Wednesday, August 17, 2016

VIA Builds and Splits Trains at Brockville, 1981-1985

Beginning with the November 15, 1981 timetable marking the disastrous Liberal government cuts to VIA, the cars for Nos 44/54 were included in the now Montreal-Toronto consist of VIA's Canadian between Montreal and Vancouver operating over CN's Kingston Sub. With the Canadian operating over CN's Kingston Sub, my noon-time observations of Nos 2/44/54 and 43/53 were prevalent. Interestingly, while waiting to record the Canadian's more varied consists, including Corridor-rare ex-CP stainless steel equipment, westbound Nos 43/53 would usually appear within a few minutes of the Canadian's passing at Kingston! Dale Woodland kindly gave permission for me to include his photos, taken in 1982 at Brockville, in this post. My previous post covers 1976-1981. VIA No 43/53 led by 6771 is having the Montreal cars added by the Brockville switcher (top photo). The Canadian arrives at lunchtime:
The eastbound Canadian arrived at Brockville with through cars from Western Canada via Toronto, plus Corridor cars for No 44 to Ottawa and No 54's Toronto-Montreal cars. After the cut was made behind two coaches and club-galley, the locomotives pulled east and these cars were set out in the pocket track behind the station, awaiting the power that had arrived on No 43. On the reassembled No 2/54, two Toronto-Montreal cars tailed the baggage, ahead of the cars from the West, notwithstanding cars that had been removed from the Canadian in Toronto.

From 1981-1985, the consists of No 43/53 were consistent:
  • baggage (Montreal)
  • coach (Montreal)
  • 3000-series cafe coach lounge (Montreal)
  • 3200-series snack bar coach (Ottawa)
  • coach (Ottawa)
  • club-galley (Ottawa)
with no second baggage as in previous years. Nos 44/54's cars usually comprised a club-galley, two or three coaches and a snack bar coach, with only one or two coaches coming east of Toronto on No 2. Is it possible that seats were sold in the Canadian's coaches for 'shorts' - passengers travelling between Toronto and Montreal?
Of course the Canadian's consist included most of its cars through from the west coast: tailend Park car, stainless steel sleepers, diner, mid-train Skyline dome and Budd baggage. (Strangely no domes appear on Dale's VIA 6784-led consist, as a Chateau sleeper carries the markers!) This was a brief but remarkable era for railfans! The Canadian has switched out the three Ottawa cars in the pocket track (above) and the FP9A from VIA No 43 has coupled on:
On February 4-5, 1983 the Brockville wye was flooded due to heavy rains. VIA No 43-44 and 48-49 had to operate with back-to-back units instead of wyeing: CN 4424-6762-SGU, CN 3109-6769 and CN 3118-6765. On September 25-26, 1984 track work on the wye again resulted in non-wyed, back-to-back units VIA 6525-CN 4362 and CN 3107-4362. Dale photographed another eastbound Corridor Canadian, this one with an all-MLW locomotive consist including a smokin' RS18 (below). Just east of the William Street overpass, it looks like the cut has just been made behind the Montreal cars:
VIActivity! Looks like a westbound has just gone by on the south main as the Canadian's consist holds the north main and the power is setting out the four Ottawa cars in the pocket track:
Jason Paul Sailer shared a similar photo from the C. Ken Hooper collection of the Great Canadian Plains Railway Society, taken at Brockville in 1982. Another Canadian on another day making the Ottawa setout, with semaphore and cars at the CP freight shed at right of photo:
Under-photographed due to its nocturnal movements, the overnight VIA Cavalier was also built and split at Brockville. VIA No 48 (Toronto-Ottawa) and VIA No 58 (Toronto-Montreal) being split and VIA No 49 (Ottawa-Toronto) and VIA No 59 (Montreal-Toronto being built. Arriving from Ottawa, No 49 simply backed its coach-sleeper consist onto the short siding east of the William Street overpass, cut off the power, and wyed it. The Montreal section backed onto the two cars and headed to Toronto, as the Ottawa power awaited the arrival of the combined No 48/58.

Interestingly, No 48 ran on an all-CN route until October 1978, when it switched from the Ottawa-Smiths Falls-Napanee-Toronto route to the CP between Smiths Falls and Brockville. The final No 48/49 operated on the night of January 17-18, 1989. With cancellation expected months earlier, the train did not appear in VIA's timetable in late-1988!

It would be well into the 1990's before VIA would once again split trains at Brockville. In all cases, after the demise of the Cavalier, these joint trains (referred to as J-trains) were eastbound and were marshalled locomotive-cars-locomotive-cars. The second crew split the train themselves, ahead of the second locomotive before continuing their run east. The following trains split to Ottawa and Montreal respectively, either in Manitoba yard, west of the station, or at the station itself:
  • VIA Nos 48/68 as of May 1997
  • VIA Nos 648/68 on Saturdays as of June 1998 and Sundays as of January, 2000
  • VIA Nos 42/56 as of June 1998 until April, 2011
  • VIA Nos 40/52 as of January 2000 until April 2011
  • VIA Nos 50/52 and 54/56 as of April 2011 - trains to Ottawa operating through to Montreal, renumbered to 50/60 and 52/62 in January 2014 until present
The pin is pulled to separate VIA Nos 50/52 at Brockville station on August 29, 2013 (above). Fun fact: Triple J-trains are an operational anomaly but have operated!

Thanks to Dale Woodland for sharing his photos. Interestingly, both Dale and Jeremy Plant wrote articles published in the Summer 2016 issue of Classic Trains magazine.

Running extra...

Trackside? Whitby railfan Thomas Blampied has a list of railfan locations on his blog.
True to prototype? Rapido Trains Inc's Jason Shron is modelling Brockville in HO scale
Time travel? Steve Young's late 1980's on Railpictures dot ca.
Tired of graffiti? Rolling stock of the 70's, 80's and NOT today.
Tipsy? Toronto's Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival. Beer + Trains = Fun!

Traffic Jam? TTC Flexity articulated streetcar derails on King Street causing a CLRV traffic 'tram'.
Travelling? While in Brockville, 12-knot chase of Federal Elbe. Slower than train-chasing!

 Iroquois Lock:


Unknown said...

What a great post and great Blog site. Just discovered your site. Really enjoy seeing pictures of these engines and trains that I grew up with as my Dad serviced the locomotive fleets from Halifax and I got to ride the trains from Halifax through to Montreal and Toronto. Superb!

I'm adding links to your site from our Canadian Toy Train Association Web site.

Kyle Miller, Vancouver.

Eric said...

Hi Kyle,

Thanks for your kind comments about Trackside Treasure. Great to have you aboard. You will see lots of GMD and MLW locomotives on this blog. While I don't have the same connection you did, we spent many enjoyable hours trackside in the Kingston area watching them roll at speed!

Thanks for the link as well.