Kitchener Railfanning, Reloaded

I visited the Kitchener-Waterloo region of Ontario recently to visit my son and daughter-in-law. I’m grateful that the pandemic restrictions have eased enough that I was able to do that, since I hadn’t seen them in a very long time. We managed to squeeze in a bit of railfanning while I was there.

On my way to see them, I stopped by the Kitchener VIA/GO Transit station and happened to catch VIA 84 as it made a brief station stop. I saw VIA 84 on a previous visit to Kitchener here!

The train had battered P42DC VIA 919 on the head end, with twin VIA 918 on the tail. In between, a quartet of ancient stainless steel Budd cars.

VIA 84 loading at Kitchener
VIA 84 loading at Kitchener

While I was waiting for the train to depart – so I could take video – a woman approached me and asked if I could help her use a machine to get a GO Transit ticket.

After I convinced myself that this wasn’t some sort of scam, I stammered that I really had no idea how to use the machine but I would try to help. Fortunately, the menu prompts were clear, and within a few minutes, I had helped her purchase a bus ticket to get her to Bramalea.

Just after that transaction, VIA 84 departed and I recorded the occasion on my phone. That’s the historic J.R. Krug factory in the background.

VIA 84 departing Kitchener Ontario

After that, I met up with my son and we went biking around the area. There are a number of trails in the area, and we took two of them. It was a good day for cycling.

First, we had to visit the CN yard in Kitchener. This used to be switched by the Goderich & Exeter railway but CN has taken the Guelph subdivision over after the shortline’s lease expired on November 15, 2018.

We were lucky and caught CN switching across Lancaster Street (here).

CN 4130 was the lead locomotive, and I was very pleased to see an old friend trailing.

CN 7038 in Kitchener, ON
CN 7038 in Kitchener, ON

CN 7038 was a common sight in Saint John, New Brunswick back in late 2000 and early 2001. At the time, CN had a trio of GP9RM locomotives for local switching in the city and I definitely remember 7038. I made a list of GP9s seen in Saint John almost 15 years ago.

Sheesh, I’ve been blogging for a long time.

I recorded a brief video of the train pulling across the street.

CN 4130 and 7038 switching in Kitchener, Ontario

Once the train cleared the crossing, cars and pedestrians started moving across. I spotted one person crossing on our side and recognized her. I called out to her and we had a good chat by the tracks.

We went to the same university back in New Brunswick many, many years ago. I follow her on Instagram and she’s a great artist. I knew she lived in Kitchener but it was quite a coincidence to actually run into her.

Nick and I continued on our bike ride and ended up riding beside the ION light rail line in the south of Kitchener. The ION tram system is part of the Grand River Transit system that serves the Kitchener – Waterloo – Cambridge – Elmira – St. Jacobs – New Hamburg area. It consists of various types of bus routes, as well as the ION light rail and ION bus rapid transit routes started in 2015. You can see the ION route map here.

ION tram in Kitchener, Ontario
ION tram in Kitchener, Ontario

We ate a late lunch at a restaurant in south Kitchener (Chuck’s Roadhouse, very good), then took our bikes aboard the ION tram and rode it north to Waterloo.

You can see this very brief video of an ION light rail vehicle I took.

That was the end of my Kitchener-area railfanning – other than a brief visit to the Waterloo Central tourist railway and the nearby St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle model railway.

It was good to see my son again in person. I’ll do my best to see him again soon.

You might be interested to read when I was in Kitchener-Waterloo in mid-October 2017

Just One More Thing

Hey Canadians!


4 thoughts on “Kitchener Railfanning, Reloaded”

  1. Great video, Steve ! I really enjoyed seeing those interesting albeit short videos, I had never seen the Kitchener ION tram. And a Canadian Wheat Board hopper, which we won’t see any more shortly. I caught a Saskatchewan hopper when I was out railfanning Friday in the Sorel, Quebec area. Thanks for posting, keep ’em comin’ .

    • Hi Steven, glad you liked the short videos. I hadn’t seen the ION in operation in my last visit to Kitchener-Waterloo, so it was nice to see and ride it. I agree that the CWB and other “Trudeau hoppers” won’t be around much longer.

  2. Steve, I often visit those exact spots with my kids. We usually go to the Smile Tiger Coffee shop (I know, the name is quirky) just east of the Kitchener station, and hang out looking for trains with really good coffee and treats. Pre-COVID I’ve taken the kids for a ride on the ION for a little adventure. Lots of places to explore along the route (I highly recommend the Clay and Glass museum and the “M” Museum, even though it’s aimed at kids). Glad you got to the Waterloo Central Shops and St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle – another favourite haunt with the kids – an another great coffee shop nearby (the EcoCafe). Yes, many of my adventures revolve around the procurement and consumption of coffee… and spending time with the kids, of course!

    • Hi Brian, it helps to combine railfanning with something else, like coffee and/or treats! It certainly helps to convince the kids to come along.

      I’ll keep those museums in mind for the next visit!

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