Thursday, 22 August 2013

A Difference of Decades

Borrowing a theme that TRAINS Magazine used once upon a time.


April 1993. A westbound GO Train rolling through a curve as the train begins to slow for its obligatory stop at the Erindale station.

August 2013. A westbound GO Train rolling through the curve as the train approaches the Erindale station. The location is the same but twenty years of unfettered tree growth and CPR's fence replacements make capturing westbound train scenes more of a challenge.

Did any of the regular GO Train riders happen to ride on the two trains shown? One can only wonder.


On May 21, 1993, CP5515 eastbound, with SOO6614 trailing, was leading a train of marine containers destined for the Port of Montreal.

Twenty years later the work was the same but with different players. In August 2013, CP8930 and sister unit were leading an eastbound train of marine containers destined for the Port of Montreal.

In the intervening 20 years the locomotives have become larger, the trains are now longer and more containers than ever are moved to load on larger container ships that call at the Port of Montreal. "Economies of Scale" was the term I always heard used during my transportation career to answer, "Why larger?"


Now let's take a look at some of the trailing stuff.

May 21, 1993. A new OOCL 40FT container (and newer paint scheme) is moving on conventional railway equipment; in this case meaning an older 46FT CP flat car that was converted in 1977 for container transportation. In 1993, much of the container traffic moving on CP Rail's Montreal-Toronto-Detroit-Chicago rail artery was moving on older flat cars.

May 21, 1993. In the same train is an older OOCL 40FT container (older paint scheme) moving on the newer spine car. In the early 1990's, CP Rail was replacing their older conventional railway flat cars with spine cars, a newly designed articulated car set that could carry 5 x 40FT containers or a combination of 20FT and 40FT containers.

February 14 1993. A pair of 20FT containers travelling in a newer double-stack car. Double-stack rail equipment did not come into widespread use on this CP Rail route until later. Work projects to increase height clearances inside the Windsor-Detroit tunnel eventually allowed for limited two-tiered container movements. Increasing container volumes necessitated the need for the double-stack equipment.

Twenty years later, spine cars are rarely seen on this busy CPR route, but following are only but a few examples of what can be seen today.

August 2013. 1 x 40FT high-cube container stacked on top of 2 x 20FT standard containers. Note the smaller OOCL logos and placements higher in the sides and ends of the containers. The name on the lower 20FT container is clearly visible notwithstanding that half the container is in the well of the rail car.  Compare this appearance to the 20FT container shown in the preceeding 1993 photo.

August 2013. A 40FT High-cube temperature-controlled container with a clip-on genset. That mostly black item is a diesel powered generator mounted on the top of the front end of the container (upper left of photo) to power the container's temperature controlling system while the container is moving by rail between Chicago and the Port of Montreal. The generator carries enough fuel to operate for several days. Cargo carried in this type of container can very reliably be kept frozen at -30 C or kept warm at +20C or at any required temperature in between at any time of year.

August 2013. An OOCL 45FT High-cube container. Larger containers that can carry more cargo can over time mean fewer shipments and lower costs for a shipper or consignee, however, this only works if the cargo is light enough in weight.

Over the last two decades the show has remained the same but the actors have constantly changed. 

I would like to be around twenty years hence to witness the changes that will follow in the next two decades. This is beyond my control but time will tell.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum August 03, 2015

Another look at the various actors.
Years cold and literally at the end of the line... the locomotive of course. This scene was recorded in North Conway at the CSRR in summer 1985. David was very reluctant to stand in front of that monstrous black relic.

  30 years later...

August 02, 2015 - F units and others that supplanted steam have since been replaced too... and a few survive in museums. Three decades and a generation later, Kiera and Jonah (David's neice and nephew) look just as small near that former CN diesel.

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