's 40th anniversary.

A lot has been written about the early days of Via's operations, when it wasn't uncommon to see Via cars mixed with old CN cars. Even more colourful were the early Amtrak years, when any number of its predecessor passenger carriers would find their way onto early Amtrak trains. I don't know if we'll look back on this era of Via as the rainbow years. There certainly is a wide variety of different paint schemes and wraps to shoot, if that is your thing.

My day in Kingston ended with this westbound, led by P42 905 just after 5:30 p.m. I was a bit disappointed that the new Siemens train didn't make an appearance, as it has been in use periodically on a few Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto trains (33 and 26 for example), but no such luck on this day.

But as I wrapped by day of railfanning, I was happy to see 10 trains, even if the ratio of Via to freight (9:1) was a bit slanted for my tastes. Overall, it was fun to watch a busy rail operation in action throughout the day. The frequency of trains, combined with the various scenes on the platform, made the day a good first effort in Kingston. I can't wait to go back.


AJ said...

Looks like you missed out on the craziness from Feb 1st! For once I feel I am able to provide a bit of a scoop for you!

A VIA train hit a vehicle north of Gananoque around 4pm, killing the lone person in it and everything was deadlocked until near midnight. Timely for me as I was traveling on Train 44 back to Ottawa. We ended up stopped at Napanee station (interestingly enough their station building which is run by volunteers with the Morningstar Mission Furniture program and I can attest to this because my window was beside the front doors and they moved some furniture in there!) for about an hour before proceeding to Kingston station where we stopped for a couple more hours. Watching on the track my train, it appears Train 67 was the train involved in the accident. The accident was north of Pykeview Road as the road appears to end (we google satellite view'd it as we had tons of free time!) and a driveway to a rural home continued on the road over the tracks. Train 67 was stopped on the other side of county road 32 and past the Gananoque River on the straight stretch that was parallel to Maple Grove road. The train behind us (train 42 if I remember it) which left Toronto after we did eventually caught up as well and there was several trains heading west that were also stopped around Gananoque Junction. Staff didn't know a whole lot and communicated what they could, but did know the train had hit something and that the engineers were ok and permitted to return to the cab to retrieve personal items. At least one of the attendants was pretty shook up - all of this i was able to overhear.
I was traveling with a family member who after we arrived in Ottawa had a 2 hour drive home and work the next morning so we decided to get off in Kingston and rent a car - which ended up being a Uhaul as that was all that was open at 8pm! We attempted to swing up Cty Rd 34 to see if we could see anything because it would be a worthwhile short cut to Highway 15, but only seen a number of police cars and fire trucks around the overpass and up Cheeseborough Road, so wasn't a whole lot to see. My one quick picture unfortunately did not work out as it was blurry!

Here is the write up about it all - this was the same article that was created by about 7pm on the 1st which confirmed things were more serious than a random stoppage. Everything below the OPP Twitter post was new information added after midnight.

We followed our train on the tracker and as luck would have had it, they didn't start moving until about 11:10pm or so and arrived at Fallowfield (where we were slatted to get off) a little over an hour later.

Eric said...

Lighting can indeed be tricky at Kingston, Michael. South of the south track is good, but it depends on the time of year, too.

We haven't actually had the Siemens in revenue service on my end of the Kingston Sub. I believe 33/26 is a Montreal-Ottawa-Quebec City rotation? Only operating sporadically, i.e. once a week right now.

No HEP cars for you, though? Just lots of LRC 'scoots'.

That freight looks like CN No 372. Lots of interesting stuff up front, then solid auto racks toward the tail end.

Thanks for sharing,

Kevin from Windsor said...

Back in 1982 we took the “train” from Windsor to Ottawa for my cousin’s wedding. It was an interesting day. Our Windsor to Toronto train was held at the Brantford station for 30 minutes while a light freight engine heading westbound cleared our track. Via was kind enough to hold our connecting train, the 1:00pm Turbo. I had wanted to ride the Turbo since I was a kid, and was glad to be able to do so before they were taken out of service later that year. We ran down the stairs at Union Station where a Via agent walked connecting passengers to the stairs for the Turbo platform. The Union station staff had their act together that day. Sadly, there weren’t so many Toronto - Ottawa trains back then and we had to disembark the Turbo in Kingston for a bus ride to the train station in Ottawa. It was extremely hot that day and the A/C on the bus was struggling. A woman sitting behind me on the bus almost passed out from dehydration. I gave her one of those grape juice cups from Everfresh like they used to sell in school cafeterias.

Michael said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. AJ and Kevin, your comments have me wondering if it is time to start a discussion on this blog about Via's pipe dream to create a secondary route to Ottawa over the Kawartha Lakes Railway. The number of times the system comes crashing to a halt due to CN derailments of Via mishaps certainly suggests that some redundancy is something worth pursuing.

AJ said...

Now that's an interesting idea. I believe it would increase efficiency considerably. In my case on the 1st it likely doesn't change the outcome however those trains after us could have rerouted if that was an option. Or potentially there was no issue because we were on the other line.
There also brings a romantic notion of the old CP line through Algonquin to some resorts that has long gone as a Kawartha route through cottage country would probably bring some interest as a tour or bringing people to the cottage.

Kevin from Windsor said...

I understand what the planners are thinking when they talk about repurposing what I call the Highway 7 rail corridor. It's effectively a clean slate and would make it easier to build a line with grade separations and no level crossings. Amtrak's Northeast Corridor has no level crossings. But it also takes the line away from intermediate population centres. Would there be enough traffic left to places like Cobourg, Belleville, Kingston and Prescott to warrant decent service, or will they end up with a morning and evening train in each direction? Historically, when we have or had parallel lines in Canada, one loses its service (ie: the CPR line along the north shore of the Ottawa River) or one becomes the poor cousin (ie: London to Toronto via Kitchener). The Kitchener line is more densely populated than the Brantford line to the south and serves 3 universities, yet it only sees a single Via round trip per day. Transportation in this country is so disconnected. With Greyhound's exit from Canada, we're back to a hodgepodge of disparate bus carriers (Mega Bus, Trailways coming soon) that compete with rail instead of complementing it. The buses should be collecting people from rural areas and bringing them to train stations for frequent connections. And you should be able to ticket your trip from a single website regardless of carrier.

Colin D said...

Hello, I'm Colin and i'm a farmer that lives in Beachburg, ON. Been reading your blog off and on for a few years, always interesting stuff. I've always loved trains, broke my heart when they tore up all the tracks through Renfrew, CObden, Beachburg, Pembroke and all the way to North Bay essentially. So much potential lost. We spend some time in Kingston and Brockville last summer with our two young boys, hoped to see a train but the best we could do was a VIA train departing Smiths Falls on our way. Makes it hard to try and instill a love of trains like i have in two young kids when you have to travel hours to find any. Keep writing and i'll keep reading. And keep showing my kids the pics. That the best that they're going to get at this particular moment i think, sadly.