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.


Keith Boardman said...

A bit over a year ago I was visiting a friend north of Shannonville. I crossed over the CP line and it was a single track in that spot I think.

My guess is that theory is right in that it is too time consuming to pull out however many miles of double track are present, but then why pull up the Chalk River Subdivision?

Interesting that the city is putting rails back onto the Prescott sub for the extension of the Trillium line. How convenient would it have been if the full line all the way to Kemptville was still intact. Food for thought!

AJ said...

I have seen trains on both the north and south tracks at Beddel. I never really put much thought into it, or I would have made a mental note as to which track and when. Then again, I also always wondered why the Winchester Sub in general wasn't overly busy....I mean its their mainline? You'd expect it to be pretty steady.

Michael said...

Yes, Keith, agreed. I've been harping on the short-sightedness of ripping up the old remnants of the Prescott Sub in Ottawa. There needs to be some sort of incentive program to prevent these lines from being removed. They have many programs in the States that prevent this from happening. Canada is way behind the times.

AJ - I think the volume of traffic on the Winchester Sub has to do with where CP's traffic and revenues lie, which is mainly out west in the prairies and into BC. This railway obviously still sees the benefits of having some through traffic to Toronto and Montreal. That is what most people likely see on this track -- transcontinental freight. I would venture to guess that the volume of the railway's business that originates in Eastern Canada is very small.

AJ said...

Your likely right on that Michael.
I guess I just was under the belief that they had more transcontinental and Montreal/Toronto business than it appears to be.

DaveM said...

The latest rumors (only from two sources, neither who work for CP) I've heard is that they've completed the survey on making it single track and in the next year or two.

Closer to Smiths Falls, I've noticed that they are replacing the search light signals with Darth Vaders in the south track.


Michael said...

That would make sense, since this stretch clearly does not need two tracks. Still though, you always wonder what the impact will be when you remove track. Ottawa is only now relaying rail on the old Prescott Sub for its commuter rail in the city's south end. How much easier would it have been if the roadbed was maintained for rail?

Brandon D said...

The one time I really saw a train here it was headed westbound on the North track.

I work at the Hylands golf course beside the remaining section of the old Prescott Sub and have been watching the work thats been going on. Looks like the existing bit of rail by the golf course along with the pathway by the Leitrim bus station will be ripped up and levelled for the expansion of the O-train.

Michael said...

I would imagine they are ripping it up to make way for new rails, roadbed, signals etc. that will be able to handle the O-Train. I can't imagine what's there now is of any use, since it's been idle for more than 20 years.

GP9Rm4108 said...

The Belleville Sub is single track CTC.

The Winchester Sub is OCS with ABS signals for following trains. The tracks are set up for directional traffic which is why 95% of the time you'll see all trains in one direction on the same track. When they run against signals, you'll see them on the other track.
For CP to have their MAINLINE still being OCS controlled in 2019, it tells just how little traffic is there and how they just have not seen the point of upgrading to CTC.
CN has NO track in Canada with ABS signals.

Michael said...

Great info, thank you. It makes sense that it would be OCS, since there are, by various estimate,s only about 7-8 trains a day on that sub. As I mentioned, it seems like much of this traffic is the last leg of transcontinental freights rather than eastern originated traffic.

Matthew said...

I get the general impression that CP may be anticipating more traffic in the future. Given how they are pushing it already with train lengths, any new container contracts may push them over the edge, forcing them to schedule a new run out of Montreal. Unfortunately CP doesn't have the branchline network or eastern reach that CN historically had, so inevitably, carloads in eastern Ontario for them will be lower.

Michael said...

I hope you're right about new container contracts. I know the railway was boasting of getting new contracts with former CN customers a few months ago.