Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to Hold Up a Train

At 2000 hours on Monday, May 26 CN's Toronto-Moncton freight train No 308 was heading east on the Kingston Subdivision at track speed. Little did the crew suspect that Mileage 178 would be the site of an unexpected hold-up. Slack action encountered due to train marshalling, topography or just plain bad luck led to a train separation. Looking west, two flat cars with steel loads mark the beginning of the tail-end of the train. The DuPont warehouse in the background was originally rail-served.
Looking east from the same location - more steel loads on flat cars, with several carlengths in between where they stopped separately after the brakes applied. An emergency call to the Rail Traffic Controller pinpointed the location of the train's head-end around Mileage 177, on the south track. Raxx, the bar and pool hall at left, is a local landmark and access point familiar to crews. Usually, the engineer would stay in the cab of 2671, with the conductor conveyed to the break by taxi after its location was relayed by a passing VIA train.
I found these cars interesting - loads of steel aboard several LMIC (Lake Michigan & Indiana Railroad) 89-foot flat cars in various paint schemes: green, brown and indeterminate.
The variation between the cars and their downward camber under the heavy sheet steel loads caught my eye.
Walking along the edge of the right-of-way (Kingston ne'er-do-wells take note - the fence in this location is non-existent). I stopped photographing the cars when I reached the Gardiners Road underpass. The third, northernmost track, part of CN's Industrial Spur led to the Northern Telecom plant until 2003. This site has also been the site of two derailments - watch for future posts depicting these untoward events - one of which happened right in front of me!
The sun was setting, its golden rays glinting off the steel loads:
Despite the use of Distributed Power to improve train dynamics and eliminating break-aparts, CN trains on the Kingston Sub still regularly go into emergency with broken knuckles, brake rigging or drawbars. Longer trains, alternating blocks of loads and empties, not to mention tricky track profiles contribute to these events. VIA No 59 with 6412 leading a refurbished LRC Business Class car, not a taxi, brought the conductor to the site of the separation:
CN's Cataraqui Spur used to meet the Kingston Sub here. The conductor climbed down and now assesses the damage. Need help? Yep - a drawbar falling out of the underframe can damage the rails. When the Belleville road repair truck and trainmaster Richard West arrived, they were able to drive right across the grass to the site. The drawbar was chained up safely, the first part of the train including the Distributed Power Unit was dragged two miles east to Queens, where the offending flat car was set out in back track KL29.
Then there was the reassembling of the train. Three hours plus. Quite a hold-up, indeed - just another day on the Kingston Sub.

Running extra...

Song lyrics kept running through my head as I blogged this: Going through the big 'D' (Drawbar) and Don't mean Dallas by Mark Chesnutt; Breaking up is (not that) hard to do by Neil Sedaka; Lay it on the Line, Don't Waste my Time by Triumph. Another song title...Daytime, Night Time by Keith Hampshire
A nice sofa by day, a nice view (now stainless steel cars at Vancouver) by night. Notice the special table for use by rail enthusiasts to record consists and observations, or perhaps to hold their camera!
VIA Rail has publicized and promoted its first two completed Prestige Class cars, Chateau Denonville and Laurentide Park at Rendez-Vous Canada, (watch the video here)  a major travel expo in Vancouver - along with refurbished LRC Business Class car 3472, the first LRC car to reach the West Coast in VIA history! UPDATE** 3472 is already heading back east on No 2. No trips to Rupert!** Note 2+1 seating:
Definitely a nice setting in which to smite a smooth Sleeman!


Michael said...

Corny joke alert (you've been warned): I'm surprised you didn't have anything from Day for Night by Kingston's own Tragically Hip going through your head as you reflected on this day/night adventure.

Eric said...

Even though lead singer Gord Downie was a year behind me in our elementary school, I have not followed the group religiously. I do know that Gord has a unique style now of head-bobbin' and lyrics-raspin'. Nobody had to 'Twist my Arm' to check out 308 in emergency :)

Thanks for your comment, Michael.

Anonymous said...

Dear Eric....They say that breaking up is hard to do...putting it back together is another thing! Will call with update on mon with updates VIA sightings. Gone digital, new camera Nikon D7000. R3K.

Eric said...

Very true, Brian. Three hours later...

Good luck with the new technology! I'm in the market myself, having just scrambled a shot of a repainted CN Oakway the other night.

A poor workman may blame his tools, but at some point, he does need new tools.

Thanks for your comment,

Zartok-35 said...

Gotta love Keith Hampshire! Thanks for showing me that song Mr. Gagnon, it's a great one!

Eric said...

I used to listen to it on the ol' AM radio, Elijah. Sometimes I think I should start a music blog...Music Along the Rails, perhaps?

There are just as many tie-ins between music and trains as there are between fast food and trains!

Thanks for your comment,

The Inverness and Richmond Railway Company said...

Trackside Track Listings?

Bryan said...

Good post, and a good catch.

Eric said...

Thanks, Bryan. The timing was fortuitous as it was time for a Doritos run for 'chip night'.

(We're told to combine trips to save expensive fuel and reduce carbon footprint these days.)


Anonymous said...

Love the Canadian understatement in:
"I found these cars interesting - loads of steel aboard several LMIC (Lake Michigan & Indiana Railroad) 89-foot flat cars in various paint schemes: green, brown and indeterminate."

"indeterminate" indeed!

(linked from TRAINS)

Eric said...

Oh yes, we're understated here in Canada. And subtle. Most of the time!

Thanks very much for your comment, CE. Those cars certainly had camber. As do the semis that roll into our former Alcan, now Novelis aluminum plant, once served by rail:
with these unique covered gons: