A Quick Moncton Visit

I was in Moncton, New Brunswick for a quick visit several weeks ago. I was there for work, so I didn’t take many photos of trains, but I’ll share what I did take. As you can see from the lead photo, I caught VIA Rail’s “Ocean” coming into the city.

Chateau Brule

Currently VIA is running the Ocean once a week in each direction between Montreal and Halifax. This is down from the pre-pandemic thrice-weekly schedule, and way down from the six-days-a-week schedule it really should return to.

The train itself has changed, too, but not because of the pandemic. The train used to be turned around on a loop track at PSA Halifax (formerly Halterm) near the Halifax station, but PSAdecided they wanted the space for more containers, so they informed VIA Rail that they would lose access to the loop.

A lot of options were discussed – including reactivating the wye at Windsor Junction and backing up all the way to Truro to turn – but in the end, VIA decided to run the Ocean with two locomotives back-to-back and run the engines around the train at Halifax for the journey west. This means a few things:

  • Some cars are going to run backwards
  • No Park car on the rear of the train
  • Baggage cars on both ends of the train

The VIA 15 I saw had stainless steel Budd cars on the head end, and Renaissance cars on the rear. Since the Renaissance cars have their own weirdo European couplers, they need adapter cars on each end to couple to North American equipment. One end is a baggage car and the other is one of the “transition” cars that VIA had built when they acquired the Ren equipment.

This Ocean had four Chateau sleeper cars on it. The first two Chateau cars were facing the “right” way, but the next two were backwards. The same orientation was apparent for the two Budd coaches (8104 and 8118).

VIA 8104
VIA 8104

I caught the train at Mountain Road by the former Moncton high school, as it rolled into Moncton from Halifax. I was fortunate that the train was more or less on time and there was still light to photograph it with.

I was on foot, since I didn’t have a rental car, so I hoofed it from there over to the VIA Rail station downtown to try to photograph the train again. It’s a good two kilometre walk, so by the time I arrived, the train was ready to leave. I did manage a couple of photos of the tail end before it rolled off toward Montreal.

The tail end of the train at the station
The tail end of the train at the station

The track in downtown Moncton has changed a lot since I first saw it. CN has removed the small yard downtown and all that remains are two station tracks and a bypass track.

Gordon Yard

CN 4794 working in Moncton
CN 4794 working in Moncton

After my work was over, I rented a car and drove to Fredericton to visit my mother for the first time in a year and a half. On the way, I stopped by CN’s Gordon Yard for a few minutes.

There were a few sets of power in Gordon Yard:

  • CN 4794 was actively switching container flats
  • CN 9576 and GMTX 2695 were at rest at the far side of the yard
  • CN 2321, BCOL 4642 and CN 8844 were beside the former shops
  • CN 3815, CN 2693 and CN 2871 were also beside the former shops
Three of many locomotives in Gordon Yard
Three of many locomotives in Gordon Yard

Delong Drive runs along the edge of Gordon Yard but you need a decent telephoto lens on your camera. You may see a private security vehicle drive by and give you a look, but it’s a public road…

That was all the railfanning I did. I was happy that I caught the Ocean and I was pleased to see one of the blue GMTX leasers that CN is using. We don’t have those in Winnipeg.

Just One More Thing

Here are a few other Moncton railfanning posts you might like…

2 thoughts on “A Quick Moncton Visit”

  1. Steve – Great shots of train from Mountain Road Bridge – Lots of changes in Moncton as the Double Tracks in and out of Moncton are gone – Lot less train movements as well – kind of sad but hope it will come back as its needed ! – If I knew you were here I could have met you with my car – that would have saved some time getting back to the station.

    Kind regards

    • Hi Richard, thanks for the comment! I remember when the double track over 15 was taken out, but the downtown track has changed a lot in the last 10-15 years. Less trains but keep hoping for more Halifax traffic.

      It was kind of a spur of the moment thing to catch VIA – I had it in the back of my mind to try and the opportunity came up so I took it.

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