VIA's 50% off sale encouraged us to book a couple of Corridor trips this summer. On Labour Day weekend, my wife, daughter and I were off to Ottawa to take in the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, thanks to our son's radio contest winning ways. Prior to boarding VIA train 44 at Kingston, three VIA trains arrived and left. Excellent railfanning opportunity. Trains were running "wrong main" this Friday afternoon. The first westbound was VIA train 61: 906-3474-3367-3354-3345-3320, arriving on time at 1420 (above).
VIA train 55 was next, having waited for the signal at Queens West behind train 45 to run time, running just a few minutes late. Train 50 was running about 15 minutes late, and slid into the station on the north track, obscuring train 55(above), although I caught 904-8618-3463 ahead of five more LRC coaches. Train 60's consist was 6434-8612-4001-4000-4109-8104-4108-8101-4112. It's always nice to see the original Canadian cars with their solid blue stripe, original car number slides (i.e. 005), holes where the beaver shields used to be, and nice wide windows.
VIA train 44 arrived about 20 minutes late. Passenger loads seemed heavy, since the long weekend was starting - lots of kids, and their parents sending them off to college. Train 44 was being operated by engineer Jordan McCallum, who'd picked up his copy of my new book on VIA Rail at Kingston in June. Former Wisconsin Central, ex-Algoma Central NSC-built class HMA ballast car SSAM 208006 was on a spur in Brockville yard (above). Also in the yard were Corn Products tank cars and covered hoppers for CASCO in Cardinal, plus ingot flat cars and boxcars and CNLX covered hoppers.
Now that the new VIA station is open in Smiths Falls, we highballed the former ex-CP station, although a slow transit of CP's Smiths Falls trackage allowed some roster photography of some cars in the yard: CSXT 260975 (above), BNSF 485071 and CP switch panel flat car 421887 (below):
The new VIA station at former station board CN Smiths Falls East is viadorable - a very, very small version of Kingston's station, with a parking lot looking a little inadequate - already packed with cars. Some impressive signalification and passing tracks have been built on CP's and VIA's trackage between Brockville and Ottawa - sidings at Fallowfield, Richmond, Dwyer Hill, Montague, Jasper and Bellamy.
On arrival in Ottawa, 6440-3458-3304-3332 was on track 4, and engine 909 arrived on train 59. After a nice weekend in Ottawa and the Outouais, we headed to Ottawa Union Station to board VIA train 59. The departures and arrivals boards looked fairly full, with some trains cancelled for the Labour day statutory holiday:
My wife recognized none other than Jordan McCallum as he arrived with his mate, engineers on train 59. Also riding train 59 would be "viahogger" Terry Brennan, who though dead-heading even offered to don a vest for this photo. Not necessary, Terry. These two fellows are active on Yahoogroups, as well as being VIA engineers and enthusiastic VIAphiles to boot. We talked VIA equipment, rosters, history, and recently-published books while we waited for the substituted Renaissance consist to arrive.
We boarded VIA's Ren consist only a few minutes late, as it waited glinting in the late afternoon sun - lots of baggage and passengers aboard. Jordan mentioned that his baggage-handling skills were put to use on 170 bags handled earlier in the weekend. Train 59's consist: 6431-7002-7218-7307-7103-7205-7206-712x.
Also in the station was VIA train 44's consist: 901-8621-3460-3473-3306-3357-3322:
Accelerating through the sweeping curve just west of Ottawa Union Station, Renaissance unit 6431 got our train underway, through the suburbs, then into the unforgiving swamps and cedar bush of eastern Ontario:
No stops at Smiths Falls tonight, but I was able to get a few photos of CP's yard throat, and power at the former roundhouse site, 8209 and golden beaver 3031. No CP freights in the Falls either way, and only one visible on CN's Kingston Sub on the way home.
Our train arrived in Kingston about 15 minutes late, though VIA's arrival and departure status webpage shows the train 49 minutes late out of Oshawa, with Toronto arrival shown as 0508, a little off the advertised 2134, due to an unfortunate trespasser fatality at Danforth on the preceding VIA train 65.
We sat in a group of four seats both ways, which means we get the emergency exit spiel. This wasn't lost on me, especially when we passed the Kott Lumber spur near Fallowfield where a VIA train, 6901 and four LRC cars, ran through an open switch into the spur on Moodie Drive on June 21, 1984, resulting in 27 injuries.
The first of The Valiants, a grouping of 14 busts of Canadian war heroes near Parliament Hill, that I came to was Fleet Air Arm Lieut. Robert Hampton Gray, VC. A Vought Corsair and other warbirds were at Kingston airport recently to commemmorate Gray who trained here, and to mark the 70th anniversary of the BCATP. Blog partner Steve Boyko mentioned that his school in Shearwater, NS was named for Gray.
It's back-to-school time, and the kids are using the word "epic" a lot, as in "my weekend was epic." I doubt that. I also hear the words "grainy cellphone video" a lot. One phrase I hardly ever hear is "killed in a horrific lawn-bowling accident". I'm just sayin' (kids say that a lot too).