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Will CPR's Empress steam program be scrapped?

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Will CPR's Empress steam program be scrapped?
Posted by lone geep on Friday, October 26, 2012 6:32 PM

I know this sounds terrible but I'm wondering if the CPR's steam program has it's days numbered. I'm thinking this because Hunter Harrison took over and he's cutting down the railroad's cost. Since the steam program doesn't make money as for as I know, I'm afraid that HH might just cut the steam program.

Lone Geep 

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Posted by selector on Friday, October 26, 2012 11:53 PM

When an organization invites change, all things are possible.  I would guess that the steam programme is chump change, so maybe the principle would be what comes to the fore and causes the programme to be canned.  If the shareholders and other key figures make enough noise about the steam programme, it will be carefully considered, or else carefully explained.  If insufficient support is offered for it, it could be cancelled. 

HH is the one who proposes the criteria, sells them to those who need convincing, and then effects them.  How will steam factor?  It is anyone's guess.

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Posted by AgentKid on Sunday, October 28, 2012 10:39 PM

If you recall from the TRAINS weekly e-mail about a month ago there was an advertisement for a single run of the Royal Canadian Pacific Express train next summer. There is a certain amount of overlap of equipment between the RCP and the Empress 2816 program.

I think what this means is they want to get some use out of this equipment next year, while putting off discussion of both programs for the time being.

Bruce

So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

"A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

"O. S. Irricana"

. . . __ . ______

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Posted by Thomas 9011 on Sunday, October 28, 2012 11:28 PM

I spent a great deal of time in Canada including watching the 2816 program start from a few drivers in a locomotive shop to where it is today. To say that CP loves running that steam locomotive is a understatement. The 2816 program was put forth as a public relations tool and it exceeds in that department.

Someone else said that running the steam locomotive is peanuts and it really is. I know the Union pacific steam program receives a little over a million a year and that is more than enough to cover expenses. CP probably spends a little more as everything is more expensive in Canada. I remember reading that railroads spend tens of millions just in advertising, and if worst came to worst they would simply include the steam program in the advertising budget as it really does fall into public relations. With railroads making billions in profits a million or two is really just pennies to them.

Canada's Government is also deeply involved in railroads and funds all sort of projects for them. I think even if the railroad didn't want to fund it the Canadian Government would take a big part in it. I know that steam locomotive frequently stops in the small towns and the children from the schools all come out to see it along with the teachers. There is also charity programs that the steam locomotive plays part in especially around Christmas time which is a good public relations tool.

I can't see that steam program ending anytime soon. I know the railroad and the Government are not happy when railroad people lose their jobs and they go to great lengths to save them. I remember reading that VIA was running the Budd cars on Vancouver island despite only averaging 3 people per trip. I also remember them running the Royal hudson from Vancouver to Squamish year after year despite taking loses.

I have rode on that locomotive several times and there was always big wigs from the railroad there. It seems it is pretty popular with the Presidents and CEO's. 

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Posted by jumper on Monday, November 05, 2012 8:04 PM

I don't know where you live or when you last rode behind either of these engines, but the Canadian government is happy to cut funding to its railroads. That's one of the reasons CN was sold off to private investors like you and me. Via is cutting service and jobs all over Canada. The province of Ontario has cut the Ontario Northland train from Toronto to Cochrane with the associated loss of jobs. Yes steam programs are great for historical education and publicity, but the bean counters will be looking to lower that operating ratio however they can. I'd be concerned with E. Hunter Harrison in the drivers seat. He's on for 3 years and has made many cuts already to staff at CP and he never did any favours for steam when he was head of CN and probably Illinois Central before that. He's good for the shareholder though.

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Posted by CNSF on Monday, November 05, 2012 11:52 PM
I agree that I can't see this federal government stepping in to save the steam program, but I worked under Hunter at CN and while there are a number of things I was/am certain he would/will do at CP, cutting this program isn't one of them. That's not to say he won't, it's just that it isn't clear to me. CN didn't have a steam program when he arrived, nor any serious discussion about starting one that I ever heard of, so it's not like he killed steam there. But CN did have an advertising and PR budget and that didn't disappear (although changes were made). Hunter understands the value of PR and advertising, so the question will be whether or not, in his eyes, CP really is getting value for money from the program in this regard. If the program is kept, I would expect to see some changes in the way the engines are used/deployed, in order to get more bang for the buck invested.
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Posted by cx500 on Wednesday, November 07, 2012 12:23 AM

That would be my somewhat optimistic take on her future too.  And I think that your last comment about making changes in the way it is used to get more bang for the buck is extremely apt.  Past operations were often kept semi-secret, with little effort to get any message out to the general public who discovered it by accident.  I did hear that a major success landing one shipper was won in part by his awe at the machine pulling the train on which he was being courted.

And the governments of today mostly have little interest in helping the railways.  Regulating them, yes, taxing them, definitely, but rarely anything beyond that.  As far as helping preserve an fundamental part of Canadian heritage our national government is missing in action. Lip service only, I'm afraid.

John

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Posted by Thomas 9011 on Wednesday, November 07, 2012 12:32 AM

I think I would have to beg to differ on the Government roles in funding railroads. 

 

Canadian and VIA Rail Canada Inc. officials have announced a $6.5 million investment in Winnipeg’s Union Station to improve public areas, accessibility, rider amenities and the building’s exterior.

Of the total funding, $3 million comes from $923 million in Canadian government funding to VIA Rail that was appropriated in 2007 and $3.5 million comes from the 2012 budget, VIA Rail officials said in a prepared statement.

 http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/news/Canadian-government-VIA-officials-announce-funding-for-Winnipeg-station-project--31131

 Vancouver Island railway gets federal funding boost

 The federal government will contribute $7.5 million to repair the old E&N railway line that runs from Esquimalt to Courtenay on Vancouver Island.

The federal funding matches the $7.5 million committed by the province last June to restore the railway.

 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/04/10/bc-vancouver-island-railway.html

 

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Posted by cx500 on Wednesday, November 07, 2012 11:41 PM

Yes, there is some funding made, occasionally.  The passenger service on the E&N has been shut down for something like two years already, waiting for the federal government to decide whether or not to assist.  And that is for an amount that is more or less a rounding error in their budget.  Nice to know that Winnipeg Station is being improved, but the transcontinental trains are being cut back to two a week.  That's fine if you are looking for a land cruise, but it is not usable transportation in any real sense.  Who would want to wait three days for the ride home?  Reducing frequency just puts a route further into a death spiral.

West of Ottawa the local municipalities are begging the senior levels of government to help buy a short piece of line before the rails are ripped out.  It is vital if some local industries are to re-open.  Like  on Vancouver Island the cost is low, less than that of a single highway interchange, but the silence is deafening.

Apart from the funding of VIA Rail and certain other passenger services, there is very little support for the railways.  The province of Saskatchewan is perhaps an exception, once the politicians realised the massive roads expenditure that was becoming necessary as the roads collapsed under heavy grain trucks.  It made economic sense to help the short lines with small grants.  But politicians with that much sense are rare.

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Posted by Dakguy201 on Thursday, November 08, 2012 2:54 AM

Posters on this forum have quoted a Cheyenne Union Pacific employee as saying UP's steam program has a budget of roughly $1 million a year.  Although it has never been clear just what expenses are or are not included in that number, I'd suggest it is chicken feed compared to the amount of good will generated by the steam locos visits or participation in local events.  It certainly is smaller than a rounding error when compared to UP's revenue ($120 billion) or capital expenditure budget ($3.9 billion).

Canadian Pacific is not that different in terms of size.  I'd suggest the same factors apply.

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Posted by Ulrich on Thursday, November 08, 2012 8:12 PM

The railfan part of me would like to see the program continue, but the pragmatic businessman and shareholder side of me wants to see it scrapped, along with alot of other nonrevenue generating activity. I don't think it really has any marketing value...any customer I've ever met cares only about dollars and cents and service levels. How do you square such extravagance on the one hand and then expect shippers to pay a fuel surcharge on the other? The flipside of the fuel surcharge is that the carrier has to show that he is doing everything on his end to keep expenses down.

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Posted by Thomas 9011 on Friday, November 09, 2012 12:51 AM

There is some good points made in this discussion. We are fortunate enough to have these programs when railroads are making record profits. Had these railroads been taking heavy losses I am sure things would be much different.

I think we are also fortunate enough to know if they did end the steam program, I think we can safely say it wouldn't even cause so much of a blip to the stock price or would it have any effect on dividends. Yes you could end it but seriously a million or two compared to a billion or two isn't going to do much of anything. It's like taking a thousand dollars to the bank and you are worried about that 10 cents you lost on the way there. As long as railroads keep making billions in profits most of these programs are safe for the near future. When the railroads start to take losses, especially quarter after quarter then they will tighten their belt like they always do. 

I have lived long enough to know that eventually it all comes to a end sooner or later. It doesn't matter if it is a high school, a bridge, a museum, or a locomotive. CN and Union pacific will eventually be taken over, go bankrupt, or morph into some larger entity. One day the 844 will be on permanent display in front of the Union pacific headquarters in Omaha rusting away. Maybe in 2035 they will bring it out and restore it again.

For now I think it is important that we ride behind these steam locomotives as much as we can and never take them for granted. We are lucky that we have yet to have a catastrophic boiler explosion with a tourist steam locomotive. If that did happen I believe it would seal the fate for the majority of steam locomotives in this country. 

 

 

 

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Posted by Ulrich on Friday, November 09, 2012 8:00 AM

Good points..I believe there's room for a steam program; however, it should be part of a museum undertaking and funded by the people who want to keep it running. I'd donate towards that. But now is the time to cut cost,. when things are running relatively smooothly and are on an even keel. The worst time to cut is when money is tight and things are not going well. This is when panic sets in and the wrong discisions are often made. Now is the time to look at the steam program as well as perhaps downsizing the backoffice support as well as lines that are being underutilized. Move the HQ out of that swanky Calgary block to more modest digs in Moose Jaw, SK.  Pump up sales by focussing on retail instead of wholesale, where the money is. Now is the time to cut, when things are good and calmer heads prevail.

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Posted by lone geep on Monday, November 12, 2012 4:44 PM

Also concerning the steam program. I also heard a rumour that they may expand the program with a 4-8-4 locomotive. Does anyone know anything about it?

Lone Geep 

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Posted by betamax on Monday, November 12, 2012 5:39 PM

Legend has it that they looked at the K1a stored outdoors in 2007. The only other one is at the museum in Ottawa.

There was talk many years ago of putting the Selkirk in Delson back in service, as it was in the best condition, but that didn't happen. The 1201 is resting comfortably in the storage barn, but not likely to be rebuilt and returned to service.

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Posted by Thomas 9011 on Monday, November 26, 2012 9:35 PM

The 2816 is about to become a lot more famous as a movie star. Imax's new movie "Rocky mountain express" is now showing at various Imax movie theaters around the USA and Canada. The Rocky mountain express is all about the 2816, and from what I have heard from several sources, one of the best Imax movies to ever be produced. It has already won several awards including best film and best cinematography.

I knew about his movie years ago, but I was very disappointed to learn that nobody seemed to be showing it or if the movie was even completed. The website was dead and no real information was out there. I recently met a representative from the movie, and he told me there was a big delay in releasing the movie due to the fact that nearly all the Imax movie theaters have gone digital. It took some time to transfer the film to a digital format.

With many museums running this movie for several months and some others running it for a year or more. This is sure to give a nice boost to the 2816 program as well as a huge amount of new public interest to this locomotive and the program.

Here is a link to the official website http://www.stephenlow.com/films/rockymountainexpress/index.html

 

 

 

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 11:42 AM

I saw the film in Victoria on Vancouver Island in June.  It really is a special piece, and will be highly placed in the annals of steam train cinematography.  However, there are some rather foolish flubs.  Chief among them is the director's penchant for the ridiculously accelerated scenes looking forward down the tracks with the camera mounted on the locomotive's pilot beam.  Even at half the apparent speed, the film would have been vastly improved in showing what it would have looked like to the human eye in this position.

Otherwise, it's a real winner.

Crandell

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Posted by tatans on Monday, December 03, 2012 12:40 PM

Ulrich

Good points..I believe there's room for a steam program; however, it should be part of a museum undertaking and funded by the people who want to keep it running. I'd donate towards that. But now is the time to cut cost,. when things are running relatively smooothly and are on an even keel. The worst time to cut is when money is tight and things are not going well. This is when panic sets in and the wrong discisions are often made. Now is the time to look at the steam program as well as perhaps downsizing the backoffice support as well as lines that are being underutilized. Move the HQ out of that swanky Calgary block to more modest digs in Moose Jaw, SK.  Pump up sales by focussing on retail instead of wholesale, where the money is. Now is the time to cut, when things are good and calmer heads prevail.

When CP moved out of Montreal  to Calgary a very large percentage of staff stayed behind, a larger group did come west to Moose Jaw and are still there, your concept of moving head office to Moose Jaw is a great idea, there is still a  large office building still owned by CP and next door a large magnificent restored train depot which is now a government liquor store, I'm sure CP could once again take over the station to an operating head office complex, sure this will happen eh?

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Friday, December 07, 2012 9:24 PM

Ulrich
The railfan part of me would like to see the program continue, but the pragmatic businessman and shareholder side of me wants to see it scrapped, along with alot of other nonrevenue generating activity. I don't think it really has any marketing value...any customer I've ever met cares only about dollars and cents and service levels.

They're PR machines first and foremost. They're designed to promote company morale, help develop ties between the railroad and the public, educate politicans and public alike about the railway, and promote a friendly relationship between the various stakeholders. And they deliver on all of those points

They don't have a steam program to attract someone that's shipping out a few dozen covered hoppers of grain a year or to get a contract hauling coal for a power plant. It's there to bring the public closer to the railway, for a multitude of reasons.

But even then, it can be beneficial. It's widely believed that the Warbonnet dress on the FP45's and their classy consist of classic Budd passenger cars in their business fleet and other similar aspects of the first hand tour that the Santa Fe gave JB Hunt played a huge role in them securing that contract in the late 80's. That's widely held to be a major step that the Santa Fe took to jump start their growth and positioned the company for what was to come in in the mid 1990's. If they had just took him out on a hirail truck like makes sense with your thinking, it very well wouldn't of happened. 

An attractive and impressive steamer at the head of such a train sure isn't going to do any harm in entertaining an important shipper considering signing a major contract with your railroad.

If you're a businessman and a shareholder, I'm surprised you don't realize that generating a positive return in a successful business doesn't always mean calculating the actual dollar and cents that you spent for every last aspect of your business, figuring out what your revenue was, and then determining if you made a profit.

There's's as much intangible to running a successful and thriving organization as there are tangible elements like numbers in a spreadsheet. Things like CPR's steam program, which I sadly don't see continuing after being idle this season, and their Christmas specials more than return their cost to the railroad via intangible benefits that do positively impact their bottom line indirectly in the end. 

It's the same reason why you can walk into any Wal-Mart in the country and up by customer service they're going to have a board with all their donations to local organizations over the past year or so. They're not donating things like $2,000 to your local library because they're going to directly get that cost back and earn an adequate profit out of it in return.

They do it since that goodwill is a valuable asset in itself and believe that will indirectly more than benefit the company itself when all is said and done. Positive public relations is your justification more than anything for a Class 1 steam program. A very close second would be employee morale. And in distant 3rd place is the outside chance such a thing could attract a shipper to you instead of a competitor after a positive experience.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Saturday, April 18, 2015 1:03 AM

Anyone know what's happening here? Doesn't seem to be any hope of CPR resurrecting their steam program, but how about finding an appropriate home for her?

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Posted by cx500 on Monday, April 20, 2015 7:37 PM

She is safely tucked away.  I think 2017 is when EHH may finally retire; any operation prior to then is improbable.  Staying in CPR hands is probably the best option to see her run again on a main line rather than getting "stuffed & mounted".

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Posted by JOSEPH the steam buff on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 12:11 AM

In regards to the steam program.    I try to not even utter the thought of that.   But I know as their current president  is anti steam.    She probably won,t run till he is gone.    Last time I heard she was serviceable.  So I can only hope the the are taking the opportunity in doing the work that needs to get done.       I think it would be a tragedy to not have her ever run again.    I would like cp,s steam program expand like up,s steam program with a another steamer.     As for the up,s steam program.   I  scuffed  at the notion that one day 844 will be rusting in the head quarter,s.    I completely disagree.   Up WILL NEVER DEGRADE HER LIKE THAT.     She will live very long and prosper.   As with 3985 and 4014.   And the other equipment.      But I,m getting off topic.    I doubt they wash their hands away of the 2816.    If they do.....  Well I really hope they get people with pitch forks and a mob ensew,s.   But like I said.  I doubt it. I,m 22 years young.   And see lots of potential in their steam program.   That and steam in general.

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Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Thursday, April 23, 2015 5:59 PM

Encouraging to hear these updates, any news is better than the no news I had been getting these past few years.  And this is certainly an improvement from the last concrete thing I'd heard just after Hunter took over, that she was going to be stuffed and mounted in a city park somewhere.  He considers steam a liablility, and since it also does nothing to maximize shareholder value I unfortunately see no future for 2816 at CP, that attitude will live on long after EHH leaves just as it has at CN.  On a sidenote does anyone know where she is stored?  Must be indoors or there would be a million pics floating around online of her in the deadline. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by cpcalgary on Monday, May 04, 2015 5:40 PM
I have heard from a reliable resource that 2816 is stored serviceable at the RCP pavilion in Calgary, and CP is looking to sell her!
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Posted by davis on Sunday, August 21, 2016 4:37 PM

I found this job posting from January 2016:

Technician, Heritage Locomotive - Canadian Pacific Railway - Canada - Alberta - Calgary

Job description

•Req ID: 45604

•Department: Corporate Affairs

•Job Type: Full-Time

•Position Type: Non-Union

•Location: Calgary, Alberta

•Country: Canada

•% of Travel: 40-50%

•# of Positions: 1.00

•Job Grade: $45.49 per hour

•Job Available to: Internal & External

•Deadline to apply: 02/29/2016

 

 

Canadian Pacific (TSX:CP)(NYSE:CP) is a transcontinental railway in Canada and the United States with direct links to eight major ports, including Vancouver and Montreal, providing North American customers a competitive rail service with access to key markets in every corner of the globe. CP is growing with its customers, offering a suite of freight transportation services, logistics solutions and supply chain expertise. Visit cpr.ca to see the rail advantages of Canadian Pacific.

 

PURPOSE OF THE POSITION:

 

You will be required to manage all facets of mechanical operations relating to the heritage fleet, specific accountability for mechanical operations of heritage locomotives (F-series, B Unit, Steam Train). Locomotive Engineer on excursions utilizing the 2816 Empress Steam locomotive. Act as Train Manager (Operations) on heritage excursions with heritage fleet.

 

POSITION ACCOUNTABILITIES:

 

Plan, organize, direct and monitor maintenance and repair of power cars and diesel locomotives in public, executive and public relations train service (F series, B Unit, 2816 H1B Steam);

•Organize timing, logistics and readiness of all aspects of locomotive and power equipment preparedness, especially at the start and finish of excursion events;

•Implement standards and policies for safety and operating compliance of heritage train maintenance and movement including the safe operation of shop machinery (i.e.: lathes, milling machines, boring mills, iron workers, fork lifts, and cranes);

Operation and regular maintenance of the CPR 2816 Empress Steam Locomotive; annual inspection planning, assistance and oversight. Safely operating CPR 2816 as the Locomotive Engineer in charge during mainline steam excursions. Training of locomotive firemen;

•Assist with heavy passenger equipment overhauls and routine maintenance of the Heritage Fleet locomotives and Heritage passenger cars. Organization of maintenance schedules on Canadian Pacific passenger equipment and CPR 2816 support equipment (i.e.: tool car, auxiliary tender);

•Train Manager (Operations) responsible for safe road movement of heritage fleet including liaison with the NMC to review scheduling priorities, staging locations; crew job briefings/job aids; mechanical services etc.;

Oversee field operations crews and switching operations of equipment in the terminal and at the CPR Pavilion;

•Maintain effective liaison with Manager Heritage Car, RCP hospitality team, Manager Heritage Locomotive, CPR Mechanical Services, Field Operations, Public Affairs, Regulatory Affairs, NMC ,RCP and corporate customers.

 

 

POSITION REQUIREMENTS: 

 

•High School Graduate;

•Post-secondary education in Mechanical Engineering is an asset;

•Minimum 5 years’ experience with railway equipment maintenance;

•Minimum 5 years’ experience with heritage locomotive maintenance. Must include experience with large mainline boilers;

•Comprehensive understanding of railway operations; Knowledge of Transport Canada, AAR and FRA rules, regulations and recommended practices;

•Railway Rules Qualified, D card, radio trained;

•You will be required to obtained Class 1 Locomotive Engineer qualification in both Canada & US;

•Analytical and critical thinking; problem solving;

•Mechanical aptitude;

•Demonstrated communication skills to discern problems, explore and resolve solutions with technical and non-technical stakeholders;

•Ability to work appropriately with all levels of corporate executive and/or well-known/celebrity guests;

•Demonstrated high level of respect, discretion and confidentiality.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

 

As an employer with national presence, the possibility does exist that the location of your position may be changed based on organizational requirements.

 

Medical Requirements: 

CP is committed to the safety and health of its employees and the general public. This position is considered a safety critical position; all new hires will be required to complete a pre-employment medical evaluation that includes a vision, hearing, drug screening and pre-employment physical.

 

Background Investigation:

 

The successful candidate will need to successfully complete the following clearances: 

 

Criminal history check

Reference check

 

 

This is a permanent, full-time position located at the Building #11, 7550 Ogden Dale Road Calgary Alberta T2C 4X9. The compensation for this position is $45.49 per hour, consistent with industry and position norms. Canadian Pacific offers a competitive flexible benefits package (Extended Health, Dental, Defined Contribution Pension Plan, Life & Disability Insurance, Employee Share Purchase Plan)

 

Any questions regarding this opportunity can be directed to the Employment Centre employement_centre@cpr.ca or (403) 319-6524

 

Canadian Pacific Headquarters are located at 7550 Ogden Dale Rd SE Calgary, AB T2C 4X9

 

Canadian Pacific is an equal opportunity employer committed to the principles of employment equity and inclusion. We welcome applications from all qualified individuals. All applicant information will be managed in accordance with the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act ("PIPEDA").

 

Please note that only those applicants that apply online at www.cpr.ca/en/careers (Req #45604) before February 29, 2016 will be considered for this position.

 

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Posted by AgentKid on Monday, August 22, 2016 3:39 PM

Now it is the end of summer 2016 and the engine was not used.

It seems for a moment last winter they were thinking of taking advantage of the downturn in traffic to run 2816 and at least gain a bit of good news press. But things turned down far more than they expected and they no longer wanted to spend the money.

Plus, on another forum, and I have no way of knowing the actual answer, they were saying the salary being offered was nowhere close to appropriate for people with the proper qualifications.

Bruce

 

So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

"A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

"O. S. Irricana"

. . . __ . ______

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Posted by cx500 on Monday, August 22, 2016 3:58 PM

The Empress returned to operation in 2001, so her boiler certificate has expired.  Likely everything is in pretty good shape so it shouldn't be anywhere close to the cost of her first restoration.  There is, however, a lot of labour involved in the boiler inspection.  She has been kept indoors, I believe now somewhere in the Ogden HQ site.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, August 22, 2016 8:27 PM

Did Steamtown sell or lease 2816 to CP?

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Posted by cx500 on Monday, August 22, 2016 8:53 PM

Title was transferred to CP, so in legal terms CP has full ownership.  I believe it was a swap with CP providing other goods or services, rather than actual money (except for maybe a token dollar).

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Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, August 22, 2016 9:52 PM

Well, then, in a dreamer's world I would love to see the Big Three of CP steam back in steam someday - 4-6-4 2816, 1948-built 2-8-2 5468, and 1949-built 2-10-4 5934.

CP really knew how to do steam with style and class!

One can always hope!

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