Back in 1988, Canadian Pacific Railway received the first of 25 SD40-2F locomotives. These locomotives were the only new locomotives delivered in the “Action Red” scheme, and were unique to CP. They were essentially SD40-2 locomotives with a cowl body instead of the usual “hood” that SD40s had. They were quickly dubbed “red barns” by railfans because of their flat red sides.
These locomotives were used in general service on the CPR, but were retired starting in 2012. CP was retiring their large fleet of SD40-2 locomotives during this period as well.
The new Central Maine & Quebec railway (CMQ) acquired 10 of these “red barns” (9004, 9010, 9011, 9014, 9017, 9020, 9021, 9022, 9023, and 9024). All but 9017 were repainted into a silver and light blue livery, based on the CPR’s “heritage” maroon and gold scheme. CMQ 9017 was painted into a scheme inspired by the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad, which used to operate in the same area as the CMQ did. These repainted locomotives were obviously dubbed “blue barns”.
I had hoped to see a “blue barn” someday when I visited the Maritimes. Alas, that didn’t happen, and in late 2019 CP announced that it was acquiring the CMQ. This would give CP access to Maine and a connection back to Saint John. The irony is that the CMQ lines are essentially all ex CPR lines that were sold in 1994.
As part of this deal, the fleet of 10 “blue barns” became CP’s property again when the deal was finalized on June 4, 2020. Most people assumed the locomotives would be scrapped, since CP didn’t want them eight years ago. Think again!
The blue barns started appearing on CP freight trains, not just in the former CMQ area but in Ontario as well. Then rumours started that a few were coming out west to Winnipeg and perhaps beyond!
Apparently two locomotives (CMQ 9020 and CMQ 9022) did make it all the way to White River, Ontario before heading back east. The Winnipeg crowd was disappointed.
However, CMQ 9021 slid into Winnipeg late on June 18 as part of train 119. On Friday morning, I heard it was in Winnipeg, so I had to go see if I could find it.
I checked the east end of the yard and it wasn’t there, so I went up on the McPhillips Athletic Grounds that overlooks the Weston Shops area and there it was.
It was nice of the shop personnel to park it in a place where it could be photographed!
As I walked across the grounds, a local switch engine came along and blocked the view for a short time.
It was OK – they didn’t block the view for long. Whew.
The sun was playing cat and mouse with the clouds, so I timed my shots to get some sun on the unit. There was another railfan there, Ross, so we chatted while taking our shots and trying different angles.
I took about a dozen photos of the locomotive. Without being able to walk around it, there were only a few angles available! I would have liked to get a side on view of the logo…
So that was the “blue barn”. It has moved on – west, I think – and is no longer in Winnipeg. Hopefully more will come!
The next question – did I ever see CP 9021? Yes, I did!
I did see it as CP 9021, but only once it was retired. I shot it on August 30, 2014 as part of the dead line at the Weston shops – not too many metres from where I saw CMQ 9021, in fact.
Note those grubby SOO switchers in the dead line as well… and the roofs of the stored SD90MAC units in the distance.
I hope to see more “blue barns” – but even if I don’t, I’m happy I saw this one.
Just One More Thing
The late David Othen produced a video featuring many of CP’s “red barns” (but not 9021). Here it is for your viewing pleasure.
Here are a few of my blog posts featuring red barns: