Friday, 24 April 2015

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

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