Thursday, 26 March 2015

Throwback Thursday #9 - Passenger Action at Bayview in February 1977

Competitors meet at Bayview on a cold Winter's day in February 1977. Uncredited Kodachrome, author's collection.

Today’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to the winter of 1977, on a cold but sunny day in February of that year. Here we find an interesting scene with a combination of passenger trains from both CN and CP. Westbound CP #181 is heading through the plant (away from photographer, note rear marker lights illuminated) while an eastbound CN Tempo consist holds on the Dundas sub until the CP train clears. We can probably assume that the CP train was delayed for some reason, after all this is CN’s track and they probably wouldn’t intentionally delay one of their own trains to allow a competitor to have priority. Whatever the reason, the result is nonetheless worthy of further consideration.

The equipment on the two trains presents an interesting contrast in Canadian passenger operations – one attempting to economize and shrink passenger train size, and another an attempt to modernize and improve the passenger experience. When the photo was taken, VIA had been formally in existence for about a month, but it would be more than a year (October 29, 1978) that it would officially take over CN and CP passenger operations. Thus, the two trains are still operated at this date by their respective owners and not yet by the crown corporation.

The CP train is the last vestige of the old Toronto-Buffalo connection by way of Hamilton/Fort Erie (over CP/TH&B), a service initiated in 1894 and terminated when the last #181 to Buffalo was run on April 25, 1981. Gone are the days of the torpedo-tube TH&B GP9’s hauling steam-heated passenger cars (with overnight Toronto sleeper connections), and by this date, the train has been reduced to a two-car RDC consist; at least it is sporting the attractive ‘hockey mask’ paint scheme. The trailing RDC (or “Dayliner” to Canadians) is somewhat of an odd duck, being an RDC-4, a baggage-only model with no passenger seating (73’ long, 12’ shorter than other RDC models). The fact that the train only has one car for actually seating passengers probably speaks to its' popularity by this date. The unit was built by Budd in 1955, and subsequently sold to VIA in September 1978. Evidently not fitting into VIA’s operational plans, the unit was sent to CN’s Pointe Ste. Charles shops in Montreal and subsequently stripped of useful parts to keep other RDC’s going. The remains were scrapped at Dominion Metals & Refining Works at St. Constant, Quebec in 1985.

Though we can’t make out the number of the CN Tempo RS18, it was nonetheless representative of a concerted effort to modernize and improve CN’s passenger operations along the Toronto-Windsor corridor. Rebuilt from a standard RS18 in 1967 with a new-for-the-time HEP system, the six converted RS18’s powered Tempo operated with cars from a group of 25 purpose-built aluminum coaches built by Hawker-Siddely in Thunder Bay, ON. CN 3150-3155 (MRE-18g) featured 92 MPH gearing, a unique paint scheme, and a 575-volt HEP system. The coaches featured outboard disk brakes, electric doors, microwaves, and improved snack service. Delivery of the LRC equipment in the mid-1980’s ultimately rendered the Tempo trains obsolete, with the locomotives and cars being retired by 1983/1986 respectively; their unorthodox 575-volt HEP system didn’t jive with the new Amtrak/VIA standard of 480 volts, greatly limiting the equipments’ usefulness in combination with other car types. Interestingly though, like a cat with nine lives, several of the coaches were subsequently resold to the Rio Grande for use on their Colorado Ski Train operation; the cars were then re-sold some of the cars to the CN/ACR Agawa Canyon tourist train operation, returning the cars to Ontario, albeit much farther north than they were initially accustomed to! Approaching their 47th birthday, it is indeed remarkable that these cars – especially given their aluminum construction – are still polishing the rails!

‘Til next time,



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