CN opened its Brampton Intermodal Terminal in 1982. A new overnight Montreal-Toronto piggyback Laser service comprised one train each way, CN train Nos 235/236. A CN press release, reported in January, 1983:
In September 1985 CN received 52 articulated five-paks from National Steel Car. Intended for Toronto-Chicago Laser trains through the St. Clair Tunnel, cars were on break-in runs between Montreal and Toronto for assessment. Car series CN 683200-683589 could handle ISO containers as well as an ACF trailer hitch, based on a Thrall Lo-Pac design. The cars had a tare weight of 175,000 pounds and an overall length of 240 feet. Interestingly, the cars were received with each well having a sequential car number. This was changed to match the industry standard of one car number and five lettered sub-units in 1995-96. My brother caught an eastbound with these cars at Kingston station in September, 1985:
- September 10/85 1707 EB: 9402-9538 led about 10 five-paks such as CN 683281, 683303 and 683304, tailed by caboose 79644.
- September 24/85 1455 EB: 9593-9626 with 12 five-paks, mostly empties, sample cars CN 683280 and 683254, caboose 79346. (by L.C. Gagnon)
- October 29/85 1612 WB: 9622-9518 was mostly empties, scooped by a westbound LRC climbing through 'drawbar hollow' at Mi 183 Kingston Sub (four photos below)
- November 25/85 1523 WB: 9591-9436 hauling only five loads with caboose 79440 at Mi 182 Kingston Sub:
- December 19/85 1437 WB: 9496-9516 only about 13 trailers, sample cars CN 683271, 683399, 683496, 683499 and caboose 79545 (by L.C. Gagnon).
On September 28, 1986 CN No 207 had two five-paks on the head end, likely as a test. Rob Leachman photographed the train on the Salmon River bridge and reports that this was the only time he'd seen double-stacks on the National Transcontinental line from 1984-1990!
In February 1989, the first double-stack trains were loaded at Vancouver wharf for Toronto with service on a weekly basis: 5-Paks of Neptune Orient Lines and OOCL containers on CN. CP still opposed the use of COFC cars but arranged to lease 100 'spine cars' from CGTX and Alberta Intermodal Services. Container lines were dictating service levels - endeavouring to send entire shiploads of containers in a cross-continent land-bridge. New equipment in the early-90's were paving the way for domestic double-stack service.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., Conrail was planning two double-stack trains per week from New Jersey to Montreal, bypassing Halifax. The Port of Halifax was encouraging CN to start double-stack service to Halifax. This Guy Wicksall photo, posted to Facebook by Jered Slusser, shows Maersk five-pak MAEX 100053 on Conrail's Chicago mainline at Lyons, NY in April, 1990:
- September 4/92: 2218 EB 9597-9541-9510 half of the train was double-stacked, sample cars CN 640157, 640256 and sequentially-numbered 640120-640124.
- March 15/93: Montreal Turcot yard - lots of double-stacks i.e. MAERSK
- April 8/93: 2222 EB CN 5317-2003-2029 half of the train double-stacked.
Also in 1992, CN introduced American President Lines and GN/FNM trinational container service between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, as well as its first refrigerated container service between Vancouver and Eastern Canada. Container power units connected to the refrigerated boxes could operate for seven days without refuelling. In 1993, Kleysen and Maritime-Ontario entered joint intermodal service with CN between Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax and into the U.S.
Lots of links:
- Scott Haskill Railpictures photo of westbound Laser at Montreal Street overpass approaching Kingston in September, 1985
- HO Scale Laser decals 1991+
- HO Scale Laser decals 1993+