Friday, August 31, 2018

Kingston Platform Tie Renewal, May 1995

Tie replacement is normally done by large, mechanized track gangs with lots of track machines. What if the ties are in a tricky position like a bridge or a station platform? Such was the case in 1995 when CN decided it was time to replace the ties on its Kingston Subdivision between the fence and the platform at Kingston's VIA station. So on the morning of Tuesday, May 29 heavy equipment came to call, the south track ties having been renewed over the previous two weeks. First, spikes were pulled and a Pettibone SpeedSwing started lifting the rails. Tie-plate hangers-on were removed by a sectionman (top photo) and welds were severed.
We dropped by on the morning of May 29. A front-end loader scooped 15-20 tired-out ties at a time, depositing them at the ends of the platform. CN 5301-5314 were eastbound at 1002, passing the cordoned-off area on the north track, in front of the station. Blow that whistle, engineer, blow that whistle!
We returned in the afternoon on May 29. The platform was cordoned off with caution tape as the rail lifting continued. Passing trains used the south track, like CN 5338-5319-5338-EMD 813 at 1343, the first three units in the CN North America scheme passed new ties stacked at the end of the station parking lot as they plowed eastward:
My Dad came back with us to see the progress. Trains that afternoon: 
  • 1322 VIA No 42 6921-3471-3371-3321-3374
  • 1347 VIA No 43 6401-3472-3345-3330-3321-3339
  • 1432 WB VIA 6423-3456-3356-33xx-3322-3338
  • 1457 WB VIA 6405-3302-3314-3372-3361-3306-3458-8623
  • 1515 EB CN 2117-exUP 6103    
The crews worked 12 hour days. Approaching trains called a foreman on the radio for permission to pass through the worksite. The foreman sounded a pocket airhorn (seen on his belt, below as the other foreman confers on a big ol' cellphone during a passing freight) three times for eastbounds and four times for westbounds. Telling the crews whether a freight of passenger train was approaching, work stopped. Grubbing out the top 18 inches of old ballast, with both rails piled on the platform. An excavator on the right-of-way loads banged-up ballast into two waiting dumptrucks on the platform:
New ties are distributed. The SpeedSwing brings bundles of new ties to be laid out by sectionmen. The excavator operator is returning to his machine:
Tie tongs and shovels are used. Tie plates were lightly spiked. Local noted rail author and photographer Bill Thomson stops by, in red shirt and ball cap at left of photo, along with my Dad:
Returning on Friday, June 2 a yellow tamper was working in the morning. At 1800, CN 9549-5048 and 25 ballast cars were dropping ballast. A ballast regulator and another tamper were working, with the north track out of service until Monday. A messy platform with ballast dumped over the rails/ties but not tamped:
Trains that evening: 
  • 1820 WB VIA 6413 and 3 cars
  • 1846 EB VIA 6406 and 3 cars
  • 1909 WB CN 5369-9629 and 113 cars
CN tamper 651-17, operated remotely by its operator seen standing on the platform on the evening of June 2:
My son stands at attention! The evening express, which was non-stop through Kingston: VIA 6902 with three coaches passing eastbound at reduced speed at 1900 while the tamper operator slowly works his way west:
On Sunday, June 4 the ballast regulator and tamper were still working. Three freights in less than 30 minutes:
  • 1445 EB CN 5322-GTW 6213-CNNA 6416 intermodal
  • 1502 EB CN 9406-5303 25 cars
  • 1509 WB CNNA 5359-2028-3528-CNNA 2437 from Queens south track
The north track was open, and a few trains used it. Then it was closed again and the machines gave the track a final going-over. The machines had to be in Cobourg on Monday morning!

Running extra...
Forty-nine thousand screaming and singing-along teens, their moms and grandmothers packed the dome-open Rogers Centre on August 30 for the first of two Ed Sheeran concerts. Perfect, (I was Thinking Out Loud). A chance to take a Photograph or two while waiting for the show to let out. I couldn't have been Happier while taking this time exposure of Union-Pearson Express and GO Transit trains passing the venue while on the Spadina Street bridge. Where only thirty-some years ago I'd stood pointing a camera at FPA4's and much older green-and-white GO Transit steeds.
The fenced-in Canada Malting elevator still stands on the Harbourfront at Bathurst. What can be done with a former terminal elevator? Apparently not much! Speaking of doing things with things, check out this ghostly image of your humble blogger on the steps of Portage la Prairie's CN station:
Graphics guru and Portage modeller Randy O'Brien took Mark Perry's speed-filled westbound DPU shot taken at one of my favourite trainwatching spots in all Canada, and added a 1984 'me' to the scene. Yep, that's where it all happened. Thanks, Randy!


Tyler said...

Google "Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa", "The Silo Hotel" or "Silo District V&A Waterfront Cape Town South Africa" for some inspired ideas for what can be done with an old concrete terminal grain elevator!

Eric said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Tyler. It can be done! Perhaps more successfully than with wooden ones, which except for an occasional museum or tea room, haven't much utility.