Monday, November 4, 2019

Ave, Centurion!

PSR is usually associated with Precision Scheduled Railroading. I would submit that it can also stand for Precision Scheduled Railfanning. As a PSR railway, CN has been in the forefront of predictable train times to make railroading and customer service more predictable and efficient. Sure, I'd heard that a Centurion tank would be handled by CN, and it should head westward on CN's Kingston Sub. Chances of encountering it were slim, in my mind. (The money shot - top photo - and the post title meaning 'Hail, Centurion' or how Romans greeted their superior officers.) Now, more of the story...
The timing of this special movement was public relations gold for CN, with a remembrance theme respectfully resonating in November. Moving the tank from the Cornwallis Military Museum in Cornwallis, NS  where street names include Corvette Lane, Voodoo Street, and Bren Street (hey, wasn't that a former CP/DAR line running through the base?) included a transport-truck move to Dartmouth's CN yard for transshipment (5th Canadian Division video captures:

CN train No 407 left Dartmouth for Moncton, then CN No 305 left Moncton with several dimensional loads and the Centurion:
Stopping at home for lunch on this Sunday, a quick Facebook check revealed the train passing through Dorval at 9:05 a.m. I don't remember who posted that OS, and FB is much less searchable than Trackside Treasure, so thanks to that poster! It was now about 1:30 pm. That's four-and-a-half hours and I sometimes think of a ten-hour timespan for a freight train to go from Montreal to Toronto. I was heading out on an unusually 'busy' day for this retired guy, so I thought I might be lucky trackside. The precision part? I'd have about 20 minutes to devote to catching 305.  
Positioning myself near Mi 179 Kingston Sub, just west of Kingston, I was treated to two westbound VIA trains with VIA 916 (Poppy) leading the first at 1345, and VIA 6436 (Future) the second at 1350. As I'd seen both headlights rounding the curve near Mi 178, I said, those ain't freight trains.
Last year at this time, VIA applied large poppies to P42's 906 and 913 that were awaiting 40 Years/Ans wraps. This year, it's 900, 916 and maybe 915 awaiting 'love the way' wraps that have received the poppies (above).
Of course, the first impulse at this point is to give up and get going. Just five more minutes though...sure enough the next, slow-moving headlight could be the one! Taking my life in my hands to cross five traffic lanes on a serendipitously slow-traffic-day Bath Road, I was in position. Amazingly, in a huge windstorm on Hallowe'en evening, CN's deferred maintenance had contributed to two telegraph poles blowing down in this same spot, so the lineside wires would not compromise the photos of the bridge deck dimensional loads on QTTX 131306, 131366, and 131329 plus idlers nor the bagged loads in several black gons !(both - above)
As the tank cars, dimensional loads, Irving lumber, bagged loads and DPU 2535 (above) passed by, I was running out of train for the Centurion to be on. Again, patience. And there it was, totally untarped, open the the Canadian weather as it had been for years earlier since its repatriation to Canada in 1954, and providentially photographable:

Based on this CN-posted photo, the Centurion made it to its desination in BC!

While we're on the topic of remembrance, this being Veterans' Week, it's worth noting that Kingston's Mrs Reine Samson Dawe has been honoured as this year's Silver Cross Mother. Reine's son Captain Matthew Dawe lost his life in Afghanistan. Less than a mile west of my vantage point, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 631 bears Captain Dawe's name as well as a colourful Vimy mural by Shane Goudreau:
Now, what if the poppy-wrapped VIA units had some interpretive lettering accompanying that logo?


Robert Archer said...

The advantages of living in Kingston!
Great story and photos.
Thanks for being the On The Spot Reporter.

Eric said...

...and you are there!

Thanks, Robert. It's not something I set out to be, but I was happily surprised at how lucky I was to be trackside 'doing my reportage' at that time!