The CP Business Train Comes to Town

CP 1401 and the business train
CP 1401 and the business train

I had a tip that Canadian Pacific was running its business train east through Winnipeg. The story was that it was headed to Montreal, where it would then head into the US to tour one of CP’s subsidiaries, the Delaware and Hudson.

A “business train”, often called an “officer’s special”, is a passenger train owned by a railway and used for the railway’s business. You can’t buy a ticket to ride it and it’s not open to the public unless they are invited. These trains are often used to court investors or shippers, to honour veterans or active duty military personnel, or to host employees on special occasions.

I knew it was due into Winnipeg around 1 PM. I had an errand to run mid-morning, so I packed up my camera and laptop so I could sit near the track and work while waiting for the train.

First, CN

As I approached the CN Rivers subdivision on my way north, I spotted an eastbound CN train. I took a few minutes to photograph faded CN 5772 and CN 5720 leading a container train.

CN 5772 in Winnipeg
CN 5772 in Winnipeg

I used to see those SD75I units all the time in Saint John, New Brunswick. It’s nice to see them still out earning their keep.

On to CP

Again I saw a train as I approached the tracks. This time it was an eastbound CP train on the CP Carberry subdivision. A little driving found me in position to grab CP 8144 East. This might have been train CP 100.

CP 8144
CP 8144

That train had CP 8745 mid-train, and blue leased unit CEFX 1049 was bringing up the rear.

CEFX 1049
CEFX 1049

I parked off the highway on a side road – often called a “grid road” because prairie roads are laid out on a 1-mile wide grid – near “CP Makwa”, just west of the Perimeter Highway. Every now and then I would take a look at the signals facing west to see if they were A) lit or B) showing green.

The Portage Rocket

I did notice red-lit signals, and it turned out to be a westbound train. CP 2297 was rocketing along toward Portage la Prairie with its train of refrigerated cars for McCain and Simplot and hoppers for Richardson Pioneer. CP used to keep a locomotive in Portage for these local customers, but in the past few years they just run the train out to Portage to serve them, and then it comes back to Winnipeg.

CP 2297 near Rosser, MB
CP 2297 near Rosser, MB

There is double track from this point east to the CP yard in Winnipeg. They were on the south track, coming onto single track for the run west.

That was exciting, but unfortunately it meant there would be no business train for a while, as 2297 would be occupying the single track west of me!

It took 50 minutes. They must have met at Meadows or Marquette.

Making an Entrance

There was a glimmer of light as the sun struggled to shine through the overcast skies. I took my tripod over to the “sun” side of the tracks and leveled it, then I locked my Canon T1i on and confirmed the horizon was more or less level. I know my tripod has a level indicator on it but it is never really that accurate.

It's coming
It’s coming

While I waited for the train to get “in range”, a pickup truck pulled up to the crossing. The driver turned out to be Felix Lesiuk, a local railfan and occasional contributor of train photos to the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club blog. Here an example of his work.

He happened to be driving by and saw I was waiting for a train. Felix has a bit of “railfan luck” as he happened to drive by the recent CP derailment in Rosser not long after it happened, and captured some great photos, which he graciously gave permission for me to show.

Anyway, we worked out where we were going to stand so we didn’t get in each other’s shots, and went to work as the train passed by. Here’s the video, with a lot of clicking noises as we both fired off some frames.


Those three “F” units looked pretty sweet.

CP 4107 "going away"
CP 4107 “going away”

The train had refurbished “F” unit CP 1401 followed by CP 4106 and CP 4107. The irony of these “CP” units is that they were all originally CN units.

Heavyweights on the move
Heavyweights on the move

All too quickly, they were past us and taking the south track into Winnipeg. I believe the train was empty, and the dark observation car seemed to confirm that.

CP observation car.
CP observation car.

Felix and I stood and chatted for a few minutes after the train went by, then he went west and I went east (and south) toward home.

One More Train

On my way down, I noted an eastbound CN train, so I had to exit and grab it – since it was there, you know.

CP 8016 East
CP 8016 East

The train had boxy CP 8016 leading, and “black widow” IC 1020 trailing.

It was a good few hours of trackside time!

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Just One More Thing

I just finished reading the book “Ancillary Sword” by Ann Leckie. It’s the second book in her Imperial Radch trilogy. Good book, not as good as “Ancillary Justice” but still well worth reading. I’ve downloaded the third, “Ancillary Mercy“, and will be reading it digitally… a new experience for me. These are military science fiction books, leaning toward the social / interpersonal “soft” science. Think C.J. Cherryh more than David Drake. Recommended.

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2 thoughts on “The CP Business Train Comes to Town”

  1. Great video of the business train. So nice to see the maroon & gray and both script and block lettering – even if they were originally CN units! Probably built in London as well.
    The opening of the video shows just how flat it is out there. I can imagine standing out there for photography in a month’s time will be pretty chilly! Thanks for the photos.

    • Hi Jim, thanks for your comment. It’s pretty flat west of Winnipeg! I agree it’s pretty cold out there in the winter, especially when the wind is blowing!

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