On April 7th in New Westminster, BC Mark Forsielle snapped this WRIX 820 down at the SRY Shop.  Former Vancouver Wharves SW1500 had been relettered KMTX (Kinder Morgan) and has now been sold to leasing company Western Rail (WRIX).  She started life on the Cotton Belt SSW #2582 before being sold to VW in 1995.  Two of the 820's Sister units #822 and #824 went down to the M&ET in Modesto, CA a few years back.

On May 9th Mark Perry snapped the Greater Winnipeg Water District (GWWD) weekly work train heading to the aqueduct intake at Waugh, MB, 97 miles east of Winnipeg.  GWWD MLW RS23 202 is seen notching up after leaving the city’s water treatment plant at Deacon, located on the outskirts of the city.  The train crew has to shut the gates behind the train for the very security conscious complex, after traveling though it.

In mid-May, NREX GP50’s 2903 and 2906 arrived at Rocky Mountain Railtours (RMR) in Kamloops, BC. The units are ex-FURX 2903 exx-UP 5512, 902, nee-CNW 5053.  NREX 2906 is ex-FURX 2906, exx-UP 1642, 5542, 933, nee-CNW 5056. They departed the National Railway Equipment facility in Mt. Vernon, IL, where they were interchanged from UP at Superior, WI.  On May 5th NREX 2903 and 2906 moved dead-in-tow on CN L50981, behind BCOL C40-8Mu 4602, CN SD75I 5714, and then  west from Winnipeg, MB on CN train Q11741 May 11th.  At destination May 15th, John Leeming snapped the pair at the CN Kamloops Yard.

The Great Western Railway (GWR) purchased a caboose in May  from Progress Rail in Minneapolis, MN.  It is former CP 434411, now numbered GWRS 1962.  Evidently Progress was using it for an office and the street address was 1962, hence GWRS 1962. The van will be utilized between Shaunavon and Dollard (one station west of Shaunavon) where GWR loads crude oil, and will facilitate the movement of empties and loads between the two stations and eliminate running around the cars.  Ken McCutcheon’s photo from May 10th shows GWRS 1962 in Assiniboia, SK waiting to be marshalled onto the tailend for its maiden GWR voyage. 

Dollard transloading facility serviced by Great Western Railway.  In the near future, GWRS will have an engine stationed in Shaunavon that will shuttle oil cars back and forth (a distance of approx. 10km). Due to the switching that will occur, the  recently acquired caboose will be needed. Mark Zulkosky snapped the photo at Dollard, SK on May 15th. Note the grain elevator, the original purpose for the siding, is a classic example of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool’s of the 1950’s.

Ken also snapped DMVW GP35R’s 6327 and 6354 May 10th, on the CPR Shop track  in Swift Current, SK waiting for pick up by the Great Sandhills Railway.

On May 10th, Saskatchewan’s newest shortline operation, and first railway tourist train made a familiarization trip for the invited guests of the tourist industry on a run from Ogema west to Horizon, and return.  The Southern Prairie Railway (SPR) pulling the past into the future,  roster includes 44-tonner number 15.  Ex-MEC 15, which later became Conway Scenic 15, was purchased from them by the SPR. The coach is the Mount Holly.  Along for the ride this day is caboose ex PGE 1836.  The SPR also has baggage car 404925, ex CP 404925 which began life as CP 4747.


Saskatchewan's newest shortline is expected to be operational shortly. The line between Estavan and Tribune, SK has been purchased and currently undergoing repair and preparation. The former CP line has been inactive for many years, and in need of repair, including some paved over level crossings. The new railway will be known as “Long Creek Railway” hauling oil and gas traffic at transloading facilities similar to those on Stewart Southern and the Great Western.  Mark Zulkoskey took this photo back on August 2nd 2010 at Bromhead, SK, a near ghost town along the line.


BCOL 631 and 632 were BC Rails only ALCO C-420's, and are seen working the Prince George Yard back in August 1998.

BCOL M420W 643, M420B 682 and RS18 622  are heading north bound from Prince George at MP 484  in Salmon Valley, BC.

It is the early days of September and the morning fog hasn't burnt off at this time yet. In a unique BC Rail A-B-B-A all MLW set, BCOL M420W 644, M420B 687, 685 and M42oW 641 are sitting between assignments at  Fort St John, BC in August 1996.

Northbound BC Rail 704  one of the four BC Rail C630M's is on the point and blasting out of Exeter, BC at 100 Mile House, giving a smoke show as Alco's are so well known for.

BCH Vignettes: At New Westminster, BC, Deane Motis snapped BCH SD38-2 384 on February 28th 1980, and BCH SW900 903 in September 1986.  


Steve Host photographed former Southern Pacific SD45T-2 9392 now Goderich-Exeter (GEXR) 9392 East leading train 432 at Guelph, Ontario the morning of May 5th.

Abitibi-Bowater's former CN SW1200RS 1305 is utilized by the paper manufacturer as the plant switcher at their large Iroquois Falls mill. Mike Robin caught her at Cochrane Yard on May 4th.  Under the unit number on the cab you can see the DESX reporting marks for Diesel Electric Services of Sudbury, ON. added for shipping purposes.  Sources state that this unit, along with ex-ONR GP9 1600, will be shipped to Diesel Electric Services for a complete overhaul. 1305 will be the first, followed by 1600 once 1305 is completed. 

The Battle for Ontario Northland Continues

The battle continues between Queen's Park, Northern Ontario Mayors, Unionized Employees, and concerned citizens over the future of Ontario Northland. According to Ministry of Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci in late April, the divestment process is indeed underway with the Ontario Government collecting potential expressions of interest from the private sector in regards to not only Ontario Northland's rail network, but the Crown Corporation's telecommunications leg (Ontera), highway coach, ferry, and refurbishment divisions.

In May, employees have received emails from President and CEO Paul Goulet, along with General Chairpersons Association President Brian Kelly both stating that there are, as of yet, no official announcements concerning any changes of ownership.

However, after learning of the economic troubles of Industrial Rail Services in New Brunswick resulting in Via Rail's pulling of over 100 million dollars worth of contracts in April, pressure has been applied to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines from NDP Politicians and Union Leadership to assist Ontario Northland in bidding for this contract since, as quoted by Rick Bartolucci, "Everything is 'business as usual' at Ontario Northland". However, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has refused to provide Ontario Northland any support or assistance to obtain any of the potential Via Rail work.

Mayors from Hearst, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Timmins, Kapuskasing, and North Bay gathered at Cochrane May 1st for an emergency meeting focusing on the fact that the Government of Ontario proceeded with the divestment with absolutely no feedback from any communities served by Ontario Northland. This lack of communication did not go over well resulting in the Mayors forming a special coalition in opposition of the way the Provincial Government does business regarding Northern Ontario. This new coalition would be called "The Northern Communities Working Group". The Mayors have agreed that they will hire an outside firm specializing in lobbying strategies in order to assist them in creating a plan to address this issue.

On May 16th, Mayors received word that the coalition will be granted a meeting with Infrastructure Ontario on May 22nd. That meeting did occur with the Mayors not receiving much useful information by meeting's end. However, they did manage to get their point across at this meeting with representatives of Infrastructure Ontario and the Ministry of Northern Development & Mines. The Mayors stated quite clearly that losing Ontario Northland would be a severe blow to Northeastern Ontario's infrastructure. It was announced May 23rd that Minister Rick Bartolucci has agreed to meet with the Mayors in early June.

Meanwhile, in a news release issued on May 18th, QMI Agency, a large news publisher with Northern Ontario interests such as the Timmins Daily Press and 3 other dailies, have announced a major partnership with the Mayors. The agency has begun running ads and page inserts calling for the province to rethink its Ontario Northland decision.

Dan Johnson, senior group publisher for QMI's Northern Ontario division stated, "As the news leader in the region that is affected by the divestment of the ONTC, we have a responsibility to the communities that we serve," he said. "Millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs are at stake, jobs that belong to our neighbors, friends and families."

A new website was created in early May to garner attention to the  The Northern Communities Working Group at

new deal for ontario northland

Mike Robin was at Mile 81 of Ontario Northland's Ramore Subdivision as a southbound 422 Northlander races past with a 'newly decorated' GP38-2 1809 on the point May 6th. These "Ontario Northland Not For Sale" stop signs are appearing throughout the province since the Provincial Government's March 23rd media release announcing the divesting of Ontario Northland.

GP9 1600, complete with the mid-70's chop nose and now apparently owned by Abitibi-Bowater, hauls outgoing newsprint loads from the mill and into the yard at Iroquois Falls for lifting by a soon to be arriving 213 May 4th.

From the cab of ONR GP38-2 1809 Engineman Sykes waves at the photographer (Wayne D. Shaw) while an attractive young lady on a tractor waves at the train from the other side of the tracks. Nice to see 1809 back on track leading train #698 on May 6th after having some broken springs and water leaks attended to, all cleaned up with two new "NOT for sale!" signs on her nose. Latest news is rail passenger service will be discontinued before October of this year. This shot was taken at Allensville, not far from Huntsville, ON.

On the week of May 13th, the first of the bi-annual treks of the Canadian Pacific Track Evaluation Train took place across the entire Ontario Northland rail network. The train once again inspects the entire railway in the fall months.  Hired by the ONR, the train is run by ONR crews with CP employees operating the inspection equipment. Employees from ONR's Maintenance of Way Department also ride along to oversee and assist the CP inspectors. Train 901 (Work 8203) is captured arriving at Cochrane for a crew change and an eventual continuation of her journey north on the Kapuskasing Subdivision after inspecting the Devonshire Subdivision May 15th.

On April 28th  through a chain link fence Jay Butler snapped SW900 7920 at Esso Chemicals in Sarnia. This switcher is ex-CANAC nee-CN 7920 and was painted in the late 80’s early 90’s at the former CN Point St-Charles Shop in Montreal.   

Nope, this wasn't taken in Germany! Mathieu Tremblay shot Ottawa's OC Transpo O-Train rolling over the Rideau River on its way south to Greenboro station. This 8-km light rail service operates on two former CP subdivisions (Ellwood and Prescott).

On May 16th in Caledonia, ON Joseph Bishop was shoot SOR (Southern Ontario Railway) Train 597 with RLK GP40-2 4057 crossing the Grand River at Caledonia with 12 cars in tow for Garnet, ON.


Toronto Hamilton and Buffalo Vignette:   Deane Motis snapped TH&B Geeps 75  and 401 at the Penn Central Frontier Yard back in the mid 1970’s  CONRAIL repaints had only just begun!


May 11th, 2012 was the last day of railway operations for the Quebec- Gatineau Railway in Gatineau, QC.  QGRY took over the former CP Lachute Sub back in November 1997.  QGRY GP35 2500 took the last 25 center beam cars that had been stored in the Gatineau Yard since last year and moved them to Masson, QC on the Lachute Sub. On  May 14th, a private contractor  (Rail Bonaventure) removed the first rail/switch over the bridge over the main street in Gatineau beside the station. The QGRY line now stops at the railway hot box detector at mile 109.7 on the Lachute Sub at Lorrain Street in Gatineau.  The city of Gatineau, QC is constructing a new Bus Transit lane  by using the railway line from East(Templeton) to West (Hull). This will also eliminate any hope of re-opening the Gatineau paper mill (Bowater) which closed 2 years ago when railway service ceased. It will take up to two years to build a new transit bus line in Gatineau from Montee Paiement to Labrosse Street and will require a new bridge, the removal of all the rails, ties, and ballast and the decontamination of Gatineau yard.

On February 11th, 2012 Denis Fortier shot the newest tourist train in Quebec called the Train of Le Massif de Charlevoix which runs on the former CN Murray Bay Sub, (now called the Charlevoix Sub) between Quebec City to La Malbaie, QC on the North shore of the St-Lawrence River.  The train begins its journey from Les Chutes Montmorency, a few miles East of Quebec City, and passes many scenic locations including Ste-Anne de Beaupré, and the mountain Le Massif.   The locomotives ex-CP MLW RS18u’s 1868 and 1821 and rolling stock all wear the new livery and look great.  Two of the passenger cars are ex-US commuter cars converted into dinners and a baggage car is used for HEP.  Here is their Website: CLICK HERE.

Marc Primeau snapped the Tshiuetin Rail Transportation passenger train preparing for departure in Schefferville, QC on May 4th, 2012. The train will travel south along the Innu (First Nation) owned rail line until Emeril Jct. where it will interchange with IOCs QNS&L line to continue it's twice weekly journey to Sept-Iles, QC. 


Paul Donovan snapped HLCX SD40-2 6315 currently leased to the  New Brunswick Southern and seen pulling an eastbound at Chester Depot, ME on April 16th.  Trailing is HLCX SD40-2 6200 (ex-C&NW 6822), Guilford (Pan Am) GP40-2LW 507  and NBSR GP38-3 9802 an ex-SP GP35. This section of the NBSR is subsidiary Eastern Maine Railway and originally CP “International of Maine” Division trackage between Brownville Junction, ME and Mattawamkeag, ME.  The HELM lead unit in the photo HLCX 6315, is former Canadian Pacific SD40 5522.

© CRO June 2012