Thursday, August 25, 2016

Summertime at the Station, August 2016


An unusually dry, also hot and humid August descended upon Kingston including the VIA station during my visit on August 3. Upon arrival with a piping hot Tim Hortons coffee, chicken salad on a croissant, and their tasty new savoury potato wedgies, er, wedges, of course the trains also arrived. Most passengers boarding VIA No 44 seemed strangely oblivious to the sultry, steamy steel snake slithering in on the south track (top photo) which slowly approached No 44's four car consist at 1635: 6436-3468Ren-3306Ren-3343-3318:
Soon, CN No 306, bound for Moncton behind CN 2556-2705 drew even before No 44's ditchlights were lit for departure.

Steel loads at a 45-degree angle in NKCR 3906-3866, TAEX tank cars, BCOL and ICG empty bulkhead flats, a few covered gons, carbon cars and cylindrical grain cars clanked by:
Until a final cut of former revenue cars in MoW scrap tie service on the tail end: ICG 245307 black gondola, CN 199278 former coal gon (below) and WC 63195 gon:
A one-hour lull produced a doubleheader -VIA No 66 at 1740: 6410-6432-3463Ren-3348Ren-3350-3327Ren, a 50/50 forward/backward-facing consist. 


Then at 1743, VIA No 55 pulled in with an all-green-and-grey Renaissance consist: 915-3465Ren-3310Ren-3307Ren-3332Ren
The level crossing east of the station is to become an overpass. During the lull, I made a video of John Counter Boulevard overpass berm construction. Brought to you by the letter B: bug-spattered, begrimed and brutish:
VIA No 46 arrived at 1805, with an interesting car in the consist. VIA 6411-3461Ren-3368 "greyish-blue stripe"-3319Ren-3358. Apparently this car had been assaulted by spray-can-toting taggers, and VIA had attempted to cover up the vandalism with some non-standard paint. Here's No 46 arriving - Youtube video. Check out the colours on VIA 3368:
Just over two miles west, I ascended the Bayridge Drive overpass to pick up my presciption for VIA No 69:
Paralleling Bath Road's four lanes:
Nine-seventeen nicely nails it:
Looking west, on the freshly-ballasted and tamped Kingston Sub just west of Mi 179, with Collins Bay at left and Bath Road in the middle of this view:
Some summertime sightings have been made elsewhere, such as Shannonville. Just east of Belleville along Airport Parkway on July 22, CN 2298-2626 hove into view at 1117 with CN train No 376, toting TBOX's, ballast cars, and "red-square" tank cars such as GATX 59648. Multiple units, meet multiple clouds:
At 1221, VIA 917 led train No 63 into Belleville, passing two foremen in their hi-rail trucks:
A visit to the tank-car receiving industry beside the vast, desolate savanna grasslands of Dussek Street, formerly OMG and now Soltex, revealed CBTX 725416-725735, ACFX 71236 and NATX 50835. Read the press release and you'll find my first-ever reading of the word "tackifier"!
And in between, on August 1, VIA J-train Nos 52/62 pulled by puffy clouds arriving Kingston:
Back on July 23, we found the perfect antidote for the oppressive humidity: a visit to Kingston Mills during which CN kept its trains away and out of the sun. In the cool canal shade, we observed five VIA trains in under three hours down by the old Mill Street. We were east of the 100th Meridian, where the Great Plains begin, subject of a 1992 Tragically Hip song, but just under a month away from the group's final concert to be held here in Kingston.

Running extra...

This is definitely unsafe, but with classic songs like Should I Stay or Should I Go? and Rock the Casbah it seems only fair that The Clash can get away with the occasional album cover on railway property. Favourite lyric from the latter song: /the jet pilots tuned to the cockpit radio blare/
Speaking of gratuitous graphics, Trackside Treasure Randy O'Brien produced this perfect potential personalized plate for my railfan vehicle
while Trackside Treasure blog partner Chris Mears shared this coupler couplet, which I combined with Randy's previous horn-hooky "heart"work:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

VIA Builds and Splits Trains at Brockville, 1981-1985

Beginning with the November 15, 1981 timetable marking the disastrous Liberal government cuts to VIA, the cars for Nos 44/54 were included in the now Montreal-Toronto consist of VIA's Canadian between Montreal and Vancouver operating over CN's Kingston Sub. With the Canadian operating over CN's Kingston Sub, my noon-time observations of Nos 2/44/54 and 43/53 were prevalent. Interestingly, while waiting to record the Canadian's more varied consists, including Corridor-rare ex-CP stainless steel equipment, westbound Nos 43/53 would usually appear within a few minutes of the Canadian's passing at Kingston! Dale Woodland kindly gave permission for me to include his photos, taken in 1982 at Brockville, in this post. My previous post covers 1976-1981. VIA No 43/53 led by 6771 is having the Montreal cars added by the Brockville switcher (top photo). The Canadian arrives at lunchtime:
The eastbound Canadian arrived at Brockville with through cars from Western Canada via Toronto, plus Corridor cars for No 44 to Ottawa and No 54's Toronto-Montreal cars. After the cut was made behind two coaches and club-galley, the locomotives pulled east and these cars were set out in the pocket track behind the station, awaiting the power that had arrived on No 43. On the reassembled No 2/54, two Toronto-Montreal cars tailed the baggage, ahead of the cars from the West, notwithstanding cars that had been removed from the Canadian in Toronto.

From 1981-1985, the consists of No 43/53 were consistent:
  • baggage (Montreal)
  • coach (Montreal)
  • 3000-series cafe coach lounge (Montreal)
  • 3200-series snack bar coach (Ottawa)
  • coach (Ottawa)
  • club-galley (Ottawa)
with no second baggage as in previous years. Nos 44/54's cars usually comprised a club-galley, two or three coaches and a snack bar coach, with only one or two coaches coming east of Toronto on No 2. Is it possible that seats were sold in the Canadian's coaches for 'shorts' - passengers travelling between Toronto and Montreal?
Of course the Canadian's consist included most of its cars through from the west coast: tailend Park car, stainless steel sleepers, diner, mid-train Skyline dome and Budd baggage. (Strangely no domes appear on Dale's VIA 6784-led consist, as a Chateau sleeper carries the markers!) This was a brief but remarkable era for railfans! The Canadian has switched out the three Ottawa cars in the pocket track (above) and the FP9A from VIA No 43 has coupled on:
On February 4-5, 1983 the Brockville wye was flooded due to heavy rains. VIA No 43-44 and 48-49 had to operate with back-to-back units instead of wyeing: CN 4424-6762-SGU, CN 3109-6769 and CN 3118-6765. On September 25-26, 1984 track work on the wye again resulted in non-wyed, back-to-back units VIA 6525-CN 4362 and CN 3107-4362. Dale photographed another eastbound Corridor Canadian, this one with an all-MLW locomotive consist including a smokin' RS18 (below). Just east of the William Street overpass, it looks like the cut has just been made behind the Montreal cars:
VIActivity! Looks like a westbound has just gone by on the south main as the Canadian's consist holds the north main and the power is setting out the four Ottawa cars in the pocket track:
Jason Paul Sailer shared a similar photo from the C. Ken Hooper collection of the Great Canadian Plains Railway Society, taken at Brockville in 1982. Another Canadian on another day making the Ottawa setout, with semaphore and cars at the CP freight shed at right of photo:
Under-photographed due to its nocturnal movements, the overnight VIA Cavalier was also built and split at Brockville. VIA No 48 (Toronto-Ottawa) and VIA No 58 (Toronto-Montreal) being split and VIA No 49 (Ottawa-Toronto) and VIA No 59 (Montreal-Toronto being built. Arriving from Ottawa, No 49 simply backed its coach-sleeper consist onto the short siding east of the William Street overpass, cut off the power, and wyed it. The Montreal section backed onto the two cars and headed to Toronto, as the Ottawa power awaited the arrival of the combined No 48/58.

Interestingly, No 48 ran on an all-CN route until October 1978, when it switched from the Ottawa-Smiths Falls-Napanee-Toronto route to the CP between Smiths Falls and Brockville. The final No 48/49 operated on the night of January 17-18, 1989. With cancellation expected months earlier, the train did not appear in VIA's timetable in late-1988!

It would be well into the 1990's before VIA would once again split trains at Brockville. In all cases, after the demise of the Cavalier, these joint trains (referred to as J-trains) were eastbound and were marshalled locomotive-cars-locomotive-cars. The second crew split the train themselves, ahead of the second locomotive before continuing their run east. The following trains split to Ottawa and Montreal respectively, either in Manitoba yard, west of the station, or at the station itself:
  • VIA Nos 48/68 as of May 1997
  • VIA Nos 648/68 on Saturdays as of June 1998 and Sundays as of January, 2000
  • VIA Nos 42/56 as of June 1998 until April, 2011
  • VIA Nos 40/52 as of January 2000 until April 2011
  • VIA Nos 50/52 and 54/56 as of April 2011 - trains to Ottawa operating through to Montreal, renumbered to 50/60 and 52/62 in January 2014 until present
The pin is pulled to separate VIA Nos 50/52 at Brockville station on August 29, 2013 (above). Fun fact: Triple J-trains are an operational anomaly but have operated!

Thanks to Dale Woodland for sharing his photos. Interestingly, both Dale and Jeremy Plant wrote articles published in the Summer 2016 issue of Classic Trains magazine.

Running extra...

Trackside? Whitby railfan Thomas Blampied has a list of railfan locations on his blog.
True to prototype? Rapido Trains Inc's Jason Shron is modelling Brockville in HO scale
Time travel? Steve Young's late 1980's on Railpictures dot ca.
Tired of graffiti? Rolling stock of the 70's, 80's and NOT today.
Tipsy? Toronto's Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival. Beer + Trains = Fun!


Traffic Jam? TTC Flexity articulated streetcar derails on King Street causing a CLRV traffic 'tram'.
Travelling? While in Brockville, 12-knot chase of Federal Elbe. Slower than train-chasing!

Prescott:
 Iroquois Lock:

Monday, August 8, 2016

VIA Builds and Splits Trains at Brockville, 1976-1981


Are you interested in Corridor operations in VIA's early era? If so, you've likely seen photos of VIA passenger trains being built and split in Brockville, Ontario. This station marked the divergence of lines that VIA trains from Toronto used to reach Ottawa or Montreal: CP towards Smiths Falls or continuing on CN's Kingston Sub, respectively. From October 31, 1976 until October 27, 1985 two or four day trains to/from Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto had their consists altered in the City of the 1000 Islands. In this two-post series, I'll look at the history, operations, consists and fascinating factors influencing these early VIA years during which "passenger trains can switch, too"! This post will cover the years 1976-1981, and the second post will span 1981-1985 and beyond
Pennsylvanian Jeremy Plant made several visits to Brockville, camera in hand. Jeremy graciously gave permission to include his photos in this post. On August 11, 1979 Jeremy was on the William Street overpass - a perfect location for views west to the station on Perth Street (above) or east to CP's Brockville Subdivision interchange (top photo) When the morning train from Montreal arrives with its three cars behind VIA 6767 (likely VIA train No 43), CN 3107 swings into action, bringing the three cars out of the pocket track as VIA 6767 still in CN colours, belches MLW smoke after turning and now backing into the pocket track to power VIA No 44 back to Ottawa. Turning was accomplished on CP's 'loop line' which shows clearly mid-photo, used to work the CP freight shed. It disappears to the west, behind the white and green houses, before heading west to serve the Phillips Cables plant, and at one time, east to Brockville's waterfront. The wye was centred on Church Street, and included a tunnel under CN's Kingston Sub which would accommodate VIA locomotives until the large, boxy 6400's came on the scene in late-1986!
In 1976, VIA's formative year, CN hosted some interesting connecting trains at Brockville. In the April 25, 1976 CN timetable, after Montreal-Brockville Railiner trains 653 and 657 terminated at Brockville, passengers boarded Ottawa-Toronto conventional trains 43 at 1045 and 45 at 1825 respectively. Eastbound, trains 44 and 46 would have disembarked passengers continuing on to Montreal on Railiner trains 650 and 654, departing Brockville at 1315 and 2030, respectively. With the issuance of the VIA/CN timetable on October 31, 1976, the Railiners were replaced with conventional consists of black & white CN or newly-repainted VIA (ex-CN) blue & yellow cars. These conventional trains departed Brockville at times comparable to the RDC trains. 
  • First to arrive was Montreal-Toronto No 53 at 1115, then Ottawa-Toronto No 43 at 1122, departing combined for Toronto at 1135. 
  • Eastbound from Toronto, VIA No 44/54 arrived at 1256, with No 44 departing for Ottawa at 1301 and No 54 departing for Montreal at 1316.
  • Montreal-Toronto No 55 arrived at 1840, joining with Ottawa-Toronto No 45 which arrived at 1847, departing combined for Toronto at 1900.
  • Eastbound from Toronto, VIA No 46/56 arrived at 2006, with No 46 departing for Ottawa at 2011 and No 56 departing for Montreal at 2026.
Interestingly, the trains serving Ottawa were considered 'through' while Brockville-Montreal trains 53, 54, 55 and 56 were marked as 'LOCAL SERVICE' up to and including the October 29, 1978 VIA timetable! Let's remember that although there were limited-stop trains, namely two daily Montreal-Toronto Rapidos, like the three-unit platform-filler smoking through Brockville (above) and two daily Turbos, there were only two Brockville-Montreal locals serving eastern Ontario and western Quebec into Montreal. The schedules for Nos 43/53 and 44/54 (the latter is likely the one arriving in Jeremy's photo, below) would remain consistent, changing only by +/- 1 hour until VIA switching at Brockville ended in the fall of 1985. The schedule of Nos 45/55 and 46/56 were equally as consistent until the June 1, 1981 VIA timetable. Then, instead of combining and splitting at Brockville, these two train pairs operated intact through Brockville. Passengers were expected to transfer from one to the other to reach intermediate points not served by the train in which their intercity journey began. This was signified in the timetable by an inter-schedule column arrow indicating the transfer at Kingston station.
(Beginning with the timetable marking the disastrous Liberal government cuts to VIA issued November 15, 1981, the cars for Nos 44 and 54 were included in the now Montreal-Toronto consist of VIA's Canadian which operated between Montreal and Vancouver,in part over CN's Kingston Sub - read more in the next post in this series.) In all other cases above, the shorter westbound train's power, usually a single unit, would wait in the CP pocket track behind Brockville station before departing east on the next split train i.e. 43 to 44, 45 to 46, or 53 to 54, 55 to 56. To change direction in the one hour before the next eastbound departure, the unit trundled over CP's loop line through Brockville. On March 8, 1981 No 53's power 6780-6621 derailed on the Brockville wye. CN Montreal-Toronto freight CN No 317 donated CN 4493, and after VIA No 44/54 arrived with 6760-6615, power shuffling resulted in CN 4493-6615 departing with No 44 for Ottawa, 6760 taking No 54 to Montreal, and 6780-6628 being inspected by the Belleville road repair truck crew before returning to service.
During this era, there were three carmen working in Brockville who worked on building and splitting the VIA trains, including making couplings and connecting steam lines. There were two common methods:
  • When the Montreal train arrived, it pulled into the south pocket track next to the platform. The Ottawa section arrived on the north main track. When both sections did their station business, the Montreal section was pushed back onto the mainline, then its unit cut off. The Ottawa section backed down, coupling onto the Montreal cars, and the combined train departed behind the Ottawa power. The unit from the Montreal section turned on the loop track, returning to the station and backing into the north pocket track to power the next Ottawa-bound train. 
  • Alternatively, the local Brockville switcher (CN RS-18 or SW1200RS) would work the morning and evening westbound trains by pulling the cars out of the south pocket track and adding them to the Ottawa section on the north main track.
Eastbound trains would stop on the mainline, then the carman would cut the rear cars off for Montreal. The train would depart for Ottawa, then the Montreal power would emerge from behind the station to take its train on to Ottawa. In Jeremy's photos, this Ottawa-Toronto train (above) has pulled in on the north main track of the Kingston Sub before preparing to depart west (below):
As reflected by the consists of these trains, the marks in VIA timetables showed the various services provided on  the through trains vs. the local trains. Toronto-Ottawa trains 43, 44, 45 and 46 offered baggage (Brockville-Toronto), club car service, snack and snack/beverage service and reserved coach seats, while Toronto-Montreal trains only offered snack or snack/beverage service. From 1978-1981, my trackside observations were mainly of evening combined trains 45/55 and 46/56 which passed through Kingston after 1900 hours. From 1978-1981, the consists of Nos 45/55 and 46/56 were remarkably similar: 
  • baggage (Ottawa)
  • two to four coaches (Ottawa)
  • 2500-series cafe bar lounge (Ottawa)
  • club-galley (Ottawa)
  • two to four coaches (Montreal)
  • 3000-series cafe coach lounge (Montreal)
  • baggage (Montreal)
Likely VIA No 55 arrives in the evening on August 11, 1979 and the switcher again waits to swing into action. My one and only trip to Brockville in 1981 revealed VIA 53/43's consist behind 6518-6864: from Ottawa 2513-5525-5560-Rideau Club and from Montreal: 5307-5429-5299-3037-5646-9634. Eastbound at 1308 No 44/54: 6514-6636-2508-5536-5610-York Club-3033-5501-5388-5403-9654 just three months before the Canadian began carrying Corridor cars in this timeslot.
Another Ottawa train arrives (above) and then departs Brockville, slightly longer with cars from Montreal added to the consist:
Interestingly, CN 6793 would have its CN white nose logo 'wiped' in December 1979 and would not receive VIA blue & yellow paint until well into 1981!
Though I wasn't trackside to see the trains Jeremy photographed, I was trackside in the evening of August 11 and I observed this same train at Kingston at 1946 hours. Power was 6793-6633, CN-painted baggage car was 9649 and CN-painted cafe bar lounge was 2500. University Club was also in CN colours, and 5495-9652 rounded out the partial consist I was able to record at speed! Heading down the CP from Smiths Falls (above), then accelerating out of Brockville as combined VIA No 55/45:
Going way back - Jeremy photographed CN 6776 arriving from Montreal on a cloudy day in November, 1971!
Thanks to Jeremy Plant for sharing his photos. Interestingly, both Jeremy and Dale Woodland, who shared photos for the second post in this series, wrote articles published in the Summer 2016 edition of Classic Trains magazine!

Under-photographed due to its nocturnal movements, the overnight Cavalier was also built and split at Brockville: VIA No 48 (Toronto-Ottawa) with VIA No 58 (Toronto-Montreal) split and VIA No 49 (Ottawa-Toronto) with No 59 (Montreal-Toronto) built. The overnight run from Ottawa simply backed its train (coach-sleeper) onto the short passing siding between the William Street overpass and Park Street, cut the power and it would head down the wye and turn. The Montreal section would back onto the cars and head to Toronto. 

A much-photographed view -  a VIA cab-unit sunning itself behind Brockville station. In this case, it's VIA 6772 in July, 1984:
Another vintage view, showing CN 6783 and cars in the pocket track from the station parking lot in 1975: 
Winter view from SW switcher cab of a train arriving behind VIA 6775 from Montreal, March 1980 (Jakob Mueller collection) interestingly powered by two units and comprising four cars:
The Brockville switcher is ahead of the Ottawa train as the Montreal train approaches, dated May 21, 1978. Interestingly, I observed the combined train at Kingston at 1936: power was VIA 6759-6625-CN 3115, with partial consist - baggage 9636, Club Laurier and tail-end baggage 9644!
Dated 1981, this eastbound train is likely Nos 44/54 with VIA 6775 leading, operating in the final summer before No 2 would handle this traffic on the Kingston Sub:
(Unless noted, above five photos from online auction site)
Lots o' links:
In print:
  • Switching En Route section of my second book, Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium.
  • BRS Branchline December 2005 edition Michael Shufelt's article: Brockville in the 1980s.
  • Railfan magazine July 1979 issue - a multi-page, photograph-rich article by Jim Boyd chronicling his visit to Brockville, railfanning the evening of Sept 3/78 and four hours mid-day on Sept 4/78!