Every now and then I like to drop in at the south end of CN’s Symington Yard in Winnipeg to see what’s going on at the hump yard. There’s almost always at least one train being pushed over the hump and sometimes two trains at once.
CN usually has three hump sets in the area – one or two in action and the other on standby. On July 24 there were these three:
- GTW 5946, GTW 5948, CN 6015, CN 255
- CN 6016, IC 6204, CN 200, CN 6005
- GTW 5945, CN 6xxx, CN 5xxx, CN ???
Let’s look at each set.
GTW 5946 et cetera
The “left” two locomotives are both Grand Trunk Western units, GTW 5946 and 5948. 5946 has been painted in standard CN colours but 5948 is still in its gray and yellow from when it was shared with the Kansas City Southern. Apparently CN and KCS leased a group of SD40-3 locomotives from Alstom and shared them, with CN getting them for 6 months and KCS getting them for the rest of the year.
Looking closely you can still see the “Owned by ALSTOM” and “P.B.M. By ALSTOM” lettering, and the “G.T.W.” in faded duct tape under the cab number. I have no idea what the “P.B.M.” is.
CN 6016 et cetera
A pair of standard CN SD40-2 locomotives bracketed a slug (CN 200) and an Operation Lifesaver unit, IC 6204.
IC 6204 is another SD40-3, built in November 1976 as BN 6755 as an SD40-2. At some point it was acquired by the Illinois Central, and later rebuilt with new electronics to gain that -3 suffix.
It has the Operation Lifesaver logo on the long hood and the Illinois Central logo on the nose of the short hood.
Note the crew working the hump in the background. They “cut” cars at the appropriate place so they can roll down the hump onto the right track. I don’t know the meaning of what the display board is showing but I assume it’s telling them where to cut.
If you really pay attention you’ll see a tank car rolling down the hump on the right, and you can tell which photo was taken first by the position of the tank car!
GTW 5945 et cetera
From the location I was at (Fermor Avenue), I couldn’t see what the other locomotives behind GTW 5945 were. The closer one is CN 6xxx and the other is CN 5xxx, and I assume there is a slug behind these three.
I can’t guess what the other units are because these hump sets are often shuffled around. For example, in September 2018 I saw three GTW units together (5945, 5946, 5948) yet here they are separate.
Whither the GP38s?
It was a little unusual that there were no GP38 sets here. If you visited Symington in past decades, the CN 75xx locomotives were the hump locomotives (usually two GP38s with two slugs) but those are much rarer now. I think some of the CN 75xx locomotives and slugs have been lost due to accidents, and I’ve heard that they just aren’t powerful enough now to push longer trains over the hump. CN extended the pullback tracks to Navin several years ago to be able to hump longer trains.
Just One More Thing
I took the photos in this post from Fermor Avenue and Plessis Road, which run across the south and east sides of the yard respectively. The unusual thing was I did it from my bicycle!
I’ve been doing a lot of cycling this summer, both to get more in shape and also because I enjoy it. I enjoy pushing myself and seeing how far I can go and how fast I can go. I’m not a slow cyclist, just like I’m not a slow walker.
As a data guy, I like to track my progress. I use Strava (follow me there) to record my routes and distances and give me some stats, and I have a FitBit Charge 2 on my wrist that records my heart rate, steps, and so forth.
You can see I’ve been doing a lot in the past month. Why didn’t I bike much in June and early July? Two reasons – I hurt my back in June, and in early July we went to Banff.
Do you bike? Leave a comment!