Sunday, 30 November 2014

Fredericton Station - Perhaps the last time I'll see it standing.

Last winter and Hurricane Arthur were hard on the old station this past year.  Here are some last ditch photos Chris Mears and I took of the station this past Saturday,while we were out getting any last measurements Chris needed to complete his drawings of the station.

At this time, we aren't sure what will take the station down first, the elements or demolition.  We have received word that a permit was filed to demolish the building later in December, bringing an end to yet another PEIR station.

I plan to scratch a model of this later on in the winter for one reason or another.

One half of the hip roof had already collapsed prior to this year, but Hurricane Arthur completely flattened it this summer.  I suspect that with the winter they are calling for, the entire building will be flattened if the contractors do not take care of it first.

The north and west sides are still standing and in relatively good shape, however the south and east walls haven't faired as well.

Chris examined the massive hole in the back of the station, as well as grabbing a few quick shots of the brick siding, in hopes of photoshopping it for our upcoming build in HO.

The inside of the passenger end is in very rough shape.  I didn't bother to go into the ticket booth (left) or the baggage end (further left) due to the current condition of the building this trip.

 The red and yellow paint CN used on the station are clearly visible here, although faded.  We were able to acquire chips of each.

A look at the ceiling through a busted, although structurally solid window frame.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

A Closer Look at Port Daniel, Quebec

Although Port Daniel was never really a large stop on the railway, I've always found it to be a nice little town intertwined with the railroad much more than many other towns due to its unique layout. Currently, Port Daniel-Gascons (now merged with several surrounding communities) has a population of close to 2500 persons, mostly French speaking.  The town is unique in that the railway doesn't just run north or south of it but rather right through the center of it, unlike the majority of Gaspe communities.  The town contains two large bridges, a station and the only tunnel on the entire line.  The bridges cross the "Petite Port Daniel" River to the west and the "Grande Port Daniel" River to the east.

Located at Mile 22.5 of the Cascapedia Subdivision, Port Daniel has never been much more than a station stop for east and westbound passenger trains.  According to CN timetable #82, dated Sunday, April 26, 1953, Port Daniel once contained a passing siding with a 12 car capacity and a second track with a capacity of 9 cars.* The most recent timetable I have access to, CN #85, dated Sunday, May 29, 1983, lists the length of the passing siding as 700ft, but gives no length to the other track.  I assume that this mysterious other track is simply a team track due to its proximity to the station.  Given the lay of the land (steep hillside north of the tracks, steep dropoff to the Barachois to the south) there is also very little room for any sort of a building here, although it is possible that there was a separate freight shed on this track at some point.

The only record I can find of rail-serviced industries in the area stems from timetable #82, at Mile 26.4, about a mile east of the station, referring to a place called "Derairiche".  Apparently this stop had a double ended siding (points facing east and west) and a capacity of 6 cars.

Other than that the "footnotes" for the area are as follows:

  • All trains must not exceed a speed of ten (10) M.P.H. between Mile 23.69 and 23.80 (Port Daniel Tunnel).  This was increased to 15MPH at somepoint between 1953 and 1972 as evident in the table below.
  • Mileage 25.4 to Mileage 25.6 - Look out for falling rocks

I have summarized the speeds in the area as well from Timetable #24, dated Sunday, April 30, 1972.

21.0 to 26.0 zone
22.3 to 24.0
25.4 to 25.9
26.0 to 32.5 zone
28.0 to 28.2

Below is a Google Maps image, overlaid with the track diagram of the area.

Note that the mainline is highlighted in red, yellow denotes the two bridges whereas the green area depicts the tunnel. The red box under "Port Daniel" represents the station.

Below are a series of photos I took on November 10, 2014, after convincing everyone to hop in the car and take a drive down to Port Daniel for a look around.  The town of Port Daniel is located at the mouth of a small inlet, as seen from a vantage point several kilometers west on Rte 132.

The station itself is very well preserved and is one of three on the line that has been designated as a provincial historic site.  

You can see where what's left of the passing siding below, which ends in front of the station.  Presumably the east facing point was removed during some road construction on Rte 132 (about 250m behind me in this photo) and never replaced.  The west facing point has also been removed however its remnants are still very visible.  This follows suit with almost every other passing siding on the line, most of which having been removed for one reason or another in the mid to late 1990's by the various entities that owned the line after the end of the CN era in 1996.

The location of the switch stand is clearly visible here.

Here the west facing point into what I think is a team track is visible and still intact.  The switch stand also looks to be in operable condition.  Judging by the amount of vegetation, this track hasn't been used in some time, however, there aren't any saplings coming up through the sleepers either.

The team track runs back to a point about 75m from the station and stops.
The wheel stops are barely visible through the weeds here.

The following photos show the bridge spanning the Petite Port Daniel River.  It would have been built by the Quebec Oriental/ Atlantic Quebec and Western Railways and matches many other similar structures on the line, as well as surrounding Intercolonial Railway and National Transcontinental Railways in nearby New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Below are photos of the bridge over the Grande Port Daniel River.  I have seen many wonderful photos of The Chaleur crossing this bridge, from many well respected railfans including Gary Knapp, Steve Boyko, David Morris and quite possibly Bill Linely as well.

This photo shows the hillside which the tunnel cuts through.  When faced with tapping the line through, the engineers couldn't go in behind this area as the land only gets steeper and they couldn't go around it on the water side as there is no land there.  The only solution was to go through.  The tunnel was built in 1908.


The following photos are of the west facing portal.  Note the restricted clearance sign (yellow) above the danger sign.

This neat little section building looks like it has been here for a few years.

 Looking west from the west portal entrance.

East tunnel portal.

*( [page 8]

Saturday, 15 November 2014

UMG Module Plan

I've been toying around with the idea of building a pair of UMG modules for the past year and after getting a good luck at the setup in Truro this fall I think I've finally settled on a design.

The UMG (Unnamed Module Group) is a group of modellers throughout the Maritimes who have constructed a series of FreeMo modules which they display at various shows.

I was initially thinking of modelling an area in Nouvelle on the Gaspe with a lumber mill (which I have sort of done) but I added in some things to increase switching opportunities.

The bridge on the left and the basic setup of the two lumber loading and chip loading tracks is analogous to Nouvelle, with the main difference being that there are two lumber loading tracks and the chip loading track runs back into the facility for some distance.  The buildings and track arrangement at the upper right corner will be loosely based on this prototype in British Columbia.

All six turnouts will be handlaid using Fast Tracks templates and the rest of the track will be Code 100 flextrack..

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Railfan Five Challenge

My Railfan Five Challenge:

After being locked out of my blog for several months due to all of the changes to Google plus, I was able to regain access in a different province of all places thanks to some save info on a different laptop...phew.

Anyways, better late than never, here is my response to Eric's challenge, in which Chris nominated me.

I'd like to thank Eric for coming up with the idea and Chris for nominating me.  I have been exposed to railroading for my entire life.  My father comes from a railroad family which lived in a small English town on the Gaspe Peninsula called New Carlisle.  New Carlisle was the division point between the Chandler Sub to the east and the Cascapedia Sub to the West.  The line was originally built during the early 1900's by the Quebec Oriental Railway and the Quebec and St Lawrence Railways, both of which were absorbed into Canadian Government Railways, and later the CNR. 1909 saw the first train to New Carlisle and ten years later the first train reached the town of Gaspe. From the lines inception in the early 1900's to its sale to the Quebec Railway Corporation in 1996, I have had at lease one relative employed by the railway in the region .  I can remember the better days vaguley between about 1995 and 2002, when there was a passenger train every other day and a freight each way every day.  The region was hit hard between 1998 and 2006, where the closure of several large paper mills and a once prosperous copper mine closed, spelling the end of freight traffic on the line. In 2010, the eastern end of the line was declared unsafe due to several aging bridges and VIA's Chaleur began turning at New Carlisle indefinitely.  In the summer of 2013, the rest of the line was deemed unsafe and VIA's Chaleur was terminated until further notice.  Other than a sporadic work train in the summer and the odd high rail truck, the line is all but abandoned.  The only reason the tracks haven't been lifted is because the right of way and all rail infrastructure was purchased by the four counties on the Gaspe between 1998 and 2008.

This first photo was taken on Oct 19, 2013 at Truro, NS.  I was over for the weekend for the Train Show (in fact the first train show I'd ever been to) when Bill Linely and David Othen asked me if I'd like to come along with them to go and watch VIA 15 with them.  There were a lot of firsts here for me - first time seeing The Ocean, first time seeing a VIA triple header, first time seeing the Renaissance equipment, first time seeing a Park Car and my first actual railfan experience.

This second photo is actually one of my personal favorites and I regard it as the best railfan photo I have ever taken.  There is something that is just right about this photo, whether it is the fresh ballast, sparkling consist or the bright fall colours.  I took this one on 18 November 2011, roughly a quarter mile east of the station in New Carlisle.  This location is about halfway between the station and Christie's Rock to the east and represents my favorite stretch of track to view trains on.

After arriving in New Carlisle last summer I walked down to the yard the following morning as I always to see what was going on.  I was looking forward to this trip as it would be the first time I had ever seen the crews wye The Chaleur; as they had been turning the train in New Carlisle for some time due to track conditions further east.  I was surprised to see a work train sitting on one of the yard tracks. The Chaleur arrived about a half hour late and I stuck around to watch the crew wye the train.  I was able to take snap this shot of The Chaleur pulling up past the work train during the turning operations.  The date was 8 August 2013.  I received word from a friend of mine who also happens to be one of the last remaining engineers with the freight company on the line that they would be heading west to Matapedia to refill the ballast hoppers the following morning. I arrived at the yard office and met the crew at 6 AM, watched them cold start the locomotives, got a great tour of both units and saw them off.  We arrived home to PEI the following week where I learned that The Chaleur had been sidelined indefinitely due to a mix of track conditions and political reasons. The date was 10 August 2013. As is turns out, I was able to catch what just might be the last VIA Rail Chaleur ever, purely by coincidence.

I took this photos back in August 2008.  After watching trains for years, I decided to invest in a camera.  I shot the train crossing Green Road and then as they prepared to leave the station. Trainman Boyd McBrian is seen doing his final checks of the consist before giving the all clear. Engineers Peter Douglas and Gilles Lamy are already aboard.  Back at the station, Dominique Leger, the long serving station master at New Carlisle assist the last of her passengers onto the train.  The first three names represent the last of the men based out of the original crew base of New Carlisle to work for VIA Rail.  All of them have since retired.
Due to the VIA F40PH-2D rebuild program at Cadrail, VIA began experience power shortages across its network.  In the past, two locomotives had always been placed on the consist for the months of Sepetember, October and November, to provide extra traction power.  Wet leaves on the tracks had been an onging issue ever since the last regular freights ceased operation east of New Richmond in 2006.  Due to the power shortage, VIA leased CN 9416, a GP40-2L(W) to haul The Chaleur.  For the duration of the fall, 9416 was added onto VIA 14/15 at Matapedia after the train had been split from The Ocean and stored at Matapedia when not in use.  On 10 October 2009, I was lucky enough to catch the first CN unit on the line over ten years (since the end of the CANAC leased MLW's between 1996-97).  9416 had been one of two yard engines in Campbellton for some time, and continued to do so after 2009, however one day it never came back.  During a trip over to Truro for the train show last night, I found it in D yard, assigned as the yard power there, still without a proper noodle on the nose five years later.