Thursday, December 13, 2018

VIA Rail Selects Manufacturer for New Trainsets

VIA Rail has made its choice, and that choice is Siemens.
The German company has been awarded a $989m contract to build a fleet of 32 push-pull inter-city trainsets to enter service on the Québec City - Montréal - Toronto - Windsor corridor.
The trainsets are expected to arrive in 2022.
Each trainset will consist of one locomotive and five coaches, and a non-powered cab unit at the end.
The coaches will feature LED lighting, USB ports, wi-fi, wide seats, quiet zones, cycle storage, flexible luggage space and 'the latest in food service equipment'.
Accessibility features are to include multiple spaces for wheelchairs and mobility devices, braille seat numbering, companion seating, at-seat emergency call buttons, large accessible toilets and integrated lifts for mobility devices.
The trainsets will be manufactured at the Siemens facility in Sacramento, CA.
The trainsets will be maintain in VIA Rail facilities in Montréal and Toronto. They are expected to have a 30-year service life.
VIA Rail intends to withdraw some of its life-expired existing stock starting next year.

Friday, November 23, 2018

More Great North American Modelling from Europe

What is it with those European model railroaders and their great photography and modelling?

A scoot around the Web brings up some fantastic pictures by modellers from places like Germany (Josef Brandl), Switzerland (Stefan Foerg), France (Phillipe Coquet), and now Sébastien Georges of Belgium.

I came across Sébastien's great modelling on the HO Scale Shelf Layouts Facebook group.

On that group page, Sébastien says he is modelling an area in the northeast U.S. close to the Canadian border.

The layout is 13 feet-long on one side with a 4 foot-six inches leg (an "L" shape).

So why do those Europeans produce such great models and photos? I don't know. 

One possibility is that having smaller layouts, or just dioramas, they have the ability to devote more time and effort to smaller scenes. (Like those trees; they are amazing!)

This is unlike some of us in North America, who have large basement layouts.

Whatever the reason, I'm just glad we get a chance to enjoy great modelling like this.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Train Watching in Toronto

A business trip recently took me to a convention in Toronto.

The convention was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre—a great place for watching trains.

The convention centre spans both sides of the busy downtown mainline trackage leading to nearby Union Station.

Union Station is home to three railways: Go Transit, the commuter line that serves the Greater Toronto Area; VIA Rail; and the Pearson UP Express, which connects downtown to the airport.

To get from one side of the huge convention centre to the other, you need to cross the tracks on a bridge. This is a great place to be during the morning and afternoon rush.

Photography isn't the best, since you have to shoot through windows and there can be a glare. But hey: Trains!

There are other nearby uncovered bridges and spots where you can stand on to take photos, if the weather is good. (Or even if it isn't.)

And you can also walk outside and see an early GO Transit car at the nearby John St. Roundhouse and railway museum.

A walk to the west down Front St. takes you to the storage tracks where GO trains tie up between the morning and afternoon trips.

In other words, it's a great place for a convention for a railfan.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Update: The View Outside My "Office" Window

View from my "office" window.

UPDATE: Since first publishing this in 2011, I have returned to working from home. So now I can be back in my office with the great view of passing trains.

I was visiting the office of a client last month near Toronto. Her office overlooked the CPR mainline. Got to admit—it was tough to keep my mind on our meeting every time I heard that familiar rumble of an approaching train.

It made me think: Wouldn’t it be great to have an office window like that?

In fact, I do have an office window that is like that—sort of. The decision to downsize my layout led to some losses, but also to some gains.

My office . . . .

One of the gains was room for my office in my train room. My desk now sits under part of the layout; as I work I can be pleasantly interrupted by passing trains every two minutes or so on the lower level. (The lower level of the layout is a loop.)

A video of what I see when I look outside my “office” window can be found on my YouTube channel by clicking here. Sit back and enjoy the view!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Essex Terminal RR Visits the M & M Sub.

The Essex Terminal Railway (ETR) visited the M & M Sub. last month, in the form of ETR GP9 102.
The unit was built by owner Morgan Turney, who dropped by one evening with his grandson from Australia to run some trains.
But before getting to the unit itself, a bit about the ETR.
Incorporated in 1902, the ETR is an Ontario shortline that runs about 35 kilometers from the east side of Windsor to Amherstburg. It interchanges with CN, CP and CSX.
It provides rail services for about 15 customers engaged the lumber, steel, agricultural, scrap metal, alcohol, and liquid petroleum gas sectors, as well as serving a transload facility.
Not the 102, but sister 108.

Morgan became familiar with the ETR when he worked in the area in the mid-1980s. About that time the ETR was updating their locomotives, including the paint scheme.
“This included their new company logo that, for its time, looked very modern and 'sporty' with its 'chopped' nose - a somewhat recent modification for a GMD Geep,” Morgan says.
He took a special shine to ETR 102—it was the last GP9 built (for the ACR, as 172 in 1963) at GMDD's plant in London, Ontario, about 190 kilometers from Windsor.
As a result, Morgan decided to replicate the unique unit. He started with an undecorated Athearn GP9. After lowering the nose, he used an airbrush to prime and then paint the model using Floquil TTX yellow and black paint.

After applying the Highball decals and finishing it off with Dullcote, “I had myself a convincing model of ETR's 102,” he says.
As for the prototype ETR, the railway currently has four units on its roster, but the 102 isn’t among them. It was sold to the Ontario Southland in 2016.
But it lives on with Morgan, and for one night on the M & M Sub.