Monday, October 27, 2014

GO Transit Cab Car Cavalcade

GO 200
While spending a couple of enjoyable, sunny September afternoons watching the departure of GO Transit commuter consists west from Toronto Union Station, I was taken by the flat faces and appurtenance-laden GO 200-series cab cars, finding myself inexplicably photographing each one, trying to highlight different details or alternating angles. This post is the result. A cab car cavalcade. Enjoy!
GO 244
GO 248
GO 211 and crew
GO 211
GO 238
GO 219 and crew
GO 219
GO 222
GO 206
GO 238
GO 233 detail
Something different this way GOes...a Bombardier rendering of one of the 65 new cab cars to be built:
And another un-sourced version of a cab car, this one wearing the Metrolinx scheme:

Running extra...

Speaking of appurtenances, did you know that Columbus Castings produces three times more knuckles than couplers? Guess which part breaks more often. Did you know that 90% of Nathan air horn bodies are made of aluminum-alloy? Does this ring a bell? Decide whether you like clapper or electric bells. Can one have too much bell?

Also, did you know there was a transit agency in Cincinnati named SORTA? It's the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority. In Kingston, it's Kingston Transit. But imagine if our transit agency was instead called Kingston Intermodal Non-car Development Authority? That would be KINDA, SORTA.

I'm about to start reading astronaut Chris Hadfield's book - An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. Then I'll have to find space for it on my bookshelf.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

One Hour at Union Station

On September 18, prior to leaving Toronto for Kingston aboard VIA No 48, I had a sunny sojourn at the paved railfan viewing post west end of the Skywalk, linking Union Station with the CN Tower. Just east of Toronto Union is Toronto Terminal Railways' Scott Street tower, photographed on the way into the station;
And just the west in the afternoon, John St tower, located under the footbridge just west of the Skywalk:
While traversing the Skywalk, one is bombarded with advertising for Union Pacific Union Pearson Express, someday soon whisking travellers to the airport in CNR-coloured olive and black - hashtag ThrowBack.
The view from the eastern part of the Skywalk at 1645 - in the ensuing hour, over 27 movements would pass this point. VIA 6442 arrives with four HEP2 cars while two GO consists loiter at the south side of Union Station.
Metrolinx-scheme MP40-PH3C 607 is eastbound into Union at 1709, soon disappearing behind a westbound consist: (below and top). Most GO trains are led by these MotivePower Industries ponies which entered GO service beginning in 2007:
Metrolinx-painted 2842. Note to railfans - unlike the previous green paint scheme, the car number appears at only one end of the car, with 'Metrolinx' at the other. Grab that number the first time! I was able to record the consists of the vast majority of trains in the hour (not listed here for clarity), except when two consists were in motion at the same time, causing me to look like Marty Feldman.
As the action heats up, empty trainsets arrive from Willowbrook as loaded trains depart the Lakeshore West and other lines radiating to the western hinterland of 'T-Dot'. 618 is westbound behind a 12-car consist led by cab car 206 as another westbound behind trails 617. One 12-car consist replaces 1,670 cars, while a 10-car consist carries as many commuters as 1,400 cars.
GO engine 562 is trailing on an eastbound 10-car consist led by sister 561 at 1655, between the InterContinental Hotel - originally opened as the CN L'Hotel in 1984 - convention centre and Skywalk bridges, bank towers and newly-sprouted condos, soon to form Condo Canyon!
A closeup of the 1994-built 562, one of the last batch of GO F59PH's, unusually pushing cab car 235:
VIA 6439 backs in with four LRC cars, including refurbished Business Class car 3465 at 1651. In the background, 654 trails a 10-car westbound consist led by cab car 254:
VIA 6441 and an LRC consist are stationary west of the station at 1740 as a westbound 10-car GO consist led by cab car 244 passes by. Watch for an upcoming post entitled Cab Car Cavalcade. Or maybe Cab Car Cornucopia. It won't be titled Cab Car Caleidoscope because they all look, well, the same. But they can be photographed to make them look different, and I really like the appurtenances all over their green-and-white visages.
The GO consist is trailed by 4000 hp Metrolinx-scheme 662, giving its all to propel weary commuters home, or to the next part of their weary lemming-like commute:
GO 607 eastbound, cab car 219 westbound at 1709
Indulge me once more  - quick effects experimented with while waiting for next train to appear. Fisheye:
Soft focus, nicely-centred on the GO LO GO.
Look up - look waaaay up. And I'll get Rusty and Jerome. On my next visit, not even half the height of La Tour CN was visible due to mist coming in off the lake. See what it's like looking down, retro style!
While waiting for VIA No 48 in the Business Class Lounge, I was entertained by the constantly-changing departures sign, with its constantly advancing intermediate stations. All aboard for Armstrong!

The seafood brochette, wild rice salad with feta, chocolate mousse cake and roll beckoned on the way home, with irrigation provided by good, strong coffee and white wine.
Settling in to the USS Enterprise-like refurbished interior of VIA Business Class car 3475, with 2+1 seating, more elbow room, window-side tables (not shown) and glass bulkhead at end of car to deke around:

Running extra...

If you're interested in Calgary CP Rail operations...check out this comprehensive, longest blog post ever!

Last Saturday, thanks to a tip from Ken Wadden, I made it trackside to see the westbound Montreal Alouettes Fan Train en route to a game in Toronto against The Boatmen. At Cardinal, ON Tim Hayman caught the train. 6408-913 led HEP2 Business Class car 4007, 7 LRC cars and Glenfraser, the ex-BC Rail lounge car. Here's the train at 1100 passing Amherst View, Mi 182 Kingston Sub:
Amherst View is the site of two photos in My Railfan Five Challenge. Check out the list of participants in this challenge on Chris Mears' Prince Street Terminal blog sidebar, under My Railfan Five. It's spreading, with those taking up the challenge telling readers about their treasured trackside moments, lineside lineage and encouraging donations to worthy rail preservation projects.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Railfan Five Challenge

Here are five photos that I'd like to share with you. They illustrate my railfan journey. It starts on a cold February 1976 day, my Dad has photographed me recording observations of an eastbound CN freight after we've walked up to the double-track mainline of CN's Kingston Sub at Mi 182. Mittens in the snow, my cold hands hold my ubiquitous notepad. (above) Speeding PC, BN and SP-lettered cars now absent from the trackside scene. My Dad left us this year, but he started me on my railfan journey, and I started writing down numbers right here - in February, 1976!

Five months later, on a warm summer evening, the night before the US Bicentennial, my Dad has photographed another eastbound train with me trackside - this time at Portage la Prairie, MB. CP 5785-5630-3007-3006-8812 approach CP's Portage station, at which the wooden platform that hosted the Canadian is still in place. The shadow of Manitoba Pool Elevators Portage 'B' elevator looms in the foreground. High multimarks, low sun and high spirits.
Just over two years later, I'm at the same spot. I've just been given a camera by my uncle (at left) since the one I brought with me on this trip jammed. We've come down to the tracks at lunchtime, where we caught this CP eastbound behind 5695-5540, also with high multimarks and narrow nose stripes. A neighbourhood kid has showed up and is waving to the engineer. My hands are shaky but at the age of 14, I'm now taking my own photos. I'll take lots more photos at Portage la Prairie over the next few years!
I'm heading out West on May 26, 1984, passing the same sports field where my Dad took that top picture. Beneath the train, fresh untamped ballast cradles a super-elevated curve. Winter is behind us - it's now a pleasant spring evening, and I'm standing in the rear vestibule of my sleeper, Chateau Varennes, when VIA's Canadian still operated on CN's Kingston Sub between Montreal and Toronto. The anticipation of the trip, and more trainwatching in Portage is ahead of me, as the Kingston Sub recedes behind me. Going forward while looking back - now there's a metaphor for life!
Six years later, still on a day in May, I've met, proposed to, and married the wonderful woman who has given us our first child. It's May 25, 1990, and my seven-month old son is now trackside in his stroller with me, as I photograph him on his first trainwatching trip. Just before 1:30 in the afternoon, VIA's Montreal-Toronto train No 63 is making its station stop at Kingston - eight blue & yellow cars behind 6430. Fourteen years after the top photo, history has repeated itself - father trackside with his son. Interestingly, on the day of sharing my challenge, today I was trackside again to see VIA No 63 - two locomotives and seven cars.
There you have it, My Railfan Five. Now, I would like to challenge and will be contacting:
to take up the Railfan Five Challenge and post their five fave photos. I'm doubling the suggested two nominees to get the Railfan Five Challenge ball a-rollin'. Thanks to all who've expressed interest in this challenge and will also be taking part!

Also, to get rail preservation dollars flowing, I'll be making a donation to Exporail at St-Constant, QC. We often visited when it was known as the CRHA Canadian Railway Museum at Delson, and it's great to see the museum still making strides to preserve Canada's railway archives.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Take The Railfan Five Challenge!

Following on the heels of the highly-successful and Facebook-friendly ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, this is The Railfan Five Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to share your railfanning story in the form of five photos that you select. The five photos:
  • are photographs that you took, or that others took with you, or of you. 
  • depict trains, tracks, a model railway or trackside views. 
  • inspired your love of trains, or illustrate the impact trains have had on your life. 
  • do not have to be perfect! 
  • can include captions - what makes the photo meaningful to you?
How do you take up the challenge? Post your five photos - on your blog, Facebook or wherever you share photos online. After posting the photos, challenge two others to do the same, within the next five days. Nominees who choose not to take up the challenge are encouraged to make a donation to a railway preservation project of their choice - local, regional or national.

An example - in the above photo, my son is at Paris Junction, ON watching eastbound intermodal traffic roll. Taken in the the spring of 1993, this was during a great trip to southwestern Ontario - while the ladies were visiting the Mary Maxim arts and crafts factory store, we headed over to the nearby CN mainline on a beautiful, sunny morning and were treated to a fast-rolling train that held his interest and mine. It's a runner-up for my Railfan Five Challenge photo selections. 

Interestingly, my Railfan Five Challenge photos include trains as well as people. Trains and people illustrate my railfan journey, and the value of sharing experiences with others. And they tell a story. These five photos stop me in my tracks. I'll be posting them in the next five days! Would you consider doing the same? --Eric

Thursday, October 9, 2014

CP Victoria BC Yard

How often have you seen a full-sized model railroad yard in real life? You know, those little three-track, stub-ended yards with perfectly parallel tracks that can only hold about a dozen cars, looking like they were laid out with snap-track. In the prototype; the real world. Well, I found one a while ago and it has captivated me because of its rarity, its location and the facility of which it is part.
CP's shop complex in Victoria BC, on Vancouver Island, formerly the Esquimalt & Nanaimo is nestled near Victoria Harbour (orange oval - above). Jim Booth, who like me has lived in Kingston, recently kindly shared some of his photos of the yard (all-below). An overall, labelled aerial photo (above) shows the relative locations of each building. Notice how the complex is surrounded by mixed-use buildings, including business, recreational and residential uses.
But I have to return to the little yard. The farthest yard track was a team track that received characteristically varied loads - newsprint for the Times Colonist, appliances, foundry coke and even navigational buoys on flat cars! Jim's 1982 shot shows some ancient Service equipment occupying the shop tracks. Van, flat cars, auxiliary and even an archaic truss-rod, wooden denizen. Beyond the yard are the straightforward locomotive service facilities:
Sand tower, fuel shed, with car shop at right, including CP boxcars and a CN insulated car. Looks like Jim was there on a (typically) rainy day, in 1982! Some online links:
E&N Division CRHA Diesel Photo gallery, E&N Division CRHA Miscellaneous gallery (check out the photos of Canadian Forces vehicles being unloaded at the ramp!) Flickr Victoria Yard photo set by Chris City, E&N Port Alberni Subdivision Victoria Roundhouse photos, West Coast Ferries Forum Railways on Vancouver Island discussion and photo pages, and MDunhamWilkie's Flickr BC Railways photos. The roundhouse's location and adjacent Esquimalt Road, Catherine Street and Sitkum Road made views of both end of the yard frequent photo subjects for rail enthusiasts.
At Jim's request, I have retained his original captions for each photo. The exterior wall and connection to the backshop are shown in these two mid-1990's photos (above and below): 
The curved outer wall of the roundhouse and its connection to the backshop (below) beyond which lies the peaked roof of the carshop as it appeared in the late 1990's:

Check out the unique timber construction of the carshop's roof, with a VIA RDC in residence (above). Jim notes that roundhouse stalls were actually numbered counter-clockwise, and that the office/washroom addition is the only non-original part of the roundhouse. It's alive! VIA RDC-1 is posed in the roundhouse door, in Jim's photo taken in 1996 from across the turntable pit.
The clouds part as 6148 is visible from the inside of the roundhouse - the diminutive fuel shed is still there, though the wooden sand tower is gone.
Jim has drawn up some excellent drawings of CP's Victoria facilities, and and built a model of the roundhouse. The 10-track roundhouse and backshop:
 Stores building:
 Two-track car shop:
The entire Victoria operation would make a great layout - manageable-size freight consists, RDC operation, unique vegetation and building styles to model, and marine-rail intermodal possibilities. In fact, Calgary modeller David Bedard has done just that. An operating session before Calgary's Supertrain 2017 train show revealed David's nice modelling of the Victoria E&N facilities. Ken King kindly shared this photo. Thanks, Ken!
CP, later E&N Railfreight's Wellcox facilities are shown in 1997:

Running extra...

Kingstonian Ron Barrett snapped coolly-coloured Citirail 1337 (one of 15 ES44AC's leased to BNSF, notes Ron) on an eastbound oil train at Kingston's VIA station:
Watch for Trackside Treasure's November sale - an intriguing selection of railway photos, manuals and even train orders from my collection. Top four Google Images shown for collecting: postage stamps, licence plates, coins and insects. Trackside Treasure allows me to collect, centralize and organize data, photos...and my thoughts! Stuff I collect: stubby beer bottles, milk bottle tops, peelable creamer tops.

Coming soon: My Railfan Five Challenge. Like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge...except with train photos...and of course a challenge.