Saturday, November 28, 2009

VIA Corridor Consists 1991-1995

VIA Corridor consists in the first half of the 1990's were changing due to modernization of equipment. LRC cars provided the rolling stock for most corridor trains, except for daily afternoon VIA Nos 62/63 and Nos 168/169 on weekend nights. LRC locomotives were still operating as were 6300-series F-units, but 6400's powered most trains.
No 63 on April 1/91 is all blue&yellow: 6442-15410-9618-York Club-3253-5569-5546-3202-5531 (above)
Four afternoon trains on April 14 are representative of most VIA Corridor trains:
6905-3453-3367-3351-3362, 6423-34xx-3315-3335-3334, 6422-3462-3319-3341-3337, 6414-3470-3316-3314-3315.
No 62 on April 27 has two types of locomotive and two ex-CP Canadian coaches.
6439-6303-15460-102-112-3224-5584-5583-3202-Club St Denis-9640:
Within a month, Nos 62 and 63 would become LRC consists, using surplus CP baggage cars, such as May 12/91: 6409-6407-3331-3316-3367-3372-3303-3322-3346-3464-8610.
No 63 stops at Belleville on February 17/92. 6438-613-3462-3337-3342-3345-3463:
Other ex-CP baggage cars in use included 612, 615, 8607, and 8609. Baggage 613 and business car 96 bring up the tailend on December 28/91:
Changes to Nos 62/63 left Nos 168/169 as the most interesting trains to watch, which I did a lot in the summer of 1991. Since these trains used conventional equipment, they were often used to ferry equipment from the Toronto-Vancouver trains to Montreal for maintenance.
July 26/91 No 169: 6452-5646-3218-5444-Strathcona Park:
May 31/91 No 169: 6442-Allan Manor-5449-3219-5586-Saint James's Club-Chateau Salaberry-Chateau Varennes-VIA/CN 94.
July 12/91 No 168: 6902-5504-3202-5537-Dufferin Manor-Bell Manor-Chateau Laval-612.
July 12/91 No 169: 6304 (new paint, Bombardier builder's plate)-5576-3204-5585.
August 2/91 No 168: 6442-6414-8509-Evangeline Park-5585-5576-3212-5499-5522.
August 5/91 No 168: 6916-3242-5623-3237-5611-5622.
When an LRC car axle incident led to the LRC fleet being sidelined, from March-May 1992 it was back to 6300's or 6400's/SGU's with blue&yellow equipment.
March 30/92 No 63: 6425-15478-9624-3201-5458-5529-5576-3224:
March 24/92: 6920-6309-3201-5458-5529.
April 6/92: 6928-6514-5569-3201-5531.
Montreal's Pointe St. Charles shops was the location of many stored ex-VIA F's in March, 1993. Soon, VIA's new ex-Union Pacific baggage cars started to appear, such as 8621.
April 24/93: 6429-8621-3460-3319-3326-3359-3303-3305-VIA/CN 94:
VIA's evening Montreal-Toronto expresses operated with one or two LRC locomotives. November 24/93 VIA Express 1905 WB: 6920-3 LRC cars-6907.
January 31/94 VIA Express 1850 EB: 6915-6907 6416, baggage car 8621 and 6 LRC cars make a station stop at Belleville with CN 9516 in the background on March 16/95:
No 57's equipment operates west of Toronto to Windsor, seen at Bayview Junction.
September 25/93: 6427-8618-3461-3325-3305-3343-3329-3332:
A trip to Ottawa on February 7/94 revealed the following VIA cars stored at Ottawa Union Station pending disposition: 9654, 9667, 2503, 2510, 2513, 3039, 757, 754, 5594, 5736, Greenwood, Hudson Bay, Algonquin Park, Sibley Park, Riding Mountain Park, ex-Rock Island baggage 618.
Viahogger shares some thoughts on working the "blue&yellow fleet" before their retirement:
"I loved riding on the fleet with their leaky steam valves, comfortable seating and spacious interiors. They were in deserate need of a rebuild; many of the cars were literally falling apart with rust and decay. Failures of heating, AC or electrical system were a regular occurrence. They did put in many years of reliable service, and when they were maintained they were alright cars to work on." From 1993-1995, 6400's with three LRC cars dominated VIA Corridor trains. A VIA train to London, westbound out of Toronto Union had three ex-CP coaches on May 17/94: 6442-8120-8100-8108.
Running extra...
Just finishing Sails on the Horizon by Jay Worrall. A ripping good yarn of derring-do on the high seas with Commander Charles Edgemont of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Feisty Quaker Penelope Brown meets and marries Charles. Read it if thou hast the time.
CN engineers are on strike. Managers are running the trains, with a 30 mph speed limit. Many trains today are 35 mph. CN No 149 was doing closer to 45 - gotta keep those containers moving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Postscript: One day of trains at Portage 1980

Here's a list of all the CN and CP trains that passed through Portage on June 16, 1980. Only about half of the trains were photographed at West Tower, in the previous post:

0811 EB: CP 5900-4511-general freight-434585
0831 WB: CP 5930-5773-COFC/TOFC-434509-434382
0916 WB: CN 9155-4132-4321-4305-9197-4235-grain etys-76571-79492
CN station: 1076-9623-9637, 4407-4413-Jordan spreader 50944, 9482-9402
1049 WB: CP 5921-5596-3008-COFC/general freight-434633
1137 WB CN 9637-9503-grain etys-79365
1155 WB: CN 9482-9402-ballast lds-79834
--Lunch break--
1322 WB: CN 9498-5217-5240-general freight-76664-79533
1348 WB CN 1367-1352-1076-45 grain etys-79300
1413 EB: CN 5215-9605-9549-9470-5199-TOFC/autoracks-79629
1424 WB: CN 9479-9407-9505-potash etys-79714
1431 WB: CP 5714-5505-grain etys/general freight-434460-434455-434503
1453 EB: CP 5923-8770-grain lds-434433
1558 WB: CN 9557-9519-9473-103 cars general freight-79585
1610 EB: CP 5525-4502-81 grain lds-434537
1636 WB: CN 9615-9644-99 lumber etys
CP station: 6569-437000.

The day ends as it began, with a CP train powered by an SD and a Century, in the powerful Prairie sunlight (who says Alcos didn't run west of Winnipeg?). The head-end trainman is on the porch, ready to pick up orders at the station, as the CN train cools its heels at West Tower, waiting for the CP eastbound to clear the diamond.

Monday, November 16, 2009

West Tower Portage la Prairie, Manitoba June, 1980

West Tower is a CN-CP interlocking located on the west side of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Double-tracked CN Rivers Sub and double-tracked CP Carberry Sub from Winnipeg split at Portage. CN's River Sub continued west to Rivers and Saskatoon, and CN's Gladstone Sub headed north to Gladstone and Dauphin. CP's Carberry Sub continued west to Brandon and Regina, and CP's Minnedosa Sub headed north to Minnedosa.

Seldom-used branchlines included CN's Pleasant Point Sub 78 miles south to Brandon, and CN's Oakland Sub 53 miles north to Amaranth. Here are two days' action at West Tower from 29 years ago. On June 16, 1980 0916 WB: CN 9155-4132-4321-4305-9197-4235 pass the West Tower sign and cross CP's Carberry Sub (top and below) heading west on the Rivers Sub with grain empties, general freight, and cabooses 76571-79492:

In the previous hour, 0831 WB: CP 5930-5773 bang across the diamond with autoracks and piggybacks. At left is the CN-CP connecting track which carried VIA's Canadian from CN Rivers Sub to CP's Carberry Sub at Portage:

Non-enclosed auto racks carry products from the Big Three automakers west out of the morning sun. CN's Rivers Sub is in the foreground, with a signal shed and grain elevator at right. A motorcar set-off beside the shed made a handy railfan seating area. CN's Gladstone Sub is just under the third autorack. Vans on this train were 434509-434582:

That afternoon, this 45-car train, mostly grain empties is travelling west on the Rivers Sub. Check out those spark arrestors, 1348 WB: CN 1367-1352-1076.

Twenty-five minutes later, an amply-powered CN hotshot approaches West Tower, hauling piggybacks, Showa and Dart containers and Datsuns. The heavy rail of CP's Carberry Sub bears signs of regular lubrication of the diamond trackwork. 1413 EB: CN 5215-9506-9549-9470-5199.
Seven minutes after a westbound CN train of potash empties headed up the Gladstone Sub, this CP westbound heads up the Minnedosa Sub. 1431 WB: CP 5714-5505 I had to hike it across a small field to get this photo, as the CP track is quickly diverging to the north here. The train carried a couple of dimensional loads on CP bulkhead flats, empty grain cars, and vans 434460-434455-434503.

This eastbound grain train passes the few boxcars at the United Grain Growers elevator at Eighth St, while the tailend with 434433 is still crossing CN at West Tower, far left. MLW power was rare but not unheard of west of Winnipeg. 1453 EB: CP 5923-8770.

On June 17, 1980 0837 WB: CN 4308-4326-4227. This general freight is westbound on the Rivers Sub the following morning, with lots of grain empties, a C&NW piggyback trailer, ACR gondola and caboose 79265:

Ten minutes later, two Geeps bring in 19 grain loads from the Gladstone Sub. CP has green flags up for a slow order near the diamond. 0847 EB: CN 4303-4327.

Sixteen minutes behind that short grain train comes a healthier train of grain from the Gladstone Sub, plus a Burlington flatcar, UP covered hopper and caboose 79579. CN Rivers Sub is at left, CP Carberry Sub in foreground. 0903 EB: CN 9652-5027.

Running more than two hours late, VIA's Super Continental passses the West Tower signboard. Instead of a Park Car, Athabasca brings up the markers behind Chateau Vercheres and Chateau Rigaud. A redboard shows on the CP-CN connecting track at right. The eastbound Canadian is not expected soon. 0923 EB: VIA 6507-6606-CN 4102.

The last West Tower train is a westbound hotshot with piggyback, containers, Milwaukee Road boxcar, empty CP stock cars and van 434433. In a few minutes, CN 1076-1352-1367 will return with grain loads less than 24 hours after heading west. The sun has reappeared for another pleasant summer-like morning of trainwatching in Portage. 1002 WB: CP 5630-5637-4710.

Running extra...
Some of the views shown here would not be possible today, as trees have grown up around the West Tower area. Train lengths and horsepower have also grown, although if all the units in some of these photos were online, the number of horsepower would have been considerable then too.
The 30th anniversary of the CP Mississauga derailment generated a lot of interest in my hotbox detector post. Does the phrase "Three bubbles, no troubles" ring a bell? I hadn't heard it before, but it means three zeroes on the display board and the train is safe to continue on its way. AKA "All black back to the hack Jack."
Former Oiler Craig Simpson and perky Olympian Jamie Sale' won CBC's Battle of the Blades. This is a Canadian version of Dancing with the Stars, kinda like Skating with the Scars. Everyone is very polite and there's no trash talk save some amiable bickering for the camera during practice. Canadian reality programming at its finest.

Friday, November 6, 2009

VIA Corridor Consists 1996-2000

Between 1996 and 2000, VIA Corridor consists were no longer steam-heated. The transition from steam generators to HEP (Head-End Power) rendered the last ex-CN blue & yellow cars obsolete. Stainless steel cars originally built for US railroads such as NYC, ACL, RF&P and Southern were purchased by VIA, updated and entered Corridor use. Cars and locomotives received an updated paint scheme including the Canada logo as a politically-inspired initiative. Consists were the most standardized they'd been since the pre-VIA CN era. Amid mostly 6400-led consists of LRC cars, I observed my first HEP car in 1995:

May 24/95: 6410-8618-3468-3335-3343-3324-3366-3339-4004.

And by the summer of 1996, the HEP cars with their yellow/blue striping were becoming more prevalent:
July 6/96: 6417-8622-3456-3360-3351-3322-4117-4121.

August 16/96: 6404-6410-8621-3462-4121-4117-3318-3333-3324-3358-3362. The two HEP cars are behind the VIA 1 LRC car:
My first all-stainless steel HEP consist:

September 7/96: 6404-8621-4000-4106-4102-4119.

November 8/96: 6423-4115-4116-4110-4103-4003.

To commemorate a premiers conference in Jasper, Alberta special logos were applied to the consist the provincial leaders travelled in. Eventually these cars returned to Corridor service. Coaches 4106 and 4112 also had these logos applied.

November 23/96 No 60: 6430-4122-4111-4118(logo)-4114(logo)-4001-8622.
April 6/97: 6421-8137-4123-4117-4109-4005-8618.

August 11/97: 6419-4122-4120-4115-4118-4109-4103-4111-4106-4001-8619-6403.

On August 17, 1997 another 10-car No 57 led by 6418 passes the Bath Spur wye. The long train needed two locomotives, with 6428 bearing the markers:

June 5/98 No 650: 6429-4111-4122-4118.

6429 wears the Home Hardware promotional scheme in August, 1997:
September 1/98 No 52: 6917-3466-3301-3362-3353, No 53: 6905-3460-3308-3371, No 40: 6425-3303-3343-3473. 6430 heads a four-car No 43 through Smiths Falls, Ontario:
LRC locomotives still prowled the Corridor, powering train Nos 52, 53, 66 and 67. At dusk, the Montreal-Toronto LRC-powered express has just crossed the Rideau Canal and screams through sleepy Kingston Mills:
A typical Corridor consist train, 6400-3334-3312-3458 has stopped at Mi 179.6 Kingston Sub, after a fatal collision with a vehicle at Mi 180. The Ontario Provincial Police check out the unit:
Cars begin to appear bearing Canada (C) lettering: November/98: 3314, 3309, 3322, 3475, 3363, 3305, 3359, and January/99: 8619, 4001.

March 13/99: 6450(C)-8622(C)-4001(C)-4111-4124-4113(C)-4105(C)-4112. The Canada logo is visible below dual Kool-Aid logos on 6432 on May 12, 2000:
October 8/99 No 66: 6919-6 LRC cars-6902, No 67: 6919-5 LRC cars, No 68: 6409-4106-4120-4115-8126-8130-4003. At 1825 August 24, 2000, No 66 Eng 6914 and four LRC cars at a crossing west of Trenton, speeding out of the setting sun.
On a summer morning a month earlier, overnight train No 51 passes Mi 179 at an eye-rubbing 0550, with 6404-3 HEP coaches-64xx-two HEP cars-Chateau Lemoyne-Laurentide Park. By 2002, this train would be operating with Renaissance equipment.

Two wacky consists usher us into the new millennium:

July 3/00 No 68: 6417-3358-3314-3315-4119-411o-4109-6451(dead)-6405(working/Kool-Aid)-6411(working/Kool-Aid).
And what's this? An F-unit leading a VIA train at this late date? No, it's unexpectedly bringing up the markers of No 68 at 2019 on July 18/99: 6445-4105-4122-4111-4001-6302. Leased to MUCTC/AMT in Montreal, 6302 is being hauled eastward. A scrambly last sighting of aVIA F-unit in the Corridor.
Running extra...
This is the second in a series of posts on VIA's Corridor consists. Each post will cover a different era (working backwards in time). The eras are somewhat arbitrary but are generally based on the equipment that formed the consists.
What if? What if VIA had refurbished its blue-and-yellow ex-CN cars instead of the Budd equipment built for CP's The Canadian? Now that CN's Agawa Canyon tour train is using former Rio Grande, ex-CN/VIA Tempo equipment, 34 or so of these classic ex-CN cars are no longer used. Are they fully-depreciated, finished their second career and heading for a scrapper?
Listening to Jeff Shaara's The Rising Tide, a Second World War fictional tale of the campaign from North Africa and Sicily. From a macro introduction of history and strategy, the story takes the reader right into the front-line in a convincing account. Wear a poppy and remember our veterans this week.