Tuesday, 19 May 2015

More Railway Ramblings...About Trains of Course!

Just call me the imposter

When Kie took this photo, a few people who saw thought I was the engineer. Although I insisted I was only another passenger like everyone else, I was asked to be in a couple photos posing as the engineer.

Once in a while it is nice to dream and wonder what life would have been like had I been able to make a career of moving trains over roads of wood and steel. The passing of time ensures that some desires of youth never come to pass. Today I am too old to become a railroader - but at any age, I can occasionally wonder what life on railway may have been like.

Need anything be added about the scene below? Perhaps a few words. The location of course is Agawa Canyon. This scene was recorded before CN bought the ailing Algoma Central Railway.

Agawa Canyon, August 17, 1997. The locomotives had already completed their runaround and the idle southbound train was holding on main line while passengers tour the canyon.

Oh no! Not another F unit!

This scene was recorded in summer 1998. 6520 was leading the Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway's 1950's streamliner which just squealing to a stop at Farmer's Market station to take on two passengers - the writer and the writer's poor wife who took this photograph.

Only an hour's drive from home and operating from April through December, this train was easy to get to and very easy to ride. A $10.00 ticket was good for unlimited all day travel at the breathtaking maximum speed of 15 miles per hour; this was no ordinary streamliner. The train was truly a joy to ride - comfortable reclining seats, large picture windows, air conditioning, snack service and nice scenery. What else could a train rider ask for? 

I spent many hours on this train enjoying the slow lane of life.

6508 is on the other end of the train

With an F-unit on each end, the Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway's passenger train was similar to a push-pull operation. This negated the need to turn the engine or run the engine around the train upon the completion of each run.

Using former passenger equipment that CNR newly placed into service when it introduced the "Super Continental" in the 1950's, the Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway utilized an accurate and almost identical paint scheme.

A look at the advertised train service

The South Simcoe Railway actually has a station named NOWHERE which is an intermediate station marked by a sign, but the Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway's train literally terminated in the middle of nowhere after crossing the Conestogo River; somewhere, or nowhere, in the midst of farm fields between two country roads. I'm assuming their northern terminal was too small and too remote to have a station name board.

Looking northward. The resting train is in front of the Waterloo station during the 40 minute break before the day's last run to St. Jacobs is made. 6508 will be on the rear when the train departs northward.

A day trip to the Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway was definitely worth the drive. While Kie shopped at the farmer's market, I rode the train. 

Although the train operated during 1999, because I rode the trains that year too, so far as I am aware, the railway and its train never made it into the 21st century. 

Following the demise of the Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway, the idle equipment spent years sitting in Mimico Yard and was visible to riders on the Lakeshore West GO Trains.

A Little closer to home...

Actually a lot closer to home. This next group of images was taken two decades ago at Ellengale Park; a five-minute walk from home.

If one is patient enough to wait long enough, something eventually shows up.

Winter is probably the best time to take train photos. A heavy snow fall usually flattens most of the dead vegetation growth, and the absence of foliage provides clearer views. The downside of course is the cold, the wind and fewer hours of daylight. Then again, some days are just right and become worth the waiting.

CP 5660 and unidentified SOO Line mate were heading west near mile 17 of CP Rail's Galt Sub. Although winter, not much snow was on the ground this Sunday afternoon.

A few hints of green herald an early spring.

April 12, 1993. A late afternoon westbound GO Train slowing for its stop at Erindale station.

The Roadrailer was an interesting train with the most unusual equipment to ride on rails. 

How often does one see a train without railcars; instead only highway trailers with their tires skimming just a few inches above the rails? 

Unlike Red Rose Tea's Canadian claim to fame, Roadrailer trailers are no longer seen moving over Canadian railways north of the border like this. Pity.

I have since been corrected. The Roadrailer train is alive and well, moving on CN Rail into Toronto. 

The following post on You Tube published June 24, 2014, by TheEtobocokeRailfan, features the Roadrailer trains passing through Bramalea.

Later summer 1993 in Mississauga saw the westbound Roadrailer quickly passing through ON CP Rail and heading to Detroit, Michigan for hand-off to Nortfolk Southern.

Freight trains are frequent on the Galt Sub but photographing the trains requires a fair amount of just plain waiting... and waiting... and so on. Actually more time is spent track watching.

GO Trains are easy to photograph because they operate on fixed schedules. The disincentive is that the GO Trains all look alike except for the numbering.

May 21, 1993 evening sees GO F59PH numbered 527 operating on the rear and about to arrive in Erindale.

Carload traffic

This scene should serve as a reminder why railways exist and why railways continue to exist; hauling freight and getting paid to accomplish the feat profitably. But scenes of single carloads of freight waiting to move have all but disappeared, because handling shipments like this gets in the way of running trains.

Railways are in business to haul freight and moving trains is simply the result of having freight to haul. All revenue rail cars eventually have to originate a load somewhere, whether it's a busy intermodal terminal or rusting team track with a single flat car.

Scene recorded at Dorval, Quebec, in the mid 1980's. An observant eye may have noted that the large crates on each and of the flat car as well as the upper crate in the center, are all over-width.

This loaded flatcar no doubt will require special attention to ensure that the route the car is to travel is wide enough to clear the crates. If not, then damage may result.

Before this car is permitted to move, CP Rail will send someone out to check the manner in which the load was placed on the flat car, tied down and blocked to prevent shifting. If the preparation work has not been carried out to the inspector's satisfaction, then more materials may have to be added.

This said, does it make sense to send this shipment on a flatcar that may require several days or weeks to travel to destination when the cargo could move on a truck or two and get to that destination in a day or two?

I wonder what was in those crates and where this car was destined to.

The Oddblock Station Agent


  1. Its nice to see some photos from Mississauga for a change! I hail from that city as well. As for the Road Railer, it hasn't entirely disappeared from Canadian rails. Instead it makes its run on CN between Sarnia and Toronto, regrettably at night most of the time.

  2. Great post! Great variety of photos and something for (me) the rolling stock fan!