Friday, April 25, 2014

VIA's Calgary-Edmonton RDCs, Part 2

While creating my book Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium, I wanted to focus on the RDC services provided by VIA in western Canada. Part 1 of this series covered some of the history and an RDC ride on the Alberta corridor. This post lists many of the Dayliners serving this busy corridor during the VIA era, including notable accidents. Photos are by Fred Clark, courtesy of Brian Schuff, except as noted.

Calgary's ex-CP VIA station could be a hot spot of passenger activity. Or a cold spot, as on January 28, 1980 (top photo). CP painted some RDC's like 9022 with 8-inch red-and-white stripes post-1975, (not the more familiar hockey-stick warpaint ends). As it arrives in tow for a run to Edmonton, one set of CP-VIA passenger power for the Canadian is added to the train, and the incoming set will head back to the Alyth shop. CP Rail mechanical forces are on the job. At left: 1405-CP 8580, middle of photo: 1403-CP 8508-1400. A CP yard switcher, such as 8115, was used to deadhead Dayliners to and from Alyth. 

The 23:59 Industrial Yard Office job would visit the west track of the Alyth Diesel Shop to lift the RDC for the morning Dayliner run, spotting it on Depot 3 track just before the end of their shift. Later switch jobs would bring fresh power for the Canadian to the station, sometimes coupled to the afternoon Dayliner, as well as adding extra coaches for No 1 west of Calgary, removing them from No 2, then taking incoming power from the Canadian back to Alyth. CP 9023 at Alyth Diesel Shop (below - photo from Broken Rail's Box Car Blog)  has been freshly serviced, ready for a run to Edmonton.

December 3, 1977:
Two RDC-2's, both in CP colours at South Edmonton

February, 1978:
CP-painted 9107 at South Edmonton

February 1979:
CP-painted 9107 at South Edmonton

July 1979:

Sometime in 1980:
CP 9022 at South Edmonton

January 1980:
CP-painted 9022 at Calgary.
On January 24, E-8A 1800 led No 197 at Calgary.

April 1, 1980
9023 wrecked at Lacombe, repaired at Transcona.

June 1980:
Just-rebuilt 6133, 6134 (ex-CP 9065 was one of the last to carry maroon letterboard) at Calgary.

July 1980:
6133, 9022, 9107 at Calgary. 9107 with door-mounted headlight is being moved by a CP switcher on April 8, 1980 (below). Repainted in VIA colours at Angus Shops, 9107 retained her CP number before rebuilding by CN eight months later, emerging as 6215. The grated cab windows are as much for protecting crew against bird strikes as US Northeast Corridor-type rock throwers!
March 1981: 6104 (online auction site photo) captioned Edmonton - March 27, 1981 with CN Edmonton auxiliary visible at left:
August 1981:
RDC-3 6357 (ex-CP RDC-3 9023) involved in a major accident at Balzac, then rebuilt to RDC-2m 6224 in 1982.

November 1981:
6124, 6129, 6131 at Calgary. I rode 6129 to Edmonton and back on August 31, 1981, meeting southbound 6124. Here's open-doored 6124 with CP switcher 6717 on August 25, 1981:
December 18, 1981:
6124 hit a cement truck 34 miles north of Calgary. There were no major injuries, with damage to the first 10 feet of 6124, she remained on the rails.

February 1982:
6125 replaced by 6105. (Vers l'est) 6125 six months after being one of the first ex-CP RDC's rebuilt by CN in Montreal, attends to business at Quebec City on December 1, 1979:
6124 collided with a gravel truck. I was able to photograph the results: at Winnipeg in June, 1982 with end covered in plywood.

August 1982:
6101 received extensive damage, to be repaired.

October 1982:
6125, 6127, 6131 at Calgary. Here's a snowy shot of  6131 and switcher on January 28, 1982:
March 23, 1983:
Recently-rebuilt (December, 1982) 6146 in fatal collision with standing cars at Carstairs. Moved to Transcona by flat car in January, 1984. Read more in Part 3 of this series. VIA's RDC's began to have ditchlights installed in 1983.
6105, 6144 also at Calgary.

May 19, 1983:
6105 collided with truck Mi 90.57 Leduc Sub, to Transcona for repairs. Recently-rebuilt 6147 sent to Calgary on June 5 as replacement.
6127, 6144, 6147 at Calgary.

August 1983:
6129 (ex-CP 9051) is at South Edmonton (although it looks colder than August!)

August 1, 1983:
6144 at Alyth with fire damage. 6127 staying at Calgary, instead of returning to Toronto as planned. In company with CP brethren at Alyth, here's 6127 on August 12, 1983:
By 1983, rebuilt RDC's included snack counters, as noted in the Highlights section of VIA's May 29, 1983 timetable. "Improved schedules between Calgary and South Edmonton - running times of these trains have been reduced up to 25 minutes. Also, for the first time, snack and beverage service is available (Table 36 - below). Snack and beverage service denoted by the martini glass logo *hic*:
6144, 6147 also at Calgary. 6147 with non-permanent ditchlights and mate on August 11, 1983:
September 1983:
6104 to Transcona for wreck repairs. Replaced at Calgary by 6124.

April 12, 1984:
6104 collided with truck at Mi 90 Leduc Sub, resulting in $35,000 damage, to Transcona for repairs. 6147 replaced 6104 at Calgary.
April 30, 1984:
6144 collided with farm machinery near Airdrie, resulting in $50,000 damage, to Transcona for repairs.
6205 replaced 6144 at Calgary. On August 11, 1983, 6144 features non-permanent ditchlights with a second RDC (above). Oddly-striped letterboard on RDC-3 6350, likely photographed at Transcona Shops during rebuilding to RDC-1 6144 , undated:
VIA 6147 at Calgary on June 8, 1984 (online auction site photo):
June 29, 1984:
6147 collided with van at Mi 86 Red Deer Sub

August 31, 1984:
6205 collided with grain truck at Hobbema, while operating with another Budd car, baggage section demolished. Conventional equipment pinch-hit: 6505-617-3249.

September 15, 1984:
6505-617-3247 as VIA No 196.
6147 at Calgary

January 1985:
6104, 6124, 6144 at Calgary, 6205 returned to Toronto from Calgary.
February 3, 1985:
6124 collided with auto at Ponoka. Sent to Transcona for repairs, returned to Calgary in late March.

March 26, 1985:
6147 collided with auto at Leduc. Sent to Transcona for repairs.
6104 and 6144 at Calgary, 6205 now in Toronto. 6104 at South Edmonton, dated July 1985 (Ebay photo - 6104 now equipped with ditchlights):
July 24, 1985:
6144 in collision with a tractor-trailer at Penhold, killing the engineer and injuring 25 passengers. sent to Transcona for repairs August 28, then in CN freight train to Montreal for repairs in April, 1986. Henry Niznik kindly shared these photos of 6144 at Red Deer:

This news story reports the death of 15 people on the line in the previous three years:

September 6, 1985:
Last train No 195 Calgary-Edmonton, with 6124. Last train No 194 Edmonton-Calgary with 6102. 6104 and 6124 left Calgary on CP train No 404 on September 7, followed by 6102 on September 9's No 404, all heading east from Winnipeg to Toronto on the latter No 404.

The replacement of the usual RDC with an F-unit and conventional equipment usually indicated one of the following three events: heavy passenger traffic requiring both RDC's to operate on one train; mechanical malfunction (especially on unrebuilt RDC's), or recent damage to an RDC from grade crossing collision or other mishap. Check Part 4 in this series for more! Before and after rebuilding by CN's Pointe St Charles shops in Montreal between 1979-1982, the majority of RDC's used in Calgary-Edmonton service were ex-CP. The Alberta corridor was one of many services that VIA served with its large fleet of RDC's. Most were surplus, stored and sold following the 1990 cuts that would occur in a few short years.

Running extra...

Imagine a VIA F40 trundling two or three LRC coaches or even stainless steel coaches between Edmonton and Calgary today...speaking of F40's, Rapido Trains has just released its excellent F40PH-2D Master Class as conducted by Manny Jacob and Rapido's own Mike McGrattan and Dan Garcia.

I usually find Flickr photostreams somewhat ho-hum. Oh look, endless shots of CP toasters on parade! But this one by Bilfazjr is different and I just kept scrolling. His eye is, well, somewhat like mine. An eclectic mix of trains, urban architecture, and rolling stock in the Albany, NY area. Church spires! BL2! Starbucks on a railhead! Oh, and the occasional CP toaster!
The King is dead. Long live the King. I've started watching The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. This in an effort to wean myself off thirty years of David Letterman. The kid has chops. He sings. He dances. He is genuinely pleasant and respectful to his guests. Like Dave always was. So good! So good!


Anonymous said...

Dear Eric...If part 1 was great, part 2 was greater(?).As in greater Winnipeg. This material was covered by Richard Yarremko, Fred Clark, and others in Edmonton and Calgary as an everyday event, Doug Phillips has the rarest of observations photographed that I know. The mundane and rare all need to recorded and documented and the railfan community has. Many thanks to you for the coverage of the material. Silver coffins in the west on the E and N and the Med Hat to Lethbridge line in the western region pre 1978 and the Winnipeg-Lac du Bonnet --Riverton-Wpg loop in the late 1950s with the Sudbury-Ft William RDC run were short lived. Please keep up the blogging on the usual and rare opperations .R3K

Eric said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Brian. I guess I could have called the two posts RDC-1 and RDC-2. Watch for RDC-3 coming soon!

Zartok-35 said...

Mr Gagnon, these RDC posts have inspired me, which actually that happens allot when I read your blog. Anyway, I think I have to write a song, similar to your Dome car tune from the Seneramic sCeries, a parody of Bob Dylan's "Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues", but with riding on the Dayliner! I think it could be pretty funny.

Eric said...

Inspirational and transportational is a good combination, Elijah!

Write it! That is a nutty song and could easily describe a Budd car ride across part of our great country!

Thanks for your comments,

Bryan said...

Hey Eric,

I finally made it back to my parents' place and got ahold of that contest prize pack you sent out a year or two ago. Thanks again! Some fun stuff in there, especially the 1981 Statscan collection about freight moved in Canada: 2857 carloads of cattle were moved that year, but only 5 of watermelons. I could read that stuff all night...


Eric said...

Glad you're enjoying those goodies in the prize pack, Bryan. Better late than never - what's a few months when some of that info has been marinating since 1981?

Thanks for being a loyal Trackside Treasure reader.