July 1989

Tuesday 4 July

I went down to Halifax and then on to Sydney with Norm Hilt.  We met Joe Chisholm and Don Mollins at Sydney and went to see the Devco Operations Manager.  Devco are running a good operation.  The shop is quite new and very clean.  The road power is now GP38-2 but there is evidence of the Alco era in the form of 212 which has been rebuilt into a snowplow,  It doesn't look very different until you notice the wing blades which have been placed by the side of the cab.

From Sydney we followed the Sydney subdivision fairly closely past the Grand Narrows bridge to Port Hawkesbury.  The provincial highway department is building a bridge close to the CN Grand Narrows bridge. Pity the two of them could not have agreed to use the CN structure.

At Port Hawkesbury we could see in the distance the Georgia Pacific switcher at Point Tupper.  We caught up with CN 341 at Havre Boucher and then drove on for dinner near Antigonish.  There then followed a visit to the New Glasgow area where the Oxford subdivision switchers are stabled and the new VIA station at Stellarton.  VIA have done a good job in building a pleasant brick structure and it is a pity that it seems to be in danger now that the VIA regional services are in danger of being removed.  The rest of the trip was in darkness. We arrived at the Chateau Halifax just before 23:00.

Wednesday 5 July 1989

Another full day today.  We were up and out early and had a trip to see the CN facilities at Halifax including the ancient Rockingham shop with the wooden roundhouse.  The next stop was a visit to the new VIA maintenance depot close to the station.  This is quite impressive and is a clean, well thought out facility. Pity that the whole operation is in jeopardy so soon after it has been opened.  In the yard the equipment for train #11 to Montreal was being prepared.  The lead locomotive was 6430, one of the new F40-PH class.  Trailing this was one of the few MLW units that VIA is still running, 6871.  All of the cab units were sidelined on April 1 because they didn't have reset safety controls.

We then had a quick visit to see the rail facilities at Dartmouth including National Gypsum with its relatively new Hunslet.  The Hunslet is already looking the worst for wear and has lost a coupler.  They have been having some trouble with it as most of the functions are air operated.

Next was a run out to Mount Uniake on the DAR where we have had a complaint about the crossing and then it was time for lunch at Pizza Hut.  Afterwards we had a long drive to Saint John stopping in to see the crossing at Elmsdale where the bungalow had just been moved as the result of an order issued by Joe. (At the original site meeting CN had asked Joe where they should put the bungalow.  Joe's answer was not repeatable!)

There was quite a lot of activity at Saint John.  In the CP yard one of the RS-23s had been repainted Canadian Atlantic Railway.  It looked quite smart.  There seems to be some question as to how long it will remain in business,  We saw VIA #11 at Saint John and had a quick look at the CN shop.  The only GM power to be seen was assigned to the Denison Gypsum train - everything else was MLW.  Back to Moncton for the night.

Thursday 6 July 1989

This morning we went out with Don Mollins and examined a train which was supposedly ready to depart.  He found a few safety violations and two cars had to be switched out.  Lunch with Peter Johnson, CN's manager in Moncton, and then a visit with the staff in the Moncton office.  The trip back to Ottawa on Canadian International was annoying.  We had a long walk through the airport at Dorval and were then stuffed into a small 16 seater plane for the flight to Ottawa. Ridiculous to have such a small plane on this run.

Monday 17 July 1989

Off on my travels again, this time to Toronto to spend time in the regional office.  I went down on VIA 41 with locomotive 6420.  The head end crew were very good.  Walter Crossman and Doug Lovejoy are senior enginemen from Toronto and worked all the way back.  We left on time and soon were mixing it with the early morning west end traffic including school buses.  We made it through without incident.  This was the first time that I had ridden a 6400.  They are very high off the ground and have a vibration that comes through in the cab. The ambient sound levels are likely lower than the LRC.  The 6400s are limited to 90 mph while the LRC can reach 95 mph.  This can cause a problem in some tightly times sections.  They also ride more roughly than the LRCs although there is a good third seat.

Out through Barrhaven, through the bridge by Cott Lumber and we are soon flashing through Richmond. Smiths Falls was ready for us and we went right in.  Very soon we were off again, this time through the swamps of Bellamy and Jasper at 90 mph. Brockville and on to the main line to Kingston where we were given coffee and a pretty good continental breakfast with juice and fruit.  It is a tremendous feeling to own the road and run at 90 mph.  The approach to Kingston demonstrates the skill of the engineman.  We approached around a left hand curve at 70 mph.  Just one brake application brought the speed down to 50 mph at the crossing at the end of the platform and we came to a smooth stop, jerk free, right in the correct place.

The rest of the trip was as equally exhilarating.  We had a short pause while we waited for a freight at Oshawa East and had to take the north track as the south was blocked by a derailment in the yard at Oshawa.  The auxilliary was in attendance with two SD40s.

In spite of the delay we managed an on-time arrival in Toronto.

Tuesday 18 July 1989

I went out with Linda Hoffman and Denis Galarneau as well as Bob Fish from Ottawa.  We first visited a very busy unprotected crossing in the Toronto Harbour area and watched a CN transfer move battle the traffic. From there we examined a couple of crossings on the Oakville subdivision as well as some trespassing problems.  After a fish and chip lunch (accompanied by an earwig in the roll) we went to look at some crossings in rural Puslinch township.  The final stop was in Cambridge where there is a bad trespassing problem on the CP bridge over the Grand River.  One kid was even cycling over the structure which is more than I would care to do.

In the evening Denis, Bob and I took the GO train to Whitby including the newly opened GO subdivision from Pickering to Whitby.  I rode GO F59 #534.  This is a cadillac of locomotives.  It rides well and the sound levels are very good.  Even so I question whether this is really suitable for suburban operations where rapid acceleration and deceleration are essential.

From Whitby we went to Oshawa to look at the CN street operations which are the left overs from the Oshawa street railway.

Wednesday 19 July 1989

Visited the CN control office this morning and had a meeting with the staff of the regional office in the afternoon.

Bob and I decided to come back to Ottawa on VIA 44 rather than the later VIA 46 because there was an accident near Belleville which was delaying things.

The head end crew turned out to be Lovejoy and Crossman and I was greeted like an old friend.  Bombing along the lakeside Doug got up from his seat and offered it to me.  I reluctantly declined.  The unit was 6917 which rode very well although noisier than 6420.  Just west of Belleville this morning train VIA 40 with VIA 6452 had hit a truck loaded with bricks.  The entire train, which was LRC equipment, derailed but stayed upright.  6452 was only a little dented although the truck was destroyed as was the driver. Thye engineman suffered bruised knees and there wer a few minor injuries among passengers.  We were stopped for about 30 minutes waiting to get around the wreck and went past at about 10 mph.  When I think that the train was travelling at 90 mph it is amazing that there were not more injuries.

I went back into the club car for supper and then rejoined the head end at Smiths Falls, this time with Bob Fish.  It was dusk and the trip through to Ottawa was very impressive.  Walter kept the train precisely at 95 mph as we flashed through the many crossings.  Quite exciting.

Saturday 22 July 1989

Mary and I got dressed up and went to a performance of Don Giovanni at the National Arts Centre this evening,  We had a very good meal at Les Saisons, the posh restaurant at the Westin,  The food was very good as was the service.

Don Giovanni was disappointing.  There was a silly piece at the beginning while the overture was being played and the Don was watching everything from a balcony when he was not on stage.  The casting was very poor. Donna Anna was made up like a shrew and Don Attavio was very effeminate. The Don himself was neither wicked enough so one could hate him nor was he funny enough so it could be viewed as a comedy. There are a number of flaws in the opera itself and the director made the worst of them.  To cap it all the highly touted supertitles frequently managed to get our of synchronization.

At least the two of us, me in tuxedo and Mary in her long blue evening, dress felt pretty good.  

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