After the PDC

Early in the summer of 2021, the Prairie Dog Central participated in the filming of The Porter, a CBC miniseries about Black railway porters. The PDC’s train went to downtown Winnipeg and was a key character in the series. I photographed it going downtown, and on June 12 I photographed its return to Inkster Junction.

As I was driving away from Inkster Junction, I saw that a train was approaching from the west. I drove to my favourite private crossing at mile 8.1 of the CP Carberry subdivision (here) to capture it.

Canadian Pacific train led by red locomotives, between two signals

This train had two locomotives on the head end, and another one mid-train.

Several double-stacked red CP containers on a train

The front end was all containers, with quite a few CP domestic containers in a block.

Red CP locomotive in the middle of a train

The mid-train locomotive was at the juncture between containers on the head end of the train and general freight on the rear. This is normal for CP around here. It’s kind of like the mullet of trains – business in front (containers) and party in the back (general freight).

Railway freight cars

These coal cars were so dirty that I couldn’t read which railway owns them. Maybe CP?

As the tail end of the train passed, I saw there was another train following it into Winnipeg. I decided to relocate a mile or two west to CP Makwa to include the Viterra grain elevators there.

Canadian Pacific Railway container train passing concrete grain elevators

What a dirty lead locomotive! Maybe it was in coal service at some point.

This was another container train, with locomotives in a different arrangement – one in front, one in the middle, and one on the tail end. This train had containers and a few autoracks on the tail end, with no general freight.

Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive in the middle of a container train

I was pleased to see some of the new 60 foot Canadian Tire containers on this train. This one is on top of a 53′ container.

60' long Canadian Tire container on top of a train

Shipping containers come in several lengths – 53′, 40′ and 20′ are the most common. 20′ and 40′ containers are used internationally (via ships) and 53′ containers are used in North America on trains and trucks (more on containers).

60′ containers were too long for normal trucks, but Canadian Tire has been working with provincial regulators and CP to make it work. With day cabs and a new trailer, the combined length of tractor and the trailer with the 60′ container will not exceed existing vehicle length limits. It might be hard to get around some corners, though!

Canadian Tire has been stepping up its transportation investments. In 2021 it bought a 25% stake in the Ashcroft BC inland terminal. Their Bolton distribution centre in Ontario is a marvel of automation. That’s a lot of tires! (and other things)

For comparison, here’s a 53′ container on the same train, on top of a 40′ container.

53' long Canadian Tire shipping container on top of a container train

Here’s a closeup of a 60′ container. You can see the 60′ markings at left on the Canadian Tire container, and at right on the CP domestic container The rail car, DTTX 724636, has a 53′ marking at bottom left.

Red Canadian Tire shipping container on top of a grey CP container

Anyway, enough talk about containers! If you want to know more about containers, I highly recommend The Box by Marc Levinson. I wrote a review of the book a decade ago. A decade ago. Sheesh.

Red Canadian Pacific locomotive on the tail end of a train

One more locomotive on the tail end, along with a sextet of auto rack cars.

Here’s the video of the second train:

Just One More Thing

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with their opinions (The Road Forward) on whether to split the non-train content off of this site. The majority said no, and I agree with that.

You don’t need my permission to skip over the posts you don’t care to read. I’ll probably keep a 1-2 post per week frequency, although I am not posting on Tuesday and Friday every week like I used to.

I also plan to share the occasional short update on my mailing list, so if you want a little extra content, and to be notified weekly of new posts, sign up! It’s free!

4 thoughts on “After the PDC”

  1. Just out of curiosity, how much business does CP do with coal these days? I know that the thermal energy market in Eastern Canada is very limited, not sure about the west. I figure much of the domestic production is for export via BC. Is this still a big part of CP’s operations in the west?

    Reply
  2. Hey Steve West, the colors in this post (not counting the coal cars) seem spot on and vibrant, I don’t know why, maybe night shift is catching up to me.
    Nah!
    I’ll give credit to the guy behind the lens. keep up the posts,posts,posts etc.

    Steve East

    Reply

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