Wednesday, January 27, 2016

VIA Operation Axle: Photos

You'll likely find some photos of Operation Axle trains posted online. But one has to know what one is looking at, judge the era, the location and the equipment to ascertain the veracity of any captioned date. While creating this series on Operation Axle, I came across a few Operation Axle photos posted to an online auction site. These photos show some of the unique equipment combinations, at some familiar locations through which such equipment would not normally operate.

But before we begin, Pierre Fournier kindly shared a photo (top) of VIA No 23 at St Leonard, QC on April 4, 1992, with LRC locomotive 6912, SGU and two blue & yellow coaches. Fortunately, Pierre has watermarked the photo with the date, over two weeks into Operation Axle. Merci, Pierre!

I found this watermarked online auction site photo a couple of years ago. Why was an F40-SGU-Blue & yellow coaches-baggage car train operating through Dundas, ON? I did a quick re-formatting of the photo and saved it. It got me searching back through the archives for more on Operation Axle. (It was VIA No 172 Eng 6438 in March, 1992!)
For the rail enthusiast, evidence can still be found of this important though short-lived era of VIA Rail’s history. Check the date of quirky VIA consist photos you might encounter – were they taken in the spring months of 1992?  These may not have been taken during the kaleidoscopic early VIA years as they might first appear.  They may in fact have been taken during Operation Axle.  It’s a little remarked-upon blip on VIA’s timeline, when tragedy was averted, innovation and safety were paramount, and those of us who were trackside were rewarded with operations of unimagined variety. Now to those 1992 photos posted online:
GO APCU 906 with GO bilevels and VIA 6412 at Hamilton West on March 23:
VIA 6412 with GO bilevels at Bayview Junction on April 2/92:

VIA No 73 is VIA 6447-GO APCU and three GO bilevels at Hamilton West on March 25 (above) GO F59 550 leads VIA No 71 at Bayview Junction on March 24:
 GO APCU 907 is on VIA No 172 at Bayview Junction on March 28, VIA 64xx trailing:
GO 906 trails VIA-led No 71 at Bayview Jct. on March 29, 1992:
VIA 6902-6308 on March 23, 1992 at Hamilton West:
John Reay recently shared two photos he took during Op Axle. Thanks, John! VIA 6920 is at Dickinson Road at Mi 274 Kingston Sub in 1992:
and VIA 6413 leads an SGU, coaches and a baggage through Newtonville, also in 1992:
Online auction site photos: VIA 6427 leads an SGU and blue & yellow consist east at Belleville on March 30, 1992:
VIA 6456 with blue & yellow at Belleville in March, 1992:
VIA 6418 with blue & yellow westbound at Mi 178 Kingston Sub on March 29, 1992:
VIA 6421 leads an SGU and blye & yellow consist at Smiths Falls, ON on April 9, 1992:
The following links comprise all the Operation Axle photos I've come across. A nice variety from Ontario and Quebec. Without securing permission from the posters/photographers of the following photos, I've instead posted links to each on its respective original webpage. Take a trip down Operation Axle 1992 memory lane with me:

Glenn Courtney, Southwest Ontario:
VIA No 640 on March 29, 1992 with F40-SGU-3 blue & yellow cars
VIA No 73 on March 28, 1992 with F40-3 GO bilevels-GO APCU
Pierre Fournier's photo (above) shows VIA No 24 Eng 6903 at Aston, QC on April 4, 1992, with SGU-two blue & yellow cars in the consist. Some more of Pierre's Op Axle photos taken in Quebec:
VIA No 621 on April 26, 1992 with 6902-SGU-blue & yellow cars
VIA No 23 on March 29, 1992 with 6912-SGU-2 blue& yellow cars
and the ultimate, the epitome, the pointy pinnacle of Operation Axle consists:
VIA No 23 on March 22, 1992 with 6905-SGU-1 little blue & yellow car

From Southwest Ontario...
A.W. Mooney:
VIA No 73 with 6408-GO bilevels-GO 907-6446 at Dundas, April 8, 1992.

Rich Stewart:
VIA No 71 with GO Transit 550 at Woodstock, March 24, 1992 and cab car 228 leading.

David Brook:
VIA leading GO at Bayview Jct., April 18, 1992.

Alex Simins:
VIA No 74 at Bayview Jct., March 29, 1992 with 6447-GO APCU and bilevels.

Geoff Elliott:
VIA No 72 at Hyde Park on May 20, 1992 with 6446-4 B&Y cars.

John Eull:
GO consist at London, led by GO cab car 237 on April 4, 1992.

Peter Mumby:
White River Division blog post published in July, 2018 showing a GO bilevel consist at London on April 12, 1992.

A quick trip through the files reveals both TRAINS and RAILFAN magazine covered Op Axle. What got their editors' attention? GO equipment on VIA, that's what! Douglas C Weitzman's photo in TRAINS featured VIA No 73 at Windsor's Walkerville station "on March 17, 1992" about to depart east as No 78 behind an F69(sic) diesel:
Meanwhile, over at RAILFAN (above), Julien R Wolfe photographed VIA No 72 behind GO GP40M-2 721-APCU 902 with sausage-link (sic) bilevels also at Windsor, on March 20. Sausage-links? Not just for breakfast anymore!

Part one of this series featured an historical look at Operation Axle. The last post in the series will include consist mockups. My sincere thanks to Pierre Fournier and John Reay for their contributions!

Running extra...
It's train time at Toronto Union - last Friday! I've been waiting to publish this series until it has appeared in print, in the January-February 2016 issue of Bytown Railway Society's Branchline newsmagazine. Thanks to Malcolm Vant and the editorial team for the pole position and excellent presentation of the article in this issue!

Life at VIA is a light-hearted Youtube video featuring VIA Rail employees - from baggage handlers and counter agents to on-board service staff (haven't tried climbing into LRC overhead luggage bins as at the 3:54 mark) and the man in the corner office - YDS!

I can't believe modellers spend perfectly good money on these messy cars. Spoiler alert - clicking on the CN apple billboard car will lead you right back to good ol' Trackside Treasure!


DaveM said...

Hi Eric,

Great shot of 6912 at the top of this post.


Eric said...

Agreed, Dave. Lots of visual interest in that photo including the telegraph pole line. Railpictures would never approve it! Pierre Fournier was kind enough to share it for publication in this post.

Thanks for your comment,

Michael said...

Wow. A GO F unit pulling a Via consist. What a strange site that must have been to see during this period. Fascinating post.

Eric said...

In retrospect, it's really weird, isn't it! I love this oddball triVIA!
Thanks for your comment, Michael.