Saturday, April 22, 2023

Spring Observations in Ottawa

I'm happy to bring back a feature I used to have in this blog regularly, when I would round up a collection of newsworthy photos and talk about the goings-on in Ottawa. The challenge this type of posts poses is that sometimes, there just isn't enough to mention and then there's the added headache of actually getting out there to record what's happening. A few recent developments in my life at least allowed me to capture some interesting photos, so the observations post is back.

The first was a simple doctor's visit to Riverside South, an area of the city where the O-Train Trillium Line will soon end. Those who read this blog know that the extension of this line follows the former CP Prescott Subdivison right-of-way, some of which was still in place before the extension construction began. Like anything with the O-Train, it's not simple. The extension is behind schedule and is not expected to be ready anytime soon. But, before I went to my doctor's appointment, I took a couple of quick snaps of the O-Train Riverside South terminal, which looks to be nearing completion.

This is a shot taken from Limebank Road, which shows you the terminal as well as the rail bridge over the road. But, there was another interesting item in this area that made me think that work here is wrapping up or nearing its end.

I spotted this piece of maintenance-of-way equipment parked in the track right before the bridge over Limebank Road. Just a few days ago on the Eastern Ontario Rails Facebook page, someone posted a picture of a new diesel O-Train doing a test run on tracks in this area. You might recall from this post that I took a picture of this new O-Train parked in Walkley Yard last summer

Later in the week, I had to return to the doctor's office to retrieve a form, so I made sure to make my way through Barrhaven, past the Via Rail Fallowfield Station because I figured a free train sighting was worth the slightly longer drive. I was rewarded by the sight of this westbound corridor train making its way to Toronto in the rain.

This was about as common as it gets for Via these days, as an F40PH-2 lead a line of four LRC cars through the signals just west of Woodroffe Avenue. Since I was on my way home and caught something, I fugured this was a win. I don't know how much longer this scene will be common, as Via is about to undergo a radical change in look in the coming years, as its Siemens trainsets become more common and the older rolling stock is retired. 

Case in point: earlier this week, another new Siemens trainset was spotted crossing the border near Sarnia, Ont. as it made its way east to Montreal, presumably. Those shots were shared with me by a blog reader in Sarnia, but I chose not to add them in to this post, because I wasn't sure the shot was taken from public land. I don't want to encourage trespassing on railway property.

Back to Fallowfield Station for a second. I got a few other interesting shots when this westbound came in to the platform. I like this shot, simply for the lines on the parking lot tarmac. This is the eastern edge of the platform, closest to Woodroffe, where these lines are meant to keep cars from parking in a laneway that allows Via crews to access the platform. I've never seen it actually used, but I would imagine it's for snow clearing vehicles mainly.

As is my new custom at Fallowfield, I tried to get a scene of people boarding the train. I have mentioned this a fair bit recently, but this station really doesn't offer a lot of great photo opportunities from different vantage points, so one is often left to get creative. This was my attempt at something a little different.

To me, the real attraction of this image is the cloud bank over the station. You can see a few passengers waiting for the on-board crew to open the doors to the coaches. You can also see how narrow the platform is at the station, which really restricts your photography here, unless you retreat to the empty parts of the parking lot and shoot from a more generous angle. That is the approach I often take. I'm not a huge fan of these head-on shots, unless there's a good reason for it. In this case, there were enough elements to justify the shot.

This leads me to my last shot. How does that expression go? Be careful what you wish for? Well, for years, I've wanted to get a photograph of the Transitway trench that the Confederation Line O-Trains use. This trench is, of course, the old right-of-way of the CP Carleton Place Sub, which was used for years as a bus-only road, dubbed the Transitway. When the Confederation Line was built, the trains took over this right of way up to Tunney's Pasture. When the line extends to Corkstown Road in the west end, the entire length of this old trench, which ends at the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, will have rails once again.

So, why was I able to finally get this shot?

This week, I found myself in the unfortunate position of being on strike, as a member of the federal public service. As such, I was at Tunney's Pasture to take part in a picket, which has been my reality since Wednesday. The one upside was I was able to at least get a shot of some O-Trains plying their way to and from the downtown using this old trench. I like this shot because there's some interesting cloud cover and elements of the city in the background. The train itself is not really the focal point of the image. Many, many shades of grey! It's a metaphor for this entire strike situation. As much as I was pleased to get this shot, I hope I don't find myself in this part of this city for too long.

On the topic of the LRT, there has been a fair amount of chatter in the media this week about city commitments to implement most of the recommendations that came out of the provincial inquiry into the O-Train's many failures. Those with any idea of this system know it has many, many problems. I won't get into it here, but there is hope that possibly there is finally a political will to get this right. Although many aren't holding out much hope since the system was completely shut down by our recent ice storm, which stranded no fewer than five trains on the Confederation Line, leaving it to the Ottawa Fire Services to get people off these disabled trains. It begs the question why the system continued to operate when everything else in the city pretty much shut down.

There's also planned stoppages this weekend to deal with leaks in the downtown tunnel.

The problems seem endless. Such is the state of transit in Ottawa.


Steve Boyko said...

Is it possible to get on the other platform at Fallowfield? I wonder if you could photograph the tail of the train and the station without having the cars in the shot.

I hope the strike is resolved quickly. Workers need to be treated fairly and sometimes you have to fight for your rights... but strikes are hard on everyone.

Michael said...

Thanks for your question, Steve. The platform in the middle of the main line and the siding has never been used when I have been at the station. I do know that occasionally, a corridor consist will have to wait in the hole for another to make its way through, depending on which train is given priority from the dispatcher. I am reluctant to go onto the platform, as I see it as a grey area. I'm guessing it's off limits unless you are Via personnel or getting off a train on the siding. Shooting from the field beyond the siding would probably be technically feasible, but that is National Capital Commission land that is leased out to farmers. Not a whole lot of options, sadly!

Keith Boardman said...

On to the O-Train for a second, I find it confusing that the southern extension has bridges built over every road crossing, while the east end extension to Trim is surface only.

I mention this particularly in reference to Trim, as the former access to 174 has been moved eastward in a really silly and confusing jumble of road, bus road, parking lot entrances & exits, etc. The track and station occupy the former site more or less of the intersection.

Any guesses as to why this wasn't elevated the same way the southern extension was?

Michael said...

Great question, Keith. I know the area you are referring to, but I guess I can't picture this until I see it with my own two eyes. Indeed, the southern extension has rail overpasses at Lester and Leitrim, which makes sense given the traffic in and around the airport and Riverside South. As to why that was not done at Trim is beyond me, but I have learned not to question any LRT decisions. The answers might just get me more upset with this mess of a system. In the west end, the rail line running under Moodie Drive has forced the creation of an alternate on-ramp onto the westbound 417 into Kanata. And that new on-ramp is a complete mess. Far too short and too tight a turn. Really poorly thought out, in my opinion.