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?


Anonymous said...

Interesting post! The last photo brought back a few memories... I remember taking a spring break trip from Winnipeg to Montreal in the spring of '92 when I was still in junior high. I was looking forward to riding LRC cars for the Toronto-Montreal leg, which was a rare treat for a prairie kid like me. I was so disappointed to get up to the platform at Union Station and see the blue and yellow consist waiting to take us to Montreal... to me, it was the same old equipment I had been on many times before out west.

In hindsight, it turned out be one of my last rides on blue and yellow equipment, with the last time coming in 1995 on a trip up to Churchill.

Eric said...

Hi A., you must have made your trip during Operation Axle, the suspension of LRC equipment use during its axle problems. Great segue to a future post I'm working on.

Regardless, I still like the B&Y!

Thanks very much for your comments,

Canadian Train Geek said...

No particular comment on this post, Eric, but I always like digging around in your archives!

Eric said...

That's a perfectly serviceable comment there, Steve. Dig away. And enjoy!