Friday, August 30, 2013

Summertime at the Station

A recent evening free took me trackside to a favourite railfanning location - Kingston's VIA station (above). Most of the evening turned out drizzly with a few downpours! I was intent on capturing as much VIA action as I could in a typical evening. The first train of the evening was VIA No 644. (All trains listed are shown as Time/Direction/Train Number: Consist) During the station stop, the crew took a report of cattle on the track around Mi 150 Kingston Sub from the RTC. 1633 EB No 644: 902-3474-3341-3319Ren:
Doubleheader with three cars! 1703 WB No 657: 915-903-3601-3341-3318:

VIA No 64 slipped in as the rain began to pour. 1755 EB No 64: 6452-3455-3308-3353-3331Ren
3331 in the Renaissance paint scheme (above) and No 64 departs towards Queens West interlocking in a downpour (below). The foliage east of Counter Street has grown in like crazy over the years, meaning down-track shots have to be taken at platform's edge!
On a rainy arrival at Kingston, would you like you luggage getting wet travelling back from the baggage car in Kingston's Ford VIA baggage shuttle? Previously, it was a full-size van.
VIA No 46 about to cross Counter Street. 1803 EB No 46: 913-3463-3333-3304-3340.
When the weather gets tough, the tough go to Timmy's. That's an Extra Large double cream on the dash. Snappy drive thru service got me back to the station in time for VIA No 65! I'm no French scholar, but I think the English translation of the cup is..."Holy frig! Tim Hortons coffee is friggin' comforting while you're always away from your family and you were born in 1964."
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the train...VIA No 65's engineer sprints back to the head end. 1813 WB No 65: 6417-3473-3350-3368
With all these look-alike consists (not even Ren equipment west of Montreal nowadays) photography has to be creative. In one evening, I made 140 digital images. Of course not all survived the Delete process, but I remember going for two-week pre-digital railfan trips with four to six rolls of colour print film - less than I took in one evening! Side mirror van cam view of No 65 before departure:
Non-stops! Non-photographed! Except for one, which had a closing speed of 140 miles per hour!
1847 EB No 656: 918-3458-3337-3366-3311
1906 WB No 59: 6457-3472-33xx-33xx-33xx meeting EB CN freight led by 2303 with DPU 8846 (below)
1920 WB No 67: 6413-34x2-33xx-33xx-3315Ren
1931 EB No 66: 64xx-34xx-33xx-33xx-3328Ren-6410
When the rain finally let up, it was time for a little non-train photography. "Pack smart travel smart". Whaaaat? Sounds like a slogan US Homeland Securitiy would come up with. I would suggest "Pack smartly, dress smartly, travel smartly." Or, "We want to make more money off your heavy luggage. Please ask us how you can pay more for your ride aboard VIA"
The sun was setting in the west...
Passengers were carefully advised via the PA system that VIA No 650 was terminating in Kingston. In other words, don't even think about getting on! Finally, some non-LRC consist variety - I can't believe I'm bemoaning the reassignment of the Nightstar/Renaissance equipment! I decided to use this opportunity to follow the empty consist around the wye at Queens in preparation for Tuesday's 0532 departure to Toronto as VIA No 651. Engineer grabs a smoke before the wyeing begins.
2005 EB No 650: 907-4003-4109-4110-4118
The consist has entered the west end of Queens service track through a red-red-yellow restricting signal at Queens West (below). One of the engineers threw the switch, to route the train from the service track into the west leg of the wye. An Amherst Taxi minivan has arrived at the switch, shining its headlights at the photographer, to take the crew to their overnight lodgings. The headlights illuminate the wye tail switch and switchbroom. Lighting from the newly-enlarged Utilities Kingston fenced compound at right.
The consist has pulled across Lappan's Lane to back into the east leg of the wye, through which it will reverse back to the east end of the service track in the morning to return to Toronto. Ah, the glint of artifical light on stainless steel in the evening...
Back at the station, the last train of the night included VIA's first refurbished Business Class car (not photographed, but I would catch up with the consist three days later in Brockville. Watch for a future post.) 2035 WB No 659: 6459-3475 refurbished Business Class car-3306-3371

Running extra...

Birds across America! This is not for the birds, it's for over-the-top ornithologists who wish to travel between birding sites by rail. I don't know if potential customers are flocking to this opportunity or not, but the price is certainly flocking high!  The Wabash had a train named the Blue Bird, Amtrak had the Cardinal, and the Gull ran between Halifax and Boston by CN, CP, MEC and BAR. 

Time for some transportation-themed groaners:
  • I just flew in from Winnipeg. Boy, are my arms tired. 
  • I waited forever for my ship to come in. Turns out it was a train.
  • The train stopped with a jerk, and I got off.
  • Passenger: Conductor, how many people live in this town? Conductor: Just count 'em, they're all down here at the station at train time.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The IPD Boxcar Boom

The term shortline fever was used to describe the movement that swept through the North American boxcar fleet beginning in 1978. An impending shortage of newer, serviceable XM-class general purpose boxcars spurred changes to AAR car service rules. There was a shortage of boxcars for high-quality lading like paper. Railroads were buying lots of covered hoppers and container flatcars, not 50-foot boxcars. At the same time, scant capital funds on the part of the railroads for new cars encouraged a proliferation of savvy, opportunistic financiers ready to join in. (Above - Port Huron & Detroit 2196, built 10-77, leased from SSI Industries, at Bayview Junction, May 1981).

Financiers with available investment capital for the purchase of railroad equipment such as National Railroad Utilization Corporation (NRUC) and SSI Corporation emerged in the mid-70's. Seeking out some of the US's 300 shortlines, they selected those with few of their own boxcars, yet enough outbound carloads to justify a source of cars for their use. New IPD boxcars would receive priority loading and therefore higher utilization, thereby ensuring a constant return on the initial investment. At the time, most boxcars could only boast 12% of their time spent loaded. Incentive Per Diem (IPD)* car fleets were the result. 
Newly-built and eye-catchingly lettered for shortline railroads (those with less than 150 miles of trackage), fleets ranged from Lenawee County RR's 20 cars to St Lawrence Railroad's 2,000 baby blue boxcars. Lenawee County 2079 is three months old, passing through Kingston in May 1979 (above). In May 1981 at Bayview Junction (below), former NRUC boxcar 151003 has been repainted for Ontario Northland. An ONR chevron logo painted on a darker blue background covers the NRUC logo, and Ontario Northland lettering has replaced the NRUC lettering:
The majority of IPD cars were 50-foot cars, though 40-foot (Louisville, New Albany & Croydon) and 60-foot (Atlanta & St Andrew's Bay) could also be seen.

The bright colors, logos and new design features of the cars would enhance the sales and industrial efforts of the lessee railroad. A $32,000 boxcar would realize over $7,000 revenue annually at 1977 rates, with the vast majority going to the lessor, and 12-20% returning to the lessee railroad. Lessors used regional offices throughout the US to find loads for each leg of the IPD cars' journeys, so the cars spent as little time as possible empty, and rarely on home rails! These 'free-runners' were exempt from AAR Car Service Rules 1 and 2, which specified that empty off-line cars be loaded toward, or moved empty in the direction of, the owning railroad.

Efforts to close the IPD loophole by Class 1 railroads were predictably forthcoming. For example, Conrail began returning IPD cars on their system back to the shortline, purposely ignoring pre-existing shipper arrangements.

During 1979-80, I observed some early examples of the IPD fleet, which already numbered over 25,000 cars:
  • MD&W 8086-8087 blt 12/79
  • NSL 100586, 150296, 151226, 155573
  • P&W 60010, 60313, 60527, 60551 blt 10/78
  • LVRC 4089, 4099, 5052, 5093, 5105, 5215, 5366
  • VTR 11280, 12167
Bright yellow, double-door East St Louis Junction ESLJ 7731 is at Brockville, Ontario in August 1981 (above). IPD cars were built by several carbuilders, including ACF, P-S, Berwick, Golden Tye, Paccar and Thrall. Most were 70-ton, 10'6" height Plate B or 11'1" Plate C, 50-foot outside-braced boxcars with 10-foot sliding or plug doors, or double-door openings of 16 feet, optimized for mechanical loading. NRUC (comprising shortlines St Lawrence, Middletown & New Jersey, Pickens, Indiana Eastern, Peninsula Terminal) made a point of specifying modern Hennessy Slidewell wheel ratchet door openers. In conjunction with the NRUC logo steel plate welded to the top centre of the car door, these were easy spotting features of these cars in the post-IPD era with ONR and others. MPA and NRUC cars did not have 10-inch end-of-car cushioning, which most IPD boxcars had. The stencilled 'Cushion Service' appeared on most IPD boxcars, though very few IPD box cars had cushion-travel centre sills. This ex-NRUC Peninsula Terminal boxcar has been relettered for AT&SF with reporting marks SFLC 90036, in CN's Brockville, Ontario yard in August, 1981:
More than 60,000 new boxcars were built between 1974-81 for Class 2 railroads, shortlines and Railbox. Plans for a Railbox fleet were laid in 1973 by eleven solvent Class 1 railroads: ATSF, BN, Chessie, MP, NW, RF&P, SLSF, SCL, SR, SP and UP. Bright yellow RBOX boxcars with the Next Load, Any Road X-shaped logo operated as a subsidiary of Trailer Train. These cars were XM-class, with lading band anchors set into the post voids. Interestingly, the IPD rates did not apply to RBOX cars because Railbox was not an actual railroad. A new Illinois Terminal and repainted, possibly former NRUC mate with door opener repose among Queen Anne's lace and wild asters in the hot afternoon sun of CN's Belleville, Ontario yard in July, 1983:
The IPD cash cow was despatched during the recession of the early 1980's, aided by trucking deregulation, economic recession and renewed investment in boxcars by major railroads. Railroads were deregulated, and could offer lower rates in shipper-supplied cars. New investment dried up, as the railroads supplied their shippers with their own cars or Railbox. Car Service Rules were changed in a way that allowed IPD cars to be returned to the road whose marks were on the car - most of those roads had no loads for their own cars! Conrail recruited most of the large roads to go to the government and scrap the Car Hire compensation calling it deprescription. The car owner had to negotiate new Car Hire rates with each road in North America. Since the big roads had the negotiating power, Car Hire rates fell. The exception was to boxcars marked with shortlines marks as of Dec. 31, 1981. These cars were grandfathered and their car hire rates frozen for the rest of their life - many still exist today.

Now the shortlines had a problem - clearing adequate storage space on their scant trackage to store their fleets. Hundreds of cars returned to their few miles of home rails empty and idle. Investors backed out, the cars were often foreclosed on and sold.

The May 1980 Railfan magazine painted the first brush-strokes of the end:
With the downturn in the economy, those flashy IPD short-line boxcars are [coming home]. This is no major problem for lines with enough on-line business to get their cars loaded and outbound again, but for lines with little outbound business, this means the boxcars are beginning to pile up at home. The little M&NJ is opening up about five miles of unused main line to store approximately 200 of their 600-car fleet. Similar situations have been reported on the Ma & Pa, St Lawrence and the Lamoille Valley. 

Model builders were blessed with an abundance of IPD models by Model Die Casting and Athearn. The rainbow-hued cars could live on in scale as they did on the prototype - their logos painted out and reporting marks patched for subsequent owners.

I've included more boxcars I observed in the IPD era - colourful ones that found their way to CN's Kingston Industrial Spur and CN-CP Interchange at Queens.

*IPD has nothing to do with iPad, which came along like, thirty-plus years later.

Running extra...

Just finished reading Ground Truth by Patrick Bishop. A grinding tale of the elite British 3 Para Battlegroup's mission among the green zones and sun-baked earth of Afghanistan. The book's glossary explained dickers and terps, kandaks and shuras while swimming in a soup of American-inspired acronyms like CIMIC, NKET and OMLT.

Speaking of breakfast, don't have the cronut* (croissant-donut) burger at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. You will join the 100+ people who have become ill after eating fair food. Wait, this is news? It's food at the fair, people - served once a year by hastily-trained temporary staff during hot weather to a hungry, sweaty, impatient clientele. *Why didn't they call it the (David) Cronenberger? Ironic point: News conference featured Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr Lisa Berger.

I'm trying something new - outdoor model railroading with a table-top HO switching layout. Great for enjoying the nice weather while outside, even trackside, or at the park. (Now if I could only find a solar-powered transformer for the latter location I'd be all set.) Watch for an update as the layout progresses. Thanks to Prince Street Terminal's (see sidebar) Chris Mears for the inspiration.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Postscript: Trackside Treasure Fifth Anniversary

Thanks to all those who participated in the Fifth Anniversary contest. Was the challenge too difficult? I thought it might be, but there are some good railway book collections and some good Googlers out there.

An honourable mention to Ben A. who guessed ALL the titles and authors correctly, though after grand prize winner Bryan Fulsom worked his magic to also guess the titles and authors correctly. Bryan explains:

"The first two were easy! The Patrick Dorin books were toughest. I didn't have much strategy - it was a lot of Google and Amazon searching with whatever scraps of text I could find. It sure gave me a big list of books I want to check out, especially by McDonnell and Dorin. The whole search probably took an hour."

Less than five hours after this anniversary post was posted, Bryan's entry arrived. He wins the Trackside Treasure Bookshelf-in-a-Box. It's great to have such dedicated, interested and indeed intense readers aboard! Thanks again for all your good wishes for the continued health of this Canadian Cyberspace Compendium.

Though family members were prohibited by provincial law from entering the contest, my sister was a good sport and sent a photo of an NS train southbound from Roanoke VA, taken this past Monday. The Thoroughbred, in a rare display of Americana! Looking forward to five more years of fun, aboard VIA No 1 near Carmichael, SK behind 6513-6628 in May 1986 (below).

Here's the list Bryan submitted, for the record:
1. Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium, Eric Gagnon
2. Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium Consist Companion, Eric 
3. VIA Rail (Railroad Color History), Christopher C.N. Greenlaw
4. Via Rail Canada : The first five years, Tom Nelligan
5. Turbotrain: A Journey, Jason Shron
6. The National Dream / The Last Spike, Pierre Burton / Michael Reichmann
7. Signatures in Steel, Greg McDonnell
8. Passing Trains: The Changing Face of Canadian Railroading, Greg 
9. Canadian Railway Scenes (Book 1), Adolf Hungry Wolf
10. A National Passenger Chronicle - Series Premiere, Dale Wilson
11. The Canadian National Railways' Story, Patrick C. Dorin
12. Coach Trains and Travel, Patrick C. Dorin

Friday, August 16, 2013

Trackside Treasure Fifth Anniversary

Can you believe it? This post is the 240th I've added to this cloistered corner of cyberspace in the five years since I pecked away at my first post and hit the 'Publish' button on August 19, 2008! Each published post is read by several hundred readers, followed by a trail of several comments with the comment conversation sometimes becoming rewardingly intense! These comments help me to remember why I began blogging and why I still enjoy it. One commenter discovered Trackside Treasure in July, and sent this amazing email, excerpted below:
"I have stumbled across your 'Trackside Treasure' blog/website and I have to tell you....It is the most amazing, thrilling website I have ever seen on the Internet! I can hardly believe it! You have assembled a collection of articles, news items, information, photos and links that is unparalleled anywhere! You have information and photos available that only a true Canadian railroad fan would want...and I do! I am still marvelling over how complete, and how well-written, and how thorough and accurate your information is. 

Along the way, I saw and experienced much of what you write about in your blog: the changing or CN and CP to VIA Rail...modernization of equipment...major derailments...paint schemes...but I find much of what you write about to be absolutely riveting...the long article about cylindrical grain hoppers...the evolution of the CN 'Lazy Three' logo...all of your writings and photos about railroading on the prairies...all of it very interesting. I suppose if I could sum it up in one word, everything you write is very ESOTERIC. Anyway, thank you for creating such a marvelous blog on the 'net. I shall continue to read...and enjoy. - CB"
Google continues to find Trackside Treasure regularly. For some of the keywords in the above email excerpt and others, this blog is listed first! A recent poll of readers asked which posts they'd like moved up in publishing order. I've actually finished and posted some! Other timely subjects have intervened, temporarily postponing the rest. The value of this type of dialogue with readers is great. (I recently found myself commenting on Ben's BArailsystem cross-Canada VIA Rail journey on Youtube - start here and enjoy!) I've added some great blogs to my sidebar. I enjoy keeping up to date with UCOR First Section: Bruce, Steve, John, Chris M., Mark; UCOR Second Section: Chris L., Michael, TOTW, Robert, Jason and Adam; ETU: Chris V., Jason, Lance, Dave and Manny. It's with perpetual interest that I view the world of railroading through your blogs and websites. I intend to continue with my somewhat randomized pattern of material: eastern/western, freight/passenger, CN/CP, current/retro.
Books are a useful reference for blogging, and the past two years have seen me publish three. Trackside with VIA - The First 35 Years in May 2011, then Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium  and Consist Companion a year-and-a-half later in November 2012. Less than a year after the last two were released, I'm very pleased with the resonance these books have achieved with fellow VIAphiles. No, I don't have plans for any more right now, but you never know. Book contributors Jason, Tom, Robin, Bruce, Gary, Brian, and Jakob added to my available network of experts, and I'm grateful to know all of you.
Speaking of books, you'll notice some photos of books from my rail library throughout this post. (For an interesting read on the future of books, check out Seth Godin's post from a day ago.) As a special 'thank you' after five remarkable years, it's contest time, with this year's prize being Bookshelf-in-a-Box, though not the books shown - I still need them! Simply identify as many of the 12 books by author or title. Take your time sleuthing, but...the entry received earliest with the most correct answers wins! Comment on this post or email at mile179kingstonATyahooDOTca to submit your entry by closing, next Friday Aug.23 at 5:55 p.m when the results will be posted here. Good luck!
Thank you to anyone who has supported, corrected, added, enjoyed, corresponded, cajoled, ignored or commented on Trackside Treasure at any time in the last five years. You've all made me want to do a beter job of sharing useful and interesting posts and photos showing the Canadian railway scene. I'd like to close with a meaningful and unusually deep (for me) quote that aptly describes why I enjoy this pursuit of blogging so much - it really comes down to sharing:

"As I walked, I pondered the paradox that I could find my true purpose only by releasing those selfish concerns and interests that had driven so much of my existence. I struggled to grasp the concept that we are, as individuals, created for one another, that our strengths and weaknesses exist to complement the strengths and weaknesses of others, that as a body of life, we are incomplete without each and every other and that ultimately, we find ourselves only after we have given ourselves away." - From 'When the Capelin Arrive' by Steve Porr, published in the October 2012 Canadian Geographic, read onboard VIA No 651.

Eric Gagnon
Kingston, Ontario 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

VIA's HEP Baggage Cars, Part 2

In Part 1, we looked at the use of non-HEP ex-CP baggage cars with LRC equipment in Corridor service in 1991-1992. An LRC-equipped train with the baggage car behind the locomotive streaks over the Napanee River bridge in August 1991 (above). These baggage cars were released from their HEP conversions as follows: 612 on July 7, 1993 (see below); 613 on June 9, 1993; and 615 on September 24, 1993. As part of the HEP1 program, all VIA's baggages received a solid blue letterboard above the windows with an "8" added to their number, joining the 8600-series. (HEP2 Corridor coaches and club cars received a blue/yellow letterboard and were numbered in the 4000 and 4100-series respectively.)

In the late 1980's, VIA acquired one dome-observation (built for D&RGW), four baggage cars (built for RI and CB&Q) and seven dome coaches (built for CB&Q, D&RGW, SP&S and WP), some languishing at Ottawa Union Station. Intended as part of the HEP1 rebuilding program at CN's Pointe St Charles facility, the January 1990 cuts made these cars unnecessary, and they were sold or stored. However, six ex-UP baggages that had been acquired by VIA in 1991 were converted to HEP.

These cars, the last ones built for 'Uncle Pete' in 1963 by Budd, were acquired along with 18 ex-US railroad coaches, tendered for rebuilding by Septa Rail in Montreal for long-distance service, with the first cars released to VIA in September 1992. Upon Septa's bankruptcy on March 16, 1993, AMF at PSC completed the cars, the last by June 1994. The cars' Railway Post Office section's interior partitions were removed, with the windows plated over.

Here are the cars' VIA numbers, (UP numbers), date accepted by VIA, and date of my first observation of each:
8618 (5907) February 26/93, April 6/93:
8619 (5909) May 31/93, October 15/93
8620 (5910) October 23/92, January 24/94. Here's 8620 on the Ocean at Montreal's Central Station, behind 6435-6436 on August 22, 1996:
8621 (5906) March 11/93, March 14/93 (On VIA No 64, behind 6429 and 7 LRC cars, soon after being released!)
then again on No 64 on April 24, 1993 two photos (below):

8622 (5903) December 16/92, May 14/93
8623 (5905) December 8/92, December 17/93

By very late 1992 and early 1993, the ex-UP baggage cars became a fixture in the Corridor, as well as eastern Canada and occasionally western Canada. They remain in service today; 8618 'waves the flag' on No 55 at Kingston on September 2, 2011:
The HEP'd 612 still operates in the Corridor as 8612, shown here on No 60 also on September 2, 2011. ATV+baggage cart span the decades of baggage-handling!

Running extra...

Randy O'Brien sent along some photos of an interesting way of modelling the Prairies. If you don't have a lot of real estate for full-size grain elevators, or they're not right for your modern era, consider a grain elevator memorial park. Garden railway-size models of a town's former prairie giants, appropriately painted and lettered, placed in the town park. Here's Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan's memorial:
Did you notice the newest United Grain Growers (Agricore United) elevator at the top right corner of Randy's photo? It's the only elevator still extant in Yellow Grass, and is an example of UGG's last pre-concrete wooden elevator design. Here's Yellow Grass' elevator row as I photographed it in 1985, with the new UGG elevator at far right:

Go railfanning with Michael Hammond in his most recent post to his fine blog The Beachburg Sub. One never knows what's lurking in the weeds...

Bust a move with NBC Nightly News' Brian Williams! And I thought I had too much time on my hands :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

VIA's HEP Baggage Cars, Part 1

In the early 1990's, VIA was in the midst of converting its passenger fleet from steam heart to Head End Power. To signify this, I deemed  the period 1991-1995 End of Steam, in my first book on VIA Rail. Only one Montreal-Toronto daily train used conventional, steam-heated blue & yellow equipment in 1991 - VIA train Nos 62/63, named 'La Salle' in VIA's timetable. The equipment from these trains also operated through Toronto Union Station as Toronto-London-Windsor train Nos 70/79 respectively, as as No 172 on Sundays. In early 1991, Nos 62/63 were still using several ex-CN 9600-series baggage cars to handle passengers' checked baggage.

Up to and including the May 5, 1991 national timetable, the symbols accompanying these trains' schedules were: First Class, on-board snack, and checked baggage. Effective the January 19, 1992 national timetable, the onboard telephone symbol appeared, indicating LRC equipment. This was strange. Though not reflected in the timetable, LRC equipment had replaced blue & yellow cars on May 5.

Interestingly, on March 9, 1991 ex-CP baggage car 613 appeared on these now LRC-equipped trains. On May 12, I observed HEP baggage car 8610 on No 62. Tom Box, a contributor to my second and third books on VIA Rail, noticed similar consists at Wellington Tower in Montreal: on May 11, No 62 was 6414-6421-ten LRC cars and 612. This consist was in London as No 70 the same day. On May 15, Tom observed No 63 with 6409-613-6 LRC cars. On May 19, No 62 was 6426-5 LRC cars-8610. On June 7, 1991 No 63 Eng 6409 had 612 in the consist:
During No 63's station stop, CN 4120 passes on the south track, on the way to the Cataraqui Spur:
On June 7, No 63 was hauling non-HEP baggage car 613 on the tail-end, seen here crossing the creek just east of Kingston station:
On June 10, a baggage is tucked in behind the power of No 63 under the catenary near Montreal's Central Station
(Top photo and below): VIA No 63 Eng 6425 arrives at Brockville on August 3, 1991, with baggage car 613:
In all, from May 1991 to January 1992, I observed and read reports of 10 and 12 trains respectively, using F40/non-HEP baggage/LRC consists. On three other occasions, I observed three trains using HEP baggage 8609, and read one report of 8607 in use, within two months of their acceptance by VIA.

Though not reflected in the timetable symbols, VIA had switched these trains from blue & yellow equipment to LRC equipment, including three specially-equipped baggage cars: 612, 613 and 615. While awaiting their HEP conversions at Montreal's Pointe St Charles AMF facility, these three survivors had been equipped with pass-through cables to conduct 480 volt Head End Power for heat and light from the F40 ahead through to the trailing LRC cars. The three cars retained steam heat and axle-driven generators.

No 62 Eng 6418 has the baggage on the tail-end on July14, 1991 at Queens with flat cars stored in Queens 1 before it was unceremoniously lifted:
While No 63 Eng 6441 carries baggage on the head-end on the same day, this time looking eastward from the Sir John A Macdonald overpass in Kingston:
In fact, the cars continued in their pass-through format into early 1993, though my last observation of their use was 613 on September 19, 1992.  On December 28, 1991 the Christmas rush No 62 harkened back to an earlier VIA era as its 11-car consist behind 6446-6452 made the station stop far enough east to keep the gates down, as the head end was over the crossing circuit:
Was CN business car 96 HEP-compatible at this point? Baggage car 613 was marshalled at the rear of the LRC consist, ahead of the brass.
On February 17, 1992 No 63 has arrived in Belleville with baggage 613 behind 6438:
Exactly one month later, ex-CN blue & yellow coaches and baggage cars re-entered service during 'Operation Axle' while the LRC fleet was sidelined by axle defects. No 63 is all blue & yellow on March 30, 1992 with ex-CN baggage 9624:
Effective the January 19, 1992 timetable, No 62's time slot was pushed back about one hour to become VIA No 64 'Meridian'. (The 'baggage car train' changed its numbering in the November 1, 1993 timetable, with Nos 63/64 becoming Nos 57/60.) 

Though the specialized modifications made to these cars may seem 'triVIAl', their use was a unique operational detail that has been at least forgotten, and at most completely overlooked, though a key part of VIA's transition to Head End Power in the Corridor.

In Part 2, we examine the unique HEP replacements for the ex-CP baggage cars in the Corridor.

Running extra...

Just finished reading A Table in the Presence by Lieutenant Carey N. Cash, a chaplain serving with the United States Marine Corps in Iraq. Lieutenant Cash deals daily with life and death, initial skepticism and unwavering acceptance, loyalty and unconditional devotion. If each war has its own iconic photograph, I would suggest this one for the Iraq war...Marines resting in one of Saddam's palaces.

"We used to dream of living in a would have been a palace to us!". One of the best lines from Monty Python's Four Yorkshiremen sketch, delivered by Michael Palin at 1:10 of the video. Michael Palin's first travel-themed television show was Great Railway Journeys of the World "Confessions of a Trainspotter" episode from 1980, in which Michael travels from London to the Kyle of Lochalsh. I've listened to many of his books, and hope to listen to more. A very decent, inquisitive, personable and wry-humoured fellow, what?

Disappointment reigned when none of the three middle-schoolers on last night's Jeopardy Kids' Week episode could name 'Amtrak' as a transportation network in the US.  What is...a train?