Saint John Railfan
NB Rail Riders
Nepisiguit Junction is on the New Brunswick East Coast mainline just outside Bathurst (mile 106.4). It is the junction of the mainline with the Nepisiguit Subdivision, a 14.7 mile spur to the Brunswick Mines facility.
The Junction features a wye, a siding and an industry. The siding is off the main line. The siding forms the base of the wye, with the line to Brunswick Mines forming the tail. The industry is St. Lawrence Cement, off a short spur off the Brunswick Mines line.
Unit trains 586 and 587 transport ore (containing zinc) between Brunswick Mines and Belledune via the junction five days a week. The junction also sees the New Brunswick East Coast trains 402 and 403, and VIA 14 and 15 (the Ocean), pass by on the main line.
The rail on the Brunswick Mines spur is almost entirely 115 pound rail, with a few sections of 100 pound rail obviously added during repairs. The rail mostly came from Sydney Steel in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, with some from Algoma Steel in Ontario.
Nepisiguit Junction was originally constructed as the end of the Northern New Brunswick & Seaboard Railway, begun in 1909 or 1910. The NNB&S was built from the Intercolonial Railway approximately 17 miles up the Nepisiguit River valley to what became Bathurst Mines. The NNB&S had a short history, terminating in 1918 when it officially ceased operation due to the closure of the iron mine in 1913. At one point the rails were authorized to be removed to supply the war effort but it is unclear if they were ever removed. Occasional operation of gasoline-powered vehicles on the rails continued for passengers. The railroad passed into the hands of the provincial government, who were the guarantors of the bonds financing the NNB&S.
In 1959 the provincial government had all of the remaining rails lifted, with the exception of the wye and 200 feet of rail on the tail of the wye. The wye was to be used by CN to turn their plows and flangers.
In 1963 the present 14 mile line to Brunswick Mines was built by Canadian National Railways to serve the new zinc mine. The existing junction was used. A siding was built at "Midway" at mile 6.1 with a 12-car capacity (550 feet).
In 1973 the CN Chaleur area employee timetable listed an industry at mile 0.4 on the Nepisiguit Subdivision, Atlantic Foundry Ltd. with a 33-car capacity. The listing was gone by the 1981 timetable. I do not know when the industry siding was built.
On March 9, 1987, a well-known derailment occurred here when a runaway CN train journeyed from Brunswick Mines to just short of the wye. There was a mixup in communications and the engineer ended up with more cars on his train than he thought, and the brakes on the engine alone were unable to hold the consist on the grade in the Brunswick Mines yard. After a harrowing journey at speeds up to 70 mph the engines (9457 leading, followed by 9548) derailed on the sharp curve into the wye at Nepisiguit Junction. Both units and most of the 30-car train derailed, but miraculously the engineer was not seriously injured. This web site contains news clippings, pictures and an audio recording of the runaway.
Trains Passing Through The Junction