Wednesday, December 28, 2022

CN Derailment at Grafton, Christmas Eve 2022

That old chestnut of a Christmas song reminds us, "There's no place like home for the holidays", and that "the traffic's just terrific". Except on CN's Kingston Sub...where terrific rhymes with horrific. CN eastbound intermodal No 122 derailed 30 or so cars in the plant at Grafton early on December 24. Stationary CN No 305 from Moncton was side-swiped by some of the derailed, loaded well cars and its lead unit derailed. Media photos show one empty container, its well cars later set out at Cobourg, opened as with a can opener! Grafton is at Mi 256 Kingston Sub, about 8 miles east of Cobourg and 26 miles west of Belleville. (Reddit  screenshot - top photo).

As reported to Transport Canada: CN assignment Q12291-22 was proceeding eastward when 6 intermodal cars derailed and sideswiped lead unit CN 3273 (also derailed) on stationary CN assignment M30511-22 at mile 256.2 Kingston Sub. Cars derailed are as follows: DTTX 743933 (Flammable Liquids, N.O.S. - UN1993), DTTX 759222 (Pyridine - UN1282), DTTX 765233 (Vehicle, Flammable Gas Powered - UN3166), DTTX 732997 (Paint - UN1263), DTTX 53312 (Non-DG load) and DTTX 62377 (Non-DG load).

Mainline derailments are nothing new, and Trackside Treasure has chronicled its share (see labels in sidebar). The complicating effect here was the weather. The "storm of a generation" gave us 36+ hours of snow - "Driftmas" - blowing snow that got everywhere. Whatever the exact causes that led to the derailment, the results garnered national media attention. Delays in the Corridor were significant. VIA mishandled communication and according to some, on-board service. 

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.
Further J-trains expected into the evening: VIA Nos 47/645, 66/46, 68/54, 48/668. Even though the federal government invested money for triple-tracking, it's amazing how quickly the CN Kingston Sub came to a halt. It's also amazing how little flexibility a segment of single-track leaves rail traffic controllers. Times shown are OS Belleville.

More than two weeks later, VIA CEO Martin Landry issued an apology, part of which reads:

Running extra...

Best wishes for a bright and prosperous 2023 full of health, happiness and dare I say, trains!

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Merry Christmas 2022

This year's Christmas post includes its usual online Christmas card (top photo), this year's favourite Christmas song, other online cards received, and some thoughts.


Lost. And found. This theme keeps going through my head like a toy train circling the base of a Christmas tree. It first occurred to me while I was looking at some models I scratchbuilt about four decades ago. My patience, visual acuity and manual dexterity impressed me. I have lost a measure of the first two, and they influence what remains of the third. 

Our modern mentality focuses much energy on loss, grievance and wanting more. Why don't we instead turn our perspective to what new understanding, learning or even wisdom we may have found? And what we continue to encounter each day?

The mellow and mellifluous The Christmas Waltz, this link leading to a Marc Martel/Amy Grant collaboration is my choice for favourite Christmas song this year. Of course, in the carol category, O Come All Ye Faithful remains my perennial favourite with its eternal entreaty O Come Let Us Adore Him not only inviting, but in a way also compelling us toward the very essence of Christmas.

In a way, those famous Wise Men were lost, needing a star to lead them to Bethlehem. The shepherds travelled a shorter distance, but a host of angels were required for them to get them to their destination. Becoming a grandfather for the third time, those galactic visions were positively phantasmagoric compared to the tiny, humble scene and a newborn baby they found, enacted in that humble, lamp-lit stable. And there's that theme again!

Christmas on the Hanley Spur


Lance Gleich: 

Lisa Larson's CN in Alberta: 

A certain major Markham model manufacturer:

Ian Stronach:

Mike Robin - Ontario Northland at Cochrane:

The prolific Bob Boudreau:

George's Trains:

Jim Parker's daily email photo digest:

Emmerson Case at Union Station:

Bernard Kempinski:

Unfortunately, the first greeting is from The Trackside Photographer's Edd Fuller. Posted over a Merry Christmas and an email message, Edd is retiring from the site, and no new posts will follow after year's end: 

Here's how my online Chritmas card started out this year:

 A very Merry Christmas to Trackside Treasure readers, commenters, contributors and blog partners!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Snowy Sunday at the Station, December 2022

A flurry-filled finale of the weekend found me at the Sunday snowglobe scenery of Kingston station on December 11. Our daughter's baby shower was underway, and as I'd already had one shower that day, I didn't need another, instead heading to Tim Hortons then here. Shiver along with me as we encounter five VIA's and a solo CN freight.
1402 WB: VIA No 53 6429-3475-33xx-3347(R)enaissance-3327R pulled in to the station shortly after my arrival. A typical four-car LRC consist. I'd encounter none of the buffer car consists that I've been so closely following since October. The snow wouldn't let up for the rest of the afternoon, so here it is during 53's departure westbound:

1403 EB: VIA No 64 6416 Love the way - 3463-3470-3365(F)uture-3341-3312R-3352F. No 64 arrived just as 53 departed. I haven't yet tired of those "Love the way/La voie qu'on aime" graphics that emerged out of VIA's "40 Ans/Years" wraps in 2019. Also, road grime emerged out of the remaining "Canada 150" decals, still showing on the oversize yellow VIA on 3352. More about that Ford Expedition later:

1428 EB: CN No 100 Eng 3084 with domestic then import/export containers - the only freight I'd see during my snowy stint.

1445 WB: VIA No 47 911-3478-3301R-3366F/40 Years-3344F. White above and white below (above) in the photo taken from the newly-extended parking lot. Only VIA 901, 902, 915 and 917 did not receive the silver-banana wraps, first applied for Canada 150, back in the year that the VIA People Moving People book was originally intended to emerge in print!
After a slight territorial disagreement between our van and a fellow attendee's much large pickup truck at the Rail Fair Kingston train show back in October, I was driving a Ford Expedition. My van was reposing at the body shop, and this Expedition was the loudest vehicle I've ever driven that was not known to need exhaust repairs. Running boards provided in lieu of stepladder.

1451 EB: VIA No 42 6414-3451-3336-3340-3305R-914. The only no-wye-required train of the afternoon, previously a pandemic staple. These photos are taken at the extreme east end of the newly-extended and now-huge parking lot. I wanted to get a photo of the still-active but vehicle-free Counter Street crossing, suppanted by the new John Counter Boulevard overpass, now in service for two years. The gates still lower, the bells ding and the trains whistle. At one point, a Kubota clearing the platforms used it, via a circuitous walking path, to reach the platform on Track 2.

Bringing up the rear, a snow-covered sentinel:

1555 WB: VIA No 67 6412-3477-3461-3304R-3331R-3335-3360F. I was back at the station building for 67's arrival, with the platform cleared mere seconds before the above photo was taken. The baggage cart is largely for show and for sitting-on. A station staffer photo-bombed my photo of the Business Class attendant shovelling out the vestibule, the snowplow and his spotter. Meals are often brought on-board at Kingston as required. Loyal Trackside Treasure reader and VIA car preservationist and owner Lesley Bernard found out the following: 
No meals are catered in Kingston. Meals are created in Toronto and Montreal, though there are intermediate staging points for meals including Ottawa, London, Kingston and maybe others. In the case of Kingston, 12 extra meals for each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) come out daily from Toronto on train 60 and are dropped at Kingston, where there is a cooler to store them. If a passing train is running short of meal choices, meals can be replenished while stopped at Kingston.  [Although there are] three metal boxes into which meals are loaded and carried to the train. It's awkward when they are short a box and have to carry out meals [visible to passengers]. 
No pantographs yet, so this must be for automobiles:
Passengers disembarking then embarking, though I heard no barking:
Final car 3360 wears 'the future is on board/ l'avenir est a bord' lettering:
I'm actually more of a fair-weather photographer, and I was able to catch VIA Nos 45 and 40 in a ten-minute span on the following sun-bathed Tuesday. 
1235 WB: No 45 900-8122-4005"(D)&H-scheme"-4115D-4116-8129D-Craig Manor:

Nameplate lettering all but unreadable!

1245 EB: No 40 908-4000D-4008D-4108-4105D-4100-4122:

Running extra...

I'm a GP again. That's not GP as in GP-9, nor even General Practitioner, that's as in GrandParent. Best job in the world - all the fun, none of the responsibility. Really just pure joy.

CMA's Country Christmas on ABC brought to light a new artist - Molly Tuttle - recently named the InternationalBluegrass Music Association's Guitarist of the Year. Living with alopecia from the age of three, it's hats off to Molly for her virtuosity, not letting challenges get in her way. Molly, her band Golden Highway and host Carly Pearce performed an awesome Christmas medley. It just might be enough to get me in the mood for my Christmas shopping.

Christmas from Temple Square on PBS featured Megan Hilty, and Neal McDonough, who also starred in Band of Brothers as Lieutenant Buck Compton.The opening two carols, 'Long Ago, Prophets Knew' and the Sussex Carol set the festive tone.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Farm Machinery on Flat Cars

Before agricultural implements got so large that it could not be shipped by rail, it was not uncommon to see large or small agricultural machinery on passing freight trains. Fields and farms got larger, leaving the family farm in the dust, with only large factory farms being economically viable. Manufacturers adapted their designs, adding more sections and unfolding large one-pass, minimum-till implement trains, steered around by huge tandem tractors. 

During my trainwatching in western Canada, almost every train could carry ag implements, especially those heading west. Multiple pieces of forage equipment or tractors were shipped on one flatcar. Much of the equipment was built in southern Ontario, or was brought north from the US midwest. One of the best-known manufaturers was Massey-Ferguson in Brantford, ON. M-F opeed their new combine plant in 1964, but the company entered receivership in 1988.

I snapped Massey-Ferguson combines on a westbound CP freight through CP yards in Portage la Prairie in June, 1980 (top photo). Two Bill Grandin photos kindly shared by Jim Parker show DTTX 97326 carrying an International combine in 1981:

A photo of CN "Portland" covered hopper 388011 that incidentally shows Massey-Ferguson equipment on an adjacent track. 
An online photo auction site photo showing two International combines on a Burlington Northern flat car:
A CP bulkhead flat car load of M-F's on CN's team track opposite the CN station, in the shadow of Manitoba Pool 'B' elevator at Portage in 1983 (L.C. Gagnon photo):
On August 25, 1981 also at Portage, this 86-car westbound crossing the diamonds at West Tower included a Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo flat car with two White 8900 combines and headers, plus CP bulkhead flats each loaded with four John Deere 2140 tractors:
Kevin Toulouse kindly shared this photo of two New Holland combines on a TrailerTrain flat car. On a Windsor-Toronto CP train, he photographed this neat load in Chatham, ON in March, 1981:

Lots o' links:

Running extra...

We had a nice visit from our two grandsons recently. Even at two years old, our younger grandson has excellent taste in reading material.  Not only did he enjoy checking out my winter-reading box, carefully removing and stacking back issues, but we also paged through several issues, pointing out trucks and trains of interest!
A snowless December thus far. I saw a lot of old bags out on the street. That's because the city leaf-collection rounds were just made today. Couldn't be mulch later!

Hallmark's onslaught of Christmas movies continues. The longest title I've seen yet, "Time for Him to Come Home for Christmas", was an eye-opener. Clearly, all the two-word titles like "Charming Christmas" are already taken. As are the Christmas-pun titles like "We Wish You a Married Christmas". We won't even talk about "Three Wise Men and a Baby", but I bet it was magi-cal.