Friday, October 28, 2022

The Five W's of Rail Fair Kingston

Saturday, October 22 was an amazing autumn day. Too nice to spend indoors. But, what if I were to tell you it was the date of the first train-show I'd attended in over two years? 

WHY...

...did I have to decide between raking and partaking? In fact, when this whole pandemic thing started, the very first thing cancelled back on March 14, 2020 was the 31st CRHA Kingston Division Rail-O-Rama. It was great to get back to attending a train show, albeit voluntarily masked. I wouldn't normally publish a whole post on attending a train show. Usually I'd include a photo or two in the Running Extra section. But it felt good to be back in the saddle again! 

Who says model railroading has to be an expensive hobby? In this post, I'll show you what I found and tell you how much I paid.   

WHERE...

...did the show take place? The newer of Kingston's train shows, the Associated Railroaders of Kingston Rail Fair Kingston had been held in 2018 and 2019. Organized by Rail Fair Chairperson Paul Hunter and our volunteer cadre, the venue is Royal Canadian Legion Branch 560's hall on Montreal Street, steps from CN's former Outer Station. For the second year, I volunteered for a one-hour ARK front-door security volunteer timeslot prior to opening. 

WHO...

...was there? I met with attendees in the lineup from Toronto, Montreal, Brockville, Ottawa and more. I had a nice chat with Chef Ron of private car Pacific fame! Also in attendance, I recognized fellow Associated Railroaders of Kingston fellow volunteers and club members Andy C, Andy T, Bob, Dave C, Dave T, Greg, Kurt, Marc and Sharon, Michael, Raul, Tom, and Sam. Most of my fellow ARKers I'd only seen via Zoom during the pandemic. Attendance was excellent on a beautiful day, and it would take many minutes for the queue to make it past Kayleigh and Malcolm at the entrance table. 

Bytown's arrival was highly anticipated. Arriving just-in-time in their 1958 Pontiac CN hi-rail station wagon, they parked right in front of the venue. As I waited to have the doors open, I predicted everybody would have a picture taken with this orange beauty. Nice fall lighting? Of course I had to slip out to take a photo!

After helping with the opening rush, it was nice to head in to see the layouts and find some goodies. I didn't plan to take a bunch of photos. Most of the time, I had my hands full, after all! One of my very first stops was at the Bytown Railway Society booth. Paul was vacationing somewhere, but Norm, Les and Den* had things well in hand. They asked me to get a photo (below) showing Les with a firm hand on the cashbox! (*Not to be confused with the three guys who invented car air conditioners: Norm, Hi and Max!)

WHAT...

...did I buy? There are various strategies one can employ when taking in a train show. There's the methodician, the scan-and-snipe, and the tire-kicker. The first does the loop, the second scans before returning to buy their favourite items, and the third is just there to visit and check out the layouts. As a scan-and-sniper, I believe I have more than enough of everything already. I don't need more locomotives, cars or gizmos. But I like to read, and hey, who doesn't like a bargain? Here are photos of my 'haul'.

Not sure who makes ONT 90456, Erie 20017 or the WM hopper. Dick's Auto Body Shop is a neat vintage Bachmann kit with good bones. Henry Ford's First Factory is from Walthers, with free dust! Four trailers (three from Cox) and signs from the Picton club. I have a price point in mind for most items, and these were all under it. Score! Matchbox flatbed for a buck and small shop for three.

I made a sustained stop at ARK member Bob's table. He was selling craftsman structures he enjoys building. Maybe that's like putting your children up for sale? Then he said he had vehicles. He'd carefully packed them in plastic, gingerly bringing them out of boxes and setting them out on the table. I was like a canny casino croupier. An affronted adjacent railfan asked whether I was buying them all. In turn, I encouraged him to jump in and get his financial feet wet! He may have been a tire-kicker! LifeLike, CMW and Brekina vehicles and Walthers 567's were from Bob. The fire stations and Promotex warehouse were from fellow ARKer Michael. His interest had waned for finishing the kits, but mine was just beginning - kandidates for Kingston kitbashing!
Bytown, Michael and Sam were sources for scintillating supplements of the magazine variety! A total of 66 magazines and one timetable are now in my winter reading box. It's a repurposed LCBO liquor box with the end cut out of it, how with 9 inches or print material fermenting inside!
All of the above for $144!

WHEN...

...did I leave? About 1120, when my two reusable shopping bags were full! 

Running extra...

The first quasi-revenue run of VIA's new Siemens trainset departed Montreal for Montreal on October 18. The youtube video shows a few interior views as well as some of the fields and fall colours! I'm not sure if these were VIA employees or not, but I didn't see or hear any toddlers or old people in the video, so I think so.
From the National Post Chris Selley posted an interesting opinion piece on VIA's woes and challenges, triggered by the buffer car issue. I did my best to give Chris a rail enthusiast's side of the story! There has been so little good information available, that the 'railfan blogosphere' has filled the gap!

My buffer car post continues to reverberate and some have rebuffed various information and motivation concerning it. Three nice things about blogging: it''s easily-revised if necessary, those reading it are generally nice, and when they're not, the third thing nice thing is that it's "mine". I have no moderator, no administrator, and no editorial board. And the good news is, I'm still adding consists and information - now into the post's third week of life! 

Speaking of which: Sources familiar say examples of the following car types are being sent by VIA to a contract shop (CAD and Rail GD come to mind) for structural integrity testing. Be On The Lookout for: one baggage, one coach, one diner, one sleeper, an RDC, and possibly a Park car coming in from Vancouver! There has still been no formal announcement about these suspect sample cars being sent for testing. Wouldn't it be a great opportunity to show some progress in addressing the structural issues? Apparently there is almost complete secrecy limited to the highest levels of VIA.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Two More Days at Portage, 1978

Following two previous days at Portage la Prairie, MB on August 17 and 18, 1978, here are the results of two more days' train-watching on August 20 and 21. Among my travels west aboard VIA Rail, this trip was made on CN rails on the Super Continental. My malfunctioning Kodak Instamatic from home was about to be replaced thanks to my aunt and uncle. Without their donation of a Kodak Hawkeye they obtained as a premium, none of these photos would have been taken!

No trains were photographed on the 18th and 19th of August due to a trip to Winnipeg to take in the Rainbow Stage, staying overnight Friday-Saturday at the Holiday Inn. Breakfast there on the 19th, lunch at The Bay department store and supper at the Old Spaghetti Factory, all in Winnipeg. On Sunday the 20th, we went to a flea market and visited family, though a couple of hours at the station were part of the day's activities! On Monday the 21st, I was trackside for two hours prior to lunchtime, then again 1600-1730.

The trains I observed each day are listed by time, direction, motive power and caboose numbers.

August 20, 1978 

1059 W CN 5134-5194-5182 79766 (top photo) The first train of the day left its consist in the yard, and 'yard-switched' CN covered hopper CN 378624 back to its train from the station team track at 1125. The covered hopper had been loaded with a cargo of corn two days earlier.

1111 E CN 5228-9430-5549 79660. Passing the variously verdant verge of the CN station:
Right after that CN eastbound passed, it was a quick jog over to the CP side for this eastbound  manifest. 1116 E CP 5726-5529-8652-8686-4038 (What the F-unit...just out of the frame!) and van 434310. Portage's cylindrical water tower is just visible at right, later painted like a Coke can and moved west of the city:
1152 W CP 5522-4556-4571 434507. These next two photos show how susceptible the Hawkeye was to camera-shake in the hands of an excited young railfan! 
1215 E CP 5695-5540 434356-434007(end cupola). My uncle is at left, and a local mini-railfan who was let loose around the tracks and seemed to want to follow us around:
2028 W CN 9621-9624-9460 79577 (unphotographed). On an evening drive, I captured a trackside sunset shot of welded rail into the sunset at Newton, MB:

August 21, 1978

1001 W CN 4206-4122-4118 lumber empties 79216. A morning of first-generation locomotive consists. An eastbound, whose trailing propane tank car denotes the end fo the consist parted for the crossing is on the yard lead.
1009 W CN 1052-1025 79435. Certainly the catch of the day, at the time I didn't realize how unusual it was to have an olive-and-yellow CN GMD-1 still in service. But I did take three photos, at a time when film was precious. With a CN insulated boxcar from the CP interchange in tow, the power pulls up to the station. Interestingly, another original-scheme CN 1063 retained the classic colours well into 1980.

I backed up onto Fisher Avenue to try to get a pole-free broadside of this relic! Don't believe every caption you read! When I saw CN 1052 next on August 28, 1981 - again at Portage - she was wearing the current orange-nosed scheme.
1036 E CN 1367-1369-4129 79754 pound across the station crossing with grain boxcars and the middle unit still in the original CN switcher scheme. CN engineer Mark Perry has noted that the Geep was often included in these multi-day 'grain peddler' locomotive consists to provide toilet facilities in the short hood.
1125 E CN 9570-9548-9573. That's nine-thousand striped horses on this intermodal hotshot as the overcast parts a little bit:
1135 W CP 5750-5501 bathtub gondolas 434619. It's bicyclists and bathtubs as local kids on the Skyline Bridge feel the rumble of  CP and Procor empties heading west, perhaps from Thunder Bay. I'm on the loading dock of the CP Express building:
One of two CP Geep-led consists that met at supppertime: 1623 E CP 8619-8708-4443 leading an eastbound past the Engro spur car stops. The head-end trainman stands silhouetted against 8617's striped nose. Angus van 434343 trails.
1626 W CP 8677-8671-8808 437143(end cupola)-434518 getting started out of the yard was this boarding outfit train. CP's wooden station platform is still in foreground, though it would be removed later that year once all VIA trains began using CN tracks west of Portage.
CP 437143-434518 trail the work train over the Third Street N.E. crossing at the east side of the CP station. The gang aboard was definitely in its busy season of trackwork and much in demand.
1714 E CP 5522-4556-5516-4571 434371 was the last freight of the day. I stayed in the CN station parking lot for two reasons. It was time to head 'home' for supper, and the eastbound Super Continental was coming!
1725 E VIA No 4 Engs 6515-6607-6502 and 17 cars, with the oil-unloading spur in foreground.
The consist of No 4: 9643-5474-5618-5467-5653-762-5700-5710-Englee-Entwistle-Greenwood-Bonsoir-1367-Erickson-Ellerslie-Enfield-Invermay-CN business car Bonaventure.

Running extra:
It's Youtube official! It's been a week since VIA added buffer cars to its HEP1 and HEP2 consists. I'm moving on, with no postscript, with this Manitoba wallowing-in-nostalgia post. As the government agencies and national media outlets are finally covering the story, I felt like my work there was done. I'll still continue to update the original post as updates are released.

If you've read Kalmbach's GMR, MRP, MR or any other of its track planning publications, you've read his articles. Prolific English track planner Iain Rice wrote 400 articles and 20 books. Iain died on October 8. Besides his imaginative depiction of prototypes, what I appreciated most about Iain's work was his ability to 'bend' layouts, to curve track in a unique alternative approach to the conventional North American plan. We can't help outselves - all we want is numerous straight, parallel tracks to fill  our expansive layout spaces. Iain's space-challenged trackplans and colourfully-rendered illustrations were part of his creative approach to track-planning, enabling modellers to 'see' more than just a trackplan. 

My son-in-law caught CN No 518 at the Bath Road crossing this past Monday. The 'hostler's choice' pair of units - CN 4902 and GTW 6425 - is still the local power in Belleville. Trainee in the cab of 6425?

:

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Buffer Cars Added to VIA HEP Trains*

Buffering used to be an indication of slow internet. But now it's an indication of new requirement taking hold at VIA Rail Canada. If you thought buffer cars were for oil trains, read on...this post will tell you everything I've been able to glean in the past week. The desperate dearth of information provided by VIA or any other reliable source led me to it,  likely led you here, just like the 1,700 pageviewers in the first seven days. Now, the consist thickens...

Additional posts I've published on this topic:

OCTOBER 27 UPDATE: Thanks to the National Post's Chris Selley for his nationally-read October 27 article, using this buffer car post as a springboard to discuss other challenges VIA  is facing. Chris' piece begins: "A seemingly obscure little news item popped up recently in the rail-fan blogosphere..."

OCTOBER 28 UPDATE: Although VIA is maintaining near-absolute secrecy about it, several cars are on their way to contract shops to have their structural integrity tested. Up to: one baggage, on coach, one diner, one Park, and maybe even an RDC! Equipment to be stripped in Montreal, though testing may take place at the National Research Council's Ottawa Rail Testing Facility.

NOVEMBER 4 UPDATE: Two stripped cars will be heading to Ottawa this weekend for testing at the National Research Council! I'll be posting all additional information in this postscript

NOVEMBER 10 UPDATE: Thanks to Bernard Babin et Gilles Gagne of the Quebec news network Le Soleil for publishing this excellent article (en francais) on the buffer-car issue. Interestingly, Gilles roots out some new information, and I like this sub-headline "Uncertainty and secrecy, worse than danger". Gilles also publishes specific questions he asked VIA Rail that elicited no response.

BUFFER CARS - AN EMERGING VIA POLICY

Despite claims from railfans that these were one-offs or some sort of conspiracy, it was an official VIA policy. It was a safety provision in event of a collision with another train or equipment. The goal seemed to be to reduction of impact energy being transmitted through a train's consist, due to a lack of structural integrity in the HEP1 and HEP2 cars to cushion the impact.

I found a complete 'cone of silence' when it came to orders or new regulations being imposed on VIA by regulatory agencies, Transport Canada, Canada Transportation Agency, Transportation Safety Board or the host railways and perhaps most surprisingly, from VIA itself! Also a 'cone of science' as to why this had suddenly become a safety concern. As some would say, after 70+ years. I began to assemble some data points as we build the case retrospectively. This corner of the 'railfan blogosphere' got busy, as the only source of information on the buffer cars!

Data Point 1: VIA's Heritage Fleet Modernization Program, which began in 2018, is an important capital equipment program for VIA Rail as it involves renovating 54 cars in its Head End Power (HEP) fleet. The HEP I long-haul cars are at or over 65 years of age and have not had any refurbishment performed in 27 years. The HEP II cars, which are approximately 70 years old, were acquired and refurbished by VIA Rail in the early 1990s with no refurbishment since that time.  Structural repairs are required to this aging fleet to address identified cracks and corrosion issues to ensure continued health and safety for travellers and employees.

Data Point 2: Twitter to the rescue. This could be a start:
Data Point 3: Nearly a week after the use of buffer cars began, Trains News Wire threw us a buffer bone: 

An independent consultant’s inspection requested by VIA Rail Canada management has prompted the company to immediately assign non-revenue buffer cars at the rear of all trains that utilize HEP-1 and HEP-2 stainless steel equipment manufactured more than 60 years ago. The action was taken unilaterally by VIA last week as a safety precaution, pending further examination by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and a series of more in-depth tests. Sources tell Trains News Wire that no single incident led to the company-wide inspection. But there have been isolated instances over the last several decades where cars built by the Budd Co. and other U.S. manufacturers, primarily in the 1950s, have occasionally displayed structural defects during periodic heavy overhauls. Trains News Wire expects VIA Rail Canada and the Transportation Safety Board to provide details on the next steps.
Read the full Trains News Wire story.

Data Point 4: An updated October 18 Trains News Wire story by Bob Johnston, with a revision: VIA shared its plan with Health and Safety Policy Committees, union leadership, and the Canadian rail safety regulator, an arm of Transport Canada (not the country’s Transportation Safety Board, as News Wire originally reported).

Data Point 5: A Globe & Mail story from October 19 acknowledges an email from VIA referring to the Hatch engineering firm report. The worst-kept secret in the rail enthusiast world - a ministerial order will be issued the same day, a week after this post was published. Perhaps better never than late! The same day the news stories were released, VIA's Instagram account showed VIA brass breaking a champagne bottle on the first of the Siemens trainsets! Buffering the news cycle!

Data Point 6 (from a much later January 2, 2023 online post by Rick Fullerton): Just arrived in Toronto from Vancouver on #2 Friday around noon. Talked to a VIA engineer about the issue with the Budd stainless steel fleet. Just to clarify, he indicated the chassis main frame of the cars is carbon steel and is mig welded to the stainless steel car shell. The problem is the main frames have been patch welded too many times, compromising the overall robustness of the car to withstand a collision incident. Hence the deployment of the buffer cars. 

**Official** Railway Safety Act Order dated October 19: 

Therefore, I find it necessary in the interests of safe railway operations to make this order, under section 32.01 of the RSA, requiring VIA to: 

1. Implement the following operational mitigations to reduce the potential consequences of a collision event:
-Position empty rolling stock directly behind the locomotive and as the last car in any train that includes HEP cars to act as a buffer.
-Ensure HEP cars are positioned as per the engineering consultant's recommendation to minimize energy transfer and impact to an occupied car.

2. Conduct an engineering simulation of predicted HEP car collision performance and provide to Transport Canada a report summarizing the assumptions and findings by October 31, 2022.

3. Conduct a tear down inspection of four HEP cars with structural defects to identify whether additional structural conditions, which are only visible in this invasive-type inspection, are present and provide Transport Canada with a copy of the inspection report and a list of recommended actions by January 31, 2023.

4. Conduct a static structural test (compression test) to the requirements of the Association of American Railroads - S034, of at least two unrepaired HEP cars, to validate the structural capacity and provide Transport Canada a copy of the test report and an assessment of how the test outcomes will inform future repairs and mitigating measures by January 31, 2023. 

5. Provide the final report of the engineering simulation, incorporating findings from tear down and static structural tests required in item 3 and item 4 by March 31, 2023.

6. Conduct a static structural test (compression test) to the requirements in the Association of American Railroads - S034, of at least one fully repaired HEP car, to validate the repair methodology and provide TC a copy of the test report and an assessment of how test outcomes will inform future repairs and mitigating measures by December 31, 2023.
This Order takes effect on October 19, 2022 and will remain in effect unless it is repealed by the Minister of Transport.
-Director General, Rail Safety

TEMPORARY OPERATIONAL ADJUSTMENTS

As of October 12, 2022 all Head End Power (that's HEP1 and/or HEP2) consists - thereby excluding LRC-equipped Corridor trains - must have an unoccupied car on head-end AND tail-end. This is a soft launch. The first effect felt by VIA Rail passengers was pet owners being notified that they would not be allowed to have access to their pet in the baggage car. No pets could now be handled in baggage cars. Passengers were sent a message telling them to have medication, or any items needed while on the train, with them in their carry-ons.  Accordingly, on-board service personnel would also not have access to the baggage car, only the engineers doing baggage-handling at stops. Baggage cars would now be counted as buffer cars. These changes were termed temporary operational adjustments. Also, VIA said it was sorting through these operational changes. 

BUFFER CAR CONSISTS

Then, deadhead sleepers began appearing on the tail-end of VIA's Canadian (above). All of a sudden, Corridor railfans were noting an empty sleeper tacked on the tail-end of a stainless steel Corridor consist. Examples and reports from various online and personal observations since October 12:

  • VIA No 76 with Craig Manor trailing
  • VIA No 71 with a sleeper trailing
  • VIA No 73 with Manor car
  • VIA No 1 with Carleton Manor trailing
  • VIA No 601/603 with Chateau Rigaud and 8109D trailing
October 14:
  • VIA No 62/52 with illegible name Manor car at head-end
  • VIA No 55 with unlit coaches at either end 
  • VIA No 1 with Chateau Marquette at head-end and Carleton Manor at tail-end
October 15:
  • VIA No 2 with Chateau Marquette at head-end until set out at Winnipeg, and Cameron Manor following Laurentide Park
  • VIA No 55 with a Manor car at head-end
  • VIA No 692 with unoccupied Evangeline Park on tail-end
  • VIA No 693 with a coach following the Park car
October 17:
  • VIA No 1 with coach 8134 following the Park car
  • VIA No 2 with Monck Manor at head-end and Carleton Manor at tail-end
October 18:
  • VIA No 693 with Chateau Marquette as eighth and last car
  • VIA No 41 with LRC car 3329 at head-end and 3361 tail-end
* * * * * C O R R I D O R    P A R T      O N E  * * * * *
Here are the six buffered Corridor consists in use: date observed, train number, locomotive and cars (D=refurbished 'D&H' scheme) Part I up to October 29, (see Part Two below for October 29-November 4):

October 14 No 62/52: 908-XX Manor*-4009D-4103-4100-4114D-8110D
October 15 No 60/50: 901-4107-4002D-4119-4106-4116-(4121 added October 21)
October 15 No 41: 904-3455-4008D-4110D-8102D-4104-4121**/***/****
October 15 No 62/52: 6421-8129D-4007D-4117-8123-4105D-8103*****
October 15 No 40: 9xx-4000D-4004D-4108-4122-4115D-4112D******
October 17 No 61: 6412-3329-4003D-4113D-4101-4120-3361*******

**4121 was replaced by 4005D by October 21
***4008D was replaced by 4001D as of October 24
****3455 was replaced by 8122 on October 29, after 8122 was deadheaded to Toronto on an LRC consist
*****8103 was replaced by 4113D as of October 17, until taking its place back from 4113D by October 27!
******4112D replaced by 8116 as of October 27, until taking its place back on October 28.
*******3329/3361 were replaced by 8106/8129D on October 29

October 21:
  • VIA No 2 with 8134 at head-end and Thompson Manor tail-end
  • VIA No 601 with Chateau Rigaud at tail-end
  • VIA No 603 with 8109D at tail-end
  • VIA No 40: 904-4107-4002D-4119-4106-4116-4121-4001D-6431 (longest Corridor consist yet)
October 23:
  •  VIA No 1: Carleton Manor at tail-end
October 24:
  • VIA No 60/50: 6415-4107-4002D-4119-4106-4116-4121-919-3455-4001D-4110D-8102D-4104-4005D (double-buffered consist!)
  • VIA No 693 with 8127 as eighth and last car
  • VIA No 2 Cameron Manor at tail-end seen at Banff and behind Laurentide Park - photo below kindly shared by Bernie Goodman at Washago, ON.
October 28:
  • VIA No 601 with Chateau Rigaud at tail-end
  • VIA No 603 with Chateau Iberville at tail-end
  • VIA No 2 with Christie Manor at tail-end
* * * * * C O R R I D O R      P A R T      T W O  * * * * *
An updated record of the six corridor consists, from October 29 to November 4. (See Part Three below for November 4 and thereafter): 

October 29 No 41: 908-8116-4009D-4103-410x-4114D-8110.
October 29 No 60/50: 6415-4107-4002D-4119-4106-4121-4116.*/**
October 29 No 62/52: 6436L-8126-4003D-4113D-4101-4120-8109D.***
October 29 No 40: 916-4000D-4004D-4108-4122-4115D-4008D.
October 30 No 50: 918-8122-4001D-4110D-8102D-4104-4005D.****
October 31 No 41: 6414-8129D-4007D-4117-8123-4105D-8103.*****/******
*consist remarshalled and 4116 replaced on tail-end by 4112D by Oct.30
**4106-4107 removed, two 33xx on tail-end behind 4112D by Oct. 31; two 33xx removed, 4103 added by Nov. 3
***4120 removed by Nov. 2
****consist minimally remarshalled, 4005D removed by Nov. 4
*****8123 removed Oct. 31
******4120 added by Nov. 4

October 29:
  • VIA No 63 with 4109-8122 (shades down) deadheading at tail-end of four-car LRC consist, and added to October 30's No 50! None of the three LRC buffer cars are still in use
  • VIA No 185/186 with 6250 (baggage) and 6105 (buffer) bracketing occupied 6217.
  • VIA No 692 with 8127 at tail-end. ( below - Mark Perry photo of 8127 on 693 in Winnipeg)
October 31:
  • VIA No 63 with 8112 (half-shades) deadheading at tail-end of four-car LRC consist
  • VIA No 692 with Chateau Lasalle at tail-end
  • VIA No 2 with Thompson Manor at tail-end
November 1:
  • VIA No 42 with 8113 (half-shades) deadheading at tail-end of four-car LRC consist
* * * * * C O R R I D O R      P A R T      T H R E E  * * * * *
An updated record of the six corridor consists, from November 4 to November 11. Having established a good pattern in these three parts of Corridor listings, I'll only post updates occasionally now.

November 4 No 41: 912-8129D-4007D-4117-4105D-4120-8103.*
November 4 No 52: 918-8122 shades down-4001D-4110D-4104-8102D. (5 CARS)**
November 5 No 50: 910-4121-4002D-4119-4112D-4116-4103.***/****
November 5 No 52: 6436L-8126-4003D-4113D-4101-8109D. (5 CARS)****
November 5 No 40: 911-4000D-4004D-4108-4122-4115D-4008D.
November 8 No 41: 908-8116-4009D-4109-4100-4114D-8110.*****

* 4007D replaced by 4005D; 4105D replaced by 4107 [sometime] between Nov 4 and Nov 7; 8129D replaced by 8110D on Nov 10
**4110D replaced by 4105D on Nov 5
***4103 replaced by 4101 between Nov 6 and Nov 8
****4112D replaced by 4106 Nov 9
*****4101 replaced by 4103 between Nov 5 and Nov 8
******8110 replaced by 8105 between Nov 5 and Nov 8

November 5:
  • VIA No 2 with Cameron Manor at tail-end, apparently being menaced by a CN freight (below - photo by Tim Kent at Hornepayne, ON):
November 6:
  • After being in Corridor service since the beginning of the buffer-car era, 8123 headed west at the head-end of VIA No 1. Thompson Manor at tail-end.
November 7:
  • Check this postscript for more on the testing now underway, and watch that postscript for an upcoming press story for which I was interviewed.
November 13: 
  • VIA No 1 with Christie Manor at tail-end. (Still in use February 3)
November 14:
  • VIA No 692 with Chateau Marquette at tail-end.
  • VIA No 2 with Cameron Manor (still in use December 25) at tail-end - 8120 at head-end VCVR-JASP then 8137 WPEG-TRTO on tail-end. Prestige Chateau Denonville and 8517 were deadheaded at head-end as well. 8137 and 8517 trailed VIA No 42 east on Nov. 22. On November 28, 8137 and Yoho Park deadheaded west on VIA No 63. Photo below kindly shared by Patty Moss, taken from the lounge in Prestige Class Laurentide Park:
November 15: 
  • VIA No 2 at Toronto - Brock Manor at tail-end (still in use January 18, 2023)
November 20:
  • VIA No 1 departed Toronto with two tail-end cars - a Manor followed by a diner, likely Frontenac that was deadheaded into Toronto after interior refurbishment and now on its way to Vancouver. (Video capture below by CJ Burnell):

November 22

  • VIA No 603/601 had buffer cars Chateau Iberville/Chateau Rigaud, respectively.

November 29

  • VIA No 5 appeared to have Assiniboine Park. After the Park car!
December 2
  •  VIA No 1 had Christie Manor and 8140 at the tail-end
December 4 
  • VIA No 1 had Yoho Park 'backwards', likely for Churchill service, trailing Christie Manor at tail-end. Yoho Park had arrived at TMC from MMC on November 28's  No 63.
December 4 and 6
  • For the first time since the very early implementation of buffer cars, two Manor cars have been used in Corridor service. Craig Manor trailed No 50 on December 4, and though largely illegible on the other side, No 63 on December 6. Blair Manor trailed No 50 on December 6, returning that evening on No 645. Blair Manor trails No 50 on December 8 (image courtesy Railstream, LLC):

December 10 

  • VIA 603/601 each operate with baggage, coach and Chateau buffer car: Iberville and Laval (both still in use/Feb 1.
  • VIA No 40 had Drummond Manor as tail-end buffer car. 
December 11
  • VIA No 1 had Revelstoke Park backwards, deadheading at head-end, with Cameron Manor-8134 at tail-end. Revelstoke Park had been on December 9's No 51.
December 12
  • VIA No 692 with Chateau Lasalle at tail-end.
December 13
  • VIA No 2 had Christie Manor-8142 at the tail-end. On December 22, 8142 trailed VIA No 42's LRC consist.
December 14
  • VIA No 41 had Lorne Manor as tail-end buffer car, having joined Blair Manor, Craig Manor, and Drummond Manor as the fourth Manor car in the Corridor consists.
* * * * * C O R R I D O R      P A R T      F O U R  * * * * *

With the use of three Manor cars in the Corridor, it's time to list the Corridor buffer-car consists used from December 13 until January 7/23. (It seems to me that there's a coachyard numerologist at work. Notice how five consists had two or three cars (Business Class and at least one coach) that end with the same numeral!

December 9 No 41: 6406-8110D-4007D-4117-4107-4120-8103D */**/***/****
December 12 No 40: 908-4000D-4008D-4108-4105D-4100-4122+
December 12 No 44: 900-8122-4005D-4115D-4116-8129D-Craig Manor
December 13 No 41: 6411-8116-4009D-4109-4114D-4112D-Drummond Manor*****/******
December 13 No 50: 913-8126-4003D-4113D-4106-8105-Blair Manor*******
December 13 No 52: 912-4121-4002D-4119-4110D-4111D-4001D********/++/+++
*8103D replaced by Lorne Manor by Dec. 14
**4107 replaced by 4103 on Dec. 15
***8110D replaced by 4101 between Dec. 23 and Dec. 30
****4117 replaced by 4104 between Dec.16 and Dec. 30
*****8116 replaced by 8109D on Dec. 19; 8116 deadheaded east trailing No 42 on Dec. 20
******8116 replaced by 8109D on Jan. 6/23
*******Blair Manor replaced by Bliss Manor on Dec. 19
********4002D replaced by 4004D Jan. 2/23
+4008D removed, 8116 head-end on Jan. 6/23
++4119 replaced by 4117 between Jan. 1 and Jan. 7/23
+++ 4001D replaced by 4107 between Jan. 3 and Jan. 6

Here's Craig Manor at the tail-end of VIA No 45 on December 13, taken at Kingston with car line number 211 near the vestibule door:

December 17
  • VIA No 41 had Drummond Manor at tail-end, in snow (image courtesy Railstream, LLC):

December 18

  • VIA No 1 had Brock Manor and 8140 at tail-end.
December 19
  • VIA No 50 had Bliss Manor at tail-end - the fifth Manor seeing Corridor buffer car service in December
December 23
  • VIA No 2 had Brock Manor at tail-end.
December 31
  • VIA No 692 with Chateau Levis at tail-end.
January 1, 2023 buffer cars are entering a new year:
  • VIA No 1 has Cameron Manor at tail-end.
January 3, 2023
  • VIA Banff Park was set out from No 2 at Jasper, joining Kokanee Park on the Skeena.
January 4, 2023
  • VIA Lorne Manor trailed No 41 at a bleary-eyed nought seven forty:

January 6:

  • VIA No 2 ex-Vancouver was trailed by Cameron Manor-coach 8106 for Prince Rupert. On January 11, coach 8100 was deadheaded at head-end of No 1 west from Jasper, perhaps replaced by 8106.
* * * * * C O R R I D O R      P A R T      F I V E * * * * *

Numerous changes to Corridor consists were made during the Christmas holidays. It's been three months since buffer cars, and now four Manor cars, were introduced. Here are the consists in use post-January 4, 2023:
  • January 4 No 41: 907-4101-4007D-4104-4103-4120-Lorne Manor.
  • January 5 No 52: 910-8122-4005D-4115D-4116-8129D-Craig Manor. Video of consist.*
  • January 6 No 52: 900-8126-4003D-4113D-4106-8105-Bliss Manor.**
  • January 7 No 41: 913-8109D-4009D-4109-4114D-4112D-Drummond Manor.***
  • January 7 No 50: 6427L-8116-4000D-4108-4105D-4100-4122.****
  • January 7 No 40: 919-4121-4004D-4117-4110D-4111D-4107.*****
*4115D replaced by 4111D on Jan. 10; 4005D and 8129D replaced by 4009D and 8109D between Jan.14 and Jan. 16; 8122 replaced by 8103 Jan. 22; 4001 replaced Craig Manor Jan. 28 after 4001 not observed since January 6.
**8126 replaced by 4000D Jan. 22; 8105-Bliss Manor replaced by 4119-Blair Manor Jan.25; 4003D replaced by 4008D Jan. 29 after 4008D not observed since Jan. 6.
***Drummond Manor replaced by 4118 on Jan. 13 but back on Jan. 17; 8109D replaced by 8110D and 4009D replaced by 4005D between Jan.16 and Jan. 26
****4000D-4108 replaced by 4002D-4117 on Jan. 9.
*****4117 and 4111D replaced by 4119-4115D on Jan.10; 4119 replaced by 4118 Jan. 24; 4115D replaced by 4108 Jan. 23 after 4108 not observed seen since Jan. 9.
January 9
  • VIA No 692 with Chateau Lasalle at tail-end (still in use January 21)
January 17
  • VIA No 2 departed Vancouver behind 6445-6440 with Brock Manor at tail-end and Skyline 8505 ahead of baggage car. Arrived Toronto behind 6440-6449 with 8127-unknown Manor cut in ahead of 8505.
  • VIA No 2 departed Vancouver with Abbot Manor at tail-end (still in use January 31).
January 22
  • VIA No 1 with Prestige Class Chateau Lauzon at head end; Abbot Manor-8142 at tail-end.
January 27
  • Blair Manor is back as a Corridor buffer car, replacing Bliss Manor. (Bliss had replaced Blair as of December 19) and Craig Manor has left the well-Manor'd buffer car pool.
It's not that the passengers don't want to see the south-side scenery! The drawn shades are a giveaway that 8103 is a buffer car, immediately behind 911 on January 28's VIA No 40 (above - image courtesy Railstream, LLC).

* * * * * C O R R I D O R       P A R T      S I X  * * * * *

To start off a new month, and to mark the expected delivery of the structural testing results to Transport Canada (oh, and because there have been almost complete turnovers in some of the consists - more turnovers than Pepperidge Farm!), listed below are the six Corridor HEP consists in use as of January 30, 2023 (D="D&H/ refurbished" scheme, L=Love the way wrap). Interestingly, VIA's normal equipment cycle was disrupted at this time, with HEP sets unusually used on trains 61 and 65, instead of the usual morning parade of Nos 41/60/50, 62/52, 42 that often rate an HEP consist:

Jan.30 No 41: 909-4101-4007D-4104-4103-4120-Lorne Manor.*
Jan.30 No 65: 911-8103-4009D-4111D-4116-8109D-4001D.
Jan.31 No 41: 909-8110D-4005D-4109-4102-4112D-Drummond Manor. +***
Jan.31 No 50: 902-4000D-4008D-4113D-4106-4119-Blair Manor.
Jan.31 No 61: 901-8116-4002D-4117-4105D-4100-4122.
Jan.31 No 52: 915-4121-4004D-4118-4108-4110D-4107.******

*4101 replaced by 8122 Feb.1
***4109 replaced by 4114D Feb.1
+4102 had deadheaded west on VIA No 51 on January 25. Previously not observed since November, 2021, this was perhaps a trial trip! 
******4107 replaced by 4101 Feb.2

 ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Prestige Class Park Car -  If you have to ask, you can't afford it. I was only a Prestige poseur, not a pampered passenger. So, my travel in the Park car was confined to one evening eastward on the Canadian in June, 2019 (top photo and above). But from the cut of my fellow Prestige (actual) passengers, they were there for The Experience. Maybe The Experience included rhapsodizing about the receding track as we rolled into the night (already being lamented on Youtube. Maybe it was not, and they were A-OK with looking out the side window. Or occupying the dome. No diaphragm in sight here, just the day sinking like a sunset. On October 25, VIA sent emails (and a subsequent retraction email) to Canadian Sleeper and Prestige passengers denying access to the Park car! Apparently intended for Skeena passengers instead. Oops. Consists reduced to 15 cars at end of October.

RDC Redundancy - The Sudbury-White River RDC run has even employed buffer RDC's. Three cars: baggage-passengers-buffer.

Skeena Sadness - On the Skeena, not only was access to the Park car suspended, so was snack and beverage service. Or, as one sad passenger put it, 12 hours without food, drink or Park car access. Perhaps there would be Red Cross parcels provided? As of November 23, a buffer car was being sent for use on the Prince Rupert run. Assiniboine Park was the buffer car on November 29. Kokanee Park arrived in Jasper on No 2 on January 3. One of few instances of two Park cars running together in VIA's history.

Churchill Churlishness - On the Winnipeg-Churchill train, there will also be an unoccupied Park car until buffer cars can be deadheaded to Winnipeg. Then a coach following the Park car when coaches became available. Later a Chateau at tail-end, following the Chateau.

Jonquiere Junkets - Even the Montreal to Jonquiere train 601/603 to Senneterre are included, with the 601 gaining a Chateau car on October 12 and a refurbished coach on 603, later a Chateau for each.

Ocean Okay - Since the Ocean is no longer turned at Halifax, the bidirectional contest has four ex-CP cars on one end, including a baggage, as well as an unoccupied Renaissance car on the opposite end. Buffer cars need not apply!

Corridor Content - Six HEP consists are operating in the Corridor. LRC cars have been added as buffer cars, one Manor car which quickly left the Corridor consists, or just another stainless steel coach on currently stainless-steel consists. This operational adjustment may not look all that different here. At night, passing trains can be seen with no lights and/or no passengers in head-end and tail-end coaches. Manor cars entered Corridor buffer-car service in December.

STAY TUNED...LATEST UPDATE JANUARY 31, 2023!

I'll update this post as reliable information becomes available, or the adjustments change. This post will remain a record of 'remember when buffer cars started?' and is already the longest-running post in Trackside Treasure history! We might still be wallowing in buffer-car nostalgia months from now when they're still in use.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Summertime at Smiths Falls, August 1983

A yearning to see CP put me on the road to Smiths Falls on August 3, 1983. My parents were travelling to Manitoba aboard VIA Rail, the only year I wasn't. Work was getting in the way. But at least there was no need to ask to borrow the car! Upon arrival at 1225, CP 5771-6012-5983 was setting out a Railbox boxcar in the yard. The train's van was CP 434445.

Emerging from the east, stripey CP 5672 led MLW's 4713-4503-8734, departing at 1320 with van 434419 on the tail-end. Feast your eyes on those multimarks in the yard. (You won't hear them referred to as 'Pac-Man' here on Trackside Treasure. Oops, I just did!)

Pulling in from 'Brockvegas' was  VIA 6775 with Club de la Garnision-5545-3225 at 1411.This train departed for Ottawa via that unique CP-CN connection at 1411, while emitting characteristic MLW smoke. It would be another three years before 6775 and 6758 would receive their snazzy blue VIA nose logos.
Coming in off the Chalk River Sub at 1610 was this eastbound pulled by CP 5918-5948. That station sign always let you know exactly where your photos were taken!
Last but least, the roadswitcher to Brockville with CP 8045 was switching at the east end of the yard.
With the afternoon drawing to a close, it was time to head back down Highway 15 to Kingston.

Running extra...

Two chance encounters with CN No 518, the Belleville-Kingston turn  revealed a 'hostler's choice' of motive power. Backing the eight-car train down to Invista was CN 4902, ex-GMTX 2254, nicely cleaned up with some new paint and thankfully non-brushpainted cab numbers. On the head-end was GTW 6425 on Monday, trailing on Wedneday. The train was crossing Centennial Boulevard behind Frontenac Mall, site of an earlier switcher stopped back in January, 1986 with high-nose CN 4487 and a crew gone into the mall for something to eat!

Kingston Railfair - October 22 - will mark the first time I'll have attended a train show in 2.5 years. The March, 2020 Kingston Rail-O-Rama was one of the very first casualties of the pandemic. Who knows what or who I'll find? That's a big 10-4 (those are also the hours of the show).