Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Eastbound and down in Bedell

Last week, I shared a few observations about Bedell, Ontario, a great spot to see passing freight trains on the CP Winchester Sub. This might be my favourite spot, simply because it is so quiet and the views along the line are quite impressive (when you can find a spot clear of weeds).

Those who have been here know there is a small hill next to the tracks, close to where Bedell Road crosses the tracks. Sadly, the weeds on the hill are making photos tough. But, closer to the crossing, there is a clear section next to the bad order track that offers a fairly decent vantage point where you can capture an eastbound train.

I should mention that I had initially set up on the hill and was planning to try and get in front of the weeds on the edge of the hill, in order to capture a westbound freight. But, for the first time, I heard the sound of an engine horn coming from the east, which forced me to scramble to the clearing near the tracks. The only disadvantage to this spot is that is in not elevated.

Anyway, I set up and could hear the eastbound freight charging toward the crossing at quite a clip. I’m not sure what the speed limit would be on this stretch of the tracks, but I am assuming this train was travelling at about 70-80 km/h. Some experts tell me the limit is 65 mph which seems about right.
I was a little disappointed that the train was an intermodal, but there were a few points of interest. The head end was led by the usual two six-axle hulks.

But what I found interesting was that, while there was a double stack container behind the power, there was a short string of autoracks, which gave way to a long string of containers. I don’t pretend to know why trains are made up the way they are, but I did find these outliers interesting in an otherwise all-intermodal train.

In this shot, I think I might have caught a refrigerated container unit (UASC marks on the side). At least that was what it looked like. This was the only container on the train that had what seemed like an air conditioning unit. Someone who is more knowledgeable can correct me, if I'm off the mark.

I know most railfans don’t like shooting intermodal consists, but I always like getting a shot of a string of colourful containers in a long line. This train had no Canadian Tire containers to shoot, so I contented myself with a few of these multicoloured images.

Another thing I found interesting was that this train had barely a spot of graffiti on it. I know that well cars are usually not the canvass of choice, but they do often bear frequent tags of the “artists” who deface trains. This consist had almost none. I think it might have been because much of this train was made up of brand new well cars. Mostly, they were these shiny yellow TTX wells.

Here’s a question for the experts out there. I occasionally see these tanks in well cars. This train had a number of them. What do these tanks usually carry? I wonder why a liquid cargo would be carried in these tanks on well cars and not in a dedicated tank car. It might be because the liquid is from overseas, which would necessitate being handled in an international shipping container. Just a guess. Does any out there know?

This was a long train. I had to work around a lot of bushes to get a decent going away shot of the end of the train. Here it is. A great meet for me at my favourite spot.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Spring observations in Bedell

Last weekend, I had the chance to take a break from my hectic family life to have some “Daddy time” as my daughters called it. I decided to go to one of my favourite railway spots, Bedell, Ontario. I haven’t been out to this spot in several years and was surprised how much has changed.

For those not familiar with Bedell, check out some of my older posts about this spot, which once hosted a CP passenger station and active rail yard, right outside of Kemptville, Ontario, south of Ottawa.

The rolling pipeline in Bedell (2016)
Bedell, Ontario, Part I (2014)
Bedell Ontario, Part II (2014)
Bedell, Ontario, Part III (2014)

Getting back to my observations from this past weekend…

First, the vegetation on the north side of the CP Winchester Sub has clearly been allowed to grow a fair bit. That’s obviously not a big deal to the railway, but it’s a big deal to me, since it made my vantage points of the line much more difficult. Witness this shot, which essentially shows how high the bushes are in this spot, making the going away shot tough to get! (More shots from my meet with an eastbound freight next week)

Note the bush on the left. No going away shots were possible during this meet!

Second, the railway has stacked hundreds of old railway ties along the tracks in this area as well. Once again, a big visual hazard that forced me to reconsider where I might be able to set up for a shot of a passing freight train.

Third, the old remnants of the North Prescott Spur (formerly the Prescott Sub to Ottawa and Hull) have been groomed and fully converted into a multi-use recreational trail. I was impressed with how nice it was, although it didn’t seem all that busy.

Finally, I noticed this old facility, which hosted what was evidently that last customer to be served on the old spur, has been demolished. There was still a for sale sign up at the front of the property, which suggests there are no immediate plans for the land. My guess is the old building had to come down to make way for housing and something that is non-industrial in its focus. It makes me glad I took a few snapshots of the rails while they were still in place.

The old industrial building and rail line in this 2014 photo have all vanished.

I should mention that the remnants of the old Bedell rail yard are largely intact, including the stub-end spurs that are marked for bad order cars. The yard was empty when I arrived there on Sunday, which was no surprise as I have never seen anything parked in this area since I have begun visiting the spot periodically.

I should mention one last observation from this spot. I have read a few comments on the Eastern Ontario Rails Facebook group about the double track status of the Winchester Sub. Some have asked why CP maintains two tracks when the volume on the sub clearly doesn’t require two lines. I read some comments from railfans who suggested that removing the second track is too much trouble and too expensive, which seems like a reasonable theory.

That got me to think when I was there recently, what is the purpose of the two lines? I have been to this spot several times and each time, I have a caught a westbound train on the north track. Well, I’m guessing I might have received my answer. This time around, I finally caught an eastbound train on the south track. Does anyone know if the railway routes its trains westbound on the north track and eastbound on the south track?

My first eastbound meet at Bedell from June 16

Anyway, I’ll save most of my shots of the train for next week, as there are a few more points I wanted to bring up that didn’t fit the theme of this post. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

47 down...

As I mentioned last week, I have shot more Via corridor trains than anything else in my years taking photos, mostly going back to 2012. It was a never a conscious decision on my part. Mostly, it was out of necessity. Ottawa's freight railroading action is so meagre, you have to be really dedicated to catch it. So, Via has been my go-to option when I want to see something on the rails. As I was writing last week's post, I began to wonder just how many Via engines I have shot over the years. I decided it might be fun to go through all my Via Rail photos and see just how many Via locomotives I have bagged in and around Ottawa. I was also curious as to which unit I have caught the most times.

October 2016 scene at Via's Central Station with P42 helping out a disabled F40 while another F40 idles on a stub-end spur

I went through my photos and came up with a few conclusions. One is that I have way too many Via Rail photos relative to my railway photos collection. The second is my later shots of Via trains have been much more interesting, as I have worked really hard to try and get shots that offer more for the eye than my earlier shots, which were basically wedge shots of trains approaching a station platform.

Via basically has two types of engines working on its routes (excluding its switchers that I have never seen). The long running stable of F40PH-2s is by far the type of locomotive I have shot the most.

In my years, I have caught 31 different F40 units, in many different guises. I have caught exactly one unit in the original yellow, blue and silver livery (6441). I caught the vast majority in the phase two paint scheme, otherwise known as the Renaissance scheme. I have also caught one unit in a 40th anniversary wrap (6416).

The units I have caught the most are 6441 (four times)….

1991 in Sarnia
2016 at Fallowfield

...and 6446 (four times).

May 2012 at Fallowfield

I will give the prize to 6441, since I have caught this one in its original paint scheme as well as its Renaissance scheme.

The other units I have caught are:

6401, 6404, 6407, 6408, 6409, 6411, 6414, 6416, 6417, 6418, 6421, 6426, 6427, 6435, 6437, 6439, 6440, 6442, 6443, 6445, 6448, 6449, 6451, 6453, 6454, 6457, 6459 (formerly 6403)

Of this list, 6459 is the unit to note, as it is the engine that is heading up the consist on the previous $10 bill, before it was replaced recently. The engine's number was switched after the unit's appearance on the bank note.

Via's star F40 6459, formerly 6403, seen at Cedarview Road in the summer of 2016

Another notable F40 I caught just recently was 6416, one of the few F40s to get the wrap treatment for Via's 40th birthday.

I have also caught a 16 P42s over the years, in their original yellow, blue and silver scheme, their Renaissance scheme as well as a fair number of wraps. The unit I have caught the most is 909 (five times), which I have caught in a few different places.

2014 at Belfast Road

More recent shot (still in original paint)

2018 at Twin Elm 

The other P42s I have caught include:

900, 902, 903, 904, 906, 907 (in Via 40 wrap livery below), 908, 910, 911, 912, 913, 916, 917, 918 (in Canada 150 wrap scheme below), 920

2018 at Belfast Road

2017 at Fallowfield Station

So, by my count, I have captured images of 47 different Via Rail engines in my years trackside. That doesn't strike me as particularly impressive or noteworthy. I have never been one to actively fill out rosters or go by the numbers, as it were. So this post is a bit of a departure for me, fed mainly by my own curiosity. My trackside time has certainly dwindled a bit in the last year or so due to family and life demands, but I still do try to get out trackside once in a while just to enjoy the experience of seeing a train go by. As much as I get bored of photographing Via Rail trains, I like that I can bring all my images together and present them together in a way that actually shows a bit of variety. 

So, 47 down, how many to go?