Friday, 28 September 2012

Ontario Northlander Last Run - Quick Post

Just wanted to post these two shots quickly.

This was the Northlander, lead by 2 power units, #1809 and #1800, southbound at about 6:15 PM, September 28, 2012 at a crossing between Hwy 16 and Major Mac in Richmond Hill.

I'll upload some video later on.

Monday, 24 September 2012

One last Sunday morning with the Northlander

It's Sunday morning, September 23, 2012.  I'm up and off to a perch high above the East Don River on the off-road biking trails just west of Northline Road in East York.  I was hoping this video could be shot later in the fall when the trees were ablaze in red and gold, and catch the orange and blue colours of Ontario Northland's Northlander as it winds it's way through the Don Valley and northwards on it's run to Cochrane.

However, this is the last Sunday this train will make this trek, the video couldn't wait.  It will still be running for the next 5 days but I'm unlikely to find any time.

It's a chilly morning and I was a bit late getting started.  It took me 25 minutes to reach here, normally it's a 30 minute run.  I made it with seconds to spare as I could hear the familiar bell of the GP38-2 just beyond the bend as I arrived.  In the original footage I'm still catching my breath during the first few seconds and quickly adjusting for position.

It's a slow incline along the edge of the golf course, listen in as power unit #1800 has to crank it up once it crosses the bridge.  The wind was kind enough to abate as the train made it's way past, picking up as it disappeared to the north.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A Face Full of Train

Scooted down to Pottery Road to catch the ONR Northlander, as it's days are coming to an end.  Used the Nikon today to try for a few good snaps.  Would have been better had I realized the white balance was set to incandescent.  Post processed it get the colours decent anyway.

Next Sunday is it's last Sunday run.  I have a week to decide where to shoot from.  I have one Tuesday morning I can try as well depending on timing.

Saved the running for later in the day, at the Terry Fox Run (Wilket Creek), 3 1/2 miles to the venue, run 10k (up paced, not race effort), and 3 1/2 miles back for 13ish miles. Added a bit to make up for their short 10k loop as I wanted at least 13 today.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Another VIA Canadian vid

I was heading over to Bayview Avenue to check out the area around the CP overpass after reading a bit of this web page on about Old Pottery Road.  I wanted to see if the area had any good viewing locations for the CP Belleville sub section that crosses this location.  After crossing along Pottery Road and heading up Bayview Avenue, I heard the crossing signals at Pottery go off.  I turned to catch the VIA Canadian train #2, but too far up the hill to make it back down in time to get a closer view.  It's still an interesting viewpoint, higher up the hill, and you can watch it wind it's away beside lower Bayview on it's way to Union Station.

As for Old Pottery Road, the area is under construction by Hydro One as they have been working on the new towers just south of the CP Rails, and views shown in Rudy's page above are not accessible at this point.  I suspect that once completed, any good viewing access that existed to the CP line will no longer be there.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

I'll have a Canadian, please

Last Tuesday, on a day off, I headed down the valley with intent to catch Via's Canadian on it's eastbound run from Vancouver.  Upon crossing under Don Mills, I'm sure I heard the distinctive metal on metal sound of a railcar on the Bala line.  My thought was that it might be the Canadian running a bit early, which is always a possibility.  Scheduled arrival in Washago is 6:30 AM, leaving some 3 hours to reach Union Station.  It doesn't take 3 hours to get from Washago to Toronto, so if there's no blocking line traffic and it makes Washago on time, it could easily arrive early.

At this location, the northbound ONR's Northlander is always bang on time, as it only 5 miles out from the station.  On that particular morning it was a few minutes late, which reinforced my thought that some southbound rail traffic did hold it up by a couple of minutes.  I'd also missed it by about a minute as I was late getting out the door and didn't quite get into position.

Having missed the Northlander, I arrived at a level crossing at the rec trails a bit north of Pottery Road.  It has a nice bridge over the Don River and a good viewing angle, an interesting location for catching some traffic.  It has a set of signals to give a little advanced warning of an oncoming train.  My hope was to catch the Canadian here as it crosses the bridge.  However, after waiting around for almost 2 hours, there was no sign of the Canadian that morning, nor any other traffic since the Northlander went through, and so I headed back through the trails and home.


Skip forward to today (Saturday), I got up considerably earlier and headed back to the same crossing.  No Northlander today as it doesn't run on Saturdays, but I was plenty early to not get caught off guard by an early arriving Via.

Bala can be mighty quiet on a Saturday morning. I could hear the occasional freight high up the valley along CP's Belleville sub.  It was a good hour in when the crossing lights came on and the bell started ringing.  Too bad the engine sound was from the south instead of the norh, so it wasn't the Canadian.  Instead a GO train on it's way to Richmond Hill came through, lead by MP40PH-3C unit #613.  The video's unfortunately rather shaky.  I leave steadyshot off for close trains as the steadyshot highly distorts the image for large / close moving objects.  It does give an idea of what this crossing looks like.

Figuring it would be 15 or more minutes before any southbound traffic could show up, given that it's all single tracked to north of York Mills Road, I jogged down to Pottery Road and back just to stay moving and keep my legs from tightening up.  Returning back, I waited around for another lengthy period.  It was well after 10 and I wasn't feeling much like waiting around too much more.  I decided to head back along the north trail as it stays near the track area and gives the occasional good viewing spot should something happen by.  I was less than a minute away when I could hear the crossing signals going off and high tailed it back, too late to catch any power unit so I was hoping to myself 'please just be a GO unit'.  Sure enough, the familiar green and white double-deckers were passing by S/B, so I  breathed a sigh of relief and returned back to the trail and headed north.

Now, the city is busy rebuilding the pedestrian walkways on the trail at Don Mills.  As a result, it takes some inventiveness to get around the fenced off construction areas.  For the crossing at Don Mills into ET Seton Park, you have to scale a somewhat steep rise to Don Mills Road, cross the roadway, then back onto the regular trail and to the bridge.  The footbridge is not part of the construction.  On it, I had to get on my hands and knees and peer low to see the railway signal to the south, which glowed green.  The signals are in crappy locations down here and are almost useless to figure out traffic conditions on the line for railfanning.

Standing on the bridge, it's about 15 minutes back home from there, it's quarter to 11 and I've been out since 7:30.  I'm standing and pondering whether to give a few minutes first and then leave, or leave now, when a very distinctive blast of a horn to the north beyond the bend in the rails made the decision for me.  Opened the Sony and positioned it, resting my hand against part of the bridge, and there it is...Via Canadian train #2, eastbound from Vancouver, rolling nice and easy through the valley.  A couple of extra blasts from it's horn (the first one caught me off guard and my hand jerked) echoed off the surrounding area.  #6429 leads #6411 in tandem, with 21 stainless steel Budd cars in tow (including 3 domed units).  Lots of passengers were seated in the domes taking in the final views of the valley as their trip was coming to an end.

I didn't get to catch it at the crossing I wanted, but this was pretty good substitute.  It really is a magnificent train to see, especially in the valley  I can only imagine what it's like to ride in.