Back Before 11 – Sprague Subdivision

Following on my previous post (Back Before 11 – Portage la Prairie), I went out again on Sunday, February 28 to do some railfanning before returning home at 11 with coffee in hand.

This time I decided to head east on the Sprague subdivision. As I approached Symington Yard, I saw that a train was under way, heading east. Perfect!

I passed it on the Trans-Canada Highway, which parallels the track for a while, and as I was doing that, the sun started to crest the horizon. I picked a spot and set up to capture the train.

The Eastbound

CN 3899 East juuuuust after sunrise

The sun had just cleared the horizon when the train arrived. I think I over-exposed the photo a bit. The train looked nice in the warm sunrise light… and arguably better going away than coming toward me.

Going away into the sunrise
Going away into the sunrise

As the train headed off into the sunrise, I shot the DPU locomotive as well.

Gleaming DPU CN 2852
Gleaming DPU CN 2852

After the train passed, I packed up and continued chasing it. They passed an intermodal train that was in the Lorette siding. I glanced at it as I passed, but I didn’t see anything unusual about it, so I resolved to continue the chase.

I thought really hard about photographing the eastbound train at this curve just east of Dufresne… hard enough to stop there and take a shot.

Thinking about the shot...
Thinking about the shot…

I quickly decided against it, for two reasons. One, I had photographed here several times recently (an example), and two, the sun went behind a cloud bank so there wouldn’t be sun on the nose of the locomotive.

Instead, I chose to drive a few kilometres further east to the automated rail inspection portal near Ste. Anne. I’ve had a fascination for these things for a while.

I had to set up quickly to be able to record the train rolling through.

CN 3899 through the rail inspection portal
CN 3899 through the rail inspection portal

I took video at both locations, and here it is.

As the end of the train rolled past me near Ste. Anne at 07:55, I noted that the east-facing signal was green. That indicated to me that a westbound train was going to be coming along. I decided to sit and wait.

The signal went out when the eastbound train cleared the block, so all I had to do is watch the signal to see if/when it lit again.

Long-time readers will know that I’m not very patient, but I think as I grow older, I am becoming a little more patient.

At about 08:20, the signal lit up. That was about a 25 minute wait.

I put my car in gear and drove to Dufresne. I wanted to try an angle with the grain elevator that I hadn’t tried before.

The Westbound

CN 2863 passing the Dufresne grain elevator
CN 2863 passing the Dufresne grain elevator

I’m not sure how I feel about this shot. I think it would be better in the afternoon or evening when the train isn’t backlit as much. I definitely should’ve run down into the ditch to get rid of the wires… but I wanted to be close to my car so I could jump back in and continue the chase.

I chased it toward Winnipeg and picked a spot a few kilometres out of the city to capture them at speed.

CN 2863 blowing some snow
CN 2863 blowing some snow

I am pretty happy with these photos. I like blowing snow.

The tank train had a locomotive at each end.

CN 3228 bringing up the rear
CN 3228 bringing up the rear

Here’s the video I took.

Wrapping Up

After that train passed, I checked Symington Yard and I didn’t see any trains ready to go. I decided to head up to CP’s main line and the Central Manitoba Railway (CEMR) yard to see if anything was going on there.

CP was quiet but I found CEMR 4000 shuffling cars around in the yard, crossing Day Street in the process.

CEMR 4000 working the yard in North Transcona
CEMR 4000 working the yard in North Transcona

On my way back around the city on the Perimeter Highway, I came across a line of traffic stopped at the CN main line. It turned out to be the same train that I had seen earlier in the morning in the Lorette siding. They had made their way to Transcona and were now stopped, blocking traffic. I think they must have been adding some more cars on the tail end before continuing east toward Ontario.

CN 3891, blocking traffic
CN 3891, blocking traffic

Eventually they pushed back toward the Transcona yard and we were free to go. I didn’t encounter any more trains on my way around the city. I stopped at Tim’s to get my wife’s coffee (none for me, I hate coffee) and arrived home with a good 15 minutes to spare before 11. It was a good morning.

Just One More Thing

I just finished reading No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy. I saw a recommendation for it by someone I trust, so I borrowed it from our library and read it over two evenings. It’s a good book, not too deep nor too fluffy.

I’m fortunate to work in a job that gives me a lot of flexibility and autonomy, so I don’t have a lot to complain about, but like any job, there can be some friction and some issues. This book gives great advice on how to selectively share your emotions at work while remaining professional. It’s about being human at your work. I liked it.

I also finished Death’s End by Cixin Liu, the last of a trilogy that is apparently was going to be a Netflix series before a lot of controversy erupted. That book took a lot longer than two nights to read.

I loved all three books in the series and I’m not sure which is my favourite. I will say that Death’s End made my head explode the most with the concepts it presented. Recommended.

As always, Amazon links here are affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if you buy anything by using these links.

2 thoughts on “Back Before 11 – Sprague Subdivision”

  1. Thanks for the photos, videos and literary recommendations! I’m no photographer, but the first shot of the Eastbound with the sun glinting off the hood looks great to me. I can picture the moment – the sun just cresting over the horizon and catching the train just right to reflect back at you. I can hear the music from 2001 A Space Odyssey…


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