Friday, April 25, 2014

VIA's Calgary-Edmonton RDCs, Part 2

While creating my book Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium, I wanted to focus on the RDC services provided by VIA in western Canada. Part 1 of this series covered some of the history and an RDC ride on the Alberta corridor. This post lists many of the Dayliners serving this busy corridor during the VIA era, including notable accidents. Photos are by Fred Clark, courtesy of Brian Schuff, except as noted.

Calgary's ex-CP VIA station could be a hot spot of passenger activity. Or a cold spot, as on January 28, 1980 (top photo). CP painted some RDC's like 9022 with 8-inch red-and-white stripes post-1975, (not the more familiar hockey-stick warpaint ends). As it arrives in tow for a run to Edmonton, one set of CP-VIA passenger power for the Canadian is added to the train, and the incoming set will head back to the Alyth shop. CP Rail mechanical forces are on the job. At left: 1405-CP 8580, middle of photo: 1403-CP 8508-1400. A CP yard switcher, such as 8115, was used to deadhead Dayliners to and from Alyth. 

The 23:59 Industrial Yard Office job would visit the west track of the Alyth Diesel Shop to lift the RDC for the morning Dayliner run, spotting it on Depot 3 track just before the end of their shift. Later switch jobs would bring fresh power for the Canadian to the station, sometimes coupled to the afternoon Dayliner, as well as adding extra coaches for No 1 west of Calgary, removing them from No 2, then taking incoming power from the Canadian back to Alyth. CP 9023 at Alyth Diesel Shop (below - photo from Broken Rail's Box Car Blog)  has been freshly serviced, ready for a run to Edmonton.

December 3, 1977:
Two RDC-2's, both in CP colours at South Edmonton

February, 1978:
CP-painted 9107 at South Edmonton

February 1979:
CP-painted 9107 at South Edmonton

July 1979:

Sometime in 1980:
CP 9022 at South Edmonton

January 1980:
CP-painted 9022 at Calgary.
On January 24, E-8A 1800 led No 197 at Calgary.

April 1, 1980
9023 wrecked at Lacombe, repaired at Transcona.

June 1980:
Just-rebuilt 6133, 6134 (ex-CP 9065 was one of the last to carry maroon letterboard) at Calgary.

July 1980:
6133, 9022, 9107 at Calgary. 9107 with door-mounted headlight is being moved by a CP switcher on April 8, 1980 (below). Repainted in VIA colours at Angus Shops, 9107 retained her CP number before rebuilding by CN eight months later, emerging as 6215. The grated cab windows are as much for protecting crew against bird strikes as US Northeast Corridor-type rock throwers!
March 1981: 6104 (online auction site photo) captioned Edmonton - March 27, 1981 with CN Edmonton auxiliary visible at left:
August 1981:
RDC-3 6357 (ex-CP RDC-3 9023) involved in a major accident at Balzac, then rebuilt to RDC-2m 6224 in 1982.

November 1981:
6124, 6129, 6131 at Calgary. I rode 6129 to Edmonton and back on August 31, 1981, meeting southbound 6124. Here's open-doored 6124 with CP switcher 6717 on August 25, 1981:
December 18, 1981:
6124 hit a cement truck 34 miles north of Calgary. There were no major injuries, with damage to the first 10 feet of 6124, she remained on the rails.

February 1982:
6125 replaced by 6105. (Vers l'est) 6125 six months after being one of the first ex-CP RDC's rebuilt by CN in Montreal, attends to business at Quebec City on December 1, 1979:
6124 collided with a gravel truck. I was able to photograph the results: at Winnipeg in June, 1982 with end covered in plywood.

August 1982:
6101 received extensive damage, to be repaired.

October 1982:
6125, 6127, 6131 at Calgary. Here's a snowy shot of  6131 and switcher on January 28, 1982:
March 23, 1983:
Recently-rebuilt (December, 1982) 6146 in fatal collision with standing cars at Carstairs. Moved to Transcona by flat car in January, 1984. Read more in Part 3 of this series. VIA's RDC's began to have ditchlights installed in 1983.
6105, 6144 also at Calgary.

May 19, 1983:
6105 collided with truck Mi 90.57 Leduc Sub, to Transcona for repairs. Recently-rebuilt 6147 sent to Calgary on June 5 as replacement.
6127, 6144, 6147 at Calgary.

August 1983:
6129 (ex-CP 9051) is at South Edmonton (although it looks colder than August!)

August 1, 1983:
6144 at Alyth with fire damage. 6127 staying at Calgary, instead of returning to Toronto as planned. In company with CP brethren at Alyth, here's 6127 on August 12, 1983:
By 1983, rebuilt RDC's included snack counters, as noted in the Highlights section of VIA's May 29, 1983 timetable. "Improved schedules between Calgary and South Edmonton - running times of these trains have been reduced up to 25 minutes. Also, for the first time, snack and beverage service is available (Table 36 - below). Snack and beverage service denoted by the martini glass logo *hic*:
6144, 6147 also at Calgary. 6147 with non-permanent ditchlights and mate on August 11, 1983:
September 1983:
6104 to Transcona for wreck repairs. Replaced at Calgary by 6124.

April 12, 1984:
6104 collided with truck at Mi 90 Leduc Sub, resulting in $35,000 damage, to Transcona for repairs. 6147 replaced 6104 at Calgary.
April 30, 1984:
6144 collided with farm machinery near Airdrie, resulting in $50,000 damage, to Transcona for repairs.
6205 replaced 6144 at Calgary. On August 11, 1983, 6144 features non-permanent ditchlights with a second RDC (above). Oddly-striped letterboard on RDC-3 6350, likely photographed at Transcona Shops during rebuilding to RDC-1 6144 , undated:
VIA 6147 at Calgary on June 8, 1984 (online auction site photo):
June 29, 1984:
6147 collided with van at Mi 86 Red Deer Sub

August 31, 1984:
6205 collided with grain truck at Hobbema, while operating with another Budd car, baggage section demolished. Conventional equipment pinch-hit: 6505-617-3249.

September 15, 1984:
6505-617-3247 as VIA No 196.
6147 at Calgary

January 1985:
6104, 6124, 6144 at Calgary, 6205 returned to Toronto from Calgary.
February 3, 1985:
6124 collided with auto at Ponoka. Sent to Transcona for repairs, returned to Calgary in late March.

March 26, 1985:
6147 collided with auto at Leduc. Sent to Transcona for repairs.
6104 and 6144 at Calgary, 6205 now in Toronto. 6104 at South Edmonton, dated July 1985 (Ebay photo - 6104 now equipped with ditchlights):
July 24, 1985:
6144 in collision with a tractor-trailer at Penhold, killing the engineer and injuring 25 passengers. sent to Transcona for repairs August 28, then in CN freight train to Montreal for repairs in April, 1986. Henry Niznik kindly shared these photos of 6144 at Red Deer:

This news story reports the death of 15 people on the line in the previous three years:

September 6, 1985:
Last train No 195 Calgary-Edmonton, with 6124. Last train No 194 Edmonton-Calgary with 6102. 6104 and 6124 left Calgary on CP train No 404 on September 7, followed by 6102 on September 9's No 404, all heading east from Winnipeg to Toronto on the latter No 404.

The replacement of the usual RDC with an F-unit and conventional equipment usually indicated one of the following three events: heavy passenger traffic requiring both RDC's to operate on one train; mechanical malfunction (especially on unrebuilt RDC's), or recent damage to an RDC from grade crossing collision or other mishap. Check Part 4 in this series for more! Before and after rebuilding by CN's Pointe St Charles shops in Montreal between 1979-1982, the majority of RDC's used in Calgary-Edmonton service were ex-CP. The Alberta corridor was one of many services that VIA served with its large fleet of RDC's. Most were surplus, stored and sold following the 1990 cuts that would occur in a few short years.

Running extra...

Imagine a VIA F40 trundling two or three LRC coaches or even stainless steel coaches between Edmonton and Calgary today...speaking of F40's, Rapido Trains has just released its excellent F40PH-2D Master Class as conducted by Manny Jacob and Rapido's own Mike McGrattan and Dan Garcia.

I usually find Flickr photostreams somewhat ho-hum. Oh look, endless shots of CP toasters on parade! But this one by Bilfazjr is different and I just kept scrolling. His eye is, well, somewhat like mine. An eclectic mix of trains, urban architecture, and rolling stock in the Albany, NY area. Church spires! BL2! Starbucks on a railhead! Oh, and the occasional CP toaster!
The King is dead. Long live the King. I've started watching The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. This in an effort to wean myself off thirty years of David Letterman. The kid has chops. He sings. He dances. He is genuinely pleasant and respectful to his guests. Like Dave always was. So good! So good!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

VIA's Calgary-Edmonton RDCs, Part 1

Often referred to as the 'Death Train', CP's perilous Calgary-Edmonton passenger service was a quick dash at speeds reaching 90 mph. For more than 94 years, spanning August 1891-September 1985, Canadian Pacific and after 1978 VIA, provided Calgary-Edmonton intercity passenger service between Alberta's two largest cities. By 1936, CP used Jubilee 4-4-4's to haul Chinook trains in 5 hours 5 minutes, making all stops. CP Dayliners 9054-9055 were exhibited in Calgary and in service on August 30, 1954, on the Stampeder and Eskimo (named for the cities' Canadian Football League teams). The ultra-modern Dayliners (at the time) reduced travel time to 3 hours 30 minutes, and in 1969 there were three trains per day each way. A busy rail corridor passing through agricultural land and oil fields, and criss-crossed by many road crossings, CP's Red Deer Sub runs north out of Calgary 93 miles to Red Deer, continuing the final 95 miles as CP's Leduc Sub from Red Deer to South Edmonton (though referred to as Edmonton in this and subsequent posts).
By the time I rode the Budd car on August 31, 1981, the run terminated in South Edmonton, as CP's passenger trains originally had, at Strathcona station. CP's downtown Edmonton station was reached via the High Level Bridge across the north Saskatchewan River until 1972, with the downtown station out of use by 1977. VIA RDC-1 6129 is on the way north (above), having stopped at Red Deer (above). While passengers availed themselves of refreshments from the vending machines, I did some dumpster diving behind the CP station, finding a copy of the clearance for the southbound from the previous evening (top).  The round trip fare? The princely sum of $22.00!

My trip account we work our way north, I note the grain elevators in each town: A=Alberta Wheat Pool, C=Cargill, D=Federal, E=Elephant, F=Unifeed, H=Parrish & Heimbecker, U=United Grain Growers, noted along with other items of note including many CP Geeps!

Boarding VIA No 195 at 0820 from Calgary's station (I noted it was nice, but a bit small), I was in seat 20 on the east side. The westbound Canadian is still in the station.
Red Deer Sub:
Calgary 0850
Mi 8 Beddington 0905
Balzac AA
Mi 19 Airdrie CAAU 0918 - string of grain cars
Mi 29 Crossfield EAAAA 0927 - large sulphur plant with tank cars and Sultran bathtub gons
Carstairs AAUUPF Mountain View - seed cleaning plant
Mi 46 Didsbury AAUU 0945
Mi 56 Olds AAPCUUHF 0956 - running 25 minutes late, coyote running away from train
Mi 67 Bowden AUP 1006 - large Shell refinery 1 mile north
Mi 75 Innisfail AAAPUUUCE 1018 - met southbound RDC-1 6124 at 1015
Mi 84 Penhold UU 1025
Mi 93 Red Deer AAECU 1036 - arrived 30 minutes late, departed 22 minutes late. CP 8679, 8483, 8532, 8822, 8543. Note the well-known notation in VIA's April 26, 1981 timetable: "Vending machines available at Red Deer Station dispensing soft drinks, soup, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and candy."
Leduc Sub:
Red Deer 1044 - passed under a railway bridge at 1055 [CN's Brazeau Sub, thanks Ben!], hotbox detector at 1101
Mi 18 Lacombe CEAAP 1107 - northbound 2-unit wayfreight passed. CP 8487
Mi 35 Ponoka AAUPF 1121
Hobbema AAUU - Cree Tribal Administration building
Mi 57 Wetaskiwin AAAUCF 1139 - running 17 minutes late. CP 8811
Mi 67 Millet AD - passed herds of Holsteins
Mi 79 Leduc P 1200 - hit 2 track torpedoes and stopped briefly at Mi 77.7
Mi 84 Nisku 1206 - lots of oil industries. CP 8649
Mi 90 Ellerslie A
Mi 97 South Edmonton E 1223 - Strathcona station built 1907 arrived 23 minutes late.

My southbound trip aboard VIA No 196 was 3 minutes late leaving at 1728, I was in seat 42 on the west side. At the time of boarding, I regettably realized that I had lost my return ticket! Panic set in! I notified the conductor. I offered him money. I think he perceived this as a bribe instead of an offer to pay onboard for my passage. He looked me straight in the eye and said the following, "This is my train. If I want to carry ya for f***ing nothing, I'll carry ya for f***ing nothing!!" Later, when he came down the aisle to lift the tickets, he looked at me with a "Oh, it's that guy!" look and went on to the next passenger.

We met a 2-unit freight south of Ponoka CP 5622-5617, and a scrap metal pickup train was in the siding at Lacombe. We departed Red Deer 15 minutes late at 1926. We met the northbound RDC just south of Red Deer at Tuttle. We halted due to mechanical problems at Penhold, now running 30 minutes late. Passing the large Johns-Mansville plant north of Innisfail, blackbirds, heron and four prairie chickens were flushed out by our Dayliner. No wonder the RDC's on this line were equipped with grated windows for the engineer! Late trains get later. Though only one hour late at Didsbury, Calgary city lights were visible at 2142, with arrival 1 hour 9 minutes late at 2159. Fortunately, staying at the Palliser Hotel, the late arrival meant I didn't have far to go for a hamburger at the Four Seasons restaurant.

Over the years, CP's and then VIA's passenger trains provided intercity rail passenger service which had more than its share of accidents on the line. At one point, LRC service was proposed. CP Rail and VIA had made numerous presentations to the Canadian Transport Commission's Railway Transport Committee in Ottawa, hoping to discontinue the service. The CTC mandated upgrades to equipment and service. Increasing truck and agricultural traffic was starting to take its toll. By early 1985, the run's future was tenuous at best. I photographed 6124 at Winnipeg's East Yard with its end covered in plywood, following a 1982 tangle with a truck:
On January 15, 1984, Transport Minister Don Mazankowski announced the indefinite suspension of Edmonton-Calgary service. Eleven Dayliner accidents in the previous two years led Edmonton's mayor of the day Laurence Decore to state "It's a seedy, tacky service used by very few people. Its 200 level crossings make it an absolute calamity that has caused too many deaths." Even with $1,000,000 in Alberta government spending and the elimination of 12 grade crossings, the Dayliner made its last run on September 6, 1985. The unsuitability of the South Edmonton station, four miles from the VIA (ex-CN) Edmonton station, as well as competition from road and air travel contributed to the service's demise. Though there have been efforts to start a High-Speed Rail intercity service, since the competition is still out there, this would seem unlikely! Check out Part 2 of this series for photos and which RDC's were in use when.

Running extra...

Train of thought: Edmonton has the largest Ukrainian-Canadian population of any Canadian city. Edmonton mayor Laurence Decore was born Lavrentiy Dikur. Don Mazankowski was born in Viking. Viking is 36 miles from Vegreville. Happy Easter! Vegreville is the site of the world's largest pysanka, not to be confused with Vulcan, which is the site of a Star Trek Starship and Trek Station. Those grain elevator listings remind me of ABBA, the Swedish pop group celebrating the 40th anniversary of their Eurovision song contest win with Waterloo. Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, was dyslexic. The IKEA product nomenclature system includes POANG, a popular chair series. POANG is Swedish for point, which is a British term for a switch.
A co-worker of mine was photographing near-record spring run-off of the Napanee River, then thoughtfully pointed the camera at a passing westbound VIA conventional consist. Watch for upcoming posts on this most scenic trainwatching spot, as well as a two-part series on Napanee's rail-served industries!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring cleaning sale on!

Springtime means cleaning time! Cleaning out some prototype paper and modelling items, that is! First email received indicating interest in each item to mile179kingstonATyahooDOTca - the item is yours! Each item will be shipped well-protected via Canada Post, upon receipt of payment. Shipping cost for items will be actual postage. Payment by cheque, money order or well-concealed cash. Thanks for browsing, and I hope you find some items that you like! ---Eric

ITEMS SOLD SO FAR: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.

Item 1(above-cover) Bombardier Inc. LRC Operating Manual for locomotives 6921-6930, May 1983, 80 pages with diagrams (sample pages below), $15.
Item 2: CN Toronto MacMillan Yard Operating Manual, January 1976, 40 pages with colour foldout trackage diagram, $5.
Item 3: CP Rail(E&N) Vancouver Island passenger timetable, November 1975, $5.
Item 4: VIA Instructions to Passenger Train Conductors, April 1989, 80+ pages, $5.
Item 5: GM Diesel Division deck of playing cards. Most are blue, jokers are red! $10.
Item 6: CPR Lake Superior Division Employees' Timetable, October 1911, 15 pages photocopy $7.
Item 7: BC Rail Employees' Timetable, April 1994, 40 pages, $5.
Item 8: 1985 CRHA Canadian Rail Newfoundland Railway issue, Sept-Oct 1985, 30+ pages,  $5.
Item 9: HO scale Creative Model Associates Telltales (2), $4.
Item 10: CN Rail Turbotrain Emergency Evacuation Procedures for CN/VIA Employees, 12 pages bilingual, $5.
Item 11: CN Champlain District car control trackage diagrams photocopy, 1997, 20 pages covering Montreal Sub, St-Laurent Sub, and portion of Kingston Sub, $7.
Sample page showing Riviere-des-Prairies yard (below)
Item 12: Athabasca Scale Models CP Two-Position Train Order Signals $4.
Item 13: Miniatures by Eric SW1200 conversion kit $7.
Item 14: Athabasca Scale Models CC&F Lightweight Psgr Steps (2 sets) $4 each set.
Item 15: Softcover Anthology 'Through the Window of a Train' Edited by Barbara Lange, $5.
Item 16: Model Railroader Winter 2013 special edition 'How to Build a Model Railroad' great for beginners, $3.
Item 17: Rapido Trains bag, $500 or best offer.
Thanks for shopping, and I hope you found something that would look good in your layout room or would be of use for your layout!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Propane Facility at Millhaven

Who said railways are in decline? Or that railways only tear up their trackage, not build anything new? Who says there are no new customers? Well, in Millhaven, just east of Ernestown station at Mi 188 Kingston Sub, an existing facility is newly-enlarged and now rail-served. Having made a couple of visits to the site over the past few months, I'd like to share some photos of this newly rail-served operation. Visible from Lennox & Addington County Road 4 which runs north from lakeside Millhaven to Highway 2, some views from the overpass are in order. VIA heads west, with the propane lead visible (above) as I trudge north along the county road, with the historically-designated Ernestown station to the west that I visited in 1985 at track level (below):
The connection to CN's Millhaven Spur looking east of County Road 4.The new track approaches from the right, joining the service track just east of the distant signals of the Ernestown interlocking and crossovers:
A closeup, taken at the limits of my camera's digital zoom, shows the newly-ballasted track making a bit of a jog before joining the service track at Millhaven; here errant graffiti taggers have left their marks:
The lead makes a model-railroady staked S-curve as it heads southwest from the service track, entering a gentle horseshoe curve toward the facility:
Now heading south, the spur temporarily parallels the county road. Compare the snowy March view to the June, 2013 roadbed-only verdant view below:
Another nine month-difference shows two views of the roadbed and drainage ditch, with heavy equipment at the propane facility site. Previously, propane was delivered here by transport truck. Take notice of the new greyish storage tanks now in place while you play Spot the Trackmobile!
A from-the-car update photo in August 2014 shows two propane tank cars spotted. The Trackmobile is just visible behind foliage at the far left end of the white storage tank:
A view from the end of the triple unloading tracks shows the lead arriving from the north, heading east to a tail track serving three tracks.A Cruickshank Construction trailer is nearby. Presumably, the Trackmobile shown will trundle cars along the spur, to and from the service track.
Try this on your model railroad - piles of gravel to stop errant cars from crashing through that new chain link fence!
The Trackmobile rests on the middle track while a hi-rail crane and trailer repose just west of the tail track.
I shall return, hopefully to find some cars spotted here!

2014 UPDATE - Summer - cars being spotted here in twos and threes. Facility now goes by name of Gibson Gas - company based in Calgary, AB.

2019 UPDATE: Now known as Midstream LPG, at least on CN documents.

2023 UPDATE: My son-in-law snapped this shot of the Trackmobile making its way up to the CN mainline with tanks: 

Running extra...

No fuel like an old fuel. An evening trip to Brockville tonight found us passing an eastbound CN VMSX oil train behind 2280, 5480 and another Oakway repaint 5466 (thanks, Malcolm!). The same day that my newspaper reported that hearings in Ottawa suggested 20 km/h through urban areas. Slick! Westbound, we passed a stopped CN No 377 in the same location with GLNX, UTLX and CTCX cruders on the tailend. 5729-5725 had shed their conductor, trudging back along the ballast in the pouring rain.

Surprisingly but thankfully, I've received no X2F-related spam messages after my most recent post on this shiny, black petroleum-based plastic invention.. Not even a couple. What a joint!

Nice series of rolling stock shots dating from the 1980's by Gary Todd, Ph D on flickr.

David Letterman, the Indiana grocery-baggin' weatherman is retiring. Bud Melman, The Guy Under The Seats, early morning show band leader Frank Owens, recurring bits with Teri Garr, Mandy Patinkin and Tony Randall...there are so many. "I'm not wearing pants!" As a fan, also from the 1980's, I wish Dave and Thunder Bay's own Paul Shaffer all the best!