Sunday, November 17, 2013

Then and Now: VIA at Kingston 1979-2013

A recent August evening visit to Kingston's VIA station got me reflecting on some of the changes in passenger locomotives and rolling stock that have served our city over the decades. The physical plant hasn't changed much, as an earlier post on Kingston platform scenes reveals. Those darn light standards are ever-present, and they loomed large even on the cover of my first book on VIA Rail, except at the extreme east end of the platform:
As I stood on the platform photographing the evening VIA trains in August, my mind wandered back (dissolve graphics) to earlier years when, as a younger (sometimes much younger) railfan I photographed FPA's, F-units, LRC locomotives and more. In this post, I've tried to match the Now photos with Then photos taken at the same angle with trains heading in the same direction, then cropped them to heighten the experience. This post is a bit photo-heavy, so I'll keep the captions to mostly train information and let you reel in the years....
As I suggested in previous Then and Now posts, you might enjoy clicking on and opening the Then photo in one window, the Now photo in another, then toggling between them to melt away the years and compare the venerable VIA vistas. Eastbounds approaching Counter Street on the south track of the Kingston Sub:
NOW: 902 leads No 644's three cars
THEN: From top - 6502-3249-5468 at 1247 on November 25, 1985, 6919-3474-3313-3396 at 0941 the same day, 6780-6860-6519-CN 4105 with a 15-car Capital on Good Friday April 13, 1979.
Westbounds on the north track:
NOW: 915-903 lead a three-car No 657
THEN: 6442 leads No 63 on April 14, 1991.

Westbounds heading uphill out of town westward on the north track:
NOW: No 657
THEN: Blue & yellow consist, 1984.

Westbounds arriving on the north track at Counter Street crossing:
NOW: No 657
THEN: 6760-6637-CN3121 at 1859 on April 29, 1979

Rolling stock of the day:
NOW: Rebuilt Renaissance paint scheme coach 3331 on the tail-end of No 64
THEN: CN-painted club car, equipped with marker lights and VIA stepbox, 1981.

Eastbounds crossing Counter Street:
NOW: No 46 Eng 913 leads four LRC cars
THEN: 6780-6867-6612 and 11 cars with Waterton Park on the tailend as No 2/44/54 meet westbound No 53 behind 6534-6630 and 7 cars at 1144 on November 27, 1982 and 6525-3034-103-5452 at 1302 on March 3, 1986. The Canadian was the only western transcontinental train operated by VIA by this time, so excess stainless steel cars were used in Corridor service.

Westbounds making a station stop:
NOW: No 65 with 6417
THEN: Preparing to head back to Toronto, mid-afternoon 6110-6001-6114-6204 on February 15, 1981

NOW: No 65 is away from the station. Interestingly, the locomotive is where longer, two- and three-unit power consists used to come to a halt while making their station stop.
THEN: A VIA/CN unit leads an MLW power consist while passengers entrain and detrain.

Darkness falls on Kingston:
THEN: Ditch light-equipped 6513 leads a four-car eastbound as my Dad also notes the consist in 1986
NOW: No 650 Eng 907 terminates its four-car stainless steel train at Kingston
THEN: Last Cavalier No 58 January 16, 1990 6914 is handling the eight-car, unwyed consist solo, as did 6925 on the last westbound No 59 with seven cars.

I hope you've enjoyed wallowing in VIAstalgia as much as I have. While the platforms and infrastructure have changed very little since the station was opened in 1974, the trains operated by VIA certainly have. This has given observers like us a chance to easily compare the trains in familiar surroundings, over the decades. Kingston is still a great place to watch and photograph trains!

Running extra...

On my VIA book blog (see top of right sidebar), there is an opportunity for free books to celebrate the 500th copy of my first book, Trackside with VIA - The First 35 Years. A best-seller in Canada is 5,000 books, so 500 seems to be a pretty good start!

I subscribe to Seth Godin's blog. A recent post resonated with me. Seth was describing the many spoon-fed experiences available today online, comparing them to being behind a velvet rope at an amusement park. In urging his readers to look deeper, Seth wrote, "The best opportunity you've got to grow and make an impact is to seek out the 'I don't get it' moments, and then work at it and noodle on it and discuss it until you do get it. Analogies and metaphors are your friends. Dense lyrics, almost undecipherable prose, mysterious successes - these are the places where you will leap forward."


BArailsystem said...

Thanks for putting together those photos Eric. I was happy to ride along in the Trackside Treasure DeLorean.
Interesting how the moving equipment ages so much faster than the rest of the system. You don't really notice until you read a Trackside Treasure post with such great photos for comparison.


Eric said...

Thanks for your comment, Ben. Indeed, considering the Grand Trunk laid that right-of-way in something like 1856, little has changed except the rail size, signalling etc but the alignment is the same.

The station provides an excellent backdrop for the changing, passing scene. I do miss being able to 'see' more of the train and its passengers, due to the tinted glass now in use.


Michael said...

That first shot really captures the reality of Via Rail in its first decade. That F unit looks like it could keel over and die at any second. Those units looked great but were long in the tooth before they were given the blue and yellow Via treatment. Also love the LRC locomotive pulling non-LRC equipment. Strange to see those consists!

Adam Walker said...

Wonderful recollections, Eric. Thank you for sharing these photos. I like seeing the same setting in different times - the permanence of the backdrop versus the changes in what rolls by.


Eric said...

VIA's locomotive fleet was indeed in tough shape before the F40s arrived, Michael. Note that 6502 was traditionally a western unit. A two-car consist, too.

The LRCs on the Cavalier? Yes, indeed crazy. I used to have a section in my blog sidebar called Krazy Konsists at Kingston. These were good candidates. Then I created my first book so that section ended. VIA grew tired of wyeing the train, so it ran in reverse order east then west etc. just before the train was cut.

Thanks for your comments,

Eric said...

Thanks, Adam. As you know, Kingston is a good railfan spot, especially compared to some other Kingston Sub locations/stations. With the undergrowth starting to grow in everywhere (a few weeks ago a CN crew was weed-whacking to improve the Counter St crossing sightlines), we're always guaranteed a clear shot at Kingston. Now, getting around those hockey-stick lightposts is another matter!


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