Monday, May 1, 2023

Highlights amid the lowlights

I am so glad April is over. It was an absolutely awful month for me, to be honest. It started with an ice storm that knocked out our power and caused large damage to the trees on our property. That required a great deal of effort just to get things cleaned up. Later in the month, my union went on strike for the first time in 30 years, which left me somewhat stuck. I was ambivalent about a strike, since I have my own ideas about a fair collective agreement and they don't necessarily align completely with my union or my employer. But a strike was the decided course of action and I felt compelled to support my union, as it was looking out for my best interests. It's been an exhausting few weeks of constant walking, a few close calls with angry motorists, some pushing and shoving (nothing involving me) and general upheaval at my house. (Ed. note - The strike is now mercifully over)

This required a lot of sacrifices in our family, but life rolled on, so there were some things that continued on as normal, like my daughters' evening dance classes, which take place near the Federal rail junction in the Colonnade Business Park. Since I usually have time while they are in class (no parents are allowed in the dance studio), I headed to a spot near the junction, where I can take a shot of the evening Via Train 59, which usually passes by Federal around 6 p.m. 

At the beginning of the strike, I headed to a spot off Antares Drive, where you can take a shot of the evening westbound as it crosses under Hunt Club Road. This train featured P42s in the fall when I last took pictures of it, when there was enough daylight. The train now seems to have some dedicated F40s as its power.

On April 17, 6436 was the featured power, with the Via wrap scheme. As per usual, this train usually sports a consist of old silver HEP cars, complete with the buffer cars. There really isn't much more to say about this meet. I had just completed my first day of picketing and was a little shell shocked by the entire experience. Being able to lean against a fence by myself was good therapy. I needed some time away from the recent madness. The final car was 8125. Since my vantage point was partially obscured by trackside brush, I couldn't get a good going away shot, but I thought the shot below was okay. I was hoping to see a more exotic buffer car, as I saw more recently at Ottawa Station, but this was fine.

A small piece of information about this car, courtesy of my friend Eric Gagnon at Trackside Treasure. When I looked at the car, I noticed its car number on the stainless steel plate was listed as 8125. However, you can also see a small lit-up sign in the window next to the coach's door. When I zoomed in on the photo, I noticed it read 2904. I wasn't sure why this number was different from the car number.

Eric explained that the number is a designation used by passenger railways to alert people to their car. So, if it reads 2904, it would be the fourth coach on Train 29. Although in this case, as it is a buffer car on Train 59, it's a meaningless designation. Eric said that these small analog number boards were used by CP for its passenger trains, which makes this coach an ex-CP HEP coach. You will notice if you have been on an LRC coach or a former CN stainless steel coach, these numbers are lit up inside the coach near the vestibule. Unlike the CP coaches, the numbers are digital. I learned something new. Thanks to Eric for this information.

This past week, I decided to return to the same spot, since I once again needed a break from the pressures of the strike, which has gone on a lot longer than anyone imagined. I know from my conversations on the picket line that many thought the strike would wrap up in less than a week. This was not the case, unfortunately. Once again, I caught up with the same train, in need of some railway therapy.

This time, it was F40 6407 doing the honours with a very similar consist in tow as the train made its way westbound to Fallowfield Station. I do like this spot a fair bit, if it's Via Rail you are looking to capture. I would imagine that this would be a good spot if something out of the ordinary came through town and I was looking to get a shot in a spot where others wouldn't think to set up. Call it a secret spot. Locals can pretty much figure out where it is, but I still won't say anything about its specifics.

This time, I tried to get a going-away shot but this was the best I could do, given the trackside growth. You can see it in this shot. Upon inspection of my photos, it appears this is the same consist that was used in my earlier shot. 

Also in the past week, our union advised me to head to Parliament Hill to gather for a large combined demonstration. There were about 10,000 people who turned out throughout the day, of which I was one. That meant I took the O-Train for the first time since before the pandemic started in early 2020. The trains were in reasonable condition, but I did notice the effects of the track defects were certainly making their impact known. As many locals know, the O-Trains on the Confederation Line have speed restrictions on curves, since there is debate about whether the track was installed correctly. I did notice that our train slowed down noticeably on a turn in the western portion of the downtown tunnel. This was the case in 2020, but the slowdown seemed much more pronounced this week. That's what it seemed like to me, anyway.

On my way back home from the downtown protest, I took a quick snap of the train that brought me back west. On this day, the trains were working normally, but I should note that the line was shut down yet again to allow crews to find the source of water leaks at Rideau Station in the downtown tunnel.

And so it goes in Ottawa.


Eric said...

Hi Michael,

The consist for your first VIA No 59 is 6436Love the Way-8109-4002-4113-4116-4100 and actually 8126. The first three in the 'D&H' refurbished paint scheme, the last three not. Actually, first and second VIA No 59's, as the consist behind 6407 was the same. I don't see 59 because it's too late here, but it's the same consist on No 40 in the morning!

That is indeed a good spot. Get photos now before the spring undergrowth springs into growth.

Glad to hear that you found some positivity in your 'mensis horribilis'!


Michael said...

To quote Mike Myers from his SNL days, "I stand corrected, albeit whilst sitting." I didn't look at the consists terribly closely, as that is not usually my thing, but I should know better! There's always a set of eagle eyes ready to fill in the gaps. Thanks for your comment, Eric!