Wednesday, February 22, 2017

VIA Rail's CANADA 150 Wraps

Ever since VIA Rail Canada wrapped P42 916, the first locomotive in the CANADA 150 scheme, there has been a lot of chatter about this wrapping program. VIA 3356 is westbound on February 22 (top photo). VIA's plan to wrap 44 pieces of equipment: 22 locomotives and 20 cars, has unleashed conspiracy theories as well as positive and negative comments. 
So far, VIA has wrapped P42's 916, 907 and 908; F40 6454, LRC coaches 3356, 3350, 3351 and 3359; and lounge car Glenfraser. I was fortunate to catch Glenfraser in Belleville on February 11:
Glenfraser was likely returning to Toronto Maintenance Centre from Ottawa. On February 7, the 'CANADA 150 Display Train' was at Ottawa for the big reveal and this photo appeared in a CNW Newswire story:
On February 20, a tip from Malcolm led me to check out VIA No 41 at Kingston station, on its way from Ottawa to Toronto. Since No 41 uses the consist of No 648 the night before, and run-throughs are minimal now that stop-blocks have been placed to facilitate high-level platform construction at Ottawa's station. 
Monday's bi-directional train should have included two CANADA 150 coaches. And it did! Arriving at 0735 (above), the consist was 917-3352-3369-3359*-3351*-3452-900. (*= CANADA 150).
 'Breeding pair' 3359 and 3351:
 Close-up of 3351 with city wraps, only two of which might see this car:
Close-up of No 3359 in the shade of the Track 2 shelter. I call this the summer car...you know, the city initials remind me of BBQ'S!
Each car or locomotive lists four station-cities. Lest you think that over 320 cities' names (40 pieces of equipment times 8 names) will be included, VIA has indicated on Facebook that over 40 will be shown, so there will be overlap. Here is the list so far: Vancouver Kamloops Edmonton Jasper Saskatoon The Pas Thompson Churchill Winnipeg Gillam Capreol Sudbury White River Guelph Kitchener Stratford London St Marys Chatham Woodstock Sarnia Brantford Aldershot Oakville Brampton Kitchener Toronto Guildwood Kingston Ottawa Alexandria Montreal Parent Rimouski Jonquiere Quebec Moncton Bathurst Amherst Truro Halifax.
3359 departs westbound(above), with Kingston's cupola capping it off, then 3351(below):
You can see why some detractors have called this the 'silver banana' scheme. I started my own Facebook poll with some sample nicknames and received quite a few neat suggestions to boot:
I tried to start my own conspiracy theories - Budd Canadian ex-CP equipment would be wrapped! P42's would start running out West and down East! LRC's to the Coast! I found it interesting that there was less interest in this type of outside-the-box thinking than there was in inside-the-box carping about how stupid/ugly/needless/costly/meaningless/expensive/wasteful/inappropriate these wraps were. Should railfans be consulted by large corporate bodies before the latter take action? Perhaps this will change. I have my doubts!
Most of the cars being wrapped are high-numbered 3300's not refurbished therefore not receiving the Renaissance scheme and starting to look ratty. Same for the banged-up P42's. Putting some lipstick on those high-horsepower pigs. One last, lingering close-up:
VIA 900 pushes uphill towards Mi 177 Kingston Sub and away west. Don't worry, this consist would return in the afternoon as VIA No 42 before passing a third time in the evening as No 59. A Kingston Sub yo-yo, as it were! Though Business Class car normally trails the locomotive on a regular Corridor train, one can end up ahead of the trailing locomotive on a bi-directional consists. Less horn!
With all those dents and dings, don't be surprised if 900 gets wrapped soon. And here are video captures of the other sides of these two cars that I observed at Trenton on February 22. VIA 3359:
And VIA 3351. Nobody in The Pas, MB will have the opportunity to say, "Hey, there goes our LRC car!" Oh well, we'll always have Gillam. Gillam and Guildwood are two of the most unexpected stations to appear!
Though VIA 916 has been running around in CANADA 150 paint since February 2, and has made numerous trips to Kingston (mostly on the nocturnal VIA Nos 650/651). An early visit to Kingston station on Saturday, March 4 found VIA No 655 awaiting its 75-minute later, relaxed Saturday departure. VIA 916 led 4xxx-4103-4120-4114:
The formerly-white cab numbers (see CNW Newswire photo above) have been superseded by much more visible black numbers.
Some folks who know my data-obsessive tendencies have just assumed that I am keeping track of this information. Well of course I am. Here's what I've got so far. Note to self - prepare to add more rows to the spreadsheet!
Interestingly, 916 made it to Kingston on nocturnal VIA No 650 at least twice recently. Local railfans Logan and Paul did a post-sunset photo shoot and Paul notes that 916's cab numbers have been returned to black lettering replacing the nearly unreadable white lettering. Must have been frustrating for crews and foremen. Thanks to Malcolm, Paul and Logan for assistance with this post.

Late word of VIA 6454, the first wrapped F40, reaching Halifax on VIA No 14/15. Tim Hayman kindly shared his photo of VIA 6454 in Halifax. Everyone seems to like that silver nose. Silver and simple but almost everyone wants something 'more' done with it. On the sides,three names only:

Running extra...

I had Too Much Time On My Hands when I snapped tank car STYX 71141 last Sunday. I hoped it would Show Me The Way to more trains but I was just Fooling Yourself so it was time for this Blue Collar Man to go home to see Babe. It seemed to say to me Come Sail Away.
Tomorrow is Oscar night:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New VIA Rail Book: Pre-Publication Post

My fourth book on VIA Rail is now ready for my graphic designer. I'm pumped, proud and pooped now that I've written and edited text pieces, populated spreadsheets with data, chosen, edited and balanced photo content. It's only a mockup! (top photo) and the actual cover will be even better. It's time to let potential purchasers in on what will be in this volume. Illustrated trips aboard VIA from 1980 through 2017, to:
  • Vancouver, 
  • Calgary
  • Portage la Prairie
  • Winnipeg
  • Prince Rupert
  • Ottawa
  • Quebec City 

And text pieces on interesting equipment and facets of VIA operations, most from personal experience:
  • Perks of Business Class
  • Steam, traps and air whistles..Kingston platform sights and sounds
  • Trains to Churchill
  • Swapping sleepers at Winnipeg between the Canadian and Super Continental
  • Canadian consists at two locations during the early 80's
  • VIA flips the Skylines
  • Vice-Regal Car Trips
  • More Rescue trains, some wild and wacky combinations
  • IC3 Flexliners in VIA service
  • Working the Canadian
  • Modelling VIA
  • triVIA throughout!

And useful data gleaned from various sources:
  • F-unit Paint Transition Data from CN to VIA
  • Discovered Consists including more early, recently-discovered Corridor Consists
  • 2011-2017 Update and Consists or what VIA has been up to lately
  • Refurbished LRC cars in Renaissance colours, both clubs and coaches
  • F40 Wraps; what wore which wrap when?
  • F40 Rebuild dates; when they were rebuilt
  • Locomotive Roster
  • Car roster

And 180+ interesting, unique and diverse black & white and colour photos illustrating all the above, plus a 10-page colour section and colour illustrated covers to boot.

I'm proud to have assembled (and then been so impressed by the information provided by) my team of contributors for this volume: Don McQueen, Mark Sampson, Tim Hayman and Mark Perry. Each has contributed valuable pieces to this panoramic passenger puzzle.

It's been five years since my previous book hit bookshelves across Canada, the US and around the world, selling over 250 copies. Do people still buy books? You bet they do. 

And to make it easier, I'll be offering new payment methods to make it so much easier for seller and buyer alike.

And best news of all, I am holding the price line and giving great value. Free shipping to your door. Same great content, same great price.

I'll leave it here for now. I really wanted to wait to profile this publication at launch time. But I just couldn't wait, and wanted to put the word out there because the whole process has been so worthwhile, fulfilling and just plain ol' darn exciting!

Of course, you'll have to see it to judge for yourself.
Me too, for now!
Soon it will be time for the...
Highball!
Eric

(Stay tuned to the NEW VIA RAIL BOOK blog at top of my right sidebar for further updates. Yellow background means the proof is done, and green means it's available! This will be the only update you'll see on Trackside Treasure.)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Pop-up Post: CN Nos 368/372, February 2017

Former Sultran bathtubs OFOX 1009-3354
During a railfan trip to Belleville on February 11, CN No 368 at 0920 and CN No 372 at 1015 had some interesting freight cars on board. Time for another pop-up post!
LW 9070 with MFK graffiti

WWUX 7256-4451-4411 and four more W&W's

GTA grain with almost unreadable reporting marks!

CN 382624-382055 plain-jane, graffiti-less covered hoppers

UNPX 121400 cylindrical covered hopper with a few 'friends'

Fourteen IC, CC, WC, CN, and BLE (1738) scrap tie cars

X372 at Belleville: EAMX 1205 'slab-side' covered hopper

Kingston Invista bound - KLRX 525078

Chevrons in the snow: ONT 7729

I'm SP, no I'm UP, no, I'm...

Baby-blue GTW auto rack

Belleville set-out roofing granule car AEQX (ex-B&M) 3001.

Sandersville 704


K&T Clays logo is being overtaken by graffiti on ACFX 68490

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Winter in Belleville, February 2017

A mid-winter trip to the Belleville area today was action-packed. Upon arrival along Airport Parkway, CN 2229 was spooling up to drag a long No 368 east of the yard, after crew change.
Alas, 'twas not to be. Alert incoming crew members noticed a dragging chain on empty ingot car HPJX 52369. Driving to the problem car in the crew cab, this short delay allowed your humble blogger to take another crack at photographing the train. Those are two former Sultran sulfur bathtub gons third and fourth back (above). Watch for a postscript post that will highlight some of the interesting rolling stock on this day's trains. C40-8W 2190, formerly ATSF then BNSF 855 was the mid-train unit:
Setting up to catch VIA No 61 south of the Moira River bridge, at 1002 it was VIA 906 leading four largely un-Renaissanced cars, but wait...
Watch the video here. Trailing the LRC cars was VIA's first (and perhaps only) non-LRC car wrapped for CANADA 150 - our sesquicentennial - it's ex-BC Rail VIA 1750 lounge car Glenfraser!
CN train X372 crept around the curve west of the bridge at 1015. Zooming in to see just what the heck was leading the train, there were shades of CP Rail candy-striped 5800-series SD40-2's!
But nooooo, it was the CN Heritage Tour train. BCOL 4611 led IC 1024 and two warhorses - CN 4730 and 4726. Watch the video here.
Creeping in at 10 mph, the trainmaster lined 372 into yard track BY12. They would recrew before setting out 37 of their 85 cars into yard track BY18. The two trailing Geeps would be set out into power track BY56 near the yard office. Sorry to be so repetitive, but watch the video here. CN 4774 was tied onto some roofing granule cars deep in the yard. Spot the passenger pigeon-discouraging VIAowl!
While this was going on, I relocated to the east end of the yard where VIA No 52/62 dusted through:
VIA 6442 led five LRC cars, then 6453 led four LRC cars in J-train format at 1103. These are video captures from this video:
Intermodal train 186 was approaching, from Winnipeg and maybe Prince Rupert farther west, heading for Montreal. I took full advantage of my camera's 30X zoom to see what the power was:
The meet with 186's power 5768-2926 and 305's power 8815-8837-2323 took place at 1150 and of course, you can watch the video here.
At the same time this was happening, 372 was back together - HCRY boxcars visible between the two trains' power (above) - and getting out of town behind them while 186 and 305 stopped at the east and west ends of the yard, respectively, to change crews.
Two VIA trains scooped 305 while it was waiting at the VIA station. The first one was No 643 at 1155, but the second took awhile longer, as the outgoing crew had to wait until VIA No 63 made it west from Napanee at 1223. The outgoing and incoming crews (the latter waiting to do a pull-by inspection) exchanged some of the seven words you can't say on television before climbing into warm cabs to wait out the delay.
 Here's 6445 leading No 643:
 and stopping:
VIA No 40 with 6420 was a non-stop at 1220. And what would this photo be without my suggestion that you watch the video here.

Running extra...

McCarthy era - well, a new one is at hand. The era of Melissa McCarthy spicing up Sean Spicer as White House press secretary on Saturday Night Live. Last night's unpreditable motorized dangerous podium took the zaniness to a new level!
Conspiracies and suspicion. Is VIA painting all P42's and one F40? Perhaps an F-unit coming out of retirement? Who knows? Bad existing paint jobs seem to be the main target of the CANADA 150 city name scheme. Can it be long before glue-grey roller-painted 3368 gets the station name treatment?
The VIAcariously cynical side of me wonders if there will be a VIA CANADA 150 Car-of-Shame with a wrap of historic cities no longer served by passenger trains: Calgary-Saint John-Regina-Thunder Bay?