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Ancillary Railfanning

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Ancillary Railfanning
Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 7:02 PM

Vacation this year was to the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park.  Really great places.  People should go!  As with most vacations, a little train watching must occur.  I managed to squeeze some in - mostly random.

If you're interested...  https://blerfblog.blogspot.com/2023/08/rocky-mountain-trains.html

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 7:31 PM

I might have passed right beside you in Jasper. 

The 2100 has been hanging around here for over a year, Jasper doesn't have any regular switching work so that unit and some stored cars are used for a training yard assignment so new hire conductors can get some practice.  CN had a big public open house this summer (branded as "Christmas In July") with a bunch of displays, carnival games and equipment open to the public, including a Jordan spreader and that C40-8. 

Some block swapping does happen but you more than likely just saw trains doubling away or back together, a daily occurrence when your yard is less than 6,500' and the trains are nearly twice that.  The Jasper yard and surrounding double track got pretty full during the BC port strikes this summer.

If you had ventured either east or west of Jasper you would have found a couple of the more obvious and infamous effects of PSR:  The two longest stretches of CN's double track that Hunter Harrison ripped up.  Both Devona to Henry House and Fitzwilliam to Grant Brook remain major choke points today.

https://railpictures.net/photo/769635/

https://railpictures.net/photo/634833/

The alternate line west of Lake Louise was built to reduce the westbound grade to about 1%, one of four such projects CP did between Banff and Kamloops during the 1970s and 80s, with the Mount Macdonald Tunnel being the largest and best known.  This is why a 205 car potash train can make do with five units.

http://www.okthepk.ca/dataCprSiding/cprNews/cpNews20/80111900.htm

The same 200+ car loaded unit train would require only three AC units on CN's 0.4% mainline.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by oltmannd on Thursday, August 31, 2023 4:09 PM

Thanks!  Really interesting.  It's hard trying to interpolate what's going on when you are just in one place for a few days...

I thought I saw blocks of stacks hanging around for the better part of a day.  Having a block swap location in the middle of "nowhere" only make sense when you have multiple OD pairs on each end.

It did look like there was some doubling going on.  Head end of westbound trains hanging out on the west side of town.  Merchandise...I think.

I need go back for a railfan adventure some time!

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, September 4, 2023 8:04 PM

Oltmannd:  In these pictures on #2,5,&15 shows 1a signal mast.  On the 3rd down position instead of a regular head there are 2 horizonal apparently single bulb heads (no hoods) 1 - 1-1/2 feet apart.  Any indea what they display, their aspect(s), and what the aspects mean? Does CP use that display any where else?

https://blerfblog.blogspot.com/2023/08/rocky-mountain-trains.html

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 10:17 AM

blue streak 1

Oltmannd:  In these pictures on #2,5,&15 shows 1a signal mast.  On the 3rd down position instead of a regular head there are 2 horizonal apparently single bulb heads (no hoods) 1 - 1-1/2 feet apart.  Any indea what they display, their aspect(s), and what the aspects mean? Does CP use that display any where else?

https://blerfblog.blogspot.com/2023/08/rocky-mountain-trains.html

 

 

Good question!  Didn't notice them.  Maybe something to do with the route to the tunnels?

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 10:28 AM

oltmannd
Good question!  Didn't notice them.  Maybe something to do with the route to the tunnels?

Perhaps something akin to the repeaters that were used for speeders?

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 11:23 AM

tree68

 

 
oltmannd
Good question!  Didn't notice them.  Maybe something to do with the route to the tunnels?

 

Perhaps something akin to the repeaters that were used for speeders?

 

 

Maybe?  I did find a 2006 ETT for that area, but it was no help.  Signals may be newer than that.  So, maybe some PTC accomodation?

 

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 1:51 PM

They look like direction indicator flashing arrows to me, Rule 440 in the CROR.  I'm CN not CP but Lake Louise appears to be an equilateral turnout, which means that the colour signal indications alone will not communicate any speed or routing information. 

CN commonly uses these on approach signals to sidings.  A yellow (Clear to Stop) indication with a flashing arrow on the approach means that the home signal is lined into the siding and you do not have to be prepared to stop at it.

https://tc.canada.ca/en/rail-transportation/rules/2022-2023/canadian-rail-operating-rules/general-description-location-fixed-signals

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by rdamon on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 2:15 PM

Found some more

 

 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 2:43 PM

I also completely overlooked your mention of coal on CN.  In Jasper you will see export coal trains as well as petroleum coke shipments from the oilsands bitumen upgraders at Fort McMurray and Lloydminster, and smaller amounts from other refineries.  Coke usually moves as smaller blocks in manifest trains but sometimes there is enough for a whole unit train out of Edmonton or even directly from Lynton (the end of steel just south of Fort McMurray). 

There are currently three coal mines that ship by rail through Jasper, all located in western Alberta.  Coal Valley (40 miles south of Edson), Bighorn/Vista/Pedley (just east of Hinton, Highway 16 goes right past the loadout and under the conveyer belt) and Grande Cache.  The first two produce thermal coal, Grande Cache is mainly metallurgical grade. 

Vista is the newest and by far the largest mine, it opened in 2019 and can ship a 220 car train pretty much daily, though they don't always operate at full capacity.  You photographed one of their trains, which are easily identified by their MILX and distinctive TILX 940000 series cars.  Coal Valley normally has two equally large trainsets in service, both they and Vista lease their own fleets while Grande Cache still uses CN's cars.

The Grande Cache trains are fairly short (only about 100 cars) on account of the undulating profile and long 1% grades they face getting from the mine to the mainline at Swan Landing.  Coal Valley and Vista's trains are both normally 200-220 cars with three AC units set up 1x1x1 in DP.  I think this configuration handles noticeably better than the 200+ car grain, potash or sulphur trains which are normally set up 2x0x1 or 2x1x0. 

At the moment Coal Valley ships to Prince Rupert while both Vista and Grande Cache's trains go to Vancouver, I believe they use Westshore Terminals (Roberts Bank) and not Neptune (North Vancouver) but I'm not 100% sure.  Tier-IV GE units don't fit through the dumper at Roberts Bank unless it has been modified since I last checked. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Vermontanan2 on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 7:49 PM

SD70Dude:  I always enjoy hearing about CN operations in the west from you.  I have probably asked you this before, but does CN run any 200+ car trains to Neptune in North Vancouver, and if so and they're simiarly powered as described above (from origin) it's not enough power for the 1.1% grade from the Fraser River Bridge to Still Creek.  How does CN handle that?

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Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, September 7, 2023 2:59 PM

The New Westminster Sub profile shows a stretch of 0.8% in the North Road-Lake City area against westbound trains.  The bit of 1.1% is eastbound between CN Jct and Still Creek, which is past Willingdon Jct (where north shore bound trains diverge into the Thornton Tunnel).  While I've never worked in Vancouver I agree that this should be enough to give tonnage trains some trouble.  But maybe I'm wrong, or perhaps they add another unit or get pushed by the next train or a yard engine if they stall. 

Many of our potash, grain and sulphur trains do go to North Vancouver.  The double grain/sulphur trains could be split in two at Thornton Yard (Port Mann, south of the Fraser River), which might be helpful anyway if the two halves are going to different terminals, but this would be more difficult with potash trains. 

Teck's coal trains from southeastern BC have both middle and tail end DP remotes, and from what I've seen they usually keep the same power (normally CP units) for the entire round trip even though they are interchanged to CN at Kamloops.  Three AC units on a 150 car train would probably be enough for that short New Westminster grade. 

It's a shame Tyler W. doesn't post on here anymore, he works for CN in Vancouver and would be able to answer this particular question far better than I. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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