Great Western Railway:

On its return from the weekly run between Assiniboia and Shaunavon GWRS B40-8W 563 blew a turbocharger on March 22nd rendering it out of service until parts arrive and are installed.  This leaves GWRS with B40-8W 575, M420W 2001 and 2004 as their active road power.  Ken McCutcheon snapped GWRS 563 last year, with 575 heading south to Rockglen on the Fife Lake Sub at Mile 8.

On February 4th Cal Murray  snapped former BNSF B40-8W's 563 and 575 are seen parked at Assiniboia Saskatchewan on Great Western Railway property with the GWRS M420W 2001 in the middle of the consist that would later head to Shaunovon, Sk.

Prairie Mines and Royalty Limited:

PRMX 6973 finally arrived back home on Prairie Mines and Royalty on March 26th.   It had departed Coronach back on June 15th, 2011.

PRML took delivery of the PRMX 6973 March 26th, dispatching single leased unit JLCX 5643 to pull the dead and drained unit from the interchange to their shops.  Progress Rail in Tacoma overhauled and upgraded the unit and 6973 is now classed as an SD32ECO. Ken caught PRMX 6973 and JLCX 5643 heading down the GWR/PMRL interchange at the PRML mainline.

Great Sandhills Railway:

Dakota Missouri Valley and Western (DMVW) GP35R 6315, 6327 and 6354 (all ex- SP.  One of these, 6354 had been upgraded at Pointe St-Charles Shop in Montreal in 1980), and have been purchased by GSR for use at three grain terminals, two (6327 and 6354) on line in Saskatchewan on the GSR, and one (6315) to be leased to the Transmark Ltd  grain terminal and a windmill assembly plant near Lethbridge, AB.   On April 14th, the trio still lettered DMVW, were in Flaxton, ND on the CP.  

JLCX  SW1500 953, which had been leased to WATCO in Bienfait, SK, suffered a failure when the unit froze up in March and will be replaced with JLCX GP35 547.  JLCX GP35 547 was previously Museum of Transportation (St. Louis, MO), (ex-N&W 2918, ex-WAB 3547, nee-WAB 547).   This GP35 had been leased by JLCX to the Ashtabula Carson & Jefferson (ACJR) in Ohio.  Departing CN-MacMillan Yard on April 8th and Mark Perry snapped JLCX GP35 547 at the Symington Diesel Shop April 10th   Leased CN GMD1u 1401 adequately handled the switching duties at WATCO, while the GP35 was in transit to Bienfait, SK. In mid-April, Ken McCutcheon snapped CN GMD1, 1401 switching the CN Frac Sand Transload facility in Bienfait, SK. However, on April 22nd, CN 1401 was still there, and JLCX 547 arrived at Bienfait, SK and then for some odd reason, was returned to Symington, then was quickly returned to Bienfait, SK.   At press time we learned JLCX SW1500 953 will be going to Farmersville, ND on the Northern Plains Railroad for repairs.   

Cal Murray caught L500 is on the Lampman Sub with CN 4767 - 4761 (the usual assigned GP38-2W’s on this branch) and JLCX GP35 547 in tow, departing from Bienfait, SK, after arriving in error. 

Weyburn Inland Terminal  ILSX SW7 908, is the very handsome switcher working the huge WIT grain Facility in Weyburn,  SK. (Ken McCutcheon)

A very hard shot to get, unless you work for Potash Corp of Saskatchewan’s Rocanville Mine, or are a contractor of this mine.  This mine has two elusive mine switchers.  Cal Murray shot PCS EMD switcher PCS SW8 #31500 at Rocanville, SK in April.  Five days a week six months out of the year these old units switch potash cars around the yard  for interchange with CN and CP.  This unit is ex-Andrew Merillees 31500, Conrail/Penn Central/NYC 8606, nee-NYC 9606.

Mark Perry has always been a fan of industrial units and steel mills.  and got a little taste of both on a visit to Gerdau-Ameristeel in Selkirk, MB.   He snapped SW-900 70208, (with full 567 sound effects) spotting and pulling battered captive service gondolas filled with scrap for the never ending appetite of the rolling mill.  The unit is belt pack equipped yet the roof top cab remote control lights are so dirty, they are barely visible in the daylight.  The old CP 6719 has seen a lot of hard hours since Mark rode around in it with CP engineer Skippy Smith in Portage la Prairie in the late-1980’s.

The Stewart Southern Railway has new business with oil traffic coming from Stoughton, SK.  Cal Murray caught SSR B23-7 1009 and 1010 leaving the oil loading facility with 25 tank cars bound for the CP interchange.  Cal’s photo was taken at Stoughton  on the SSR Tyvan Subdivision on April 13th.

Former M&ET GE 70-Tonners working at Aylesbury Saskatchewan on Last Mountain Railway producer facility on October 16th, 2011.

Taken by Mark David Zulkoskey on April 11th this stored CTRW GP30 (painted HBRY / Central Kansas Railway) has been out at the mill in Prince Albert, SK for the last two years, the sidelined OMLX GP9E 3372 for a little less. With the mill set to open next fall, Carlton Trail Railway has begun to remove worn track, but a walking inspection shows just how bad the line is. The land is very sandy and sections of rail are completely overrun with sand and much of the ballast has worn away or consists of huge rocks. Almost every tie is rotten or badly split and sections of the rail actually hovers over the ties. The mill is set to begin burning scraps from the Meadow Lake mill (formally served by CTRW) this spring and selling the power back to Sask Power, employing 45. Twenty years ago this mill was served by two railways and saw two trains each every day. RS23s and GMD1s frequented the mill for switching and returning the loaded cars back to their respective yards.  

The CTRW locomotive roster remains unchanged as of 2009

1004 - GP10 Active
1006 - GP10 Active (returned from OKAN, 2009)
1064 - GP10 Active
2508 - GP30 SUS inactive  (Photo below)
3372 - GP9E SUS inactive  (Photo below).


Warren Calloway snapped Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY) Sw900 903, SD38AC  381, caboose A-2, and other motive power at New Westminster, BC in September 1993.


At Huntsville, ON March 26th, Wayne D. Shaw photographed the “Northlander” passing Mile 144 on the CN Newmarket Sub.  Train 698 is led by GP38-2 1809 sporting the latest ONR livery. 

While it is still possible, Wayne shot the “Northlander” again on April 2nd, seen leaning into the curve at the former whistle stop and siding at Utterson, ON. Train 698 is once more led by GP38-2 1809.

A school bus waits at the Old Muskoka Road crossing in Allensville, ON for the passage of #698, whose arrival fortuitously coincides with the sun deciding to peek though a hole in the clouds offering Wayne this perfect photo opportunity. 

The Battles Begin For Ontario Northland to Remain in the Hands of the Public.

After the announcement by the Province of Ontario's Liberal Government on March 23rd of a future break up and divestiture of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission as part of the new Ontario Budget, thousands of citizens from across the province, which include ONTC employees, customers, business owners, and both municipal and provincial politicians have called for an immediate halt to the divestiture proceedings.

Within a couple of days of the announcement, an official "Ontario Northland Not For Sale" Facebook Group garnered over 10,000 members and is still growing. The Ontario Northland General Chairperson's Association, which represents 5 Unions at Ontario Northland have opened a special website at in order to educate people about the potential shortfalls of an Ontario Northland sell off and how it could effect Northeastern Ontario. Also, to date, Municipal Mayors from throughout Northeastern Ontario have called for a special meeting with Premier Dalton McGuinty. Unfortunately, the Mayoral meeting wound up being with Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci and accomplished nothing.

By April 4th, "Ontario Northland Not For Sale" stop signs have been appearing throughout Northeastern Ontario. On the Easter weekend, the popular stop signs have begun to appear mounted on 2 Cochrane to Toronto Northlander trains which under the Province of Ontario's divestiture of Ontario Northland plan, will be the first casualty with the service cancelled and replaced by buses.

On April 10th, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released her Ontario Budget Demands, one of these demands being that the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission remain owned by the people of Ontario.

On Wednesday, April 18th, CN spokesman Mark Hallman told Canadian media the Class I railroad will be "carefully assessing the opportunity" created by the provincial government's decision to divest itself of the property. In response, the Ontario Northland General Chairperson's Association spokesman Brian Kelly stated that he wasn't surprised by CN's interest in purchasing the ONR.

On Friday, April 20th, over 100 people consisting of ONR Employees, Union Leaders, Politicians, and concerned citizens boarded two Ontario Northland buses and ventured to Premier Dalton McGuinty's Constituency office located in Ottawa for a very loud demonstration opposing the Government of Ontario's plans for Ontario Northland.

On April 22nd, a special video was launched on YouTube saluting all of those who journeyed south to Ottawa to demonstrate at the door step of Premier Dalton McGuinty's Constituency Office. A catchy tune called "Ontario Northland's Not For Sale" is featured.


On Tuesday, April 24th, the Ontario Budget passed, and the divestment of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission officially begins. We will keep you informed throughout the divestment process.

On April 5th at Georgetown, ON, Conor Megaffin caught GSCX SD40-2 7362, GSCX 7369, and GEXR SD45T-2 9392 leading  GEXR #431 .  This marked the first time Tunnel Motor GEXR 9392 (ex-CEFX 9392, exx- SP 9392; nee-SSW 9392) has been assigned to the GEXR 432/431 run. Out of service for over one year due to wiring problems, she was repaired at the Goderich Shop, and prepared for service.  Sporting freshly painted numbers and GEXR logo on the cab SD45T-2 9392  led #430 to CN Mac Yard with 7362 and 7369 trailing. This locomotive will replace the FEC SD40-2 709 (a regular on GEXR 432/431) which will soon return south to sister shortline, the Florida East Coast Railroad.  

Don McQueen snapped ETR SW1500 107 in transit April 4th at CN Highbury, in London, ON.  ETR 107 was later transferred to Sarnia's Lambton Diesel Services for engine repairs.


ARCELOR-MITTAL  has ordered five  SD70ACe’s which will be numbered 50 to 54 for service on Quebec Cartier Mining. These will be their first new EMD’s. 

ARCELOR-MITTAL has purchased ex-CN Superintendant’s car 61200 which had been sold to an individual in the USA.  It is moving by rail to Matane, QC, and by ship to Baie Comeau, QC for delivery  to Quebec Cartier Mining.  

(Derek Henderson snapped CN 61200 when still in service on CN)

The latest coach acquired by Tshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc. (TSH) moved March 31st on the UP at Madison, IL waybilled to CN-Markham Yard.  During transit, the car was placed at the tail end under MRLX 7611, routed on CN from Chicago to Toronto Mac Yard, then to Charny, QC, arriving at Joffre, QC April 8th.  Loaded onto the ferry at Matane, it will travel down the St-Lawrence River to Sept Iles, QC.  TSH is a 137-mile shortline that provides passenger and freight service between Western Labrador and the QNS&L in Schefferville, QC.


On March 29th  New Brunswick Southern Railway (NBSR) received two more HELM SD40-2’s: HLCX 6315 and HLCX 8144 built as CP 5522 and BN 8144,  The pair departed Metro East Industries, in East St. Louis. IL a week earlier where Chris Gertz caught them in transit eastbound led by CN SD70M-2 8911 in Paris, ON March 26th. These latest HELM units (6315 and 8144) were spartan inside the cab with  no electronics other than a speedometer, and bilingual labels in English and Spanish.  They have now been equipped with radios, TIBS etc. by NBSR and can now lead trains on NBSR.

The New Brunswick Southern Railway is also going to lease GMTX SW1500’s 203 and 204, ex-Alaska Railway (ARR) 1551 and 1552, nee-Lake Erie, Franklin, and Clarion (LEFC) 25 and 26. They are currently at Progress Rail in Tacoma, WA, and will likely move to Vancouver via BNSF, and then transferred to CN.  As well, NBSR will be leasing three GMTX GP38M-2’s numbered GMTX 2639, 2644, and 2666 and and possibly two more.  When on the property, they will have 28 units either owned or leased!  

On April 9th New Brunswick Southern Railway’s Brownville Jct., ME -- St. John, NB train had one of the new lease units to arrive in the consist:  HLCX SD40-2 8144 (ex-BN 8144) is seen trailing  behind NBSR GP38-2 2318, and Pan Am GP40-2LW 504 (ex-CN). Over the last month or so, New Brunswick Southern and the Eastern Maine Railway have been changing from an almost all GP38-2 road power operation, to various combinations of GP40's and SD40-2's.   Business and traffic has increased on NBSR and EMR over the last month, On April 9th a cut of Norfolk Southern wood chip hoppers was turned over to NBS/EMR in today's Mattawamkeag pickup -- apparently destined for work on the new Maine Northern.  New Brunswick Southern /Eastern Maine Railway freights are now operating 6-7 days a week, up from 5 days a week until recently, and this is despite Montreal, Maine & Atlantic's Montreal - Brownville Junction job only operating three days a week each way.  Therefore the bump in NBSR traffic has coming off Pan Am from Waterville and Maine Northern at Brownville Jct, new crude oil shipments coming from Saskatchewan to Saint John’s Irving refinery, and very little from the MM&A. (Paul Donovan and Steve Boyko).

The sleepy town of Mattawamkeag, ME is getting to be the place to be for railfans these days as NBS transitions from a roster of primarily GP38-2's to bigger power.  Driving south on U.S. Route 2 on April 9th  Paul Donovan caught Pan Am Railway’s Waterville - Mattawamkeag train rolling North at Winn, Maine (4 miles south of  Mattawamkeag), with the last remaining ex-CN GP40-2LW still in early-Pan Am paint.  Also along was LLPX/SLR  GP40 3004 which is leased to SLR for sublease to NBSR, and in poor external condition.   Lead high-hood Guilford (Pan Am) GP40 380 was operating with Pan Am GP40 381 exclusively on NBSR/EMR, but its appearance on the Waterville - Mattawamkeag - job may signal the start of more run-through power.  Given the poor state of the economy in both Maine and New Brunswick, all this new activity is refreshing.

Cliff Holder noted Herzog work train 906 passing near the VIA station in Truro, NS on April 19th, with a load of new ties destined south for replacement on the CN Bedford and Springhill Subs. The train consists of  HZGX 176 a restructured body on a GP38 frame and prime mover, six tie cars and cab control car HZGX 1760 on the rear. The crane runs along the top of the cars on an electrified rail and gets its power from an on board generator (which sits on the first car behind the loco). The crane has an electric motor which in turns drives an hydraulic pump for operating the boom etc., Cliff shot the train on April 16th at CN Truro Yard, with HZGX 176 and work train 906.

© CRO May 2012