Sunday, 11 August 2013

Top of the Hill

Just what the doctor ordered:

Going walking every day at least once a day is part of my recovery regimen following a recent heart attack. For the last three weeks I have been doing just that in the early evenings and Kie has been accompanying me. The hill in nearby Ellengale Park overlooks the CPR mainline (Galt Sub) that hosts the Milton GO Train Service. The park provides a turn-around destination to walk to and the trains, of course, provide the incentive to go there in the first place.

I may appear to be standing guard on top of the hill in Ellengale Park but I am just waiting for a train, really I am.

The scene from the top of the hill. We say we are train watching but in reality we spend 97.6% of out time watching the tracks. Believe me, not much is moving down there, but maybe a mouse.

A close-up of those buildings on the other side of the tracks across that open field. Chinese stores and restaurants abound and all within walking distance of home. Train watching works from over there too. I've tried it while Kie shops in B Trust. (a grocery store)

Now for some action!

Due at 18:48 and on time, GO Train 163 is slowing for arrival into nearby Erindale Station.  GO trains are usually on schedule and predictably easy to watch and photograph.

MP40 locomotive numbered 649 is on the rear of westbound GO Train 163 and pushing. The locomotive is operated by the engineer from the opposite end of the train.

Appearing on the scene, usually between 18:55 and 19:20

Canadian Pacific Railway's eastbound "Expressway" makes its appearance. Having departed from Milton a short time earlier, this all TOFC/COFC train is quickly heading east for an early morning arrival in Montreal.

Although the Canadian Pacific Railway website shows that the eastbound Expressway is scheduled to depart from Milton at 19:30, many evenings this train is underway ahead of time. 

For this service to work, the Expressway trains in both directions have to consistently arrive on time and have all trailers grounded and ready for pick-up before the start of business the next day. 

If not, then chances are very good that you'll be seeing these trailers on Highway 401 the next time you are driving between Toronto and Montreal. I'd rather see them here on CPR instead of having to pass them somewhere else.

A look at some of the loads on the rail cars

Note the name on the side of the rail car

The adjective may be painted on the side of the trailer shown, however, CPR's Expressway was not wasting time as it passed through Erindale.

IFS - is this an acronym for Intermodal Freight Systems? If not, then maybe it should be.

Today, can anything be more Canadian than this? Maybe the railway the trailer is riding on.

Containers are also carried on CPR's "Expressway" but only when the containers are on a chassis.

The next best thing to a "Billboard reefer" is a billboard temperature-controlled trailer moving by rail.

This last one is for Bill, because he works for SLH Transport and just loves it when his SLH trailers travel on rail. Trust me, it will get there when it gets there.

Where it all starts (or ends) on the western end of the Expressway route

The brief history lesson:

Intermodal origins go back a way... that was a working steam locomotive when this CPR scene was recorded.

Trailers on flat cars (TOFC) were once known as "Piggyback" or "Pigs" in the 1950's and 60's, but in the 1970's this term gave way to "Intermodal." Whatever the name, 56 plus years later CPR is still fighting to make moving TOFC a profitable service between Montreal and Toronto.

Two brand new RS-18 locomotives (built in May 1957) numbered 8743 and 8742 power the hot "Pig Train" leaving Montreal for John Street in Toronto. Montreal 1957. (CPR)

Below: Canadian Pacific Railway's experiment with trailers that ran directly on the rails instead of on flat cars. This service lasted for a few years until Norfolk Southern switched players in Canada.

This scene was recorded in the early 1990's at the same Ellengale Park location. Yes, those were Triple Crown roadrailers moving eastward with CPR.

Another player enters the stage.

CP8930 and sister unit are leading an eastbound all container train destined for the Port of Montreal.

Under-utilized double-stack cars: most containers in this train are moving single tiered owing to height clearance restrictions in the Windsor-Detroit tunnel.

A pair of OOCL 40FT containers from the United States carrying export cargo destined for Europe that will load on to a container ship in the Port of Montreal.

Bringing up the markers:

Due at 19:33 and also on time, GO Train 165 is slowing for arrival into nearby Erindale Station. My only comment about the GO trains is that they all look the same.

GO Train 165 quickly passed by and Kie and I headed back toward home. Had we waited around in the park for another 20 minutes we would have been able to watch another two freight trains pass by. 

Oh well, there will be more trains tomorrow evening, and the evening after that, and...

The Oddblock Station Agent

Addendum August 15, 2013

Everybody's favourite type of train these days - an oil train!

CP8868 and unidentified sister locomotive unit leading an eastbound oil train through Erindale.

Except for the single, light gray covered hopper that was immediately behind the two locomotives and probably serving as a spacer, this entire train consisted of very anonymous looking black tank cars.

The string of tank cars, almost a mile long, quietly and unobtrusively rolling by on Canadian Pacific Railway. One can only wonder if the tank train that caused the disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, had passed by here a few days earlier.

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