CP in Alberta and Saskatchewan – David Othen

Canadian Pacific operates a single track mainline (originally built by Cornelius van Horne) that runs east to west from Winnipeg, Manitoba through Regina, Saskatchewan to Calgary, Alberta and then through the Rockies into British Columbia and eventually all the way to Vancouver.

East of Calgary the route is through relatively flat and dry prairie that is crossed by deep river gullies flowing east and south. A secondary mainline runs east from Edmonton through Saskatoon to Winnipeg but the terrain is not so flat.

A network of branch lines feed these lines. No passenger service now operates on either the branch or main lines.

Mainline freights are generally hauled by SD40s, SD40-2s and SD40-2Fs. Heavy trains, especially grain and potash trains, may include mid-train helpers that stay with the train all the way through the mountains to Vancouver and back.

Branch lines are generally operated with GP38ACs & GP38-2s though the line from Calgary to Edmonton sees up to twelve trains each way per day with a selection of all types of power.

East to West Along the Main Line

In our first photo a CP SD40-2 # 6010 and a leased GP38 HATX 111 (ex CSXT 2129 nee C&O 4829) head a mixed freight past the grain elevators at Mortlach, Saskatchewan on 26 June 1997.

Here we see CP 5623 (SD40-2), HLCX 5017 (SD40 ex CRL 602 nee CR/PC 6277) and HLCX 6501 (SD40-3 ex C&NW SD45 6532 ex CR/PC/PRR 6197) passing the Brooks aqueduct, Alberta
on 27 June 1997.

In this photo CP 5867 & 6065 are working as mid-train helpers on a westbound (loaded) potash train near Brooks, Alberta on 28 June 1997.

The flat prairies are clearly seen in this picture at Dunmore, Alberta where four CP SD40-2s (5728, 5573, 5674 & 5774) head a double stacked container train eastwards.

Another eastbound container train is hauled through Gleischen, Alberta by CP 5797 & 5848 with SD 40-2 HLCX 6215 (ex HLCX 6388, exx SOO 6388 nee MILW 200:2)

Several trains originate or terminate on the SOO line system and SOO power is commonly mixed with CP power on these and other freights.

Here we see four SD40-2s westbound at Gleischen, Alberta with a grain train. Two are SOO locomotives and 780 has been repainted in the CP Rail System dual flag livery without any SOO markings while 763 retains its red and white SOO livery. The two CP locomotives are led by 5971 with 5766 behind.

Finally we backtrack to Brooks for our last shot on the main line. We see a ballast train with caboose waiting in a siding near Brooks, Alberta for a hot shot freight to pass on 27 June 1997.

Between Calgary and Edmonton

Next we view traffic on the line between Calgary and Edmonton. At Red Deer crews are changed and many trains are marshalled in the new yards which have been relocated from downtown.

Here we see a grain train leaving the south end of the yards headed by six engines on 10 June 1995. The locomotives are CP 3120, 3050, 3064, an unidentified SD 40-2, 3035 and another GP38. Local branchline power is usually sent to Calgary for servicing on the weekends and this is happening here since the locomotive tracks in the wye on the left are empty except for a caboose.

Two GP38s are about to leave the north end of Red Deer yards on 23 August 1991. 3018 is a GP38 while 3123 is a GP38-2.

Slightly further north we see two GP38ACs (3123 & 3033) with a rebuilt road switcher GP9u (8217) in between them on a northbound freight on 22 June 1997.

Finally we see three CP SD40-2s returning from Blackfalds, Alberta with loaded ethylene glycol tank cars on 23 June 1997. The second and third units have been converted to “B” units and the windows are painted over so that they cannot be used as lead units. Two or three ethylene glycol trains leave each week for Port Moody, BC or Chicago.


Calgary, Alberta has a large yard complex called the Alyth yards. Adjacent is the motive power servicing facility where 100 or more locomotives are serviced daily. For the last few years CP has leased about 200 units and many of these are seen here. Although CP has purchased over 100 new GE AC4400 units I only saw two here during my two visits in June 1997. The final shots are taken at Alyth yards.

This photo taken on 18 June 1995 shows the Alyth motive power depot and on the right an eastbound coal train. A mixture of units are seen. From left to right we see an unidentified CP GP9u, CP 3111 (GP38-2), HATX 211 (GP38-2 ex UP/MP2077), MKCX 9528 (SD45 ex SOO 6491, exx BN 6678, nee SLSF 931) and CP 5812 (SD40-2).

The yards are switched by GP7us and GP9us together with a couple of rebuilt F7B units.

In 1995 the F7B units still operated under their own power and here we see GP9u 1557 & 1521 which were rebuilt by Canadian Pacific surrounding F7B 6800. They are in a very faded almost pink livery.

By 1997 the F7B units had been de-engined and become “daughters” and also had been repainted in the deeper red livery. On the right we see “daughter” 1019 (ex 6801 nee 4462) surrounded by GP9u “mothers” 1559 and 1526.

Recently some of the yard switching units have been in deep red SOO livery. Here we see CP GP7u 1503 with SOO GP9R 4202 switching the east end of Alyth yard on 15 June 1997.

"B" unit SOO 6450 in Alyth yard, June 15, 1999.
“B” unit SOO 6450 in Alyth yard, June 15, 1999.

Back to David Othen’s Canadian Train Photos

Material on this page is copyright 1997-2012 by Pat and David Othen. Reproduced here with permission of David’s widow Pat.

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