Hot Times on the CPR

Around Winnipeg, CN runs a lot more trains than CP does. I’d say you can see three times as many trains on CN west of the city. However, the ratio was a little more even on June 20, 2021.

I set out early on that Sunday to do my usual western circuit – Winnipeg toward Portage la Prairie and back, either following CN or CP tracks. On this day I started on CP up near Rosser at the northwest corner of Winnipeg.


Closeup of locomotive with mismatched numbers

The train gods awarded me an eastbound train, led by CP 8805 with mismatched number boards.

I caught them at mile 8.1 at 06:30. I’ve photographed here many times, so I decided to process this one in black and white for something different.

Black and white view of a Canadian Pacific locomotive

You might have noticed in the closeup of the number boards above that one of the signals was showing green over red. It turned out that there was a westbound train approaching on the north track. There are two tracks from the yard west to CP Makwa near the Viterra grain elevator, with the south track being the “main” and the north being a siding.

CP 8805 East blocked my view of the westbound train initially, but I juuuust managed to catch the two trains in one shot as the trailing unit of the eastbound train passed by.

Two Canadian Pacific trains passing

I decided to chase west to Portage la Prairie, not expecting to catch up to them. Trains roll right along on the CP line, often at 60 MPH.


I didn’t catch them before Portage la Prairie. I managed the above photo from the road several kilometres south of the track, but they pulled away after that. As I approached Portage la Prairie, I saw the train entering the city before me. I decided to circle around the city on the highway while they were forced to go through the yard at a slower pace.

I set up under the highway overpass near the Richardson oat plant (former Can-Oat) on the west side of the city. By this time (07:30) the sky was clearing, and the clouds were quite dramatic to the east.

A Canadian Pacific train with a dramatic sky behind it

Just west of Portage la Prairie on the CP Carberry subdivision is the Coney siding, and CP 8744 East was there to meet the westbound train. I spotted them as I was driving west, so I turned around and parked near the overpass to catch the eastbound train.

View of Canadian Pacific container train

If you look at the horizon above and to the right of the lead locomotive, you’ll see a string of boxcars in the distance. That was an eastbound train on the CN Rivers subdivision coming into Portage la Prairie. Even outside the city, the two lines are pretty close together for a while.

I saw that CN train and decided to catch it on the east side of the city. Back around the highway I went!

A Little CN

A CN train under a beautiful blue sky

I just barely caught them at 07:57 as they went under the highway on their way toward Winnipeg.

Since I was there on the east side of the city, why not catch that eastbound CP train again? I drove north a few kilometres to the road 34 crossing of the CP main line near the Tucker grain elevator. Instead of the eastbound train, I was surprised to find a westbound train first. It took the siding by the elevator to wait its turn. Sadly the sun was behind a cloud at the time…

Train near a grain elevator

At 08:13 CP 8744 came around the bend and I caught it just before it entered the gloom that I was standing in.

Canadian Pacific train rounding a bend near some signals

It wasn’t long before CP 9713 West started rolling. Before they got underway, I grabbed a wide view of the train and the impressive clouds. Fortunately the sun was back out to play.

Canadian Pacific train under dramatic clouds

The train proceeded into Portage la Prairie. As it passed, I noted the locomotives – CP 9713, CP 7050 and CP 2325. They ended up stopping in Portage la Prairie – probably to set off CP 2325 and some of the cars on the head end (covered hoppers and refrigerated boxcars).

I photographed them at 08:46 from 3rd Street in Portage la Prairie but I didn’t stick around.

Taking Stock

Between 06:30 and 08:46 I captured five trains:

  • CP 8805 East
  • CP 9365 West
  • CN 2906 East
  • CP 8744 East
  • CP 9713 West

That’s a lot for Canadian Pacific around here!

I decided that I had pushed my luck enough with CP, and it was time to visit CN. I headed for Nattress… and that’s another post.

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