Saturday, April 29, 2017

CN's Kingston Wayfreights, Part 1 - Introduction

Kingston has long been served by CN wayfreights, although having observed these trains for decades, it wasn't always easy to know their operating patterns. This three-part series will include Kingston Sub operations, local cars and consists, and Cataraqui Spur operations. CN 4401 totes seven cars and caboose 79905 westbound towards Belleville at Mi 189 Kingston Sub at 1629 on January 30, 1986 (top photo).

Here are some things I do know:
  • wayfreights were based in Belleville, Kingston and Brockville.
  • at least one locomotive was based in Kingston until the mid-1980's, when operations from CN's Outer Station ceased.
  • Queens has always been an operational point for Kingston, particularly for the handling of inbound and outbound local traffic.
  • power assigned to locals was RS-18's and GP-9's, singly or more recently in pairs.
  • remanufactured GP9RM's became assigned power in 1990.
  • other power occasionally observed included: SW1200RS, M420, GP38-2, SD40-2W, or GMD-1's, singly or in combinations or pairs.
  • Montreal-Toronto maid-of-all-work roadswitcher trains Nos 317 and its eastbound Toronto-Montreal counterpart No 318 (referred to in this post henceforth as "317/318") traversed the Kingston Sub for many years, lifting and setting out cuts of cars at all yards and operational points.

From pre-1976 until the late-1980's, 317/318 would depart their respective originating terminals, recrewing en route, with each train taking at least 24 hours to arrive at its respective destination terminal. Check out this locomotive consist - Departing Mac Yard with seven units in 1984. No 317 would reach Brockville at 1100, departing west at 1700, with No 318 arriving Brockville late afternoon, not departing until evening.
On a rainy evening -  September 20, 1987 at 1846 - 317 passes Kingston's VIA station (above and below) behind 9473-2037. The paltry consist of seven cars includes a carbon black car, covered hoppers, tank cars, Railbox and a deadheading snowplow.

While 317/318 were operating, they worked online yards like Kingston, lifting cars left by the local switcher and leaving behind other cars to be spotted at local industries. They acted as through trains in addition to their role as roadswitcher, carrying through cars for the destinations in the second half of their consists. Online yards were worked off the head-end, and in some case off the tail-end of 317/318. Non-priority maintenance-of-way or non-revenue cars handled at reduced speeds included boarding car outfits, rails, ties, ballast and track supplies, bad-order cars for repair, scale test cars, snow-fighting equipment and dimensional loads. 

A CN schedule for No 318 dated 1974:
Powered by a grab-bag of CN power, these trains were not necessarily long, but made up in local interest what they lacked in length! On April 5, 1981, 317 handled three covered, burnt-out Turbo cars. On May 2, 1982, 318 handled damaged Railiner 6107. My brother Dave made a regular study of No 317 which would roll through Kingston and Amherstview nightly after 2000 hrs. He recently posted some photos of No 317 lifting its train out of Queens 4 in 1983 and charging across Counter Street crossing and on to the VIA station.

Some operational intricacies included the Friday night switching of Kingston's DuPont plant on the Cataraqui Spur. The crew of No 317 would take the local power from Queens to DuPont, switch the plant then take unit and cars west to Belleville - such as CN 3714 and four cars that headed down the Cat Spur on May 18, 1984.

Interestingly, since the hey-day of 317/318, those same train numbers have been used by CN up to and including 1999-2000, and for extra trains handling dimensional loads. 
A mix of CN motive power, including eclectic consists of road power and road switchers, some of the latter likely set off at intermediate points. Note the initial caboose on the head-end of 317's consists - this was quite a common practice.
  • May 13/82 1957 WB No 317: 9540-9551-9568-9512-9598-4416, cabooses 79306-79386-79562-79620-79238-79716-79769, PGE 5163 boxcar, caboose 79508.
  • July 13/82 1945 WB No 317: 9516-9520, 79532, UTLX tank cars, GTW gondola, cabooses 76674-79222.
  • Aug 18/82 1514 EB No 318: 5517-3711, CN boxcars, gondolas, covered hoppers, Canada Starch tank car CSTX 58, caboose 79671. 47 cars.
  • Oct 15/82 1550 EB No 318: 2005-4533, NCTX and UTLX tank cars, CN boxcars and covered hoppers, caboose 79214.
  • Jun 22/83 1950 WB No 317: 4401-4226-3696, BCR boxcar, NCTX and UTLX tank cars, SCLAIR 44605 covered hopper, caboose 79237.
  • Aug17/84 2300 WB No 317: 2515-2037-3129-3697-4133, Southern covered hopper, RBOX boxcar, BCR bulkhead flat, scale test car CN 52277, caboose 79626.
Lifts and setouts made by 317/318 spawned wayfreights all along CN's Kingston Sub. In this area:
  • Belleville - wayfreights to Cobourg, Bowmanville, Napanee, Strathcona, Picton, Ernestown, Millhaven and Bath, such as CN No 526 to Kingston.
  • Brockville - wayfreights serving DuPont, Genstar and Liquid Carbonic (departing 0900, returning 1600) and Prescott, Johnston, Cardinal and Morrisburg (departing 1300, returning 1930) such as Nos 532, 590 to Brockville east, 591 to Cornwall, and 765.
An August 1983 CN Kingston Sub wayfreight schedule lists the following, (including assigned locomotive on August 1, 1984!), origin-destination, lv. and arr. times, and frequency:
  • CN No 526 Eng 3728 Belleville-Gananoque 0700-1500 Ex Sun
  • CN No 528 Eng 4224 Belleville-Oshawa 0745-1545 Ex Sat Sun
  • CN No 588 Eng 3738 Kingston-Gananoque 0800-1600 Ex Sun
  • CN No 590 Eng 1300 Brockville-Prescott 0900-1700 Ex Sat Sun
Note that these are daytime, weekday turns with two operating through Kingston each weekday.

Watch for an upcoming post profiling Belleville-based wayfreights into the present. In the meantime, here's a May, 2022 summary of CN No 518's work between Belleville and Kingston on a sample day:

A 1988 CN car control manual for the afternoon Brockville yard assignment included instructions for switching 317/318 usually yarded KF62-KF65, marshalling westbound cars for 317 in KF63, and eastbound cars for 318 makeup in KF62, switching local traffic for 590 to KF65, plus switching the yarded train No 590.

Paul Charland kindly shared two photos of Nos 317/318. Here is a five-unit locomotive consist: three Geeps, an S and an SW with No 317 at the Bartholomew Street crossing in March, 1981:
Paul's photo of CN No 318 is taken from the former Brockville & Westport as it enters Brockville yard with dimensional loads on the head-end, a normal part of the train on Sundays. In both photos, tankcars and covered hoppers are prevalent:

As I admitted at the outset of this post, it's difficult to conclusively say, in retrospect, how the operating patterns of 317/318 and the local wayfreights overlapped in a given year. It's fair to state that 317/318 worked Belleville, Kingston and Brockville, with wayfreights operating:
  • Belleville-Kingston-Belleville
  • Brockville-Kingston-Brockville and
  • Brockville-Kingston-Belleville
in various eras, as online industries opened or closed, their requirements for rail service expanding and/or contracting due to the economy, Free Trade and technological advances. In part two of this series we look at the cars handled for local industries and in part three Cataraqui Spur operations.

Running extra...
It's been a banner first week with 40 copies of Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections leaving the Shipping Department, er, kitchen table, all going to good homes! It's great to see half of the new owners ordering with new and convenient Interac E-transfer option. The book 'launch' held last Monday night at Kingston's VIA station was fun! (above).

Now that the nice weather is here, my winter book project has become my summer walking program. Work breaks, formerly used for book creation, are now spent walking the tree-lined streets, pleasant avenues and winsome waterfront of Kingston's Sydenham district. The streets have been choked with U-Hauls as Queen's U-students change locations for the summer, sometimes executing U-turns!
Fun fact: the item discarded most often left behind on Kingston sidewalks is not the ubiquitous cigarette butt nor even the winter-elliptical Tim Hortons cup. No, it's the lowly hairpin. After passing them, I usually circle back to double-check, thereby executing a hairpin turn!


GP9Rm4108 said...

I don't know if I am jumping the gun here but I will do it anyway.

Kingston Sub wayfreights in 2017:

543 originates in Oakville and goes through the TTR limits once a week to service the last remaining two customers on the Harbour Lead.

546 originates Oshawa and services Bowmanville - Cherry Street including the Uxbridge Sub

518 (occasionally a 519) originates in Belleville servicing Belleville locally and Kingston - Port Hope.

532 originates in Brockville and services Gananoque to Morrisburg

CP F51 comes from Smiths Falls to Brockville to do interchange in the CN yard.

591 originates in Coteau and services Cornwall to Montreal

536 and 538 originate in Coteau and mostly work the Valleyfield Sub but they do work the Kingston between Coteau and Montreal.

589 originates in Ottawa and comes into Coteau to setoff/pickup Ottawa traffic.

I am hoping I didn't forget anything!

GP9Rm4108 said...

And I of course did forget something!

585 comes out of Montreal and primarily services the Valero (formerly Ultramar) facility in Maitland. They will usually bring in local traffic for Brockville and sometimes work Coteau.

586 departs Brockville picking up outbound traffic 532 has set up for them as well as lifting the empties from Valero in Maitland. They may work Coteau.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hairpin U-turn... har de har har. Or should I say, hair the hair hair.

Eric said...

Thanks for summarizing the current situation, Chris! Very helpful.

Steve: hair today, gone tomorrow!