Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oil Trains and TankTrains to CN's Bath Spur

CN's Kingston Sub has been a steel-wheeled pipeline to Ontario Hydro's oil-fired Lennox Generating Station (LGS) since it opened in 1976. Four huge oil tanks beside the plant need to be kept filled, and for years, units trains of 48 to 56 Procor tank cars were hauled from Ultramar's Golden Eagle Refinery in Levis, Quebec bringing refined residual oil from Venezuela or Libya. The initial November 1974 contract involved 55-car unit trains departing Levis every two days for Bath, each carrying 30,800 barrels of oil.  Total deliveries to exceed 25 million barrels, requiring more than 800 round trips of 726 miles.

CN 5067-5075 were modified with Pacesetter control to run through the unloading shed at less than 1 mph. (Interestingly, in the 1970s CN 5071 was featured on a billboard at Winnipeg's Symington Yard - thanks Paul Newsome!) On December 19, 1976 5031-5065-5072 are hauling a westbound unit oil train with caboose 79285. Some of the Procor cars in use were UTLX 73464, 73420, 73427, 73422, 73430 and 73439.
February 20, 1976 EB: 5070-5071-5075.
April 26, 1977 EB: 5070-5075-5072.
April 28, 1977 EB: 5073-5074-54 cars-79742.
May 4, 1977 EB: 5074-5075-5073-55 cars.
May 8, 1977 EB: 5074-5075-5070-56 cars-79742.
June 4, 1977 1350 EB: 5047-5524-2511-53 cars-79219.
June 5, 1977 1303 EB: 5070-5071-5073-55 cars-79511.
June 6, 1977 1339 EB: 5070-5071-5073-53 cars.
June 8, 1977 1257 EB: 5070-5071-5073-53 cars-79548.
June 10, 1977 1354 EB: 5070-5071-5073.
November 18, 1977: 5071-5068-5070.
April 1, 1978 0809 WB: 5073-5068-5067-54 cars-79548.
June 23, 1978 1322 EB: 5075-5071-5070-48 cars-79316.
The modified SD's were also used on regular freights:
June 7, 1978 0725 EB: 2315 - 5074
June 10, 1978: 5073-5068-3215-79755.

In June 1992, Bill Thomson snapped CN 9633 leading a train down the spur, crossing under the County Road 22 bridge.
In December 1997, CN Nos 704/705 with 13-car GATX TankTrain sets began operating to LGS. Originating Albany NY, routing was CP/D&H to Montreal Parsley Interchange, CN Kingston Sub Montreal to Bath Spur Mi 190 Kingston Sub. The train then meandered down the 5.6 mile spur at less than 10 mph before arriving at the unloading shed, with GATX 23627 bringing up the SBU:
A unique feature of Nos 704/705 was the joint power provided by CN & CP in late 1997-early 1998. This was probably one of the few regular trains operating in Canada with shared power. The power stayed with the train over the entire route, over both railways. This practice ended partly because CP locomotive cabs did not have microwave ovens. CP 5675-CN 9436 with 39 cars at LGS on January 4, 1998:
Some other joint-power trains:
December 13, 1997 No 704: CN 9436-CP 5515-28 cars.
Tim Reid photo:
December 29, 1997 No 705: CP engine was "toast".
January 2, 1998 No 705: CP 5675-CN xxxx.
On a cold February 6, 1998 we followed No 705 to the Bath Spur, where it veered south, passed through a rock cut and under a County Road overpass on the spur at dusk, with the Kingston Sub in the distance:
Consist of No 705: CP 5618-CN 6010-GATX TankTrain cars: 23640-23698-23697-23695-23694-23689-23659-23648-23636-23611-23610-23608-23606-23612-*-23630-23691-23651-23607-23639-23638-23637-23655-23634-23633-23632-23629-23625-23617-23627-*-15459-15460-15464-15465-15466-15467-15468-15470-15472-15473-15481-23602-48606-15482-*-23678-23677-23676-23675-23674-23667-23649-23645-23693-23628-23613-23605-23603-23614 (*=no connection between car sets).
The same power consist is on No 705 at 1625 Feburary 12, 1998. The paint on CP 5618 was a little rough; I guess CP was not too concerned about showing its best corporate identity to CN:
By February, 1998 the power was all CN:
February 25, 1998: CN 6026-CN 6017.
April 30, 1998: CN 5344-CN 5316.
June 13, 1998: CN 6013-CN 6018.
Then due to a washout on the D&H north of Saratoga NY, in June-July 1998 the train operated from Albany via Buffalo on CP, then to Toronto and Bath on CN. This was even more rare: all CP power operating east from Toronto on CN's Kingston Sub. On August 1, 1998 CP 5534-CP 5669-CP 5673 were at LGS, (below). A totally nutty power consist during this period of detours: July 16, 1998: CP 5611-SP 7516-CP 5652- StL&H 5627-56 cars.
After this disruption ended, the train became an all-CN routing, loading at Tracy, Quebec three months on/three months off. Construction of a natural gas pipeline to LGS, and designation of the plant as a peak supplier reduced the need for oil shipments. On August 18, 1999 No 705 is already on the south track at Mi 176, lined for the Bath Spur, with CN 5361-5328:
Other CN power consists:
February 5, 1999: GCFX 6079-CN 5369-56 cars.
July 18, 2001: 2506-5642-52 cars.
August 9, 2005: 5669-5410-60 cars.
At 1920 on August 26, 1999, No 704 heads east empty from Bath, passing the tailend of No 305 at Kingston station:

The usual operating pattern was for No 705 involved spotting the train at the unloading shed and deadheading of the crew to Belleville yard by taxi as the oil was being pumped out. Another crew arrived by taxi to take No 704 back to Quebec. Now sets of cars are handled on regular CN freights, and set out on the wye or lead track at the Bath Spur, for a Belleville-based way freight No 590 to deliver to LGS. Then the empties are brought back up the spur for lifting by an eastbound.

No 704 tiptoes up to the mainline at 1945 on July 18, 2001 (above) and then enters the Kingston Sub via the east leg of the Bath Spur wye behind 2506-5642:

The crew of No 704 is no doubt anticipating an easy trip eastbound with this light train of empties. A headlight in the distance on the north track means No 363 will be their first meet:

Note that these cars including GATX 23645 now wear the simplified all-white TankTrain logo:

2016 UPDATE - CN No 518 lifted at least one cut of TankTrain cars from Lennox and these made it to Quebec City for loading, returning on CN X321 and down to Lennox on 518. This is the first movement of these cars that I've observed since 2005. Here are the cars waiting to come down to the Bath Spur, in Belleville Yard on October 13, 2016:

Ron Visockis kindly shared this photograph of CN No 518 returning to Belleville with 30 or so TankTrain empties. Almost a shorter version of my CN-CP unit trains, except with a few Bath Spur Lafarge cement-carrying covered hoppers on the head-end behind two Geeps:
Three of the original tanks remain, though only two are licensed. The licensing protocol costs $1 million and is done every five years. One tank still holds oil and the other holds stored reclaimed oil. These large tanks hold oil to a depth of 12 metres when full. More oil is ordered when the level reaches 4.6 metres, and since the actual level was less than that, the order protocol was initiated. When the tank cars arrive, the oil is blown with compressed air from the car on the end to the centre hence two cars of 30 cars previously, 15 now. The oil goes into a surge tank and is then pumped into a storage tank.

2017 UPDATES: two cuts of the TankTrain cars in various paint schemes were sitting at Lennox GS in March, 2017. Work on the adjacent gas-powered power plant continued apace.
GATX 23640, 23606, 23689 (above) and 23646, 23698, 23697 (below:
In July 2017, CN No 518 lifted three sets of TankTrain cars to Belleville, likely for points east.

In August 2017, at least two sets of TankTrain cars were lifted from Lennox by No 518 thence No 372 east towards Quebec, then observed at Lennox in September, 2017.
March 2021 UPDATE: CN No 517 took two 15-car TankTrain sets west from Lennox via Belleville to Toronto (image courtesy Railstream, LLC):
August 2021 UPDATE: Andre Gerow kindly shared two drone shots of the Lennox Generating Station. Notice the three tracks of tank cars stored on the lower-level tracks, not in the unloading shed. These are not visible from either Highway 33 or County Road 21.
June 2022 UPDATE: The TankTrain cars, including GATX 23640 were reported westbound on CN No 321 and back east on CN No 516 into Belleville on June 26. 

July 2022 UPDATE: The cars with GATX 23640 were at Lennox Generating Station on a drive north from the lake:
OCTOBER 2020 UPDATE: The TankTrain cars were in the unloading shed.

Running extra...

Lennox trivia: Each oil storage tank holds 800,000 barrels of oil, is 360 feet in diameter and 48 feet in height. The plant burned 3,120 barrels of oil per hour from four turbo-generators, while using 848,000 gallons of water per minute for cooling. Large carp like to swim in the tempered discharge water when it's released from the plant. The initial oil supply contract was 2,500,000 barrels of oil for the plant from 1975 to 1980. The unloading shed catchpit is 450 feet long, with oil discharge taking four hours.
Annie Lennox, the feisty 5'9" lead singer of the Eurythmics was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and has two children named Lola and Tali. (Rearrange the letters of their names and you get "A Tall Oil".) Actor Bob Tibbets, complete with overalls and moustache has portrayed Dave Lennox on those furnace commercials since 1986.
Canada Day for the crew of CN No 308 meant a broken knuckle at Mi 172.5, delaying westbound CN Nos 309, 149, VIA Nos 45, 61 and eastbounds 60 and 44. The Snowbirds overflew Bath, Kingston, and Cornwall before the noontime appearance over our majestic Peace Tower in Ottawa. Snowbird 1 wished Kingston Tower a Happy Canada Day as he left the zone.


Robert in Port Townsend said...

Eric - Great post - however would like to know more about the loading/unloading process of these oil unit trains!

Eric said...

Hi Robert, thanks for the kind comments. TankTrain connections comprise a 10-inch hose with a three-quarter-inch air hose. During loading, oil pumped into the first car displaced vapour which was vented, and each car filled in turn this way. Unloading reversed the procedure, as compressed air was pumped in and the entire set unloaded via a single pipe connection. There was less need to move the train this way, whereas before TankTrain, each tank car's plug was pulled allowing the oil to flow into a pipe catchpit while in motion, this process being much slower. Hope this helps, Eric.

Zartok-35 said...

This is quite interesting! Are you going to do a post about the Ultratrain service next?

Eric said...

Hi Elijah, the Ultratrain doesn't operate quite as far as Kingston, so I haven't actually seen it. Closest I've heard it is when the power was being wyed once at Queens. But it's always good to get ideas of what interests Trackside Treasure's readers.

Ron Barrett said...

Hi Eric,
I was in the vicinity of LGS with my scanner on after watching the Tank-Train arrive and heard the following exchange;
Trainmaster (female) Could you move it up about six inches, we can't make the coupling work.
Engineer, what do you think I got here-----a wheelbarrow'.

Ron Barrett

Eric said...

That's a good story, Ron. I've heard football was a game of inches, but I didn't think spotting the TankTrain was!

Thanks for your comments,

Michael Berry said...

Thanks for the info, looks like I photographed cars that were part of this train in 2007.

Eric said...

Thanks for that photo link, Michael. I wonder if that was a deadhead move of the cars, positioning them for storage at Lennox?

Half of the plant's generating capacity is now slated to be be gas-fired.

Thanks for your comments,