Monday, February 20, 2023

Fallowfield After Dark

Fallowfield Station has become a fixture for residents in west Ottawa over the last two decades. It is one of the few suburban stations Via Rail maintains in large cities. Other than Guildwood Station in east Toronto (Scarborough to be specific) and Dorval Station west of Montreal, Via maintains one station per city or community in just about all other cases.

Fallowfield has become a convenient place to pick up and drop off friends and family who are either visiting or departing Ottawa. Its vantage points are tricky, from the point of view of rail photography, as its platform is long and extremely narrow. To make matters more challenging, the station has 100 parking spots in two long, narrow parking lots that stretch along tracks far from the station. In other words, if you want pictures of trains that aren't almost head on or free of vehicle obstructions, you need to get creative. I have blogged about Fallowfield many times, as it is one of the few accessible, busy train spots near my home, but I have not been in the habit of visiting there all that much lately. I feel I have more than enough Via Rail photographs from my near decade of photographing there.

However, when family was visiting in early January and expected to arrive on Train 44 at 6:30 p.m., I decided to take my camera with me to attempt a little nighttime rail photography. I have done this in the past at this station, as its overhead lighting does ease the challenges.

Before the train arrived, I tried getting a shot of the signal towers to the east of the station, although the mist made it difficult to get the sharp image I wanted. However, I did like what I got, amid the mist.

At this point, the city had received quite a bit of freezing rain and flurries, which made for some tricky and messy driving. It also meant that the extreme ends of the station platform were treacherous to walk on, which I did, of course, in the search for an interesting shot.

Some of these shots didn't turn out, so all my slipping and sliding didn't pay off, but it was worth a try, at least. On the safer part of the platform, I tried to get the ice and frost on the rails in an image. This time, the effort paid off.

It's not often that an image with no train in it becomes my favourite of a shoot, but this image turned out really well. I was sitting on the platform and trying to get the rails, the icy platform and the signals in one shot that was compelling. I think I had some success. This image to me is the essence of railroading in Canada in the winter. You never know what you're going to get, but it's always interesting.

Train 44 arrived shortly after I got my frost shot. The all LRC consist was led by P42 915 in its original Via colours. The trains itself was not a double-ender, as there was no power on the other side. I do like that you can see the headlight shining in the darkness in this shot. The snow had not yet begun to fall, which would have made the shot even more wintry, but I was satisfied nonetheless.

One last vertical shot and then it was off to retrieve my family, who were in the last car on the train and likely wondering where I was. I was happy with this vertical shot, as it shows the headlight shining through the darkness much more clearly. You can also see the station lights and other passenger silhouettes on the platform. It's a timeless image of people reuniting on the holidays, being thankful to see each other and spending time together.

I don't take a lot of vertical shots anymore, as they usually mean I am taking shots of trains with very little angle. However, once in a while, I think this format suits a scene really well, as it did here.

There have been a few other times when I've been to Fallowfield in the evening and most of the shots were not worthy of sharing. Over the years, as I have gotten a bit better, I have managed to get a few cool shots in the snow at night. My favourite nighttime shot is the one in this post.

As Fallowfield Station just celebrated the 20th anniversary of its grand opening in the fall, I thought it might be worthwhile to look into the history of the station. I am in the process of going through old newspaper articles about the station and its surprising history.

Stay tuned for that post coming soon.


Eric said...

Your post title reminds me of that TV show - Fernwood 2 Night. But I digress, Michael..VIA 915 is one of only four P42's still in the as-delivered, unwrapped scheme: 901, 902, 915 and 917.

For nighttime platform photography, I'm always leaning the camera/phone up against a post.

And I'm still liking that blogheader logo an the accompanying HEP consist photo!

Thanks for sharing,

Canadian Train Geek said...

These are great! I love that low down icy platform view.

Michael said...

Thank you gents. The low down shot of the icy platform was my favourite shot as well, Steve. I wonder what's wrong with me. No train in a shot and I'm picking that image?

Matthew Maynard said...

Great photos Michael! I As a Barrhaven resident having the station less than 5 minutes away is fantastic formeas a frequent traveler and as a railfan. I often will wander over to the platform on my way home and get a train or two if the timing is right. With a lot of the via equipment on borrowed time Fallowfield has been great in helping me get a lot of the equipment on the corridor.
I do wonder if Via will start looking into renovating the station again in the next few years? The passengers numbers certainly would justify it. Almost every time I stop by the station when a Toronto bound train is coming the station is absolutely packed and is often standing room only. It's great to see Via getting good ridership in Ottawa but the station is becoming too small for the amount of people that use it. I do know the City of Ottawa anticipates that Via will renovate Fallowfield. In their plans for stage 3 of LRT they plan to have a pedestrian bridge connecting the two stations so I guess the ball is in Via's court now.

Eric May said...

I much prefer the vertical shot. Well done!

Michael said...

Thanks for the comments, Matthew and Eric. That's great information to know about the station, Matthew. The station is indeed quite busy and well used for a secondary big city station. I wonder what the company might be able to do to better accommodate people who used the facility in such large numbers.

Canadian Train Geek said...

You don't need trains to make a good photo! (sacrilege, perhaps)

Eric M is right to praise the vertical shot. It has great leading lines and I love the headlight effect.

Kevin from Windsor said...

Would Ste. Foy be considered a suburban station? I've always thought that Tecumseh would make a good suburban stop for Windsor. It's densely populated with a high median income and the station site would actually be within walking distance of much of the town. Might attract new ridership among those who don't want to double-back all the way into Windsor to catch the train. I don't know when trains last stopped there, but it was long before my time. Some locals floated the idea about 25 years ago. They proposed to bring back their original train wood-framed station, which has been preserved and restored at the Heritage Village museum near Kingsville. The museum board told them to pound salt. ..... Unrelated question. Does anyone know if there's still a way to generated a printed timetable from the Via website? The feature existed not too long ago, but I looked today and couldn't find it. I'm one of those people who doesn't have a reason to travel by train too often, but I like to keep track of where they go and when. To take photos. Or to watch a run by if I happen to be near a station. I don't want to punch in a date and a city pair to see a schedule. Just let me have the fun of figuring it out myself.

AJ said...

Nice writeup and some great catches. I also love Fallowfield at night as it just seems quieter. completely agree that its way easier to get shots via the parking lots. My favourite remains the far end of the west lot.
I probably take a couple of VIA's a year and its always from Fallowfield. Its super easy to get to (only 10 mins from my house in Kanata), has ample parking and unlike a lot of other stations between here and Toronto, it has easy access to close by ammenities like McDonalds or Tim Hortons across the street - things that I am thinking about hard right now as I have been planning to take my soon to be 3 year old for a day trip so the train obsessed kid that he is can enjoy the real deal. Outside of a quick taxi cab to Division Street in Kingston, there is nothing really that fits for killing an hour or two around the station outside of Fallowfield.

As for my son, I have a quick run to Smiths Falls planned for Wednesday on Train 51 so should be fun to get up close and personal to Fallowfield right after checking out your post!

Michael said...

Thanks for your comments, Kevin and AJ. It's an interesting point you raise, Kevin, about Tecumseh. Having been there countless times to visit family, I see your point how a small suburban station would serve people in that end of the area quite well. I doubt Via would ever go for it though, given that its suburban stations are reserved for cities like Toronto and Montreal. But it's worth noting that there is still a small Via station in Wyoming, which is not far from Sarnia. I wouldn't call it a suburban station, necessarily, but definitely a small station close to a larger city. And it wasn't that long ago that Watford also had its own Via station, also not far from Sarnia. It's not as though there isn't a precedence for such a move.