CN's Kingston Subdivision mainline between Montreal and Toronto is double-tracked with right-hand running. At many locations, crossovers and sidings were installed as trains lengthened during the diesel era. Now that trains are much longer than these jointed-rail sidings, CN is removing them, their expensive switches and switch heaters. At the same time, sections of triple mainline are being installed elsewhere to speed VIA trains and add extra capacity for CN's over-length freights, many of which operate with Distributed Power units.
On March 19, at 1000 hours the crossing at Counter Street was blocked by Work 6020. Operating inside Foreman Sam Citrano's Rule 42 limits from Mileage 176 to 172, the work train was lifting the rail from the former Queens 1/north siding between Mileage 176 and 174. The train moves but the rail doesn't (top) as a foreman watches the progress of the lifted rail through the rail train while the train inches eastward. The work train had emerged from the former Queens 4/south service track (above), crossed from south to north track, and was waiting under the Queens West signal bridge when I got there. Someday soon, an overpass will lift Counter Street over the Kingston Sub, roughly where the pickup truck is located.
After attending Kingston's Rail-O-Rama train show at the nearby Ambassador Hotel, my next stop was the Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd overpass. The work train crew had progressed this far, and were no longer referring to themselves as the most-hated people in Kingston as Counter Street was no longer blocked. Their 35 rail cars, with pick-up cars at each end, were draped around the left-hand curve leading to Counter Street and the VIA station. The same location saw an eastbound six-car VIA train 62 behind 6418 at 1350 July 24, 1991:
Even in 1991, the north passing track was seldom used for its intended purpose, instead being used for long-term storage of 89-foot COFC flatcars, and at other times, trilevel auto racks and in June 2006, gondola cars in tie service. The south service track remains due to a setout track, wye and remnants of the Aluminum Spur still in use. Queens 1 at left, looking towards Queens East interlocking:
In June 2009, VIA train 44 behind P42 901 approaches Queens East. The switch to Queens 1 is gone. At right, Interchange tracks between CN and CP Rail were previously lifted in the late-1990's.
Now the stub-ended track is ripped apart, with its rails swung to the south, near the north rail of the north track, and 6020 waits to pull the work train eastward, devouring more of the jointed rail. Upgraded from CN 5114 in 1995, 6020 and her sisters rarely rate mainline trains these days.
Ten men work the train, many on the head end of the rail train, and others scattered midway and elsewhere aboard the rail train. Six lengths of rail were visible on the cars.
On the shaded north side of the train, the rail is guided towards the pick-up car and onto the rail cars. Interestingly, the jointed rail goes onto shorter, 40-foot cars I hadn't seen before. These cars will be featured in a future post. I took LOTS of photos.
As the train snakes under the overpass, all eyes are on the jointed rail. Cans of spikes, tools and other miscellaneous equipment are close at hand:At a joint, a saw growls to life as bond wires and splice bars are cut:
Now just east of the overpass, the Hiab hoist on CN 663697 is visible, and hoists are available on other cars if needed to coax uncooperative strings of rail into place.
CN trucks are visible at right, beside track KL29, where the work train began its day. Like World Famous Horseshoe Curve, Queens will now be three tracks instead of four.
As a westbound train enters the Rule 42 limits, progress is halted, and a cutting torch is flicked to life as the rail is cut aboard CN 46570. Other workers take the opportunity to have a seat in the midday sun. Work will continue the following day.Running Extra...
The train show yielded lots of reading material: books on CN, VIA and preserved equipment. Paul Bown and Les Goodwin staffed the Bytown Railway Society's well-stocked sales booth, and we discussed the contrasts between Canadian and English railway preservation efforts.
Also at the show was Chris Lyon, driving force behind the Lyon Valley Northern, one of Trackside Treasure's blog partners. Chris' wife busied herself knitting as Chris carefully painted some S-scale figures at the show. Blair and Rasa Smith were hosting the CN Lines booth. Thomas the Tank Engine, live steam, Meccano and some nice operating layouts rounded out the show.
I know it's Lent, but enough with the Filet-o-Fish ads already, McDonald's. That thing looks barely palatable. Created in 1962, it looks like some of the original sandwiches may still be for sale. Maybe I'll try one just for the halibut. Oh my cod, pull those ads, where's the beef?