VIA’s Churchill Train, Coming and Going

I was out looking for trains on my birthday this year. I spent the morning doing a little night photography and chasing the GWWD train. In between, I managed to capture VIA Rail’s Churchill-to-Winnipeg train and later the Winnipeg-to-Churchill train… by accident.

Coming

VIA 692 passing the mile 17.9 signals
VIA 692 passing the mile 17.9 signals

I was doing some night photography by the signal lights at mile 17.9 of the CN Rivers subdivision. While taking photos from various angles – from the road, not trespassing – I noticed the west facing signal had turned green.

“A freight train is coming,” thought I.

Soon I saw headlights in the distance, so I launched my drone and had it hover on the north side of the tracks while I set up my video camera on the south side to cover both sides. Soon the train came into full view, and it was pretty short and moving fast. A late VIA!

The Churchill train is due into Winnipeg at 16:45, so to see it after 07:00 on the following day means it was more than 14 hours late. Whoops!

Here’s the video.

A late VIA in the early morning

The “going away” shot into the sunrise was pretty sweet.

VIA into the sunrise
VIA into the sunrise

I thought that would be the last I saw of VIA that day. It was a surprise birthday present!

Readying

"Love the way" in downtown Winnipeg
“Love the way” in downtown Winnipeg

After that, I made my way through the downtown area to check out the CP yard, and as I passed Union Station I saw that there was a VIA train just to the east of the station. I assumed it was the same train I had just seen, although a thought was rattling around in the back of my head. “How did they get turned around so fast?”

After seeing “not much” happening at the CP yard, I came back downtown and parked in one of the surface parking lots at the Forks and paid my fee.

I decided to try a few different photo angles to capture the train and the surrounding city. I don’t photograph downtown as much as I should, so I took advantage of the nice morning sunlight and the presence of the train.

Western Canada Lottery and VIA Rail
Western Canada Lottery and VIA Rail

While I was wandering around the parking lot, taking photos, an SUV pulled up and the woman inside asked if I was with the parking authority. “Um, no.” She was wondering if I was taking photos of the cars in the lot. I told her I was photographing the train, not the cars, and she seemed OK with that.

I guess I looked a little weird / suspicious on the surveillance video…

Going a little wider
Going a little wider

I tried capturing the train with the downtown “skyscrapers” in the frame, but I couldn’t get enough height. Maybe there’s an angle from the Forks buildings themselves? This would be a GREAT place for a drone shot but of course you can’t legally fly a drone here.

Wishing for a little height
Wishing for a little height

I think the shot below with the Wawanesa Insurance building ended up being my favourite.

Wawanesa

Maybe I should have stepped a bit to the right and cropped in farther.

I’m not 100% satisfied with these photos. More study is needed.

Going

Passing the 5G tower
Passing the 5G tower

In the afternoon, my wife accompanied me as I drove to Ware House Hobbies to buy a few model train items. She’s great! I don’t say that enough.

Anyway, as we crossed over the CN Rivers subdivision, I saw VIA to the east. I quickly pulled off the road and hopped out with my camera to grab them as they left the city.

It turned out to be a completely different train than the one that I saw in the morning… despite having a “love the way” locomotive lead a “Renaissance” locomotive, just like the morning train. Details matter, I guess.

I took several shots but I like the one below the best. It captures a bunch of details – the new 5G cell tower in the background, the hotbox detector at mile 10 that the train is about to pass, a flanger sign, lots of poles…

Passing the hotbox detector at mile 10
Passing the hotbox detector at mile 10

I panned the train as it went under the overpass beside me. I really like how this dome shot turned out. It’s funny to see the dome empty, but to be honest, there are usually very few passengers on this train between Winnipeg and The Pas.

Best seats in the house
Best seats in the house

That was another birthday surprise. THANKS VIA!

Little did I know that my lovely wife was photographing me while I was photographing the train…

Photographing the photographer
Photographing the photographer

So there you have it – VIA coming, readying, and going.

Just One More Thing

If you like VIA Rail videos, you might like this playlist I put together of my Western Canada VIA Rail videos.

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