Thursday, July 17, 2014

Kingston-Toronto Return Trip, July 2014

I was ensconced early in a Business Class car 4001 on VIA no 651 on the way to Toronto for the day. Our consist: 909-4001-4105-4100-4113. The Service Manager was making his rounds, and kept saying the same phrase to passengers: "26 cars". That was because 80 minutes before we departed Kingston, CN No 310 splattered 26 cars over the plant at the west end of Brockville. We were on the 'lucky train' as 'lucky passengers'. The SM later made a PA announcement "To all the commuters onboard. This train and [its eastbound counterpart tonight] No 650 will be the only trains operating east of Toronto today." All other trains would be operated with buses. It would be this way for this day and the next, though CN freights started rolling about 18 hours later.
A lone passenger boards at Napanee (above). This train is indeed used by commuters travelling into Toronto. Belleville, Cobourg and Port Hope each contribute very healthy passenger loads. At Belleville, 7082, one of the Geeps from Belleville-Kingston turn CN No 518 was visible through the window across the aisle. Also at Belleville were two white-wrapped flat car loads - Bombardier monorails on lowboy trailers, soon on their way to Halifax then Innotrans in Berline and further storage in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
St. Michael's Catholic Church and Belleville's water tower are visible to the south. We're crossing the Moira River bridge. (Links to some classic Barriger Library views of CN's Kingston Sub).
Another body of water, in this case the overflow channel for Lock 1 of the Trent-Severn Waterway at Trenton. Watch for an upcoming post on the replacement of these impressive bridge spans.
I brought my camera along on this trip, hoping to be able to photograph several places that I hadn't preserved for posterity. The former CP freight house at Cobourg is now home to Legacy Vintage Building Materials. Looks like a neat place to poke around during a lull trainwatching both main lines!
Approaching Cobourg station, aka The Monster That Ate Cobourg, a CP eastbound pokes its nose through the foliage. CN's line was unfettered by any trains, except for VIA No 50/60 which became a bustitution, and CN No 709 with a CSX unit switching at Oshawa. Arrival in Toronto will be 15 minutes early!
Usually not seen on CN's Kingston Sub, some Auto-Max car carriers, in this case with AOK reporting marks were on the CP train along with DM&E, SOO, CP Rail and former government grain cars. The Cobourg station parking lot is well-used:
Approaching the tiny station at Port Hope, the Cameco plant and harbour bask in the early morning sunshine. CN delivers ACAX tank cars of Hydrogen Fluoride from Geismar, LA to the plant. 
 A plethora of pre-positioned Port Hope passengers pace paciently in place:

At the GO layover (former CN Don) yard, we passed this interesting Trackmobile-powered two car work train. Looks masonry-related.
GO consists beam as the alabaster city gleams, beckoning commuters from all over Southern Ontario:
The Great Hall of Toronto Union Station - still great. The VIA ticket counter is now to the right of the information kiosk and clock. Notice the VIA signboard full of bustitutions. A tiny, senior volunteer was on duty, though a "Volunteers Needed" sign was also taped to the glass.
Opposite the Business Class lounge, where I exchanged my ticket to avoid a bustitution, this large plaque commemmorates the heroic actions of the VIA crew at the April 23, 1999 Thamesville derailment. The heroic actions of engineers Kevin Lihou and Donald Blain saved countless lives.
TTC CLRV 4046 wears a Brooks Brothers pinstripe wrap as passengers position themselves. I'm sure the wrap will be transit-ory.
I went trainwatching while waiting for my train home. To the Prairies, where I saw a two-unit, yellow-nosed Canadian...
 ...then a gleaming stainless steel consist heading into the mountains...
...and a pocket-sized Bras d'Or in Cape Breton. All courtesy of the large photo-murals in the bowels of the Arrivals area display windows!
Busloads of passengers would arrive, looking around somewhat confused: "Delbert, ever seen anything this big that didn't have John Deere written on it?" Similary, lines of passengers for bustituted trains would be lead out of the Departures area to Bremner Street, south of Union Station to board their buses. I'd always wanted to photograph this sign that's been here since, oh maybe the 1950's. Somewhat lost but still proclaiming its message, for those lost in the bowels of the station, desperately looking for The City.
GO to Oshawa. GO 634 has just arrived:
An overengineered road and overbuilt guardrail linking the CN with the CP in the distance. Late afternoon clouds hover over the horizon.
 The Port Hope CP viaduct. We are on the CN/VIAduct:
The grain elevator spur north of the mainline at Trenton/Quinte West. No cars spotted. Highly-modelable Insulbrick section sheds at lower right.
Back in Kingston. Our consist: 910-4002-4119-4114-411x. No trouble making the station stop on the north track tonight, since no other trains were about. This will be a 'lucky train' again tomorrow, after the consist is turned on the wye at Queens for its early morning departure to the west.

Running extra:

Four things I like about Summertime:
1. It's finally here.
2. No snow.
3. Isn't it just the best season to enjoy a cold beer?
4. Fantasia Barrino's version of the song from American Idol.

11 comments:

BA railsystem said...

Great post Eric. I stood in front of that plaque in Union Station about this same time last year. A very somber experience standing in the quiet hallway reading that story.
I enjoyed your photos as well, I never got to see the westbound versions of the scenery.
Ben

Eric said...

Thanks for your comment, Ben. The plaque is indeed tucked away, while still being fairly accessible from the Great Hall.

A lot of the Kingston Sub views are somewhat obscured by vegetation. Not surprising how fast the stuff grows up. Once in a while, CN will send a giant Lawn-Boy brush cutter down if absolutely necessary, or have the section men bush hog some areas near level crossings for sightlines. But the days of widespread brush-trimming are gone. Costs money.

At least on this day, the view was unobscured by any other trains. Crickets. Quiet, except for our train, and until the floodgates opened early next morning with freights a-flyin'.

Eric

Bryan said...

Fun post. Is Union still torn up with construction? Also, Cobourg station sure has changed since I railfanned there back in '97.

I don't think you've ever reported it because it's getting a bit far afield, but I always wondered about CN traffic at Trenton. As for the CAMECO plant, I was surprised to learn that they would use hydrofluoric acid, because I presumed they produced CANDU fuel rods (which do not require enriched uranium). I see from their website that they are one of the few UF6 producers in North America. It does not explain why the HF would come from Geismar rather than, say, Allied Signal in Amherstburg, which I thought was one of the largest hydrofluoric acid producers around. Then again I could be completely mistaken, and that factory was shuttered more than a decade ago...?

That digression aside, your next assignment is to get a seat in the rear car and video tape the entire trip. (A cab ride would be even better, but good luck with that...!)

-Bryan

Eric said...

Glad you enjoyed this post, Bryan. I'm trying to keep it on the fun ( as opposed to crackling dry, humourless, rivet-counting) side!

To your points:
- Union is still a work in progress. The glassed-in trainshed is not too bad inside!

-Cobourg station is still intact, but the monster?... ^&#$!

- I'm indeed moving farther afield from Kingston. I have kept track (pun intended) of all the trackage I can on the Kingston Sub. Much has been lost. The spur at Trenton to Crane Supply - gone. Elevator still sees 1-3 grain cars at a time. CP also serves Trenton.

-you can read more here about the Allied Chemical tank car traffic:
https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/fulltext/HZB9804.htm
-the cars were received one at a time, out of Belleville when I saw them. I would have to check my CN car tracing information to see where the empties were headed.

-one of my Great Moments in Railfanning (upcoming post series) was when my brother asked me to photograph the CP Superior route from the Park car of the Canadian. Done! Still photos of stations, sidings, tunnels etc! A nice contract to be given.

Thanks for your comments!
Eric

Eric said...

Bryan, here are some observations of ACAX HF empties from Cameco Port Hope:
80019 to Amherstburg Apr 9/99
80022 to Windsor, ON Mar 20/2000
80018 to Windsor Mar 30/2000
80022 to Windsor Sept 13/00
80018 to Windsor Oct 6/2000

Eric

GP9Rm4108 said...

518 still runs to Port Hope on their Cobourg days and drops a car or two at Cameco every once in a while.

519 usually does the elevator in Trenton as part of the overnight duties.

How much information do you have on the subdivision that the elevator spur used to be?

Eric said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your comments and information. The HF tank cars may have been given new reporting marks: ACTX instead of ACAX.

Do you have any information on rail shipping resuming at Bowmanville St Mary's Cement? My recent VIA trip to Toronto (first in a little while) revealed cement cars being loaded after a long absence.

The Trenton elevator is on the north end of the line that used to run to Picton. I believe the line will be in Last Trains from Lindsay.

Eric

GP9Rm4108 said...

I will further investigate the tanks that 518 drops in Port Hope.

I have noticed a return in cars to Bowmanville. I have not investigated what job does it but it would most likely be one out of Oshawa.

369 usually brings the empties for the Trenton elevator and sets them off in Belleville.

Eric said...

Thanks, Chris! Much appreciated,
Eric

GP9Rm4108 said...

Nothing at Port Hope at this time. I will keep an eye out.

Train 546 out of Oshawa is the job that is serving St. Mary's Cement. It is a night job.

Eric said...

Thanks again, Chris. I wonder if you'll see many cars appear at Cameco...

Eric