A Lot of Driving

One of the advantages of living in Winnipeg is that there are a lot of trains around. If you miss a train on the CN or CP main line, chances are that another one will be along in an hour or so.

My plan early in the morning of March 13 was to head up the west side of Winnipeg, then head west on either the CN or CP main line and see what I could see.

As I drove north toward the east-west CN Rivers subdivision, I saw a headlight way off to the west. I decided to meet the train at the Perimeter Highway overpass.

CN 2892 at Mile 10

First train of the morning
First train of the morning

The sun wasn’t over the horizon yet (at 06:30) so I used a low shutter speed and a higher ISO for my camera settings.

I tried a pan shot but it didn’t really work out… I still like the colour in the shot.

Sunrise pan
Sunrise pan

I decided to head west, hoping for a following train.

CN 5634 at Mile 15

CN 5634 starting to roll at mile 15
CN 5634 starting to roll at mile 15

I found CN 5634 East sitting short of Wascana Road by mile 15. I looked at the signals facing them and I saw they had a green CLEAR signal, so I knew it wouldn’t be long before they started rolling.

I photographed them as they started rolling, then relocated a mile east to Diamond to set up for the second round of photos.

Passing the Diamond station sign
Passing the Diamond station sign

I liked the “going away” shot – into the sunrise.

Into the sunrise
Into the sunrise

I decided to get them one more time. I had a shot in mind.

There’s a series of trees along the road paralleling the track, and I always wanted to try a shot here.

Through the trees
Through the trees

I took several frames to try to get the number and logo visible between trees. I kinda like it.

After that train passed, I decided to head up to CP’s main line.

CP 8925 at Mile 9

Heading off to the Paterson grain elevator

I saw a train stopped around mile 8, with CP 8925 and company heading to serve the Paterson grain elevator. I photographed them head over with a few cars in tow, then waited around until they returned “light engine” to their train.

Returning from the elevator
Returning from the elevator

Another “into the sunrise” photo…

Great ball of fire
Great ball of fire

While they were coupling back onto their train, I relocated a few miles west and set up to take video and fly my drone.

CP 8925 on the move
CP 8925 on the move

The train had a trio of locomotives – CP 8925, CP 3061 and CP 2299. I imagine they were going to drop CP 2299 at Portage la Prairie as the local switcher, with the refrigerator cars behind the power.

Here’s the video.

I landed my drone and gave chase, hoping for a meet at Meadows or Marquette. Sadly that wasn’t to be, so I headed south from Marquette to Elie.

There was nothing going on at Elie, so I headed west. I got all the way to Oakville with no trains in sight, but as I continued west toward Nattress I saw an eastbound train heading my way.

I decided to photograph them east of the Oakville grain elevator.

CN 2653 at Mile 40

A kilometre away
A kilometre away

I tried to do too much – video camera, still camera, drone – and I just about pulled it off, except that I didn’t get the drone recording in time.

Big ol' train on the prairie
Big ol’ train on the prairie

I did get some video from the drone, and I combined it with the ground video camera.

I headed back toward Winnipeg, hoping to see a westbound train. I didn’t see one until I was close to Winnipeg.

CN 3895 at Mile 16

CN 3895 bearing the CN 100 rectangle
CN 3895 bearing the CN 100 rectangle

I spotted this westbound intermodal train heading out of the city. I set up near mile 16 to record them in the nice morning light.

CN 3895 is one of the locomotives with a white roof. I hear CN is doing that to many locomotives now, even old units that are repainted.

My friends were saying that the “EJ&E” CN heritage locomotive was on a westbound train into Winnipeg. This locomotive (CN 3023) is bright orange and I have yet to see it. I drove around a good portion of the city to Transcona to try to catch it coming into the city.

There was a train approaching from the east when I arrived at Ravenhurst Street in Transcona. This north-south street is the first crossing east of CN’s Transcona yard and is a fairly major street, especially with the new housing development in the area.

I quickly set up to record the train, hoping it had the EJ&E locomotive on it.

CN 8958 in Transcona

CN 8958 in Transcona
CN 8958 in Transcona

The train slowly pulled across Ravenhurst and entered the yard. The lead units were “not the locomotives you’re looking for” but I had some hope that the EJ&E unit was in the middle or on the end of the train. I had a bit of waiting to do.

It turns out that I had a lot of waiting to do.

The train stopped shortly after the locomotives crossed Ravenhurst, then started up again, slowly. After a while, it stopped again. And again.

I think they had to keep stopping so the conductor could dismount and line some switches. This train was really long and I think they were yarding it.

While I was waiting at the crossing, the line of cars along Ravenhurst kept getting longer and longer. A few people got out of their cars to have a smoke or just stretch their legs, and a few came over to chat with me – mostly curious about what I was doing.

MAERSK all the way
MAERSK all the way

It was a lovely morning to be standing outside, so I didn’t mind too much.

All in all, the crossing was blocked for 26 minutes as the train slowly made its way into the yard.

Eventually, the tail end came into view and…

IC 2709 trailing
IC 2709 trailing

Sadly it was IC 2709 on the tail end, not the sought-after EJ&E heritage locomotive. 2709 is a locomotive I’ve seen several times already.

Oh well.

Here’s the video – only showing the interesting parts!

There was an eastbound train waiting to depart the yard, too. I was really hoping that they wouldn’t start heading out immediately – that would’ve been cruel to the drivers waiting to go.

CN 8878 at Transcona

CN 8878 pulling eastward
CN 8878 pulling eastward

Fortunately, they waited a few minutes for the traffic to clear before they started pulling. I photographed them at the Ravenhurst crossing, then relocated a bit east to catch them passing the east-facing signals protecting the yard.

Passing the signals
Passing the signals

That was it for me – a lot of driving but well worth it, in my opinion.

4 thoughts on “A Lot of Driving”

  1. I like seeing those Maersk containers plugged into the CN power unit. Though I’m not really a follower, I think CN has some new power containers. Not as smoky and exhaust-stained! Also, several other lines’ white containers will be marshalled around them. They’re quite striking in an entire multi-coloured train and usually at head-end or rail-end for quick removal and addition due to high value refrigerated or even frozen(?) lading.

    Thanks for sharing this lot of driving, Steve!
    Eric

    Reply
  2. Hi Steve,
    I have several questions for you about drones:
    1). I find that taking pictures in general and train pictures in particular takes all my concentration to get “that perfect shot”. So my question is. How can you take photos AND fly a drone at the same time without effecting the results of one or both?
    2). I live in Ottawa and a lot here was been written about recently “requiring” taking training before buying a drone. I have decided to buy a Mavic Mini at your advice. It weighs in at <250g. Is this true or is it just for the heavier drones?
    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Reply
    • Hi Ian, thanks for your questions. Generally I concentrate on the drone and picture taking is a bonus. For example I might have a telephoto lens on my camera and take a few shots as the train approaches, then switch to the drone control and pivot the drone as the train goes by. I’m always shooting video with the drone so it’s capturing even when I’m not paying attention to it.

      <250g drones do not require any license or training. The only Transport Canada directive for small drones is basically "don't be stupid".

      Keep in mind that if you add anything at all to your Mavic Mini, it may go above 250g and require a license to fly it.

      Reply

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