New and Old: BC Rail 4650 to 4654

Back in October 5, 2000, someone* caught several brand-spanking new BC Rail locomotives being shipped through Ontario. These GE-built C44-9W locomotives were the last new locomotives purchased by BC Rail before its absorption into CN.

* regretfully I do not know who the photographer was

The five locomotives were 4651, 4650, 4654, 4653 and 4652, the last five of order #1927 for ten locomotives numbered from 4645 to 4654. These ten were equipped for distributed power.

BC Rail’s previous order #1832 was for four locomotives, 4641 to 4644, built in March 1995 as an add-on to CN’s order for 23 units. These initial four were delivered in the red, white and blue BC Rail scheme and kept that paint well into the CN era.

I photographed all five of these units in the years since they were acquired** by CN.

I am not sure if these are still roaming the rails. Several if not all were sidelined by CN during an economic downturn and could be seen in the storage lines at Transcona yard in Winnipeg. Some might still be there!

** I’m never quite sure how to talk about the CN-BC Rail deal. CN paid a billion dollars to the British Columbia government to acquire BC Rail’s shares. The province continues to own the land under the rails and CN has a 60-year renewable lease. I believe CN owns the locomotives but they continue(d) to carry BCOL reporting marks, like other “fallen flags” under the CN umbrella.

BCOL 4650

I saw BCOL 4650 three times – from 2010 to 2022. Here’s a very grimy 4650 in October 2011 in Winnipeg. Those shiny silver trucks didn’t last forever!

BCOL 4651

May 2017: BCOL 4651 was trailing on this train rolling near Kamloops in its home province, albeit on CN rails. I only saw 4651 a few times, from 2012 to 2019.

BCOL 4652

BCOL 4652 was part of a magical consist of locomotives on CN 308 back in May 2009. It wasn’t even the only BC Rail unit on the train – 4608 in glorious red, white and blue was the fifth unit – and an Illinois Central locomotive also graced the train.

David Morris and I were chasing train CN 308 from Quebec into New Brunswick and first caught them in Rivière Blue, Quebec, passing the historic train station. That’s David up at the crossing.

The best view of that train was at Lac Baker, New Brunswick. Here’s a video of the train.

BCOL 4653

The first time I photographed BCOL 4653 was on March 30, 2010 in Winnipeg at the Waverley Road crossing. I saw it several times in the Winnipeg area, and the last time I photographed it was on October 24, 2020.

BCOL 4654

Out of these five locomotives, I think I saw 4654 the least – twice. The photo above is from the last time, November 2013.