Odd Ducks

I was acting on a little intel on May 1, 2021 when I went out in the late afternoon to make some train photos. A little birdie had told me that there were some interesting old switchers visible at the CN Transcona shops, and another little birdie told me that a CP heritage locomotive was coming into the city on train CP 119. Why not take a drive and kill two birds with one stone?

(maybe I’m mixing my metaphors a little too much!)

The first job was to catch CP 119. I had some idea of when it would reach Winnipeg but certainly not a precise time. On my way around the city to Deacon Road northeast of the city, I encountered a train leaving Winnipeg on the CN Sprague subdivision. I decided to chase it – a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!

Distractions

CN 3804 East
CN 3804 East

I chased this train from the Perimeter Highway east past the Lorette siding toward Dufresne. As I drove past, I noted there was a train in the siding at Lorette – more on that later. The eastbound train rolled right on past, free as a bird.

Well down in the eastbound train was one bright green rail car, POTX 1547, bearing Nutrien green. This was my first sighting of one of these cars.

Green Nutrien rail car
Green Nutrien rail car

Nutrien was formed by the merger of PotashCorp and Agrium, becoming the largest potash producer in the world and the third largest nitrogen fertilizer producer in the world. They own many rail cars like this, mostly pink PotashCorp or grey Agrium cars, but they did paint or repaint a few into Nutrien green. I don’t believe there are many of these cars around, because A) painting cars costs money, and B) the paint vandals just ruin them anyway.

Leaving off the chase at this point, I raced back toward Winnipeg to record the train that had been in the Lorette siding. It wasn’t moving too quickly so I was able to capture it on camera and on video.

Big movers
Big movers

This train also had a few interesting cars – two different ElastoFlo cars.

ElastoFlo car CCBX 59571
ElastoFlo car CCBX 59571

Sadly the graffiti vandals have crapped all over them, like Canada Geese crapping over, well, everything.

ElastoFlo car CCBX 59578
ElastoFlo car CCBX 59578

Hoping that my deviation from “the plan” hadn’t made me miss CP 119, I hurried on around the Perimeter Highway and made my way up to the CP Keewatin subdivision. As I crossed the tracks at Deacon Road, I looked east and saw headlights!

Right On Time

CP 119 on its way into Winnipeg
CP 119 on its way into Winnipeg

Quickly driving to one of my favourite spots, a culvert at mile 116.72 of the Keewatin subdivision, I set up to record the train. Sadly the heritage unit wasn’t in the lead, but at least CP 8077 was relatively clean.

The promised heritage unit, CP 7016, was in the middle of the train.

CP 7016 mid-train
CP 7016 mid-train

I’ve seen CP 7016 a few times now (Chasing the Maroon, The Maroon and the Military). I’m not really keeping track of which of the CP 7000 series I’ve seen, now that I’ve seen all five military units. I still like to see them!

The video is here.

With that done, it was time to go to Transcona to see what old junkers treasures could be seen. As the crow flies, it was 6.25 km to the Transcona yard, but it was 10.75 km for this non-avian railfan.

Dead as a Dodo

CN 1409, WC 1565, CN 1570 and GT 4620
CN 1409, WC 1565, CN 1570 and GTW 4620

Seven doomed locomotives were easily visible from Pandora Avenue:

  • CN 1409 – GMD1
  • WC 1565 – SW1500
  • CN 1570 – SW1500
  • GTW 4620 – GP9R
  • CN 7239 – GP9RM
  • CN 7028 – GP9RM
  • WC 1567 – SW1500

I’ve never seen so many SW1500s in one place. I guess birds of a feather flock together?

CN 7239, CN 7028, CN 1438, CN 225, WC 1567
CN 7239, CN 7028, CN 1438, CN 225, WC 1567

Poor CN 7239 looked in really rough shape, with the engineer’s window boarded over, number boards removed and many hood doors gaping open.

Battered and bruised CN 7239
Battered and bruised CN 7239

A few more locomotives were visible behind other equipment, like WC 1567 below.

WC 1567
WC 1567

Your eagle eye might have spotted a few BC Rail Dash-8 locomotives in the background as well. I understand they have all been retired now, along with the ugly duckling GMD1s and apparently some if not all SW1500s. I guess CN is cleaning house. I wonder what they will be using for switching operations…

More Oddballs

I left the area and started making my way home, driving south on Plessis Road past Symington Yard. I saw another unusual sight by the hump in the yard.

Jordan spreader CN 50937 in Winnipeg
Jordan spreader CN 50937 in Winnipeg

Jordan spreader CN 50937 was seen on work train duty in the Winnipeg area recently. Apparently it was having a little break in the yard between jobs, resting its wings. I was sure I had seen that spreader before, but it was 50943 I was thinking about.

On the other side of the hump was CN transfer caboose CN 76665.

Caboose and some oddball SD40s
Caboose and some oddball SD40s

One last thing that caught my eye was the set of power pushing cars over the hump. GTW 5943 and 5949 aren’t new to me, but that third unit was definitely “not like the others”.

Caboose CN 76665 and CN 5288
Caboose CN 76665 and CN 5288

CN 5288 was the first wide cab SD40-2 I’ve seen in hump service at Symington. I guess it’s sunk low enough on CN’s roster to be assigned to hump power!

With that, I headed home, happy as a lark.

10 thoughts on “Odd Ducks”

  1. Interesting shots! Did I see vultures circling CN 7239? And the writing quacked me up – it was rather emusing. Sorry my puns are a bit of ostrich.

    Reply
  2. I think those SD40s are the yard and industry switchers now and the SWs and GPs are off to the scrap lines. After all the talk of the CN heritage units, I expected 4620 to be a bit more inspiring. (TBH I didn’t think CN still had anything in GT or GTW colours).

    Reply
    • Hi Rick, I hope the GP9s and GP38s stick around for a while at least.

      I understand there are still a fair number of GT blue units running around, mostly in the US.

      Reply
  3. It looks like the day is getting nearer when CN won’t have any smaller four axle switchers on the roster. Get your pictures while you can. I agree that the 7239 is in really rough shape. I would also note that judging from the front steps, it has a bent pilot or perhaps even a bent frame. Through one of the open hood doors, I see that there is also a porthole cover missing from the engine block.

    Something that is interesting to me is that behind the Jordan spreader is KLEX 1124. This was a Wheat Board hopper and was part of CN’s grain fleet. Originally, it would have had a CNWX reporting mark and later a CN mark There is another ex-CWB car in the wider angle photo of the hump power. It appears to have been renumbered too, but I can’t quite make out the number. These cars were built in 1979 and 1980 and are getting ever closer to the AAR’s 50 year interchange rule. I guess that CN has decided that these cars don’t belong in their fleet anymore.

    That’s a lot of green on the Nutrien hopper.

    Reply
    • Four axle power is going the way of the dodo for sure.

      CN and CP have both been buying huge fleets of jumbo hoppers, so the old “Coke can” hoppers are being sold off or scrapped. I know a few of the western shortlines have bought a bunch to serve their customers.

      Reply
  4. I photographed CN 50937 at Portage in 1985, so it’s been in your area off and on for decades.

    Four-axle power definitely has rare-bird status!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Eric

    Reply
  5. Nice shot of the Nutrien car ; I probably won’t get to see one around Montreal without it being loaded with graffiti. There are still a few 4 axle yard jobs around Montreal, one rough looking one in Coteau that I plan to catch this week. Always enjoy your blogs !

    Reply
    • Hi Steve, I hope they don’t get loaded with graffiti!

      Definitely shoot those 4 axle jobs!

      Thanks for the compliment and thanks for reading!

      Reply

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