Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Royal Train, September 1984

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Loyalist settlement in Ontario, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh travelled by train to several communities on CN's Kingston Sub. September 28 found the royal couple coming ashore at Morrisburg, Ontario from HMY Britannia, then boarding the royal train, whistle-stopping through Cardinal, Prescott, Brockville, Mallorytown and Gananoque, seen by more than 30,000 Ontario residents:
I was stationed at the [blowing bunting-bedecked] Kingston station. The Queen and Prince Philip would detrain here, travelling by car a few miles west to Amherstview to open the eastern end on the Loyalist Parkway. I was standing where VIA buses from Ottawa usually connected, now the end of the red carpet. The pilot train - 6790-3242 arrived a few minutes ahead of the royal train. This pilot train ensures the Queen's safe passage over spiked switches and past cleared adjacent tracks:
The royal train soon arrived, pulled by an all-MLW consist: 6761-6871-6770. 6761 is flying the Royal Standard, which was then transferred to the waiting limousine.
Accompanied by MPP Keith Norton and MP Flora MacDonald, the royal couple walks to their limousine directly in front of me, waving to the large assembled crowd:
More waving, as the limousine and a squadron of late-model sedans forms up to head west:
With the excitement ebbing, here's why I was really here - to photograph the train's consist: 15205 - 91 - 9480 - 1347 - 5738 - Endeavour - 5 - Vice Regal car 2 - Vice Regal car 1. Space on the train was allocated to Royal Household staff, an RCMP security detail, media and railway personnel. Looking west towards the Princess Street overpass, the white-overalled CN mechanical crew gathers in front of the battery-charging car near the head-end:
Looking east towards Queens West interlocking. Check out the multiple Sinclair radio antennae and cabling on the roof of E-series sleeper Endeavour.
Each car bore a small black-and-white numeral in a side window to denote its order in the consist of the royal train. Note this part of the platform was cordoned-off:
A plethora of Ontario Provincial Police cruisers fills the parking lot. OPP constables board the waiting Trentway-Wagar bus for the next stop on the tour. Check out the postscript for more coverage, including Ron Barrett photos. And a Postscript II with Scott Haskill's photos.

The platform of Vice-Regal car 1, occupied by the white-gloved attendant (top photo) was occupied by the royal couple on an earlier royal train. This time it's 1973 and the train is travelling east from Toronto towards Kingston, seen here passing through Napanee. The occasion was the Queen's participation in Kingston's tercentenary. The Vice-Regal cars would be transferred to VIA ownership in 1987, and made available for tour groups of 12 or more in the Rockies.

A 1973 commemorative envelope and press photo taken at Waterloo (both, above). One more from 1984. Coming to Kingston. Likely at Cornwall, (Toronto Public Library photo) the Royal Couple waving to the assembled crowd from the rear platform:

The Bytown Railway Society's November, 1984 issue of Branchline included photos of both the pilot train and the Royal Train in the Cornwall-Prescott area. The article notes that all signal pasts and associated lineside equipment had been painted by section forces, stations spruced up, and overpasses and level crossing patrolled by the OPP: 

Thirty-six years later, I found out that Scott Haskill was standing just to my left at Kingston station. Scott kindly shared his photo. Notice the three conductors for the train, no doubt high-seniority men, and the uniformed car attendant on the steps. (Only uberVIAphiles will be interested in the VIA bus parking signs!) I'll be sharing more of Scott's photos in a postscript.
Paul Charland kindly shared this photo of the pilot train, taken at Brockville:

Running extra...

The most famous royal visit to Canada was that of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. CPR Hudson 2850 was one of the locomotives CNR and CPR provided to pull the royal train; the class was later given the title "Royal Hudson".

After leaving the station, I didn't brave the crowds at Amherst View, but I was able to see HMY Britannia moored near the Brother Islands, just offshore. I passed through the Loyalist Parkway gates this morning, just before our Easter sunrise service held at Fairfield Park.

Welcome new blog partner Adam Walker from Durham region. Adam's Walker Express blog covers railfanning, local train shows and other news from the Oshawa, Ajax, Whitby area. Welcome aboard, Adam - always nice to welcome a fellow blogger with interesting Canadian content to Trackside Treasure's blogroll.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Postscript: CN and CP Rescue Units

Turns out Trackside Treasure readers don't just like rescue units hauling VIA trains, they like extreme rescue units, the more incongruous the better. What could be more incongruous than six-axle MLW power...a Century? Here are a couple of Centuries from the last century.

Heading for London on a snowy March 5, 1984 I grabbed a photo through the Railiner window of CP 4734 (above) at the west end of Spadina coach yard, near Bathurst St. It seems likely that this big brute had brought a storm-bound, broken-down VIA train into Toronto and was awaiting a trip back to CP rails.

Even though it was two weeks before the longest day of the year, this photo of CN 2016 hauling 6542 and four cars at 2041 hours, June 6, 1981 is a little dark. The consist of this train is shown in the previous post. The Century is, of course, smoking as it accelerates past Mi 182 Kingston Sub, heading for Toronto. Its headlight is burning brightly:
Jason Shron of Rapido Trains Inc. fame has the following rescue unit story to share:

Christmas 1984: I was in Club 52 between Montreal and Toronto. We had 12 cars or so, and were sitting in Central for over an hour with no power. I actually went out on the platform to check, and there was nothing in front of the baggage car. We stopped several times en route for no apparent reason, including half an hour just before Dorval, and at Belleville for 40 minutes. The 2500 ran out of everything but tuna sandwich by Kingston. I hate tuna sandwich.

We finally arrived in Toronto five hours late. I went to the front of the train, and was quite surprised to see two CP roadswitchers there. We were hauled on CN's Kingston Sub from Montreal to Toronto by a pair of CP engines!

While I don't remember there being SGU's, there must have been one or two. The CP crew must have had a CN crew as well, or they would not have been allowed to power the train on CN tracks. Getting the SGU's at the last minute could not have been easy either. I wish someone had got a photo of that. [I wish I had one to offer--Eric]

At least I can say with certainty that such things happened, and I will use CP power on some of my HO-scale VIA trains. While I love VIA as it is today, I could not see them going to CP in a pinch, and having CP pull the train over a CN line. We would just be put on a bus.

Running extra...

As well as supplying the above story, Jason Shron graciously agreed to provide the foreword for my upcoming VIA Rail book. As a fellow VIAphile, I certainly appreciate his unique viewpoint on VIA's history. He has put his interest in VIA into practice by producing excellent scale models for those wishing to reproduce VIA's unique consists.

Just finished listening to Dave Barry's Dave Barry is Not Making This Up. Funniest track on the audiobook is Worst Songs Ever. I still don't know why someone would leave a perfectly good cake out in the rain.

This takes the cake! Local restaurant advertising "Fresh Prune Pie" on its outdoor sign. That's just plum loco - I just kept motoring.

Friday, April 8, 2011

CN & CP Freight Locomotives Rescue VIA

VIA trains operating on CN and CP lines occasionally encountered mechanical difficulties. In such cases, assistance from the host railway was requested, and a freight unit dispatched to help power the VIA train to the next terminal that has replacement VIA locomotives. These occasions resulted in some interesting power consists.

June 27, 1978: CN 3742 hauling disabled Turbo 154-129. A photo of this train at Kingston appeared in the November 1978 Trains magazine.
October 16, 1977: Kingston-based switcher CN 3730 assists a westbound Rapido 3730-6763-6863-6784.
April 5, 1980: CN 2544-6760 eastbound at Mile 179 Kingston Sub:

June 6, 1981: CN Century 2016-6542-9618-5416-5516-3024
June 2, 1982: CN 9526-6905-3312-3324-3300-3332
June 5, 1984: CP 5809 pulls the eastbound Canadian into Portage la Prairie 5809-6606-6652-609-100-3242-502-5703-Clearwater River-Blair Manor-Elizabeth-1371-Bliss Manor-Chateau Roberval-Yoho Park. CP often supplied SD's to VIA, as there were not many spare units at CP terminals.

Aug 26, 1984: CN 3654-6619-609-Mount Royal Club-3208-5581-764-102-126-3209-Cabot Manor-Chateau Salaberry. Classic MLW assists the eastbound Canadian at Kingston:

Sept 20, 1985: CP 5939-6607-6625-3246-5752-Chateau Rouville-Eldorado, partial consist at Calgary.
May 21, 1986: CP 5982-6513-6628-616-609-118-3200-504-Egerton-Thompson Manor-Sherwood Manor-Emerald-Abbott Manor-Hearne Manor-Naiscoot River-Strathcona Park. After limping along at 15 mph for 10 miles, No 1 stopped near Dryden. CP 5982 arrived to haul 6513 and our train into Kenora thence Winnipeg. Vestibule views:

March 30, 1986: CN 4220-CN 9412-SGU-5488-5452-750-5719-Chateau x-Excelsior. CN freight units power the westbound Cavalier, seen at Kingston at 0450.

Rescue units are not the same as CP and CN Geeps and RS's leased or intended for use in passenger service. In early 1986, VIA leased CN 9411, 9412, 9416, 9420, 9423, 9425, 9430, and 9431 while many LRC units were shopped, and VIA's 6400's had not yet entered service. Here's 9416 with an SGU leading a westbound VIA train on a spring night in Kingston:

Oct 11, 1991: CP 1841-6921-3460-3302-3349-3332-3338-3333. Another LRC assist. The CP unit was likely added at Smiths Falls. Alarm bells were ringing in 6921 as a train rider was seen climbing aboard the unit.

Aug 2, 1992: CN 9446 light engine eastbound at 2145, then westbound at 2213 with 6409 and 5 LRC cars.

March 28, 1998: Via train 40 with engine 6426 stopped and headlights extinguished at Mi 178 Kingston Sub, at the Gardiners Road underpass. CN 7043 deadheaded east from Belleville. It passed the disabled train on the north track, changed tracks at Queens West then nosed onto 6426 to haul the consist east:

June 5, 1999: CN 9551-6409-4 LRC cars eastbound. 9551 wears the CNNA map scheme:

Also before the 6400's arrived, the Winnipeg-Churchill trains were subject to problems. Train 93 to Churchill: CN 9168-6615-15489-9663-5707-765-Entwistle. CN F's operated with VIA B-units. On June 6, 1986 CN 9151-6617 were on train 92 arriving Winnipeg. Today, VIA operates mostly on CN lines, and CN seems reluctant to lend VIA spare units. VIA will often load the passengers onto buses, then deadhead a unit to haul the trainset back to Toronto, or couple two trains together to get passengers to their destination.

Running extra...

Election fever is sweeping very small parts of the country. I think there are about three people who are interested, and they're members of the media - it gives them something to talk about. A rally to combat voter apathy on Parliament Hill brought out, you guessed it, four people.

Elizabeth May was riding VIA train 52 today, trying to whip up some Green Party hysteria down the Kingston Sub. Sort of reminiscent of Obama's inauguration special, except he could afford his own train, helicopter and Secret Service escorts, and slow rolls at each station. Elizabeth had three of her cousins in a Smart car with rolled-up newspapers.

Four freshly-painted CNLX cylindrical covered hoppers on the head-end of CN train 305 last night: 7546, 7220, 7003 and 7882 - brown with the CN website, these cars are often used in potash service and can look pretty scrappy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

CN Steam Freight

Twenty-five years after the age of steam, rising energy prices led to a re-examination of the use of steam by CN management. Specifically, the use of surplus VIA steam generator units (SGU's) to heat cargoes en route, saving shippers and consignees the need to heat upon arrival thereby reducing production costs. In April 1985, CN operated a series of little-known experimental steam freights between Montreal and Toronto. These trains usually operated at night to avoid industrial espionage efforts by CP and competing US railroads. CN marketing teams, under CN Marketing Vice-President A.P. Rilfuls had been given the task of researching specific cargoes that could be included in this program.

The teams came back with a diverse range of steamed commodities such as vegetables, rice, dry-cleaned garments, clams and mussels, hot liquids such as cider and tea, bread dough, and kiln-dried lumber. A rare daylight move, necessitated by a last-minute SGU swap at CN's MacMillan Yard, was caught on film by Trackside Treasure photographers very early in April 1985 at Mileage 141.4 of the Kingston Sub (above). The gondola loads behind the SGU were likely hot steel being kept warm by SGU 15469 being pulled by 9622-9414.

Symbols to be used by CN for these experimental trains included Heat In Transit (HIT), Steam In Transit (SIT) although Progressive Online Unit Train Incorporating New Energy (POUTINE) was immediately rejected as being too wordy, and Steam Heated In Transit was also rejected for obvious reasons. Labcoat-clad technicians were on the far side of this train, thus not visible in this photo with their clipboards, thermometers and laptops, while monitoring this movement possibly involved warm newsprint, likely for use in printing news "hot off the presses". CN newsprint boxcar 410105 is paired with VIA 15485:
Ultimately, the project ran out of steam, the marketing plan went up in smoke and CN's enthusiasm cooled . The proponents of the plan were raked over the coals and had their ashes kicked then handed to them. After leaving CN, believing that the Marketing VP was just blowing smoke, they turned their attention to another alternative energy source - wind power. They and are now cashing in on the wind turbine craze.