On Jan. 12, I found myself trackside at Via Rail's Tremblay Road station east of downtown Ottawa. I didn't really have a goal in mind, other than to see what was coming and going. I was hoping to maybe catch a glance at the new Siemens Charger trainsets, but none were in operation that day.
As is the case in Ottawa, Via Rail is often the only railway to observe some days. My first stop was the Belfast Road overpass, which gives you a great view of the station yard to the west and the Alexandria Subdivision to the east. Of course, the view of the station is obscured by a number of hydro wires, but you can work around them with some creative camera positioning and zoom. If you are hoping to catch a westbound train coming from Montreal, the Belfast Road overpass is an ideal spot to shoot facing east, as long as the east sidewalk is cleared, which is not the case in the winter. On the day I was there, a corridor train from Montreal was making its way to the station, but I could only capture it from the west sidewalk, through the traffic. Not an easy task.
Led by P42 918 in a wrap, this train featured a full consist of silver streamliner cars, complete with the requisite buffer cars that sandwich the operational coaches, thanks to a mandate from federal safety officials.
The buffer car behind the engine was 8103 long distance coach in the traditional Via blue and yellow colours. This was originally a CP coach, and is designated by Via as an HEP1 coach.
The last buffer car in this train is Via Rail 8318 Manor-class sleeping car, which was also a Canadian Pacific car prior to Via. The nameplate on the side of the car did not carry a name, but research showed that 8318 is officially listed as Craig Manor. This car was also still carrying its original blue and yellow Via Rail colours dating back to the late 1970s. I mention these cars in particular because I really do think we are living in a rainbow era of Via, where many different paint schemes and wraps are vying for a railfan's attention. I wonder if a day will come when we look back fondly at this point in Via's history.
Once this train had tied up, I made my way to the station to take a peak at the schedule. Given the number of people in the station, I assumed more trains were coming or going. While there, the Ottawa Valley NTrak railway club was showing off its prowess in a combined display. I took a quick peak at this model train setup, in between all the fascinated kids. I took a shot at what I assumed was an approximation of CN's Super Continental. Love those old F units!
While I was there, I decided to get a shot of the main entrance to the station. This is kind of an iconic place for me, as it was how I arrived in Ottawa to return to university or the final place I saw before heading home to visit family in the Sarnia area. The Ottawa train station is a very difficult building to capture an image of, given there aren't many good vantage points in the area where you can get the entire building in a shot. But the entrance gives you an idea of the architectural design of the station, which has won awards. Once inside the building, you can certainly appreciate the floor-to-ceiling windows, as it is a very warm, welcoming place.
Before calling it a day, another westbound made its way to the station, this time being led by another P42 (902) in its original Via paint scheme. I tried to get the train as it rounded the curve, for the sake of getting a different shot. I like this one below the best.
Once again, you can see the two buffer HEP1 cars sandwiching the cars in revenue service. This at least adds a little bit of colour to the corridor, allowing those along the rails to see cars (like the Manor sleepers) that don't often grace the rails between Windsor and Quebec City. In this case, the first buffer was HEP1 Business Class car 4000 in the updated business class grey and yellow scheme.
The rear buffer car appears to be Via Rail 8307 Blair Manor sleeping car, once again in the original Via blue and yellow scheme from the late 1970s. It was fun to see some of these cars that very rarely made it through Ottawa before the mandated buffer car order came down from federal safety regulators. I wonder how long this policy will be in place, given the outcome of the tests being done on these cars. I suppose it's a reminder to capture some rail history trackside while you can.
While I was capturing the incoming consist from Montreal, I noticed an eastbound corridor train making its start for Montreal. This consist was a little more standard with an F40 leading a typical LRC consist.
My original goal with this post was to provide a little bit of trackside commentary on winter railroading in Ottawa but I realized that the photos I took tell the story of the many faces of Via Rail right now. There are many different colour schemes at play these days, including the newest scheme in the Siemens trainsets. This seems to be the direction that all of Via's equipment is heading in, or at least the equipment that will remain in use in the years to come. A look at the HEP1 4000 Business Class buffer seems to be a decent match for the newest Via equipment.
But it's interesting that you can see the original Via blue and yellow colours on both the HEP1 and LRC cars, not to mention the various updates and wraps from the Canada 150 and Via 40 years. Then there's the Love the Way wraps, which carried over in recent years. I'm not even mentioning the slightly iridescent scheme on the Renaissance equipment. Put it all together and you have a lot of interesting design elements worth capturing while you can. What seems mundane today might seem fascinating in the years to come. So go ahead and take that additional shot. You'll be happy you did.