I've been sifting through my years of photos and trying to put together some thematic posts in the last little while. This week, I came across another idea as I was driving to Drummondville, Quebec (don't ask, long story). After I had finally made my way past Montreal, I found myself heading east on the Autoroute 20 around Saint Hyacinthe when I came across one of the more bizarre sites I've seen in my years observing railways. There, in the middle of a 100km/h stretch of a four-lane divided highway, was a single track level railway crossing. I was amazed that a railway would cross a major highway in this way, as it seemed to me to be a very dangerous proposition. As I was driving by, I noticed an "Exempt" sign, which I have generally understood to mean that the crossing is longer in use. Still, at one time, it was and as I was driving by, I noticed a CN GP9 switching local industry not far from the highway, errr, autoroute.
That got me to thinking of some of the strange things I have seen in my time trackside, so here is a small sampling of random disorder.
In the early 1990s, I came across the experimental Bombardier HR 616 freight diesel in the Sarnia Yard. It was hitched to a string of idle locomotives. At the time, I thought nothing of it, but realized years later that this unit was quite rare indeed. This model of diesel was even loaned to CP for a while, even though it still sported the CN safety scheme.
More recently, I was trackside in Bedell and about to leave, when I spotted a long tank train barreling west toward my spot. The train was an ethanol train, which meant each tank car was exactly the same.
Well, not quite. What's that white tank car doing in that consist?
I've often seen some strange consists at the Ottawa Via station. Usually, Via Rail corridor consists are made up solely of LRC coaches or stainless steel Budd streamliners, but Via sometimes mixes it up. Sometimes you see a rare P42-F40PH-2 lash-up, usually when a locomotive needs to be bailed out. Whenever you see an outlier in the consist, it's a treat.
Then there's the rare single carload that you might see on a freight train. This used to be much more common. That's what makes it so special these days when you catch a single car that stands out on a long train. Here's one of my favourite catches, which happened in Wyoming in 2017. I should mention that this train had five diesels leading the way, which is itself an outlier these days.
This one is from a freight heading west on the Kingston Sub. My wife caught this load of axles right behind the power. Makes me think that would be an easy thing to replicate on my home layout, once I get back to working on it.
Here's another oddity I found when I caught a CP mixed freight westbound on the Galt Sub at Industrial Road in London in 2016. A single load of untreated telephone poles. Who said carload freight was dead?
This one might be my favourite. When I chased trains as a kid in my hometown, there was always the potential for something special on the CSX Sarnia Sub, like this very rare B&O clad GP38-2. This one lasted well into the 1990s, surviving a Chessie and CSX repaint. I have a HO scale version of this type of unit on my layout (although my Ho scale version is a GP35).
I can't wait until I find my next outlier. When you rarely get to see trains, it's the oddities that are the rare prize. I wonder what's next.