Wednesday, July 17, 2024

More Kingston & Pembroke Stations

In this post showing stations on the southerly end of the Kingston & Pembroke (K&P) Railway within Frontenac County, my northerly coverage stopped at Godfrey. 

Recently, via fellow Kingston rail enthusiasts Graham Oberst and Paul Hunter, I was pleased to receive a gracious donation of several vintage postcards and a variety of photos from the Burleigh family. These interesting artifacts, vintage yet uncredited show various stations that obviously reflect the area Wesley (Ross) Burleigh worked in for the K&P and later CP. Likely saved by him as mementoes of his service, I pledged to give them a good home and that's one reason you're seeing many of them them published in this post.

Ross Burleigh was a telegrapher and operator at several K&P/CP stations in that area. A Verona resident, later living in Kingston on Livingston Street (1926), he then operated a summer resort west of Amherstview for 40 years reaching the age of 94. 

His brother was local historian Herbert Clarence Burleigh, MDCM (Medicinæ Doctorem et Chirurgiæ Magistrum - only granted by McGill), born at Hartington, Ontario in 1893, educated in Sydenham and Queen's University, graduating with a degree in Medicine in 1926. After graduation he set up practice in Theresa, New York. In 1935 he returned to Canada with his family so that his children would grow up under the monarchy. During the WWI served with the No 7 Canadian General (Queen's) Hospital. In WW2, he joined the RCAMC retiring as Lieutenant Colonel in command of No 3 Company. Between 1947 and 1950, he served in the reserve forces as Lieutenant Colonel of the Medical Section, No 5 Manning Depot, Kingston. Practising in Bath for 40 years, he also published numerous pamphlets and booklets. In 1973 he published his first book Forgotten Leaves of Local History - Kingston, and later The Romance of Fort Frontenac, and Tales of Amherst Island'. The brothers' gravesite in Harrowsmith Cemetery:
Ross Burleigh was a K&P operator at various points: Verona 1909, Folger 1909 and Godfrey 1912. Once the K&P became part of the Canadian Pacific system, he was a CP operator: Godfrey 1914, Arden 1916, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922 and Verona 1917.

This photo is captioned, "John Wesley Burleigh on left while working as carpenter on the Kingston & Pembroke Railroad. Photo taken at Glenvale Calabogie Parham 1910"
Sharbot Lake, captioned 'about 1910' though this photo is captioned 1903 elsewhere:
A postcard to his sister: "Dear Grace, We got the views of our lives taken at last. This is one of the station, it looks very natural." Postmarked in Verona, possibly 1905.
K&P Engine No. 3 "Renfrew" arriving at Lavant station:
Folger, captioned 'about 1910'.
Calabogie, a postcard addressed to Ross Burleigh at Godfrey from his sister Grace, postmarked 1913:
To the south and west was the Grand Trunk Railway bridge at Napanee. This postcard seems to have been purchased second-hand:
The Grand Trunk Railway bridge at Kingston Mills, also sent to Ross at Folger in 1909 by S.G. Briggs of Sharbot Lake, from Antwerp, NY:
Two more nearby stations near Sharbot Lake, possibly Crow Lake (originally Campbellford, Lake Ontario & Western) east of Sharbot Lake, unlabelled:
Ardendale (Arden) station, originally Ontario & Quebec Railway, west of Sharbot Lake:
Watch for an upcoming enhanced post showing stations on the southerly end of the Kingston & Pembroke, from this Trackside Treasure trove courtesy of the Burleigh family. re-read Forgotten Leaves of Kingston History.

Running extra...

Loyal Trackside Treasure reader Terry Muirhead was doing a Reverse Buster Keaton - on his way from Vancouver to Halifax, all aboard VIA Rail last weekend. I was able to meet Terry, albeit briefly on his way through Kingston on J-train VIA No 62/52, elegantly ensconced in HEP Business Class car 4005:

VIA has increased its implementation of intrepid Venture sets in the Toronto-Ottawa-Kingston part of the Corridor, now with ten sets in daily service. Lest we think that's all the daily departures in that lane, there are still 2-5 LRC departures, and 6-9 HEP departures per day. Terry's train above was a good example - Ottawa HEP/Montreal LRC.

I'm watching the US RNC convention like a wary bald eagle. The speakers! The get-ups! Strangely not a word about AR-15's. It's enough to make me yearn for Communism. At least the trains ran on time!

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Testing VIA's HEP Fleet - Death and Disposition

After 11 pieces of VIA Rail rolling stock were subjected to compression (at NRC in Ottawa) and/or tear-down testing (at CAD Railway Industries Limited - formerly Canadian Allied Diesel - in Lachine) the railfan rumour mill was active. Would the tested cars see service again? Would they be preserved? Would they be scrapped? How could VIA possibly consider not returning them to service given their age, their classic nature and the belief by some that like the Titanic....they must go on....forever?

Until now, I'd been keeping track (pun intended) of the disposition of the tested cars at CAD at the conclusion of this original post on the cars' testing. This was only possible via the courtesy of fellow railfan photographers. (I don't live in Montreal, though I was born there.) The final two bullet points in that post were conclusive:
  • On December 10, 2023 Michael Berry* visited CAD and his photos reveal five trucks with no HEP cars above them. Scrapping had begun. Baggage 8618 and Strathcona Park are definitely still extant. Also, Chateau Rouville and Alexandra.
  • On March 25, 2024 VIAphile Mark Charlebois** reported that the Budd shells seem to be absent. They had gone to that big Red Lion plant in the sky.
I was also perturbed by quotes from VIA's Vice-President of Mechanical Services during media tours of the Montreal Maintenance Centre (MMC) in early-2024. He told journalists that in 2019, VIA had a little more than 200 cars for its 'trans-Canada route', and 11 different types. Due to inspections and some cars being found to be unserviceable, that fleet had been reduced to just over 175 cars. He also used the term 'end-of-life cars'. Some reports translated this as 25% of VIA's fleet having been scrapped! It had already been established that the stainless steel HEP cars involved in the testing constituted only 5% of VIA's HEP fleet. After submitting an Access to Information (ATI) request to VIA Rail, I received information pertaining to the death and disposition of these 11 cars, at least. The results may surprise you! 

I have been satisfied with VIA's prompt handling of my request, their responsiveness, related communication and their following of both the spirit and the letter of the legislation. Characteristic of documents and information supplied pursuant to an ATI request, there is redaction of specific names and personal information as well as figures, costs and other details that if disclosed would breach confidentiality, or cause material loss/gain, or prejudice the competitive position of a third party, all as stipulated by the Privacy Act and ATI Act. In this post, I'll identify managers' titles at VIA and at other entities, but I will not include names that may have been disclosed in the requested material. VIA has not placed any restrictions on the sharing of the information it has provided. 

The post reads mostly chronologically, since activities at CAD and NRC were happening concurrently. I've used single quotes for 'quotation' purposes, round brackets for (abbreviations) and square brackets for [redactions] or [my editorial notes]. To maintain the original nature of some information I'll use VIA's arcane, in some cases translated, terminology. 

So far, so many pages of information, so good! Their reading required divination, collation, rumination and interpretation by your humble blogger and the use of many, many Post-it notes to organize the information therein. Here's the executive summary if you're impatient, busy or think this post is 'TLDR':


They all got scrapped! They will not run again!!


Now that we got that out of the way, let's get into some of the granular, nitty-gritty detail of what happened to these unfortunate few martyr-cars that gave their all to keep the HEP fleet on track. This list of cars and scrapping dates, supplied by VIA, can serve as a legend for this post, as it lists both car numbers with names, if applicable. For readability and space-saving in the remainder of the post following this list, I'll use just car numbers. [The scrapping dates are more accurately scrapped-by dates, as scrapping would have taken several days.]

Scrapped at NRC, Ottawa:
  • 8222 - HEP1 Chateau sleeper car: June 21st, 2023 [Chateau Richelieu]
  • 8717 – HEP1 Park dome car: June 21st, 2023 [Waterton Park]
Scrapped at CAD, Lachine:    
  • 8505 – HEP1 Skyline dome car: Nov 27th, 2023 
  • 8340 – HEP1 Manor sleeper car: Nov 27th, 2023 [Stuart Manor]
  • 4006 – HEP2 Business passenger car: Nov 27th, 2023 
  • 6208 – RDC:  Nov 27th, 2023 
  • 8138 – HEP1 Coach passenger car: March 20th, 2024 
  • 8402 – HEP1 Diner car: March 20th, 2024 [Alexandra]
  • 8225 – HEP1 Chateau Sleeper car: March 20th, 2024 [Chateau Rouville]
  • 8714 – HEP1 Park dome car : March 20th, 2024 [Strathcona Park]
  • 8618 – HEP1 Baggage car: March 20th, 2024

As part of my ATI request, the 122-page contract for Stainless Steel Cars Stripping and Inspection was provided in a revised, word-processed form, with some sections missing, replaced by the words 'Intentionally Omitted' as opposed to redaction. The first 66 pages were the contract terms [a lot of standard contract legalese about liens, force majeure and 'save harmless' clauses, with about one third of the information Intentionally Omitted  or 'IO']. The next 51 pages of exhibits were Intentionally Omitted except for four pages. The last four pages were appendices, and these four pages provided the most interesting information. Below are some selected snippets from the very detailed but mostly boilerplate 18 Articles of contract terms.

The contract was signed in Montreal on December 7, 2022 by VIA's Vice-President of Mechanical Services and CAD's Vice-President of Operations. 

Article 1 listed definitions. 'Salvaged Material' meant any material, equipment, component, commodities or other things identified by VIA as salvaged material when removed from a Car. 'Stripped Car' and 'Systemic Defect' were IO. 

Article 2 listed contractor's obligations, with CAD Contract Manager and Production Supervisor names redacted.

Article 3 entitled Cars, Free Issue Material and Salvaged Material. [There has been significant interest in saving or preserving parts from the HEP cars destroyed in the testing]. All material identified by VIA as Salvaged Material would remain VIA's property, including rebuildable cores, redundant components and reusable materials. Materials designated by VIA as being of no further use were to be recycled when possible by CAD. Materials designed as Salvaged Material were to be tagged, stored and shipped as stipulated by VIA. Any proposals obtained by CAD for disposal of Cars were to be reviewed and approved by VIA, with any proceeds from the sale of scrap Cars credited to VIA. [It's unknown what components or materials were taken back to the MMC and kept in VIA's inventory. I find it hard to believe some were not retained for spares.]

Article 5 Drawings and Design Reviews had the following interesting-sounding sections marked IO: Car History Book, Detailed Engineering Plan, Drawings List and Method Procedures.

Article 7 Quality Assurance noted that it was up to CAD to keep objective evidence of each inspection to ensure no characteristics had been overlooked.

Financial Arrangements in Article 8 noted the Contract Price as set out in Appendix C [see below]. The maximum number of hours that CAD could invoice and that VIA would be obligated to pay, also called Not to Exceed (NTE) hours was [redacted]. CAD was obligated to provide weekly updates on work progress to VIA.

Article 9 Title and Risk stipulated that each Car was in the care, possession and control of CAD from its delivery to the [redacted] location until completion of the Work.

Article 14 Contract Term and Schedule noted the Contract Schedule as set out in Appendix B [see below].

Article 15 Project Management gave VIA the responsibility of nominating a Project Manager and a Project Engineer from within its staff. Monthly progress reports were to be submitted on the 15th day after the end of each month to VIA in an electronic format. 

Exhibits and Appendices were mostly IO, with the exception of a Form of Change Order example:
Appendix A entitled Specification laid out the baseline work outlined in the contract:
  • Stripdown  Exterior - perform complete stripping of undercar equipment.
  • Stripdown  Interior - remove all interior partitions and equipment to allow access to floor and walls up to window height (upper limit); perform complete stripping of floors to expose car structure; perform partial stripping of walls to expose car structure up to window height (upper limit).
  • Stripdown Structure - extra caution should be taken to avoid damming [sic - should read 'damaging'?] the structure.
  • Teardown - to be executed after stripdown per VIA's instructions on a car-by-car basis.
The estimated number of cars requiring inspection and teardown was ten; the estimated number of cars requiring 'load test' was three. CAD was responsible for coordinating the National Research Council [compression] testing with VIA. The Cars were to be stored inside or outside by CAD 'as is'.

Appendix B entitled Contract Schedule interestingly noted that Work had started as early as October 8, 2022, a mere four days before the implementation of buffer cars and nine days before the release date of HATCH's initial report. Clearly, there was an intention to begin testing the cars expeditiously.
Appendix C Schedule of Prices listed [redacted amounts] for the following: 
  • hourly rate
  • hourly rate (for approved overtime)
  • design and engineering
  • removal and disposal of asbestos, rental of containers, disposal of material
Processes that were to be charged hourly included:
  • production
  • material handling
  • part sorting
  • movement of the cars
  • required trucking and detrucking
  • inspection if required and time to build reports. 
Cars were to be stored at no cost to VIA.

The number of hours was estimated:
  • 1,500 hours for load test cars
  • 700 hours for stripping of inspection and teardown cars
  • teardown activities not estimated.
It was noted that all Cost [+ redacted] items were to be submitted to VIA for review and approval before proceeding with any incurring of costs by CAD. Certain items could be pre-approved.

Already agreed upon Cost [redacted] listed inspection and removal of asbestos, rental of required storage containers, disposition charges and wrapping of cars to be sent to Ottawa.

So it appears that work to prepare the two cars wrapped and taken to Ottawa on November 6, 2022 for compression testing was underway even before this contract between VIA and CAD was signed. Though discussed generally in other posts in this series, a contract between VIA and HATCH Engineering [the firm hired by VIA to provide external technical advice on the structural integrity testing of VIA's HEP fleet] would also have been signed to cover their inspection and engineering analysis undertaken at CAD. Their initial Technical Advice Summary Report was released October 17, 2022 and was the basis for subsequent teardown testing performed by HATCH in conjunction with VIA at CAD.


Much of the information that I received from VIA was in the form of email chains. There were five main email chains:

HATCH Engineering<-->VIA:
VIA's Engineering Director, Rolling Stock; Senior Director, Technical Services and Chief Engineer Rolling Stock; Senior Mechanical Engineer.
[HATCH contacts redacted].

National Research Council <--> VIA:
VIA's Senior Manager, Inventory; Engineering Director, Rolling Stock.
NRC's Senior Project Manager, Test Engineer, Testing and Evaluation; Supervisor, Testing and Evaluation; Program Leader, Resilient Ground Transportation; Senior Business Development Officer.

VIA Internal - Selecting Cars for Testing:
VIA's Director, Procurement and Inventory Management; Master Planner, Mechanical Services; Senior Director, Technical Services and Chief Engineer, Rolling Stock.

VIA Internal - First Round of Scrapping at CAD:
VIA's Engineering Director, Rolling Stock; Project Manager, Rolling Stock Projects; Director, Rolling Stock Capital Programs.
[CAD contacts redacted].

VIA Internal - Second Round of Scrapping at CAD:
VIA's Engineering Director, Rolling Stock; Project Manager, Rolling Stock Projects; Mechanical Engineer.
[CAD contacts redacted].

VIA Internal - other Contacts cc'd:
Project Engineer; Chief Engineer; Senior Manager, Major Rolling Stock Renovation Program; Senior Mechanical Engineer; Senior Engineering Manager; MMC Site Manager; Manager of Works, Rolling Stock; Senior Manager, Inventory.


One of the first steps in the death and disposition of the tested HEP cars was the completion of the Surplus Asset Disposal Request Form (below), signed November 10, 2022 and circulated by VIA's Director of Procurement and Inventory Management - Montreal Maintenance Centre (MMC). The reason given for disposal was "Structural Assessment - Project Solstice". [Though not defined publicly, I believe Project Solstice was VIA's program of structural assessment inspections, plus any ensuing improved inspection requirements gleaned from tear-down inspections.] 

The disposal form stipulated that the cars would be destroyed during the course of testing, though some inventory items would first be recovered. Costs or proceeds of scrap would be confirmed and [net book values redacted]. At the same time as the form was circulated, the cars were taken off VIA's books and removed from the Universal Machine Language Equipment Register (UMLER) maintained by the Transportation Division of the Association of American Railroads in Washington, DC. 
What I find so interesting about this form is that the final dispositions [death warrants] of eight of the eleven cars selected for Project Solstice's tear-down and/or compression-testing were already signed, with their eventual destruction already decided as early as mid-November. At that time, I was toiling in my small corner of cyberspace, trying to piece together which cars were being used for testing through various sources, all unofficial. No official information was forthcoming from VIA, and the use of 'Project' names suggests that a high degree of secrecy was involved. Even VIA employees who should have known what was happening to HEP cars were surprised by the resounding silence that reverberated around their requests for more information.

Throughout December, cars rumoured for testing appeared at CAD's complex, then disappeared within. The required tear-down inspections on the first four - VIA 4006 (HEP2 Business), 8225 (HEP1 Chateau Rouville), 6208 (RDC-2), and 8402 Alexandra (Diner) - were completed on January 20, 2023. It would not be until late February, in fact weeks after the preliminary HATCH report had been released to VIA, that the tested cars appeared back in daylight in CAD's yard, rather publicly placed! 

Château Richelieu and 8138 were compression-tested in Ottawa in December, 2022 and January 2023, respectively, and were the subject of a round of emails sent on May 18, 2023 by the Senior Project Manager for the National Research Council (NRC) Automotive & Surface Transportation (AST) research centre in Ottawa to HATCH Engineering [the firm hired by VIA to provide external technical advice on the structural integrity testing of VIA's HEP fleet]. Confirmation was sought whether the two cars could be disposed of by the NRC. HATCH then checked with VIA, and VIA confirmed they could be. VIA required a completed Disposal Certificate once the scrapping was completed. VIA also stipulated that the cars' trucks [alternatively referred to as bogies or even boogies!], couplers and yokes be sent to VIA's MMC, and asked for costs associated with loading the bogies before they were loaded. Waterton Park had also been delivered by VIA to the NRC facility in February, 2023.  Since 8138 over-performed during the compression testing, it would subsequently be taken to the MMC for tear-down testing.

Château Richelieu and Waterton Park were recorded as being scrapped in June, 2023. It must have been early in June, because on June 8, the NRC Senior Project Manager notified his contact at VIA that the bogies were ready for pickup. Needing to coordinate their rotating boom truck for the job, was the flatbed truck scheduled already for the week of June 13? The next day, the VIA contact noted that VIA would provide the boom truck and operator via their broker, therefore resulting in a cost reduction for the payment to HATCH.

On June 13, the crane was onsite. All four bogies had been loaded and driven off-site, confirmed to VIA by the NRC, thanking the VIA contact for his coordination of the crane and transport. VIA requested final confirmation from the NRC the next day - that there was no more VIA equipment on NRC property. That was to be confirmed by an NRC manager on vacation that week. The NRC contact was prepared to provide the Disposal Certificates, thereby concluding this portion of the project. 

On June 21, the NRC sent VIA the Record of Destruction from AIM Recycling Ottawa East, which noted that "VIA cars 8222 and 8717 received from the NRC were destroyed at their location on Lester Road, in association with [redacted - likely HATCH] for removal and transport to American Iron & Metals Co. (AIM) Ottawa West and have been recycled at our location at 120 Bentley Avenue in Nepean, and will be shipped to our AIM Montreal location at 9100 Henri-Bourassa for further recycling process. The Record was completed on stationery from AIM Recycling Ottawa East (Division of AIM) located at 2555-2575 Sheffield Road, Ottawa.

Also in June, back in Montreal, tension was rising between VIA and CAD regarding the HEP cars that had been subject to tear-down testing mandated completed by January 31, 2023. Word was out that tested and disfigured cars were visible at CAD, and the cars were being photographed by railfan photographers in the yard outside in February and March, 2023. 

On June 1, VIA's Engineering Director of Rolling Stock suggested scrapping 8505 and 8340, and if pressure from CAD increased for removal of more cars from their yard, that 8138 and 4006 could be next. He was hesitant to have cars scrapped that might be needed for Project Equinox, or might otherwise delay the project's progress if the cars were already scrapped. The cars should be kept at CAD 'as long as possible'. [Not defined publicly, Project Equinox was the internal name for the project involving refurbishment of VIA's HEP fleet, likely the same program referred to on VIA's website as its Heritage Program.]

Googlemaps views of tested VIA HEP cars in CAD's Lachine yard (above and top photo) dated June, 2023. Note the readily-apparent disfigurement: gaping window openings, open vestibules, strategic cuts for testing, spray-painted designations and graffiti on the torn-down cars discouragingly and publicly visible from Boulevard Montreal-Toronto, along CAD's north side.

A decision table showing cars at CAD as of June 1, the topic of emails re: which cars can be gotten rid of from CAD's yard at their request.
On June 14, VIA's Director of Rolling Stock Capital Programs roundly emailed several colleagues at VIA in an email entitled "CAD - CAR to Dispose". He noted that CAD was 'exasperated to have to deal with the cars on its property'. Had CAD been contacted yet with which two cars could first be scrapped, and which two would be next? When the director asked what 'as long as possible' meant, the response was the time required to execute our prototypes of Project Solstice or the limits of our contract, which he believed extended only as far as March, 2024. 

That date was confirmed to be in the contract with CAD, although 'leaving cars in the yard for 1.5 years was not communicated to CAD by the project team'. And calls from the Vice-President of Operations at CAD had been incoming to the VIA Director for two weeks already. Another manager suggested the cars be kept while 'repair engineering was completed' at least until the end of 2023, and that is what should be communicated to CAD. However, he conceded that depending on the progress of remaining engineering [solutions] 'we might be able to release a few cars earlier and will be able to take stock at the end of summer'. It appeared CAD was stuck with the unmovable, orphaned cars in their yard for the foreseeable future!

The Director of Rolling Stock Capital Programs also complained that the cars awaiting scrapping were very visible at CAD, giving a highly negative, dilapidated and graffiti-covered public impression [of VIA]. CAD had been told all cars would be gone by July of that year. Besides, the Director noted, there were many people already interested in obtaining the cars: Joe Chianti, GD Rail etc., to buy them outright or just to 'make them into keychains'. [Likely a reference to the VIA Historical Association, who was not even allowed to obtain the cars' nameplates for historical purposes, never mind stainless steel that was otherwise being sent for recycling, to be made into keychains]. 

Back to the NRC-tested cars in Ottawa. A long email chain was begun on July 10 with a correspondingly long subject line: '6th Amendment to VIA Rail Compression Testing Revised Pricing for Handling and Shipment of Car Parts Post-Compression Testing'. A 'TTSA document' was sent by HATCH to VIA regarding pricing for 'Task 13' - the shipment of car elements post-compression testing back to VIA and handling of materials in general. If revised costs were acceptable the VIA, HATCH could sign the revised TTSA. The NRC's Senior Business Development Officer replied to HATCH that VIA had provided the crane to remove bogies, yokes and couplers. The VIA contact asked for clarification on what NRC had done to accomplish Task 13, mainly for potential audit purposes.

On July 24, NRC's Senior Project Manager replied in detail, spelling out Task 13 as "Prepare VIA Rail Equipment for Outgoing Shipment After Carbody Disposal". Car #1 8222 and Car #3 8717 [with Car #2 presumably being coach 8138] have been condemned for disposal. Both carbodies will be recycled. HATCH's client VIA Rail Canada will provide a crane service to assist in pickup and loading of bogies, yokes, couplers and draft gear onto a flatbed for return to VIA Rail. NRC's obligations were: 
  • to arrange for a local steel recycler to dispose of two carbodies from NRC's Uplands campus
  • to provide labour support for loading of four bogies from 8138 and 8717 [should have read 8222 as 8138 was already at CAD for tear-down testing] and 
  • to provide labour and forklift for yokes and couplers. 
Client VIA Rail obligations were:
  • to provide flatbed transport and crane rental to support loading of equipment onto flatbeds
  • to provide rigging, securement and personnel and equipment as necessary for transport by road from Ottawa to MMC.  
Closing with: please advise if Task is approved so we can approve project for closure. Approvals were then received from HATCH as well as VIA.

On August 11, 2023, VIA's Project Manager of Rolling Stock Projects emailed three other VIA managers with the four cars that could be scrapped at CAD: 8505, 4006, 8340 and 8138, with the other five cars requiring storage at CAD until the end of the contract, namely March 31, 2024. Before scrapping, quotes were to be solicited and one approved.

One month later, a quote to CAD from RMI-IMR [Integrated Metal Recycling - and later rejected] spelled out expected income from the sale of the metals in the four-car demolition project. Each car representing approximately 50,000 pounds, half stainless steel 'grade 304' and half steel, [income amount redacted]. It was proposed that material be weighed and unloaded at IMR's site in St-Hubert, so payment could be based on actual weight, not just the estimated weight. The cars would have been considerably lighter than their in-service weights, due to the removal of interiors and underbody components prior to testing.

Two months later, in November 2023, the same Project Manager was sent the two submissions from CAD [from IMR and one other contractor] for scrapping. VIA's Project Manager replied to CAD five days later, approving scrapping the four cars to be done by AIM [likely the other contractor that had submitted a quote to CAD].

There followed a second email to CAD acknowledging that the August 11 list of the four numbers already sent was 'not good'. A second, revised list showed RDC-2 6208 substituted for 8138. The first three were to be scrapped at CAD with trucks salvaged and returned to VIA's MMC, with 6208 to be completely scrapped at CAD. VIA would coordinate delivery of the trucks with CAD, as well as provide a certificate confirming that the cars had been scrapped. The scrapping took place at the end of November [*not long before Michael Berry photographed only the trucks of the cars still onsite in early December].

Nearly three months later, on February 14, 2024 CAD sent VIA an email entitled 'Storage of 6 cars Proj Solstice', saying it was not possible for CAD to keep the remaining cars at CAD beyond March 31, 2024. [Apparently, the sixth car referred to was Renaissance coach 7203, coincidentally onsite.] CAD needed track space in their yard 'for other projects already planned'. As had already been discussed, there was disagreement with VIA on their interpretation of the contract with CAD, although CAD 'had continued to store the cars to accommodate you. So I confirm that as of April 1, if the cars have not been scrapped, CAD will not be responsible for the storage of the six remaining cars.'

Very quickly, the next day, VIA responded saying that VIA had 'made the final checks on those cars and the cars could be scrapped at the end of March.' VIA requested that the jacking pads and some fluting be removed and recovered before scrapping. If that was possible, VIA would provide a 'BOM' with the quantity thereof. CAD replied, awaiting confirmation so CAD could notify AIM to prepare for scrapping. [It seems to me that CAD was playing a bit of hardball at this point, after the extended stay and deepening delay in the removal of VIA's cars from CAD's yard.] CAD said they could not recover the parts requested by VIA due to 'temperature, labour availability and no electrical station nearby', so those requests made by VIA, apparently outside the contract, would go unfulfilled.

On March 1, VIA's Engineering Director of Rolling Stock contacted five VIA colleagues and three contacts at CAD conclusively regarding the six cars to be scrapped. For disposition by the end of March, VIA would be provided with estimated costs by CAD namely 'two quotes including AIM like last time' then wait for a GO from VIA to proceed. CAD would provide the date by which VIA must pick up the bogies for delivery to the MMC. VIA also wanted to recover the bolsters of the Renaissance car, providing CAD with a diagram of where they were to be cut from the car.

Ten days later, CAD sought VIA's approval of one of two quotes from Delsan-AIM Environmental Services Inc. and one other contractor for 'the same service as last time'. Delsan-AIM was available to do the work before the end of March. When CAD was asked for the second quote, the response from CAD said pointedly, 'it was VIA who chose AIM. I had a quote from RMI And VIA found it too expensive'. When asked about recovery of the Ren bolsters, the CAD asked his VIA contact to 'phone me'.

A March 13, 2024 form from AIM Recyclage to CAD included the cost of demolition to be paid directly to Delsan. AIM would pay for the material [price redacted] per tonne offered by AIM Montreal, net transport incl.

On March 15, a VIA email was circulated confirming the planned demolition of: 7203, 8138, 8402, 8225, 8714 and 8618 during the week of March 25. CAD would give a quote to AIM and ask AIM if they could cut the Ren bolsters off for return to the MMC. VIA's Engineering Director of Rolling Stock would:
  • confirm return of the 10 HEP car trucks from CAD to VIA's MMC.
  • okay the Ren trucks for scrapping/recycling.
  • send the official GO the following week once details were settled among AIM, CAD and VIA.
  • request 72 hours notice from CAD before...
  • began the week of March 25.
The demolition must have actually taken place prior to March 20 [**on March 25, railfan photographer Mark Charlebois visited the site and reported no VIA HEP cars visible.]

On March 28, a Delsan-AIM Environmental Services form showed the [redacted cost] for the demolition of six cars as project 'CAD Rail - VIA Rail Cars @ CAD'.

On April 4, an email from CAD to VIA entitled 'VIA Cars - Solstice' noted that CAD would receive [price redacted] for demolition, therefore VIA would pay CAD [price redacted]. 'How do you want to manage this? Produce an EWT? Simpler, I think' and several VIA managers were told, 'It's a little less than [price redacted] for car scrapping, costs of demolition in return for scrap metal (50,000 pounds once scrapped).'

Finally, the most mournful document of all. 

A purchase ticket (header - below) from AIM Recyclage Montreal, 9100 Henri-Bourassa showing material purchased from CAD 150 Boul. Montreal-Toronto. Payment due April 21, 2024 for 299,410 pounds of 'sheet metal' in seven truckloads, each one methodically listed by driver and truck ID, purchased from CAD, shipped to AIM on March 21 and 22. 

We now know what was in those seven truckloads. It is perhaps surprising no photographers caught the scrapping process at CAD in progress. Once loaded at CAD and making the 30 km trip to AIM Recyclage, adjacent to CN's Riviere des Prairies yard, these loads would have just represented a few more nondescript transport trucks travelling on Montreal's busy highways. These truckloads of material brought up the markers and marked the end of the disposition process of the eleven tested VIA HEP cars. 



Apparently, in the course of the scrapping, VIA honoured two requests made by Canadian volunteer rail preservation groups - Exporail and the VIA Historical Association (VHA) - for parts or entire car(s).


In a January 31, 2023 email to VIA's Director, Procurement & Inventory Management, Exporail at St-Constant attached an extensive and detailed list of missing parts needed to restore their ex-CP Sibley Park. Exporail correctly noted that Sibley is the only preserved Park car in a museum context in Canada. Exporail had worked with VIA and CAD in their respective facilities with our staff to recover material in the past, offering this capability to facilitate the process (some of Exporail's personnel being present or past VIA employees). The list:

Bedroom A (Drawing Room) •  Bathroom grab iron (cast model) •  Dixie Water Cup dispenser and wall mounting bracket missing (BUDD style) •  Mattresses (x 3)  

Bedroom B •  Mattresses (x 2) •  Dixie Water Cup dispenser and wall mounting bracket missing (BUDD style)  

Bedroom C •  Mattresses (x 2) •  Left-handed bathroom door limit hinge – top of door (BUDD style) •  Dixie Water Cup dispenser and wall mounting bracket missing (BUDD style) •  Small Towel Hook (beside sink) (pre HEP)  

Bedroom D •  Right-handed bathroom door handle  •  Right-handed bathroom door limit hinge – top of door (BUDD style) •  Bathroom grab iron (cast model) •  Small Towel Hook (beside sink) (pre HEP) •  Upper berth light (pre HEP)  •  Dixie Water Cup dispenser and wall mounting bracket missing (BUDD style)  

Main Bathroom •  Grab iron (cast model) •  Soap dispenser (for main bathroom basin – pre HEP).  

Dome •  23x seat backs •  23x seat bottoms •  Inside front center window - front (one that flips open) •  1x arm rest (Old Style – vinyl, upholstery) •  Section of Lucite handrail for Upper section of Dome Stairs (left side, top portion)  

Round End Lounge •  Writing desk chair (pre HEP)  

Vestibule •  2x grab irons on B end bulkhead  •  2x curved railings for stairs (pre HEP) •  2x Trap Door foot latch   

Hallway •  2x linen door latches or locks (pre HEP) •  Drinking water dispenser spout  •  Under dome window blind holder mechanism. •  Main Entrance Door lock mechanism  

Lounge •  5x cabinet locks  •  Coffee machine (actual machine missing – only coffee pot warmer still around with stainless silex) Access to (or copy of) Master key for galley area (for cabinets, fridge and pad locks) (pre HEP)  

Outside •  4x Number Board latches  •  Stirrup Steps – A and B end – both sides of cars •  Grab irons – located on each of sides of coupler - above coupler lever) (B end) •  Canvass diaphragms (top and sides (x2) ) (pre HEP) •  Side Skirt (on hinge) (step well – B end –and- Stirrup end – A end) (both sides missing) •  Section of corrugated Stainless Steel for roof repairs. •  Brake plunger mechanism (x2) •  BUDD trucks (x2) 
Shrink-wrapped skids of parts for Exporail. Photos supplied by VIA as part of my ATI request.


In a January 26, 2024 letter, the VHA not only requested a pair of trucks from baggage car 8618, but also included some future goals for equipment acquisition.

The VHA was interested in obtaining the NYCO trucks under baggage car 8618 at CADRail in Lachine -  the correct 41-BNO-11 trucks as spares for their heritage fleet. 

The VHA recognized that most railway museums and tourist railroads request the first examples of equipment that VIA would be retiring. The VHA was interested in acquiring the last serviceable examples that VIA would retire from each fleet.  Assembling a heritage train for VIA’s 50th anniversary in 2028, the VHA had already acquired FP9A locomotive 6539, baggage car 9604, Dayniters 5700 and 5714, and sleeping car Edmundston, with all equipment being upgraded to HEP1 standards.  The VHA offered to work closely with VIA in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary milestone and share stories of VIA’s history with Canadians across the country. As custodians of a VIA heritage fleet, the VHA intended for all their equipment to be available to VIA at any time for meetings and/or corporate functions.  Recognizing that most of the equipment requested would not be retired until the late 2020s or mid-2030s, the VHA's long term aims were to maintain a continuing collection of VIA's heritage fleet. 

Equipment Requested – Short Term
  • Baggage car 9642 at MMC - ASAP We are interested in this car but it requires two wheelsets to be replaced in order to move it off the property by rail. If this is something MMC crews can do as a gesture of goodwill, the VHA can arrange to move this immediately. [photo at bottom]
Equipment Requested - Long Term

1. LRC Cars - last to be retired  - one Business Class car, 2x IRSI refurbished coaches (static display only).

2. HEP1 Cars — last to be retired - one baggage (8600-8617), one coach (8100-8129), one Skyline, one dining car, one Chateau sleeper (non-Prestige), one Manor sleeper, one Park car (non-Prestige).

3. F40PH-2D - last to be retired - two 6400-series locomotives.

4. P42DC - last to be retired - one 900-series locomotive.

5. Panorama Car - when retired - one (1720-22).

6. HEP2 cars - last to be retired - one Business Class car, two coaches.

7. Renaissance Cars - when retired - one transition car, one coach, one service car, one sleeper.

VIA 9642 at the MMC (screenshot from Sky of the Universe YouTube video):

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Into America, 1976

In 1976, twenty-four years before the new millennium, and now twenty-four years after it in 2024, let's take a janus-like jaundiced jaunt back at our equally reflective trip reaching across the Canada-U.S. border, while we straddle the July 1 and July 4 holidays. Let's get all binational and Burlington Northernish!
Our trip was made with four family members and seemingly all our worldly possessions in and on top of our 1970 VW Beetle. The destination was to visit our newly-married aunt (my Dad's sister) and our new uncle in Portage la Prairie, MB. (Top photo - packing up in the morning in Roscommon, MI. That is luggage under the hood - the spare engine is in the back!) It was the first Western road trip (of which there would be many) and also our first opportunity to sample Portage's plethoric photographic and trainwatching possibilities! After a very enjoyable visit, we were bound for home via the American route, visiting more relatives in Clio, MI. This post shows some of the unexpected railfanning opportunities we encountered. As usual, my Dad was photographing with two Instamatics - B&W prints that stay stuck in my photo album, and colour slides scanned by my brother

The route appears to have been Manitoba highway 75 to Noyes, MN, then Minnesota highways 75 and 2 to Duluth. 
Heading south toward the U.S. border on July 7, we parallelled this CN freight powered by two SW1200RS's - the second is 1353 (above). Apparently we hit pay-dirt in Warren, MN, just two counties south of the border:
So SOO me! GP-30 with trade-in trucks from Alco FA units crosses the highway. The two-chimneyed building just to the left of the grain elevator is likely the high-pitch roofed Soo Line depot:
Both lines my Dad photographed may have been in Warren, MN, the SOO east-west and the BN (formerly GN) north-south. Both are crossed by highway 75 in Warren. This was most decidedly granger country. Online auction site photos of both stations - SOO (below left) and BN (below right). Under the SOO depot eaves at left can be seen another grain elevator, perhaps the perpendicular competitor's:
Check out the moose horn on BN 1943
The semaphore-equipped BN depot is back there, and lots of BN predecessor cars in front:
Predecessor CB&Q caboose (below and top photo).
Fosston, MN - now J Rettenmaier (JRS) Fibres and no longer rail-served:
Likely Mentor to Fosston, MN area, parallel to highway 2:
Album view, with my Mom driving and Dad photographing.
Arriving low-sun late into DM&IR Proctor, MN after a long day on the road, my Mom was white-knuckling it and watching the multi-lane traffic straight ahead, as I exclaimed loudly about the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range yard we were paralleling! 
That night in our Duluth motel we watched President Gerald Ford waltzing with Queen Elizabeth II as old foes celebrated the American Bicentennial. 

In the 1976 world of cash and traveller's cheques (remember those?), my Dad's budget for this trip revealed grocery money budgeted for breakfasts and lunches on the road, matching my Mom's grocery list of tuna, bread and peanut butter and more. Each travel day, $12 was budgeted for supper for four and another $40 planned for each night's motel stop: Iron Bridge and Thunder Bay west; Duluth, MN and Roscommon, MI east. Duluth's new two-storey court Interstate Budget Motel was $20.95 plus taxes. Gas was budgeted for the 3000 mi. round trip at 100 gallons at 0.75 per gallon = $75.00

To Trackside Treasure's readers in the United States of America, wishing you well on your never-ending Presidential campaign.  Happy Independence Day. And God Bless America.

Running extra...

We had to do a double-take at tiny Bath's Canada Day parade when this VW Beetle, stacked like a Samsonite submarine sandwich, made its way down the parade route. Tough to top, like the top photo!
This homuncular hobby shop at Division and Queen Streets in Kingston was originally operated by Lloyd Shales, later Peter Macdonald. This Reg Aitken photo showed the building in Peter's years, with Lloyd's name removed from the top row of lettering. After the business was relocated, the building housed a cheque-cashing service.
Look at it now! Where once you could buy track, now it's tzatziki. HO? Now humus. CN and CP, now chicken and beef. (Photo posted to social media by Marc Shaw).