Monday, September 5, 2011

VIA Trip to Ottawa

VIA's 50% off sale encouraged us to book a couple of Corridor trips this summer. On Labour Day weekend, my wife, daughter and I were off to Ottawa to take in the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, thanks to our son's radio contest winning ways. Prior to boarding VIA train 44 at Kingston, three VIA trains arrived and left. Excellent railfanning opportunity. Trains were running "wrong main" this Friday afternoon. The first westbound was VIA train 61: 906-3474-3367-3354-3345-3320, arriving on time at 1420 (above).
VIA train 55 was next, having waited for the signal at Queens West behind train 45 to run time, running just a few minutes late. Train 50 was running about 15 minutes late, and slid into the station on the north track, obscuring train 55(above), although I caught 904-8618-3463 ahead of five more LRC coaches. Train 60's consist was 6434-8612-4001-4000-4109-8104-4108-8101-4112. It's always nice to see the original Canadian cars with their solid blue stripe, original car number slides (i.e. 005), holes where the beaver shields used to be, and nice wide windows.
VIA train 44 arrived about 20 minutes late. Passenger loads seemed heavy, since the long weekend was starting - lots of kids, and their parents sending them off to college. Train 44 was being operated by engineer Jordan McCallum, who'd picked up his copy of my new book on VIA Rail at Kingston in June. Former Wisconsin Central, ex-Algoma Central NSC-built class HMA ballast car SSAM 208006 was on a spur in Brockville yard (above). Also in the yard were Corn Products tank cars and covered hoppers for CASCO in Cardinal, plus ingot flat cars and boxcars and CNLX covered hoppers.
Now that the new VIA station is open in Smiths Falls, we highballed the former ex-CP station, although a slow transit of CP's Smiths Falls trackage allowed some roster photography of some cars in the yard: CSXT 260975 (above), BNSF 485071 and CP switch panel flat car 421887 (below):

The new VIA station at former station board CN Smiths Falls East is viadorable - a very, very small version of Kingston's station, with a parking lot looking a little inadequate - already packed with cars. Some impressive signalification and passing tracks have been built on CP's and VIA's trackage between Brockville and Ottawa - sidings at Fallowfield, Richmond, Dwyer Hill, Montague, Jasper and Bellamy.
On arrival in Ottawa, 6440-3458-3304-3332 was on track 4, and engine 909 arrived on train 59. After a nice weekend in Ottawa and the Outouais, we headed to Ottawa Union Station to board VIA train 59. The departures and arrivals boards looked fairly full, with some trains cancelled for the Labour day statutory holiday:

My wife recognized none other than Jordan McCallum as he arrived with his mate, engineers on train 59. Also riding train 59 would be "viahogger" Terry Brennan, who though dead-heading even offered to don a vest for this photo. Not necessary, Terry. These two fellows are active on Yahoogroups, as well as being VIA engineers and enthusiastic VIAphiles to boot. We talked VIA equipment, rosters, history, and recently-published books while we waited for the substituted Renaissance consist to arrive.
We boarded VIA's Ren consist only a few minutes late, as it waited glinting in the late afternoon sun - lots of baggage and passengers aboard. Jordan mentioned that his baggage-handling skills were put to use on 170 bags handled earlier in the weekend. Train 59's consist: 6431-7002-7218-7307-7103-7205-7206-712x.
Also in the station was VIA train 44's consist: 901-8621-3460-3473-3306-3357-3322:
Accelerating through the sweeping curve just west of Ottawa Union Station, Renaissance unit 6431 got our train underway, through the suburbs, then into the unforgiving swamps and cedar bush of eastern Ontario:
No stops at Smiths Falls tonight, but I was able to get a few photos of CP's yard throat, and power at the former roundhouse site, 8209 and golden beaver 3031. No CP freights in the Falls either way, and only one visible on CN's Kingston Sub on the way home.

Our train arrived in Kingston about 15 minutes late, though VIA's arrival and departure status webpage shows the train 49 minutes late out of Oshawa, with Toronto arrival shown as 0508, a little off the advertised 2134, due to an unfortunate trespasser fatality at Danforth on the preceding VIA train 65.

Running extra...

We sat in a group of four seats both ways, which means we get the emergency exit spiel. This wasn't lost on me, especially when we passed the Kott Lumber spur near Fallowfield where a VIA train, 6901 and four LRC cars, ran through an open switch into the spur on Moodie Drive on June 21, 1984, resulting in 27 injuries.

The first of The Valiants, a grouping of 14 busts of Canadian war heroes near Parliament Hill, that I came to was Fleet Air Arm Lieut. Robert Hampton Gray, VC. A Vought Corsair and other warbirds were at Kingston airport recently to commemmorate Gray who trained here, and to mark the 70th anniversary of the BCATP. Blog partner Steve Boyko mentioned that his school in Shearwater, NS was named for Gray.

It's back-to-school time, and the kids are using the word "epic" a lot, as in "my weekend was epic." I doubt that. I also hear the words "grainy cellphone video" a lot. One phrase I hardly ever hear is "killed in a horrific lawn-bowling accident". I'm just sayin' (kids say that a lot too).


Allison said...

Only my little brother could document a train trip in this many layers of awareness...I missed so much in those many years of Montreal-Kingston commutes!!!
Well done!

Eric said...

Oh, did I mention the herons seen flying away from the train throughout those swamps? Onboard ornithology or, proof that trainwatching is not for the birds.

Also, you shouldn't regret your MTL-KGTN commuting - you were definitely a 'regular' on that run, and some of the crew knew it. And those were real operating guys, not like the current VIA cart jockeys! Besides, I still have a couple of Tabular General Bulletin Orders (TGBO's) courtesy of Roy and company.

Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.
(you know,the other CP Blogger, not

Bryan said...

"when we passed the lumberyard spur near Fallowfield where a VIA train ran through an open switch a few years ago"

If "by a few years", you mean two decades. Wow, time flies.

Eric said...

You're right Brian, it was June 21, 1984...6901 and 4 LRC cars hit a lumber car resulting in 27 injuries. Time does indeed slip in. The only way 'a few years' could apply would be based on the fact that many of my posts are from the eighties:)

I did get a photo of a centre beam bulkhead in that (former Kot Lumber) spur as we sped by.

Interestingly, the train was delayed at Danforth by a fatality on VIA train 65 ahead, not arriving in Toronto Union until 0508!

Thanks for your comment,

Bryan said...

A useless tidbit for you: I believe Kott Lumber gets rail service about 1-3 times per week. Loaded boxcars and centrebeams.

Eric said...

Absolutely not useless, Bryan. Although often seen on model layouts, how many lumberyards still have direct rail service, especially with that frequency?


Bryan said...

Hm, good point about the model ops. The team track is always full!

I was a little surprised to hear that number myself. Kott Lumber has been around forever, but it never struck me as a very busy place. I think they must specialize for commercial builders. (Rail service that frequent would seem to support that) Also, I think the switcher works late at night, after the last VIA departure, so it's not like I ever saw it when I lived there.

There's a Yahoo! group for Ottawa railfans that has lots of operational details for the Ottawa Central (now CN).

Allison said...

Bet you didn't think I'd look for a response! Chez VIA is indeed a prime heron-spotting (hawk-spotting too) vantage point. And yes...Roy and Jimmy were on-board buddies for a while! For at least one year they were my Tuesday westbound and Wednesday eastbound crew...I can't remember the train numbers, but it was 07:00 from Central Station and the, hmmm, 18:00+/- back out of Kingston.

Eric said...

Bryan, Kott's yard does look to be a good size on satellite view. Thanks for mentioning the OC Yahoogroup. Yahoogroups are an excellent source of information, but the most challenging part is finding out about each group's existence. I'll have to check it out.

Allison, remember these aren't merely comments or responses - they're a dialogue with Trackside Treasure's readers. Bet you didn't think I had that good a memory (I really don't).

Thanks for your comments,

GP9Rm4108 said...

I know this is old news but I feel like explaining the whole wrong main thing.

Well first off I would assume you would know there is no such thing as wrong main in ctc.

Also, Eastbounds usually use the South track at Kingston BUT they cross 60 and 44 over to the North for this one reason ...

61 and 55 leave Brockville at the same time if they are both on time. Since 55 is the westbound train that stops in Gananoque, and the Gan station is on the south side they make sure 61 and 55 are on the south so 60 and 44 can proceed without being slowed down. if 55 were to stop on the North track, Rul1 107 protection would have to be put in place causing 60 and 44 to have to hold back and delay them.

Eric said...

Thanks for that additional information, 4108. I did put 'wrong main' in 'quotation marks'. While there is no right main or wrong main, I am used to seeing mostly right-hand running on the Kingston Sub.

Of course, that will be up for grabs when the third track use is more widespread. Do you have any insight on that at this point?

Thanks for your comments,