Crazy Railfans

Conductor: “Clear signal.”
Engineer: “Clear.”
C: “It should be clear all the way past Meadows. RTC says we have a meet at Marquette. 298.”
E: “Gotcha.”

If it wasn’t so overcast, the crew of train 411 would have seen the sun rising as they left Winnipeg. As it was, the temperature was a cool -7 Celsius, not bad for late November in the Prairies, with some blowing snow.

E: “What’s that car doing there at the crossing?”
C: “Looks like another crazy railfan. Give him a toot.”
C: “At least he gave us a wave. Looks like an older guy.”
E: “Bit early for the foamers to be out.”
C: “Ehh, you old guys wake up early.”
E: “Not me, boy, I can sleep in ’til noon. If my wife lets me, anyway.”

The train rolls under the Perimeter Highway and the engineer blows the horn in the familiar long-long-short-long pattern as they roll through the crossing near the Viterra grain elevator.

C: “Huh. There’s that railfan again, on the side of the road.”
E: “Hope the road’s in decent shape. With the bit of snow we got overnight, it might be a tad slippy.”

C: “At least we can see OK. If there was much more snow down, that snow and this wind would make it awfully hard to see.”

E: “There he goes again. Making good time. Guess the road’s OK after all.”
C: “He’ll lose time going through Rosser, speed limit’s 50.”
E: “Assumes he only drives 50!”
C: “Yup.”

Train 411 passes another clear signal at the west end of Makwa siding. From here it’s another 10 miles to the next siding at Meadows. The speed limit west of Makwa is the maximum for the subdivision, 60 MPH. The engineer carefully brings the train up to speed. The combined 8800 horsepower of the two locomotives means they have no trouble hauling the train at track speed.

C: “I was sure he was going to drop his camera there.”
E: “Yeah, wonder if he actually got a shot off.”
C: “Well, that’s the last we’ll see of him for a while.”

Train 411 is a general freight train that runs from Winnipeg, MB to Moose Jaw, SK. This train has a variety of cars on it, and behind the locomotives are 13 refrigerated boxcars that will be dropped off in Portage la Prairie for local industries.

E: “I miss the grain elevator at Meadows.”
C: “Why?”
E: “Just something to break up the trip. That and the one at Marquette.”
C: “Speaking of Marquette.. there’s the signal. Medium to clear.”
E: “Medium to clear.”

The engineer eases off on the throttle, starting to slow the train down so they will pass the signal at mile 22 at “medium” speed, 30 MPH.

C: “Oh, there’s that railfan again. Now he’s getting ahead of us.”
E: “Crazy railfans and their leapfroggin’ the train. How many pictures do you need of the same train?”
C: “Yeah, really.”

C: “There’s our meet up ahead.”
E: “Yup. Hope the RTC’s on the ball and we don’t have to stop.”

The rail traffic controller (RTC) remotely operated the switch ahead of time to route train 411 into the siding. The train takes the siding and continues rolling along. The engineer has dimmed CP 8016’s headlights to avoid blinding the opposing train.

C: “Looks like that locomotive’s one of those military ones.”
E: “Yeah, they still have that new car smell.”
C: “Better than the recycled farts in this one.”
E: “He who smelt it, dealt it.”

In a time-honoured tradition, the crews of the two trains give a wave as they pass on parallel tracks. The engineer puts the headlights back on full power after the locomotives pass each other.

E: “Imagine that railfan’s going to chase that train.”
C: “Yep, I see he’s turning around. Peeling out of town.”
E: “Crazy railfans.”

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