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On May 1st, Great Western Railway (GWRS) Dash 8-40BW 575 basks in some well deserved sun after some cold and snowy days in late April. An impressive consist, this unit ran from Assiniboia to Frontier, SK along with GWRS B23-7 4064 and M420 2003. This was also 4064's maiden voyage on GWRS. 4062 arrived in Assiniboia later as it was damaged by CP in Moose Jaw and required some quick repairs.   

On May 16th, CP and GWR ran a test unit crude oil train of 106 empties.  The train was sent to Shaunavon, SK  for loading.   This unit train was a trial run for GWR in anticipation of implementing this new train service in the region. The train arrived Assiniboia with GP38's 3055 and 3083 and newly acquired GWR 4064, 2003 and 575. 

The carcass of CEMR GP9 4081 (ex-GTW) is seen in pieces around the old Dominion Bridge plant in Winnipeg, MB. It spent its last trailing only on the CEMR.

The BNSF assigned road switcher for the CN Lettier subdivision (Former Burlington Northern Manitoba Ltd trackage), switches in the North End of Winnipeg with a GP30R May 7th.  

Under beautiful sunshine, Kevin Dunk photographed BNSF action on both sides of the border in May.  On his recent trip to the west coast of BC, he snagged BNSF 5943, 4188 and 5009 hauling a general manifest freight over  the north switch at Oliver siding, on the BNSF New Westminster Sub.    The black and white photo was taken under somewhat gloomy skies with muted sunshine at Sprague, WA during a break from his 10 hour drive home on the I-90, BNSF 4956 and 971 with some garbage containers and empty grain cars were shot a little south of Spokane, WA.   

Mark A. Perry photographed Greater Winnipeg Water District (GWWD) RS23 202 switching tank cars in the St. Boniface yard, while making up the weekly GWWD train to Waugh MB, May 27th. 



At Kitchener, ON on the Guelph Sub May 19th, James Gardner caught Quebec-Gatineau (QGRY) GP39-2C 2303 leading Goderich-Exeter GEXR train 431.


On May 2nd, Walter Pfefferle bagged Tazewell and Peoria (T&P) 1301 at Woodstock, ON



The new Southern Ontario Railway (SOR) Genesee & Wyoming Industries monogram.


 On May 28th, Walter Pfefferle caught Ontario Southland Railway (OSR) FP9Au 6508 OSR 378 at Beachville, ON.  She has worn two numbers during her life: OSR 650 6508, was former VIA 6304 nee-CN Fp9A 6508,



GEXR Vignette: Bob Heathorn took this fine shot of the Goderich-Exeter Salt Train rolling through Goderich, Ontario back in June 1995 with a trio of perfectly matched Geep’s.



Sold to CANDO and long stored in Sarnia, ON, GP9RM 4118 was to be contracting for use on a CSX  branchline between Wallaceburg and Chatham, however the financial deal never followed through. The locomotive was sent to Lambton Diesel Services for  CANDO livery repaint  and  remumbered CCGX 4015. 


On May 2nd, Jonathan Leese Ontario Southland GP7's 383 and 378 pull ahead after cutting off some of their head end cars to store in the siding at Beachville. Tomorrow OSR RS18u 182 will run out here to grab the cars and take them down to St. Thomas. When was the last time you saw a pair of GP7's pulling revenue freight? 

ONTARIO NORTHLAND RAILWAY VIGNETTES:  Pierre Fournier submitted these fine ONR scenes from his collection taken by J. Norman Lowe.  The top  was taken at M57  on the Ramore sub between North Bay and Timmins in the 1960’s . 


Bombshell' a dud

The province has estimated divestment of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission could cost as much as $790 million.

And while Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli is suggesting the information is a smoking gun that shows the sell off can no longer proceed, the Liberals, New Democrats and ONTC unions are all accusing him of political rhetoric.

“He promised a bombshell and it's a dud,” said Brian Kelly, a spokesman for the General Chairperson's Association, representing unionized workers at the ONTC.

Kelly said the it's “old news” that there are huge costs tied to divestment – something ONTC unions have claimed from the outset.

“We have been saying that from Day 1,” said Kelly, suggesting Fedeli's announcement Friday revealing the potential liabilities associated with divestment does nothing to fuel efforts to protect ONTC jobs and services.

He said the province appears to have already shifted its position, with Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle announcing options other than divestment are now being considered.

And Kelly said Fedeli appears to be more concerned about his own job than those of ONTC workers, who haven't forgotten how he refused to stand with them last year when they gathered outside his Main Street office seeking his support.

Fedeli held a morning news conference to reveal Ministry of Finance documents, released to the standing committee on justice as part of the gas plant investigation, which outline “worst case” estimates for transitional funding to support the divestment process.

“The government has stated they wanted to divest Ontario Northland to save money. Their own documents prove they now know any sale will actually cost the taxpayer $790 million,” said Fedeli, who suggested the province is now backing away from divestment as a result of the figures included in the documents.

The documents, which are undated but come after the cancellation of the Northlander and request for proposals for Ontera, indicate costs associated with divestment could be higher than the province expected, mainly due to labour and severance costs, benefits and pension liabilities.

And the documents show labour and severance costs alone could be much as $250 million, up from $25 million originally earmarked as part of the planning process for divestment.

The $250-million estimate, however, assumes no employment by a new owner or labour strategy; that all eligible employees receive employment security; and that all eligible employees collect full benefits over a period of up to 14 years.

The documents also show post-retirement benefits of as much as $56 million, pension liabilities of $212 million, a net loss on asset sale of $200 million and subsidy to close of $72 million.

“I have said from day one their math doesn’t add up, and there will be no savings through this fire sale” said Fedeli, noting the potential costs could be even higher because other expense such as Workplace Safety and Insurance Board liabilities aren't included. “I call on the premier to end this charade, take Ontario Northland off the chopping block, and do what we’ve asked from the beginning: have a strategic review of all assets and make Ontario Northland the economic engine of the North.”

But Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle issued a statement shortly after Fedeli's announcement describing his depiction as “alarmist” and not a “remotely” accurate representation of the government’s approach.

The province has indicted it's priorities as part of the divestment process have been to provide services, stimulate the economy, sustain jobs and provide value for taxpayers. And Gravelle said the “extreme” scenario presented by Fedeli was never on the table.

“It was not the path we were going down,” said Gravelle, noting the worst case scenario was part of a range of possibilities that were reviewed. “The numbers shared by Mr. Fedeli portray a scenario that would see absolutely no job retention and shows no consideration for the socio-economic development needs of the region.”

Gravelle noted that all sides agree that the status quo at the ONTC is no longer an option. And he said he has been very clear he is not satisfied divestment is the only solution.

“That is why we will be looking at multiple options for each part of the ONTC, including divestment, restructuring, alternative service delivery and new partnerships,” said Gravelle, who invited Fedeli to participate in finding a solution that will put the ONTC on a firm financial footing.

Northern Ontario New Democrats John Vanthof and Gilles Bission both slammed Fedeli for making political hay over information they said is already widely known and accepted.

The two said that the NDP has also maintained from the outset that the costs associated with divestment will far outweigh the savings. Vanthof and Bission both said they have been supporting the efforts of Northern mayors and citizens, crediting those efforts for the progress that's been achieved to date.

Vanthof said the NDP isn't interested in the “dropping political bombs” at this point because the province has all but admitted it has made a mistake and is now soft-pedalling the issue.

Bission agreed, suggesting Fedeli's news conference was aimed at making headlines to benefit himself.

Source: Northbay Nugget

ONTC sale against government’s own advice

NIPISSING – Recently uncovered provincial cabinet documents reveal the Dalton McGuinty government went against top officials’ advice to defer the sale of Ontario Northland.

The documents also reveal the sale was a potential bargaining chip between the Liberal and New Democratic parties to strike a deal for the 2012 budget and avoid an election.

“The people who crafted this said, ‘Don’t do it,’ and they went ahead and did it anyway,” said Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, whose office discovered the documents during a hearing into the gas plant cancellations in Oakville and Mississauga.

One of the documents Fedeli released to the media on Tuesday is dated February, 2012 and is marked ‘Confidential Cabinet Advice.’

In point form the single page from a 21-page report outlines the issues surrounding the ONTC with funding requirements described as, “not on a sustainable financial path.”

It concludes however, by describing the potential harm from the decision to divest including significant short-term costs, the loss of up to 500 jobs ‘primarily in North Bay,’ and that there is no costing for things such as severance, write-downs and pension shortfalls.

“It is recommended that this lever be deferred to the document process for further due diligence and analysis of fiscal and policy implications,” is the report’s conclusion. The government announced on March 23, 2012 it was selling almost all of ONTC’s assets.

The second document shows how the government was prepared to use ONTC as a bargaining chip to pass the 2012 budget in April of last year.

At four pages long, this document titled, “Plan for April 15, 2012 Meeting with NDP” has the appearance of detailing bargaining strategy with NDP, outlining talking points for negotiations, concessions and back up plans to avoid an election.

“We expect the NDP to react with indignation on Sunday, saying that the six specific proposals ‘aren’t enough.’ ” states the plan after outlining six proposals that include increased child care spending and merging the Ontario Power Authority.

It then proposes three more negotiating points with ONTC amongst them with continued bus service guarantees and debate in the legislature.

This ONTC reference ends with the note, “This language was proposed and confirmed by Livingston, who indicated it is already the direction we’re heading in regarding the ONTC divestiture.” The Livingston referred to, is likely David Livingston, then chief executive of Infrastructure Ontario, the agency put in charge of the divestment process.

Beyond the political poker revealed and going against top financial officials’ advice, Fedeli says he is floored by what the documents show the government knew about divestment.

“They have $25 million down for severances. I roared when I saw that number,” said Fedeli, who estimates the up to 14-year long severance packages some employees are entitled to could cost more that $255 million alone. “Either someone was meaningfully misleading or there was absolutely no homework done on this at all.”

The cabinet advice document did give him another short-term divestment cost of $215 million in write-downs because of lost asset value from breaking up the 100-year-old crown agency.

“$215 million in write-downs is something that we did not calculate for so that is on top of the $265 million we say this is going to cost taxpayers that, by the way, nobody is disputing,” said Fedeli.

He firmly believes this will stop the divestment process in its tracks.

“We’re going to write to the Premier once again. We’re going to write to the minister (Michael Gravelle of Northern Development and Mines) and say, ‘Hey. The jig is up. Everyone can see that this is a fake sale,’ ” said Fedeli.

The pages of ONTC information came to Fedeli’s attention from the Justice Committee at Queen’s Park and its investigation into the gas plant scandal. In the past two weeks Fedeli and his staff have been sorting through, “thousands of pages of document,” and came across the ONTC material.

As the revelations about the ONTC divestment decision are coming out, the transit commission for the Greater Toronto Area, Metrolinx announced a proposal to increase the retail sales tax in the province to raise part of $2 billion per year for public transit in the Golden Horseshoe.

“It’s OK for us to pay for Toronto’s transit issues but it is not OK for Toronto to pay for ours even though it is a miniscule fraction of what theirs is,” said Fedeli.

As for the ONTC divestment, “We believe all that is left to do is make the announcement that it’s over.”

Source: North Bay Nugget




Bisson slams Tory in ONTC fight



NorthlanderTIMMINS - On Friday, MPP Vic Fedeli (PC — Nipissing) revealed documents showing the Liberal government had been wrong about the ONTC fire sale from the start, to the tune of $265 million in benefits and WSIB calculations.
However, MPP Gilles Bisson (NDP — Timmins-James Bay) maintains this isn’t new. He said it has been something that those involved in the fight for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission have been aware of from the start.
“I think we have been fairly successful in our watchdog role thus far,” said Bisson. “We were on this issue and many others right from the start, we have been aware of this short sight surrounding pensions, liability, benefits and WSIB and we have brought it up at every turn.”
After supporting the Liberal Budget two weeks ago, Bisson assured his constituency that the role would benefit the North through ensuring that the Liberals were held accountable for their actions.
“We knew that the cost would be more than the benefit,” he said. “We knew this from the start and I would argue that everyone in the Northeast has been arguing in the same direction, to reverse this poorly made decision.”
The fight hasn’t been an easy one, encompassing unions, municipalities and MPPs.
“We have been fighting tooth and nail to get them (Liberals) to back off,” said Bisson. “What we have managed to do is get the government to retreat, at this time last year, they told us there was no way that they would back off, the decision was made and now, Minister Gravelle, as a result of the efforts of the people of the Northeast has agreed to take a serious look at the issue.”
The fight has been a lengthy one, with both the McGuinty and Wynne governments giving up a little bit of ground each time.
“We aren’t out of the woods yet, but we are moving in the right direction,” said Bisson. “To make government work you have to do, you cannot sit back and say no to everything that comes across the board because you don’t agree with it, you have to stand up and demand a road for change.”
Bisson said this is one reason the New Democrats support the Wynne budget.
“I think that a lot of Ontarians are not happy with the Liberal Government on a whole bunch of fronts,” said Bisson. “Most people don’t agree with the majority of the decisions that have been made, the gas plants for instance, but there has been a committee that has been struck that is looking at who made the decisions, who refused to release the documents and that committee will report back later this fall.”
The committee has the power to make or break the Liberal government.
“The committee will recommend to the House what actions we should take against this government,” said Bisson. “Do we find them in contempt? I think that we will, and what penalties to we want to bring against this government and does this constitute a vote of non-competence which is quite possible.”
“In our society you have to have due process, you have to gather all of the facts before you do the execution,”
Bisson said Fedeli isn’t helping the issue.
“I don’t think that this helps. I don’t think that this is going to make a difference,” said Bisson. “This has become a distraction, so many people have worked so hard to get where we are today,. None of us have played politics on this, none of us has said this is a big political issue and we need to play politics on this.”
“We all agreed to put politics aside and to do what is right for Northeastern Ontario.”

Source: The Daily Press


Francois Jolin photographed the Shawinigan Turn crossing the St-Maurice River at Shawinigan Falls on a gorgeous spring day. April 29th led by QGRY GP40-2LW 3016 and 3014.


On May 5th, the lead GE of Montreal Maine and Atlantic (MMA) train #2  puts on a spectacular show as the locomotives thunder across the deck bridge at Eastman, QC.

Port of Montreal RP20BD 1002 was photographed by Francois Jolin at Taschereau Yard May 11th.  It was built at RELCO in Albia, IA in June 2012.


POM Roster (by Jody Moore)

Two EMD switchers CEFX SW1500 1560 and 1566, arrived dead in tow Montreal CN-Taschereau Yard May 14th, and photographed by  Richard Marchi.

In late May,  CEFX  SW1500’s 1562,  1564 , and 1565 were moved from CN Taschereau to CADRAIL, and photographed by Richard Marchi on May 26th. 


On May 14th, Ken Gosslet bagged a captive switcher at Ste-Rosalie, QC  where there is no connection to the rest of the MMA system.  The unlikely unit is ex-AMT F40PH 270, lettered SLC 270 ,,, Not the ideal model for switching. 


Former Goderich-Exeter (GEXR) GP40 4022 was repainted into Genesee and Wyoming paint and lettered Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia (CBNS) 3022, at the New England Central (NECR) former Central Vermont shop in St Albans, VT, where Ken Goslett photographed her.  G&W GP9-4 1705 was also repainted into the G&W family paint at St Albans shop. (See below)


Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia GP9-4 1705 is seen in fresh paint at the NECR Shop in  St. Albans, VT, where Kevin Burkholder photographed  the former Rail Link (RLK) 4002 on May 12th. This unit and the CBNS GP40 3022 were completed at St. Albans but were delayed shipping off to Nova Scotia until the mechanical shop changed out two wheel sets on the 3022.  They arrived in Montreal at month end and were transferred to CN

On May 30th Richard Marchi caught the CBNS pair at CN Taschereau Yard with CITX SD9043MAC 130.    


©CRO June 2013