Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bowser SD40-2F Red Barn Update

Like many others, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Bowser SD40-2F Red Barn. Earlier this year, it was announced they would be available by December.

I asked Lee English of Bowser Trains for an update. He told me that a new body sample is due in the middle of December. The new body has some minor changes and a big change--open grated steps.

The estimated time of arrival is now February, 2017.

As for other Bowser HO offerings, Lee says the M636 is in final tooling. It will come out after the Red Barn.

The delivery of the second batch of SD40-2s is due in late January, 2017.

As for the much-anticipated RS3, Lee says that design and tooling is "moving along very well." He adds they will announce the Canadian versions next year. This will include chop noses with correct side filters.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November Trip on VIA Rail to Saskatchewan

Getting ready to leave the station.

Business took me to Saskatchewan in mid-November. Luckily, VIA Rail's schedule lined up nicely with mine so I could take the train to Saskatoon.

Our power for the trip.

There were 10 cars on the train, including the baggage car. Just one coach, which is where I had a seat.

Big prairie sky from the dome car.

Not that I spent much time there; most of the trip was spent in the dome car. Where else would you want to be?

We met a number of freights along the way, but surprisingly weren't held up much.

I used many of the 12-plus hours to do work. As a manager, I am interrupted a lot each day. Travel by trains allows me to get a lot of work done.

The main drawback to travelling in fall and winter is that night comes so early, especially after the end of daylight savings time.

Sunset from the dome car.

Still, it was nice to be in the dome car, underneath the stars.

At the stop in Melville, I was able to catch the train and the super moon.

The next day found me in Outlook, home to the longest pedestrian railroad trestle in Canada. It crosses the South Saskatchewan River.

The bridge, which was opened in 1912, which was designed to enable the CPR connect Moose Jaw and Edmonton, is  now part of the Trans-Canada trail. The line that used it was abandoned in 1987.

The end.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Newton, Kansas: A Great Little Railroad Town

If you like trains, and lots of mainline action with some shortline activity added—then Newton, Kansas is a great place to visit.

Newton, with a population of just over 19,000, is located about 40 kilometres north of Wichita. It is on the BNSF (former Santa Fe) mainline between Chicago and Los Angeles.

Railroads and Newton have been linked for a long time. In 1872 it became the western terminal for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and the railhead for the Chisholm Trail.

Business takes me to Newton about once a year. I was there again in October, and had two occasions to wander trackside.

Train watching is easy in Newton. The locomotive facility is easily seen from nearby streets, although you need a zoom lens to get decent photos.

The mainline crosses Main St. right by the locomotive facility and the Amtrak Station (with its classic ATSF Harvey House design), providing close-up views of the action.

Train activity is frequent—a delight for the visiting railfan, but a source of much grumbling among the locals who have to wait often at crossings for the trains to pass.

In two brief trips trackside I caught four mainline freights and a locomotive move. 

Unfortunately, it was afternoon and all the trains were eastbound, meaning I was shooting into the setting sun.

I also caught a WAMX (Webb Asset Management) train pulling a long string of cars slowly across Main St. I think it is the Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad, but I’m not sure.

A wander around the streets alongside the locomotive facility showed a variety of power on site—units from KCS, CP, CN, CSX and NS were all present, along with a few units still in classic BN green, and even some in the old ATSF scheme.

Unlike in 2009, I didn’t see any trains with flatcars carrying Boeing 737 fuselages. Back then, I was lucky enough to catch a number of them waiting across from the station.

There are lots of little towns like Newton across North America, places where there is lots of railway action and relatively easy access to see the trains. Maybe you have a special place like it of your own.