CP TEC Trains

Blog reader Paul La Rocque sent me these photos of a mysterious passenger train on the CP Emerson subdivision south of Winnipeg. He was wondering what type of train this was.

CP test train north of Niverville, MB - photo by Paul La Rocque
CP test train north of Niverville, MB – photo by Paul La Rocque

This is one of Canadian Pacific’s “TEC” trains, featuring a Track Evaluation Car (TEC) behind a generator car and a passenger car. These trains are usually hauled by a single locomotive and roam the rails, performing tests on the rails and taking video to find defects.

According to a CP article, the TEC trains use lasers and other instrumentation to measure the integrity of the roadbed and rails. I haven’t been able to find out exactly what they are measuring. I think it’s proprietary information…

TEC car CP 64 - photo by Paul La Rocque
TEC car CP 64 – photo by Paul La Rocque

The TEC in this case was CP 64, which my Trackside Guide tells me was originally the Florida East Coast Pullman Standard car “HOLLYWOOD” (built in 1954). The car was owned by the Seaboard Air Lines, then it became Amtrak #5476. In 1987 it was rebuilt to its current function.

It has a thick lead floor to give the car enough weight to simulate a loaded freight car. This is done to put enough force on the rails to cause any spreading or settling that a regular freight train might cause.

CP has at least two TEC trains, as you will see…

Thanks for the photos and inquiry, Paul, and for allowing me to share them here!

My First TEC Train

CP 63 and the TEC train in McAdam, June 2006
CP 63 and the TEC train in McAdam, June 2006

Back in 2006, the NB Southern Railway rented the TEC train from CP to evaluate their (ex CP) track. If you look at my blog posts from June 2006 you can see that I was really excited about this.

On Tuesday, June 20, 2006 the train came rolling through Harvey and McAdam, NB and I was able to chase it between those two locations.

TEC train in Harvey, New Brunswick
TEC train in Harvey, New Brunswick

You can read the full story here.

That train had CP 63 as the evaluation car. The data I had from that car showed it weighed 143 tons and was 86′ long. That’s heavy! The two other cars were CP 68 (accomodations) and CP 424993 (generator) with locomotive CP 8217.

TEC Train Back in New Brunswick

The TEC train returned to New Brunswick in July 2007. I chased the train from Cork to Fredericton Junction as it rolled toward Saint John. Blog post here.

This train was completely different than the one from 2006. It was CP’s “other” TEC train, with CP 8217 for power, CP 424994 as the generator car, CP 65 as the accomodation car, and CP 64 as the TEC car. The last two cars are stainless steel cars.

TEC Train in Minnedosa

TEC train in Minnedosa
TEC train in Minnedosa

In November 2014 I was out photographing trains and grain elevators in northernish Manitoba. As I drove through Minnedosa, I spotted a TEC train in the yard by the station. More here.

This train had locomotive CP 3020, CP 424994, CP 65, and CP 64. This is the same set of cars as I saw in New Brunswick in 2007.

Through the Fence

Fences make good neighbours but poor photos?
Fences make good neighbours but poor photos?

In early October 2016 I happened to spot a TEC train parked at the west end of CP’s yard in Winnipeg. This train had locomotive CP 3020, with the same 3 cars that I saw two years earlier in Minnedosa.

I photographed it through the fence, as it was not accessible any other way.

Just One More Thing

Here are some links to videos and other articles on test trains like this one.

6 thoughts on “CP TEC Trains”

  1. I saw the TEC train roll slowly east through Marquette a week or so back. I also wasn’t sure what it did, but I know now! Always good to learn something new. Thanks Steve.

  2. CP 63 measures:
    Track geometry – gage, cant, curvature
    GRMS – Gage Restraint Measurement System – applies 20klbs outward on the rails (trying to push them apart) and measures the displacement, one of the axles under the box car is split with a bunch of hydraulic cylinders on it
    JBIS – Joint Bar Inspection System – capable of finding 1/2mm wide cracks on joint bars at 60MPH (this is the bright lights on the track sides under the car).
    CP 64 measures does the same minus the GRMS

    • Hi Dave, thanks for that detail on CP 63 and 64. I think I’ve seen that GRMS abbreviation before but now I know what it is!

      I remember reading that CN’s TEST train has a split axle too.


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