Friday, 24 April 2015

Scenes of CN's Yale Sub as seen from Train 1

All scenes were recorded on April 15, 2015

On the CN route a few miles south of Boston Bar, BC. Train 1 is entering one of several tunnels between Boston Bar and Vancouver. Running several hours late provided daylight views of locations that would normally have been passed in darkness. On the left side those wooden poles strung with wires are slide detectors. If rocks and/or other objects fall through the wires, signals will change to red to alert train crews to stop.

Another tunnel and more slide detectors. 

Slide detector and tunnel information from an older CN employee timetable reveals 15 tunnels on the Yale Sub, providing about 1.8 miles of travel through rock; though not much to see inside.

For those of you who have always wondered - the answer is yes! There really is light at the end of the tunnel... and Kie was there to record it.

The end of another tunnel but more of the same on the other side... rock, mountains and grey skies.

Too many tunnel views? Tunnel vision? Perhaps... but we do not see these too often in Ontario. Some tunnels are short enough to see through. Note that wire screen on the left. Also visible are the cuts in the portal and roof lining made to increase the clearance needed for safely moving double stacked containers on rail cars.

The Fraser River. Hidden behind trees, Canadian Pacific Railway is over there on the other side of the river. Falling rocks are not the only problem the two canyon railways have to contend with. In this location cascading water is diverted over the train rather than beneath the track.

Hey! No rain and clearing skies! What could be better than a dry arrival in Vancouver?

The mountains eventually give way and farmlands abound in the lower Fraser valley.

A pair of Seaspan barges being towed upstream by a tug on a placid looking Fraser River.

New replaces old... bridges that is... in this scene anyway. Not much remains of the old Highway 1 bridge (yellow) in Surrey. The new bridge is behind.

Given the okay to proceed, Train 1 begins an up-close tour through Thornton Yard.

A "train's-eye" view of a "ladder track" in Thornton Yard.

Train 1 crossing the Fraser River at New Westminster. On the other side of the bridge are BNSF tracks which the train will traverse into Vancouver and to the Via Rail station.

Streets choked with stopped traffic. The only thing moving here was Train 1 albeit slowly. To the right of the train is the SkyTrain's Millennium Line.

The Burnaby city skyline as seen from BNSF. Warren Buffett may own the BNSF but I doubt he has seen this view from his railway.

Following train arrival in Vancouver at the end of track. Train 1 was backed into the station. By the way... what time is the next train leaving?

The Oddblock Station Agent

Scenes of CN's Edson & Albreda Subs as seen from Train 1

All scenes were recorded on April 14, 2015
You know you're in Alberta when... waking up the next morning, looking out the window and seeing working oil pumps in the middle of fields. These particular pumps are west of and just outside Edmonton.

Eating is not the only thing that goes on in the dining car. Parked in the Edmonton station for the next hour and looking out on to busy 101st Street NW and mounds of rubble from the torn up runways of the closed airport, now is a good time to check for message from home or simply to find out what has been going on in the world. Connections are good here, which is not always the case when the train is on the move through remote places. If you're not going to eat that toast getting cold there...

Double track between Carvel and Wabamun allows for both trains to safely meet and pass at track speed at mile 33.9.

Train 1 skirts along the edge of ice-covered Lake Wabamun. Ten years ago on August 03, 2005, a CN freight train derailed 43 cars; mostly bunker oil that spilled into the lake. Four days after the mishap CN revealed that a hazardous chemical had also leaked into the lake.

Approach signal 633 displayed green before the front of Train 1 passed. CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) signals authorize and govern all train and other rail vehicle movements over the hundreds of miles of busy track. Nonetheless, compliance and safety ultimately rests with the head end crews in charge of their trains.

Although the 236 mile route westbound from Edmonton to Jasper realizes a vertical gain of about 1280 feet, Train 1 rolls through a downhill sag near CN Gainford.

The view from CN's crossing of the Pembina River at Evansburg, Alberta. The height above the river dwarfs that large rig over there on Highway 16.

Train 1 was placed into and held at the east end of the siding at Evansburg to wait for an eastbound intermodal train to pass. A stacked pair of OOCL containers and others on the hurried train race by our waiting train. Rather than proceed to the west end of the siding, Train 1 was backed out of the east end and then cleared to overtake the intermodal train also waiting in the same siding. The two trains just fit with no room to spare.

First glimpses of the mountains near CN Dalehurst

A large lumber mill at Hinton, Alberta. I wonder why this location was not named Spruce Grove instead of that Edmonton suburb 165 miles back.

Hinton, Alberta, is no different from any other large town/small city in Canada, however the name remains well known to those interested in Canadian railway history. The collision and wreck of Via Rail's Train 4, the Supercontinental, which occurred on February 08 1986, and always referred to as the "Hinton Train Disaster" actually happened about ten miles east at CN Dalehurst.

Getting closer to the bigger hills.

The Rockies are the main attraction and few empty seats are now available in the glass attic.

Train 1 passed through Swan Landing siding to overtake the stopped westbound intermodal train holding the main line. The switch points have yet to be restored and a proceed signal given for the main track; events that shall not occur until Train 1 has passed and cleared the next signal west of the siding.

Telephone poles and cross-arms adorned with glass insulators strung together with wires still follow parts of the rail route. This reminder from the telegraph age serves no useful purpose today and that once vital infrastructure has been slowly crumbling; in many places the poles and wires have vanished.

Between the Edson Sub's one tunnel at mileage 204.8 and the CN location known as Park Gate at mile 206, concrete ties, clean vegetation-free ballast and perfectly aligned welded rails attest to well-maintained track over much of the subdivision. The clueless, ignorant and uninformed railway-bashers in the media and Ottawa would do well to take note and go and see for themselves before stating something stupid and misreporting about Canada's railways being unsafe and poorly maintained.

CN's "Safety is of the first importance in the discharge of duty" has long been ingrained into everyday railway work habits. That freight train crew on the ground is not out for fresh air and exercise while waiting for Train 1 to pass. At every meet where at least one train was stopped, crew members were always out and on the ground to visually inspect and report the status of the passing train. When stopped, Train 1 crew members were out doing the same.

Container volumes moving on CN's Edson Sub are staggering. Almost every siding between Edson and Jasper had an intermodal train waiting to meet Train 1. No doubt some of these container trains were travelling to or from Prince Rupert because intermodal traffic lessened west of Redpass Jct.

The passenger station at Jasper, Alberta.

CN6015 - tribute to and a reminder of an interesting past, but I highly doubt that steam powered Class 1 railways in North America would be capable of coping with the freight volumes and lengthy trains moving today.

Heading west into British Columbia and Mt. Robson Provincial Park.

Mile 116.2 - Train 1 overtakes a grain train waiting in the siding at CN Pyramid.

The sunshine was finally off the tops of the mountains and daylight was fading quickly.

Last scene of the day recorded at CN Thunder River and no train was waiting in this siding.

Acknowledgement: All images here but one were recorded by my wife; I was busy watching the world go by.

The Oddblock Station Agent

Scenes of CN's Rivers Sub as seen from Train 1

All scenes were recorded on April 13, 2015
The Fort Garry Hotel (building with the green pointed roof) as seen from outside the front entrance of Winnipeg's Union Station. Winnipeg is not a city that one could easily fall in love with or want to call home, however, the Fort Garry Hotel is an amazing place to stay and visit. Their food offerings are delicious and their hotel services are impeccable; second to none! First time visit and I was impressed.

Inside Winnipeg's Union Station; an attractive but large empty building that caters to a total of ten passenger trains a week during the peak travel season.

Waiting attendant for cars 122 and 123. Passenger count was light and all were boarded and settled into their accommodations except for one or two who momentarily stepped back off the train to record a few more images prior to departure.

Departing 25 minutes late from the Winnipeg station Train 1 has just crossed the Assiniboine River near its confluence with the Red River. No signs of flooding this spring.

Few passengers are upstairs in the train's rear glass attic. For some inexplicable reason people have this imbedded impression that there is nothing to be seen from the train while crossing the Canadian Prairies. Wrong! And yes we did see a herd of real live buffalo about an hour or so out of Winnipeg.

A new balloon track under construction to serve a new grain loading facility. The large loop (balloon) will easily accommodate an entire train to permit continuous loading without the need to separate and rehandle the grain cars.

Miles of straight track easily lends itself to Train 1 rolling along at the 80 mph track speed over many of the 280 miles between Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Melville, Saskatchewan. The busy single-track route necessitates occasional slowing and/or stopping to meet opposing trains thus reducing the average speed to barely 42 mph.

Below: CTC signalling working exactly as it should.

The top signal aspect changed from green to red when front of the train passed.
Clear signal

Seconds later at 80 mph Train 1 passes the eastbound intermodal train in the siding and safely out of the way.

Two sidings later and Train 1 quickly overtaking a waiting westbound intermodal train. That unmanned but working CN locomotive placed in the middle of the freight train is a working example of what the railways call "Distributed Power." Distributed power reduces draft gear forces and at the same time provides the tractive effort and faster braking applications required for the safe and efficient operating of longer trains.

The grain elevator at Harte, Manitoba, is the tallest structure for miles around. Train 1 is busy speeding past a general merchandise train sitting in the siding. Note that long cut of tank cars; oil most likely.

Now clear of the west end of the siding, a farewell look back at the waiting freight train and a final glimpse of the grain elevator. Just like that Bette Midler song, "From a Distance"

The prairies are not all flat and all bare. Train 1 leans into the second in a set of reverse curves near CN Ingelow.

West of Miniota, Manitoba, the CN route again encounters the meandering Assiniboine River and for the next 30 miles hugs the eastern/northern side of the Qu'appelle Valley into Saskatchewan.

Highways are not the only roads affected by spring thaw. Slow-ordered by a stretch of rough track, Train 1 crawls over abnormal heaves and sinks which give the train a wavy appearance.

St. Lazare, Manitoba, is the confluence of the Assiniboine and Qu'appelle Rivers. Train 1 is crossing the Assiniboine River with Saskatchewan visible about two miles ahead.

Yoho Park on the rear displays the markers (red lights) of Train 1. Melville, Saskatchewan is a head-end crew change point, the longer stop allows for a few minutes to step off the train and capture a few images.

On the station platform at Melville, Saskatchewan, and outside our home for the next two days.

Refurbished, rebuilt, and anything but worn out, these Budd built stainless steel passenger cars are 60-61 years old. On April 24, 1955, the new equipment was officially placed into service with the inaugural Montreal-Toronto & Vancouver departures of Canadian Pacific Railway's new train, "The Canadian"

West of Melville, Saskatchewan, is CN's Watrous Sub and somewhere along these next 247 miles the end of the day shall end here. In spite of what others may say, restful sleep does come easily.

The Oddblock Station Agent