The Longest Train Still Running

These days, a lot of VIA Rail’s trains have been reduced in frequency or cancelled outright. The Canadian, the Ocean, the Maple Leaf, the Jasper-Prince Rupert train – all cancelled. Corridor service is reduced, and other longer distance trains like the Sudbury-White River and Montreal – Jonquière/Senneterre trains have been reduced in frequency as well. The longest distance VIA train remaining is the Winnipeg-Churchill train, VIA 692/693.

I heard that VIA 693 was departing Winnipeg on Sunday, April 26 with a single locomotive. Normally it runs with two locomotives, but apparently one of the locomotives on the southbound train had a traction motor problem and was set off in The Pas for repair. It should be fixed now so they were going to add it on when they got back to The Pas.

Just Missed One

As I approached the CN main line, I saw an eastbound container train passing. I tried to catch up to the head end, but I only got close enough to see that it had 4 locomotives on it. I’m told it was CN Q111, one of CN’s hotshot trains.

I decided to pull over and record it passing the mile 7 sign. In order to get a slow enough shutter speed to blur the train, I set the aperture to f/32 (very very small) so I could use a 1/10s shutter speed.

That done, I headed west.

Going West

I noted a few railfans parked along the main line, waiting for trains. One at mile 10, one at mile 13, another at mile 15… I decided to set up near mile 16 to record VIA going around the bend just past mile 16.

I intended to fly my drone, but as soon as I stepped out of my car, it was obvious that it was way too windy for flying.

I waited around at mile 15.9 or so, at a former crossing, watching the VIA Rail tracker page to see where VIA 693 was. It was still sitting at the station.

Soon a westbound container train came by. I understand this might have been train number Q111. CN’s “Q” trains are high priority container trains.

Next, East

The westbound train met an eastbound intermodal “around the bend”, around mile 17 or so. CN 2999 was leading on the eastbound train, with CN 3090 bringing up the rear.

By this time, the VIA tracking page showed that VIA 693 was on the move. I was a little concerned as the eastbound container train was on the south track, so if VIA came by on the north track any time soon, I wouldn’t see it!

Fortunately the container train cleared out of the way first.

The Prairie Streamliner

Finally VIA 693 came rolling along. This is a pretty tiny train, with one locomotive and five cars. I’ve heard it called a “pocket streamliner”.

I was glad that the “Love the Way / La Voie Qu’on Aime” VIA 6436 was leading. Those silver nosed locomotives photograph much better than the “Renaissance” dark colours.

They were on the north track, but at Diamond they switched over to the south track to continue west.

The engineer gave me a toot on the horn as they rocketed by.

Although it’s coach only service at this point, there was a sleeper car, Chateau Vercheres, on the rear. I think that’s for crew use but I could be wrong.

Here’s a snail’s eye view of the locomotive as it passed by my Akaso EK7000 camera. Don’t worry, I wasn’t anywhere near the train.

The Video

I spent a bit of time editing this video, piecing together a few clips I took around the time the train came through. I hope you like it.

Wrapping Up

On my way back, I stopped to say hello to one of the parked railfans. It turned out to be a reader of this blog, Richard H! It was great to chat with you – from a social distance.

In these days I think it’s important to keep supporting your local businesses, even if you can’t visit them like you used to. We’ve been doing take-out food every week or so from great local restaurants like Stella’s, Gondola Pizza and the New China Kitchen. I hope you can do something similar. We need these local businesses to survive for when this thing is over.

8 thoughts on “The Longest Train Still Running”

  1. Personally, I prefer the standard VIA livery… but that’s a matter of preference. Love how VIA keeps this ancient stock running. Thanks for the photos!

    • Certainly a matter of preference. I miss the yellow nosed units as they photographed really well! I too am glad that VIA keeps the stainless running, even though it’s 65 years old…

  2. Thanks for posting what you find, Steve. The closest trains to me are 30-45 km. away so in this time of shutdown I rarely go anywhere. Traingeek and Youtube are all I have.


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