Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lifting Track One at Queens

CN's Kingston Subdivision mainline between Montreal and Toronto is double-tracked with right-hand running. At many locations, crossovers and sidings were installed as trains lengthened during the diesel era. Now that trains are much longer than these jointed-rail sidings, CN is removing them, their expensive switches and switch heaters. At the same time, sections of triple mainline are being installed elsewhere to speed VIA trains and add extra capacity for CN's over-length freights, many of which operate with Distributed Power units.
On March 19, at 1000 hours the crossing at Counter Street was blocked by Work 6020. Operating inside Foreman Sam Citrano's Rule 42 limits from Mileage 176 to 172, the work train was lifting the rail from the former Queens 1/north siding between Mileage 176 and 174. The train moves but the rail doesn't (top) as a foreman watches the progress of the lifted rail through the rail train while the train inches eastward. The work train had emerged from the former Queens 4/south service track (above), crossed from south to north track, and was waiting under the Queens West signal bridge when I got there. Someday soon, an overpass will lift Counter Street over the Kingston Sub, roughly where the pickup truck is located.
After attending Kingston's Rail-O-Rama train show at the nearby Ambassador Hotel, my next stop was the Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd overpass. The work train crew had progressed this far, and were no longer referring to themselves as the most-hated people in Kingston as Counter Street was no longer blocked. Their 35 rail cars, with pick-up cars at each end, were draped around the left-hand curve leading to Counter Street and the VIA station. The same location saw an eastbound six-car VIA train 62 behind 6418 at 1350 July 24, 1991:
Even in 1991, the north passing track was seldom used for its intended purpose, instead being used for long-term storage of 89-foot COFC flatcars, and at other times, trilevel auto racks and in June 2006, gondola cars in tie service. The south service track remains due to a setout track, wye and remnants of the Aluminum Spur still in use. Queens 1 at left, looking towards Queens East interlocking:
In June 2009, VIA train 44 behind P42 901 approaches Queens East. The switch to Queens 1 is gone. At right, Interchange tracks between CN and CP Rail were previously lifted in the late-1990's.
Now the stub-ended track is ripped apart, with its rails swung to the south, near the north rail of the north track, and 6020 waits to pull the work train eastward, devouring more of the jointed rail. Upgraded from CN 5114 in 1995, 6020 and her sisters rarely rate mainline trains these days.
Ten men work the train, many on the head end of the rail train, and others scattered midway and elsewhere aboard the rail train. Six lengths of rail were visible on the cars.
On the shaded north side of the train, the rail is guided towards the pick-up car and onto the rail cars. Interestingly, the jointed rail goes onto shorter, 40-foot cars I hadn't seen before. These cars will be featured in a future post. I took LOTS of photos.
As the train snakes under the overpass, all eyes are on the jointed rail. Cans of spikes, tools and other miscellaneous equipment are close at hand:
At a joint, a saw growls to life as bond wires and splice bars are cut:
Now just east of the overpass, the Hiab hoist on CN 663697 is visible, and hoists are available on other cars if needed to coax uncooperative strings of rail into place.
CN trucks are visible at right, beside track KL29, where the work train began its day. Like World Famous Horseshoe Curve, Queens will now be three tracks instead of four.
As a westbound train enters the Rule 42 limits, progress is halted, and a cutting torch is flicked to life as the rail is cut aboard CN 46570. Other workers take the opportunity to have a seat in the midday sun. Work will continue the following day.
Running Extra...

The train show yielded lots of reading material: books on CN, VIA and preserved equipment. Paul Bown and Les Goodwin staffed the Bytown Railway Society's well-stocked sales booth, and we discussed the contrasts between Canadian and English railway preservation efforts.

Also at the show was Chris Lyon, driving force behind the Lyon Valley Northern, one of Trackside Treasure's blog partners. Chris' wife busied herself knitting as Chris carefully painted some S-scale figures at the show. Blair and Rasa Smith were hosting the CN Lines booth. Thomas the Tank Engine, live steam, Meccano and some nice operating layouts rounded out the show.

I know it's Lent, but enough with the Filet-o-Fish ads already, McDonald's. That thing looks barely palatable. Created in 1962, it looks like some of the original sandwiches may still be for sale. Maybe I'll try one just for the halibut. Oh my cod, pull those ads, where's the beef?


Canadian Train Geek said...

Great post as usual, Eric! Nice to see a series of photos on the mechanics of lifting rail.

A buddy of mine used to order Filet-o-Fish at McDonald's just to mess with them. I learned never to go in line behind him as it always meant I would have to wait while they dug in the back of the freezer for the "fish".

Bryan said...

The banner shot from Sir John A. is great.

Another good post, but one that definitely fills me with sadness! The trackage through Kingston has changed so much since I've left. Hard to recognize it now. Do they plan to make all three tracks mains? Interesting to hear that an overpass is due for Counter Street at the train station. I'm glad you noted the real usage of Track long as I can remember it was a storage track stuffed with autoracks waiting to be graffiti tagged. Although I did once see it hold a WB freight to let a WB VIA and EB VIA "meet" at the station.

Last time I had a Filet O'Fish was hungover one morning in 1998. Judging by the number of years that have passed without another, you can imagine how well it turned out.

Zartok-35 said...

Manny said...

While I stopped eating junk food some time ago, you can count me as one of the guys who likes the Filet O Fish. Healthy? Definitely not. Tasty. Definitely.

P.S. Eric, do you have any content for various last runs from the devastating VIA cuts of January 1990? Perhaps this could be a future blog post?

Eric said...

Wow, filet-o-fish is controversial stuff. Thanks for all your stories, I was not just fishing for comments, but I appreciate the net worth of what you've contributed.

Eric said...

Manny, Both BRS Branchline and UCRS Newsletter covered the 1990 cuts and last consists. Have you seen these issues?

Eric said...

Bryan and Steve, thanks for your comments. Removing Queens 1 does change the symmetry of the trackage at Queens. With triple-tracking at Mallorytown and Marysville-Shannonville, I think the south service at Queens will remain just that. Other places on the Kingston Sub have had both sidings removed.

Robert in Port Townsend said...

Very interesting post Eric!

Manny said...

Yes Eric, I have the 1989-1990 Branchline issues. You're right, it's there. I just thought it would be nice to see a TT blog post on the event given your appreciation for VIA. And also for that possible book you were thinking of doing. Just my ideas.

Eric said...

Thanks Robert, I'm still wondering about the crewman standing beside the engine. Seems not to be from Engineering, as he rode in the 6020's cab when not on the ground watching the rail pickup.

Eric said...

I hear you, Manny. Here's the post on the last Cavaliers, and I'll give some thought to doing more about the 1990 cuts, (often referred to collectively as "massive cuts", sort of like "deranged gunman", "crumbling infrastructure" or "grainy cell-phone video").


Manny said...

Very interesting writeup, Eric! I had forgotten about that one. Thanks for the link and for having posted that originally. Those were dark days and I am glad to see writeups like yours that capture the essense of the time.

Chris Lyon said...

Hi Eric. It was great meeting you at the show. I really enjoyed reading your informative account of the action in Kingson last Weekend. Hope to see you again soon. I really enjoy your blog. ps. I got 14 figures painted.

Eric said...

Good job, Chris. Stay tuned, I was formatting the photos of the rail cars tonight and will be posting in a follow-up post soon. A CWR train like this would look great snaking through your LVN trackage...Thanks for your kind comments. Keep up the good work on your layout.