The fact that a trackside tree landed atop VIA No 55 just west of Cobourg around 2230 on December 23, reported as Mi 265.3 Kingston Sub (Twitter screenshot - above) didn't help, and it made ALL the national media. Passengers were stranded, missed connections, weren't fed, rebelled, threatened to walk off the train and did. It was the worst of times, it was the best of times as some passengers took it in stride.
The fallen tree on VIA No 55 stranded Nos 69/59/669, with 59 making it into Toronto before noon on December 24 on its own, 69 and 669 joined together near Colborne, heading to Toronto. VIA sent J-train '60/50' tto Cobourg, picking up 55’s passengers for Oshawa. Good news, though - VIA 8122 and tree-landed 4005D were back in service on December 27. VIA P42 900 with its nose damage might take a bit longer, though it was observed back in service around January 5 with still-visible minor nose damage.
As usual, I was spending the morning tracking our buffer car consists and although the usual sources showed trains en route, they were not actually passing. That was due to the derailment, blocking both tracks. VIA finally issued an advisory on its webpage around 1230 December 24 (above), stating all trains were cancelled for Christmas day. And the next day. Finally, on December 26, VIA released a temporary schedule for the 27th. All trains would operate as J-trains, that is two consists joined together. Although this is common on CN's Kingston Sub for trains such as VIA Nos 60/50 and 62/52, this would be ALL trains, eastward and westward.
CN freights had been staged up and down the Montreal and Toronto mainline since the 25th. Some limped into the few online yards, with others tying down where they were. Heavy equipment and crews were brought in. If, humble reader, you are hoping I headed out trackside, perhaps to Grafton, to document this for posterity and freeze off parts of my anatomy off, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I was too busy shovelling, opening gifts, hosting the family, eating lasagna and turkey and all those festive festoon feasting.
Lots o' links:
While Trackside Treasure is more of a retro blog than an up-to-the-minute blog, I do endeavour to document the Canadian railway scene and on Christmas weekend, this WAS the scene. So on December 27, I was chronicling the aftermath. If I can't go to the derailment, the derailment can come to me - well, sort of.
Railfans wanted two things: CN to detour over CP, and VIA to run a 'bus-bridge' around the site. CN has removed most if not all of the interchange tracks on its Kingston Sub, i.e. Cobourg and Brighton, though it is possible to so north to Ottawa at Brockville. VIA has not bustituted nor bus-bridged in many years. One previous instance included a bridge between Kingston and points west, which required non-bidirectional consists to be wyed by a dedicated crew at Kingston's Queens wye. None of these options works well during a snowstorm!
Here is the outflow when one track was open at the site - CN freights then J-trains as they made their way down the CN Kingston Sub. I have not kept track of how late each VIA train was, but due to a combination of optimistic scheduling, continued weather-related complications, stocking and station issues, it's fair to say they were all one to five hours late. Trains are shown by time, direction, train number if known, CN engine #'s or VIA consists, and notes, from various sources.
CN 2229-5732-one loaded ingot bulkhead off CN No 305-3149-3273 made its way into Belleville yard. As of January 2, 3273 and 3149 (with a jury-rigged air line down the side handrails) and the bulkhead were still in Belleville yard. The first two engines would power Work 929 west to the derailment site. Another engine and two well cars went to Cobourg. The last two would be taken by CN No 451 to the Ontario Northland shops in North Bay for repair in early January.
- 2306 EB ?122 2 engines, first train reported through site, north track
- 2358 EB ?372 23xx
- 0058 EB ?306 1 engine, north track
- 0326 EB Probably 120 3 engines
- 0451 EB Probably 368 30xx, DPU 32xx (CN100), north track
- 0548 WB intermodal 2 engines (one CN100), ex-Citirail tail-end DPU, south track
- 0600 EB Probably 148 3 engines
- 0637 WB ?109/121 ex-Citirail-56xx, north track
- 0913 WB ?121/109 5620-2263, north track
- 0950 EB VIA No 60/50: 6426-4LRC-918-8122-4005"(D)&H"-4115D-4116-8129D-Craig Manor
- 1049 EB VIA No 62/52: 917-6LRC-909-4121-4002D-4119-4110D-4111D-4001D
- 1128 WB ?377 3811-2980-2325-CP 7057
- 1147 EB 372 3211
- 1153 WB 929 5732-2229 with 9 tarped orange ballast hoppers, 5772 not loading
- 1309 WB No 41/51: 919-8126-4003D-4113D-4106-8105-Bliss Manor-913-4LRC
- 1324 WB No 63/61: 6437-6LRC-904-4LRC-905
- 1332 WB 377 2283-2534-4777 including 17 Tank-Train, was stopped at Napanee station
- 1345 EB VIA No 64/40:6427(L)ove the way-4000D-4008D-4108-4105D-4100-4122-6409-6LRC
- 1440 WB X369 ex Citirail 3940-3024, set out 2596 at Belleville, tied down train, crew deadhead by taxi to Oshawa to take over M369
- 1520 WB 105 8919-8822 was recrewed at Napanee
- 1522 WB VIA No 53/45: 912-5LRC-902-8109D-4009D-4109-4114D-4112D-Drummond Manor, reported ice falling on VIA 4009
- 1545 WB 121 3894 (CN100)-5662, mid-train DPU 2280, north track
- 1559 EB 322 BC Rail 4653 (blue), mid-train DPU BC Rail 4646
- 1630 EB 368 3282-3131
- 1630 WB 305, 8920-ex Citirail 3916-BCOL 4641 in www scheme, mid-train DPU 8956, recrewed in Belleville, was stopped at Dorval on December 25
- 1759 WB VIA No 65/67: 6436L-7LRC-9xx-4LRC
- 1846 EB VIA No 42/44: 64xx-4LRC-64xx-5LRC
- 1932 WB 383 32xx-57xx, reported as Montreal-Toledo, bypassing MacMillan Yard
- 1944 WB 321 5775?-5756?
- Later WB VIA No 47/645: 6437-6 LRC/918-6 HEP last car Craig Manor.