Monday, February 28, 2022

Kingston to Prince Rupert aboard VIA - September 1985, Part 2


In Part 1 I travelled to Vancouver. After a quick turnaround on September 22, it was on to the next leg of my trip, on VIA No 4 over CN to Jasper-Edmonton-Jasper-Prince Rupert. At Boston Bar, new SD50F's 5413-5414 were in the yard with cylindrical grain empties (top photo and below). The CP Scuzzy Creek bridge was visible across the Fraser River around Mi 5 of CN's Yale Subdivision (below) just west of Boston Bar. Not too far away was an abandoned CP boxcar at water level!

Just east of Boston Bar, at 1745, CN 5402-5404 were leading grain and coal:
We got to Boston Bar about suppertime. Another nice evening vestibule ride from there for quite a while along Fraser and Thompson Rivers. Saw 3 or four CP trains across the river. Very good scenery; lots of tunnels and bridges but topography eventually goes from rocky to very sandy with few trees. This tunnel was at Martinson, around Mi 122 CN Ashcroft Sub:
The next morning's awakening on September 23 was near Hinton, AB. I was also awakened at Kamloops and Jasper. Travelling in coach does not provide the same somnolence setting as sleeper space!                                
Hinton paper mill, at the time the only one in the province. Into Edmonton on time, mainly sunny. At CN's Calder Yard shop, GMD-1's 1080 (ex-NAR), 1075 and 1081 were reposing:
Inland cement hoppers at the large Inland facility in West Edmonton like UNPX 121659 and 121956:
I needed a shower. Chateau Lacombe (CP) and Westin wanted around 50 bucks for a half-day rate, so I went to the YMCA for $2.50 instead, then bought souvenirs at the station. I didn’t want to get back late, so had lunch there in the station coffee shop - clubhouse sandwich, I think. I had a two-and-a-half hour layover before boarding the  4- or 5-car train to Prince Rupert around 1500. No 5’s consist at Edmonton: 6514-9487-5512-752-and two E-series sleepers. My train and No 3 to Vancouver both use the same line between Edmonton and Jasper, so they just tack our train onto the back of No 3 until Jasper. 

We got to Jasper around 2100. I hopped off to get some souvenirs, then it was back on the train to sleep. I woke up around Vanderhoof, BC on Tuesday morning, September 24. Great timber country! At Fort Fraser at 0830, a few miles west of Vanderhoof, I'm making good use of my polarizing filter:
nice and relaxed train, and the Conductor got off at one point to pick some berries for some American passengers. Other American tourists attempting to pronounce local place names: Endako (Endak-ka), Smithers (Smitten) and Athabasca (aska..athca..ascabaskis) A girl was doing her mother’s hair in the coach. We got into the main mountains at Smithers, BC around 1100:
I headed to the vestibule for lots of very high trestle pictures along the Bulkley River. There were many mountains around Hazelton, BC also lots of logging areas, and we crossed the Skeena River, making lots of flag stops in the late afternoon west of Terrace. Between Mi 27-32 CN Bulkley Sub:

The 839-foot Boulder Creek trestle:

Between Mi 50-62 Bulkley Sub:

Skeena Crossing, Mi 62:
Looking back at the Rocher Deboule range and Hudson Bay mountains:
We got into Prince Rupert around 1830. The big, new grain elevator terminal had been constructed there about 2-3 miles out of town. Rupert is a very nice little town, and I wish I had more time there. Lots of fishing boats on a foggy evening. Even though most stores were closed, I found one open and was able to buy some postcards. Very good supper of KFC, orange Crush, and Old Dutch salt & vinegar chips. 
A fishing dock at Prince Rupert (above) at 1820 with the 1979-built vessel Anangel Fidelity. The Ridley grain terminal, established in 1983:
In Part 3, I head back east from Prince Rupert.

Running extra...
Well-known Ukrainian-Canadians include Royal Canadian Air Farce's Luba Goy, Supreme Court Justice John Sopinka, Ottawa Senators' Eugene Melnyk, Big Sky's Katheryn Winnick, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Jeopardy host Alex Trebek. We are home to the largest population of Ukrainian descendants outside of Ukraine. 
Slava Ukrayini!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

VIA Siemens Venture's First Visit to Kingston

VIA's first Siemens Charger trainset made a nocturnal visit to Kingston at 2:22 on February 22. That's 0222 22.2.22! Operating as VIA train No 627, the 'test train' departed Montreal around 2230 on February 21. Later than expected, one goal of this trip was to take the Charger consist for its first trip west along CN's Kingston Sub as far as Cobourg, making all stops. Testing up to this point had been Montreal-Morrisburg and Montreal-Ottawa, some runs captured on video by a fellow intrepid enthusiast. That same intrepid videographer recorded No 627 here. I had previously caught the consist's move east from California to Montreal on September 29, 2021.

Passing freights during the wait, none with DPU:

2255 EB CN No 148 Engs 2995-3096

2330 WB CN No 321 Engs 2614-2341

0005 WB CN No 377 Engs 3905-2512

0035 WB CN No 369 Engs 3278-3098

0200 EB CN No 306 Engs 5667-5654

VIA is attaching a certain amount of secrecy to these test trips, hence the zero-dark-thirty times. Also, test trips need to be co-ordinated with CN. Like night work blocks, these late hours keep the wayfreights and numerous VIA trains to a minimum. Goodness knows CN wouldn't want another tiny movement clogging up their double- and triple-tracked mainline and keeping all those 35 mph key train (almost-underpowered freight monsters) from making it to their destination just-in-time! On continue/but I digress! Speed east of Kingston was 71 mph, so I'm sure 100 mph was reached farther east.

Video of the arrival. Apologies for wind noise. It was a very windy night with rain expected the next day and wind out of the east. Temperature -4C but felt colder with the wind. Departing eastward.

After meeting 306 in Queens south service track, 627's headlight and ditchlights could be seen as the tail-end of the freight cleared, and the 'test train' crossed over to the north track for its station stop. Perhaps the first traveller to ever detrain from a Charger at Kingston:

Tail-end of the westbound 'test train':

There were tests of the door mechanisms and measurements taken at platform level. 

Business Class car with plastic still covering the unsat-in seats:

Those karacteristic Kingston hockey-stick lights have seen RDC's, conventional, LRC, Turbo, Renaissance, and now Chargers beneath their ghostly glow. Coach view:

You can see inside! As bright as a disco (above) and cab (below):
The engineers preparing to switch ends to the cab car:

The next move was back into Queens, for a trip around the wye and return east to Ottawa (ETA approx. 0530) as VIA No 628, making stops at Smiths Falls and Fallowfield, again with the locomotive first after wyeing. An intrepid videographer's video of the departure here VIA staff and running trades employees on board numbered about a dozen. Tail-end upon arrival, before leading east for the movement to wye at Queens: 

Right now, this exists as a bit of a pop-up post because it's 0400 and now to bed!

Friday, February 18, 2022

Kingston to Prince Rupert aboard VIA - September 1985, Part I


Heading west less than a year before my visit to Vancouver’s Expo 86 aboard VIA, I was travelling on a Canrailpass in coach, with a system Canrailpass trip (costing $230) in September-October 1985 began with a very early morning departure aboard the Cavalier from Kingston to Montreal, then the Canadian through Ottawa and Sudbury to Portage. Following a stopover, the Canadian took me from Portage to Vancouver. At Vancouver, I hopped right aboard train No 4 to Edmonton, thence heading northwest to Prince Rupert on No 5. The next morning, slightly delayed out of Rupert by a derailment, I continued on No 6 to Edmonton, No 4 to Winnipeg, then west again to Regina. I arrived there in the wee hours of the morning, picked up my rental car at daybreak, and spent a few days photographing grain elevators before heading east on No 2 to Thunder Bay. A derailment near Ignace caused passengers travelling eastward to board a turned No 1 at Thunder Bay, as it headed east as No 2. Then it was train No 10 from Sudbury to Toronto, thence No 48 home from Toronto to Kingston.

A year before, the Prince Rupert train was known as the Panorama. At the time of my trip, the Skeena was an overnight, full-service train; today it’s a day train with an overnight stop at its midway, Prince George. Trains were open during stopovers in Winnipeg and Calgary. Most detraining passengers waited to reboard in the station. If one knew where to access the platform outside, it was possible to detrain for supplies, then check out trains under the trainshed before departure! It would appear my not-so-healthy diet choices mentioned herein were a major part of my trip – travelling on a budget! Recommended dining from the take-out window: VIA’s $2.30 double cheeseburger correctly microwaved. Yum!

VIA had not yet installed showers in its ex-CP sleepers. There are still no showers in coaches. Standing in the vestibule, without tomfoolery but with camera in hand, was tolerated by most porters and train crew, who generally turned a blind eye while walking between cars. My total proposed mileage totalled 9,264 miles. Nineteen days’ travel for $230 seemed like a pretty good bargain! This three-part series covers my trip out-and-back.

I left Kingston on Monday morning, September 16 at 0300.  The trip aboard the Cavalier to Montreal was uneventful; lots of commuters get on at Cornwall. Fog shrouds CN's yard at Coteau (above) at 0630. During my two-hour Montreal layover, I walked around outside Windsor Station, buying a snack, a to-be-personally-delivered Montreal Gazette for my aunt and uncle I’d be visiting. There are no luggage lockers in Central Station, removed after a bomb went off in one before my trip. Instead, there is a special baggage area. I boarded VIA No 1, as did a carload of seniors from Wolfville NS going to North Bay for a convention. They were extremely noisy and rambunctious. I was in the dome car when they passed out songsheets, so I sang all the oldtimer songs with them. “Edna, Edna, who’s he put your mind to...the McIntosh boy?” I got in some vestibule time between Montreal and North BayNice country up through Chalk River, Petawawa. I had a seatmate between Petawawa and North Bay. Into Sudbury that night, I walked off the train, got a newspaper and mailed postcards. 

No 1’s consist at Sudbury: 6557-6631-616-126-3246 (my car)-500-5752-Cameron Manor-Hunter Manor-Bayfield Manor-Chateau Rouville-Louise-Eldorado-Algonquin Park. 

CP 4717 at Schreiber:
I headed up to the dome car the next day around Schreiber - very cloudy. An eastbound with CP 5943-QNS&L 206-5564-5594:
I always enjoyed coming into Thunder Bay. Not only were there CP switchers and trains, but also adjacent CN movements. Terminal elevators and cylindricals:
The sun was out. Approaching CN's Port Arthur station:
CN slug set 425-455 with a freshly-painted tank hopper on the pin:
CP 5979 approaches under CN's ore dock:
Plodding passage – through CP trackage in Thunder Bay, as No 1 is about to halt for fuelling then station stop (above).
During the station stop, I walked up to get a photo of the head-end:
Very nice and sunny west of there through Ignace, Kenora, extremely fantastic ride over Manitoba border near Whitemouth (in vestibule). You could smell all the poplar trees. Lots of farmers combining. In Winnipeg, I mailed more postcards and got eaten alive by mosquitoes, the provincial bird, while trying to get photos of engines on trains. Great ride in the dark west of Winnipeg. In dome car and could see stubble fires and grain elevators looming up ahead in the headlight beam.

By this time, I had amassed great numbers of train orders just by asking Conductor for them. I would continue to do so, and came home with about three-and-a-half inches of them. I arrived in Portage la Prairie a little late, and there happened to be an RCMP cruiser in the parking lot. I spent until Friday night with my aunt and uncle. They let me have their car. I saw many trains, out to Poplar Point and High Bluff to photograph elevators, also the new continuous-pour elevator east of Portage at Tucker. The train west was about two-and-a-half hours late, so I talked to the CN operator while we waited for the train to arrive from Winnipeg. September 21 - good morning, Saskatchewan:

Webb (above) and Gull Lake (below).

And Piapot, which I also photographed in similar weather a year later.
Cloudy, but saw several antelope and lots of hawks. Very open country, went under a huge cloud bank. through the window, Brooks' Alberta Wheat Pool elevator: 
I got into Calgary around 1300, went into station to get souvenirs, then out by ‘secret’ passageway to train early, securing a seat in the dome car. An hour or so late out of Calgary, there were very good views through mountains, cloudy then snowed, but sunny through the Spiral Tunnels. I talked to Aussies and other folks in the dome car. A view back from the Skyline west of Banff: 
An elk (trust me) at Mi 88 CP Laggan Sub. Just to the left of the arrow!
There are lots of Aussies, Kiwis and Brits on the train. Approaching the Upper Spiral Tunnel (below) and three miles west of the Spiral Tunnels (top photo).
Waking up on Sunday morning, September 22 going through the Fraser River valley. In the vestibule, photographing and paralleling a CN freight on their line across the river. Near China Bar, BC:
I talked to a young Trainman who used to work on CP as an operator around Smiths Falls, etc. Arriving in Vancouver one and three-quarter-hours late, with a fairly tight (for a transcontinental run) turnaround time in Vancouver of just over 3 hours, I was prepared to detrain at Coquitlam at 0835 if No 1 was running very late, catching No 4 there at 1340. I had a short time to walk to waterfront, looking forward to Expo 86, I got a McDonald’s meal to take on the train. 
In Part 2, I travel from Vancouver to Edmonton thence Prince Rupert, and in Part 3 east from Prince Rupert and all my notes, eastward and westward, are transcribed in this postscript

Running extra...

Divine intervention meant a snowstorm blanketed the Wellington Street protesters late Thursday night. Like heavenly snowflakey manna, or perhaps destined to confuse the cops. Nope, all is getting shovelled out, the Ottawa Police Service remembered how to arrest people, and the city of Ottawa returned to its inhabitants today. Let's hope for more divine intervention against any hidden AR-15's or more dangerous, less lethal wonky rhetoric. Freedom! indeed.
I did, however, enjoy seeing the everyman work ethic on display. Can't get porta-potties brought in? We'll build our own. Need supplies or firewood? We'll set up a depot near the baseball field. Need diesel fuel? Well, here's my Radio Flyer and I can help you with that. I trust that when there are no protests, these industrious, beaver-like tendencies can be used for good causes. Now get the hell off our Parliament, because only politicians live there and you'll never be one of them, Kurt (and Dave, and Dan, and Gene)!
Freedom isn't free, and democracy is sometimes not all that democratic-looking. I'm thinking of turning this into a political blog. You know, juicy tidbits from the halls of power and scads of salacious scandals. Possible blog titles: Justin Time, Candice Bergen Meets Murphy Brown FYI, Jagmeet Me For Coffee, Centre Bloc Toc, Green With Envy the Environmentalist, Back-biting and Back-benchers? Salaciousness knows no right-wing or left-wing! We're staying in defence of centre as our goal(ie)!