Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Journey to Lloydminster

On May 8, 2015 I found myself taking a trip to Lloydminster to meet up with some friends, and play a few rounds of golf.

On this trip I would be travelling alone, so I decided to take the "scenic route". The scenic route took me from Weyburn to Aylesbury, Saskatoon, Keppel, Biggar(didn't see any trains here), North Battleford, and onto Lloydminster

Departing Weyburn at around 11:00, it wasn't long before I came across a train.

As I drove north-west on highway 39, I passed a busy MOW crew working to the south-east of Yellow Grass. Shortly after, the scanner came to life, and told me that a work train would be coming south with CP 3104 in the lead. I made a quick stop in Yellow Grass, and waited for the work train which I could see coming in the distance, and it wasn't long before they rolled past me with five ballast cars in tow.

Later in the day, I learned that this train, and the MOW crew were working on repairing the tracks after a train had derailed overnight. Obviously it was not a serious derailment, as there was no sign of any derailment when I drove past, aside from the working crews.

Continuing on my way, the next stop was Aylesbury, which is located between Regina, and Saskatoon on highway 11.

Aylesbury is also home to the shops of the Last Mountain Railway (LMR), which is part of the MobilGrain family. The LMR runs from Regina to Davidson, and is home to some interesting power. Luckily for me, some of their units were parked in Aylesbury on this day. Below are some shots of the power.

M&ET 608
CP 5491, and 5493
MobilGrain 6901, and M&ET 604

It was a quick stop here, before I was on my way again. The next stop was to be CN near Saskatoon, since it had been awhile since I last shot a CN train!

Arriving at the CN crossing at Range Road 3051 just to the south of Saskatoon, I noticed lights in the distance to the east! A quick set up of the video camera was needed, and resulted in a decent shot of CN 2681, and BCOL 4650. Not a bad first catch of CN in a few months. I was in for a surprise though! As the tail end of CN 2681 west cleared, I heard a horn from the west. It was IC 2701 (in CN paint) leading an eastbound. Trailing IC 2701 was CN 5544, and acting as DPU was CN 8851.

It was starting to get a bit later in the day, and the main spot I wanted to get to was Keppel, so I hopped back in the car and headed west.

Keppel is located about 80 kilometres west of Saskatoon, and is also where the CN Watrous Sub parallels the CP Wilkie Sub.

I was lucky in that the ground was dry, as I wouldn't try and get into Keppel in my Ford Focus otherwise. The road to access Keppel is a narrow farmers road, and if wet, would likely be quite muddy and sticky. Below is a screen shot of the area.

As I arrived on scene, I grabbed my bag and tripods out of the car. As I was doing so, a horn echoed in the distance! I ran up the hill, did another quick set up, and within a few seconds CN 2123, and 2429 lead a potash train past me heading east. Bringing up the rear of the train as DPU was IC 2725.

CN is single track here, so I knew it would be a little while before a CN train would come west, and I had the scanner handy to get a heads up.

I also knew that it would be awhile before a CP train came along, as the drive from Saskatoon follows the CP Wilkie Sub for a good portion of the way, and there were no trains to be seen.

After waiting about an hour or so, the next train began to make its presence known with its distant horn. This time I would be prepared, and have the camcorder's rolling, and the camera ready.

A few minutes later, CN 2303 came rolling around the corner heading for points west. Trailing was CN 5406. Below is the picture, but you can watch the video here.

After the 2303 and its train passed, the signal on the right went green for a while, but changed back to red meaning a train was approaching.

I figured it would likely be CN 2681 again, and it was! This time I was ready for the shot, and believe it or not, had another perfect timing with CP 9739 west rounding the curve just as 2861 cleared view. (Video Here)

By the time CP 9739 had rolled past, I was getting hungry and decided to run into Biggar for something to eat, and then head north to CN's Prairie North Line (PNL).

North Battleford was the first stop on the PNL, which is a divisional point between the Aberdeen (to the east), and Blackfoot (to the west) Subs.

As I was driving into town, I heard 452 getting a clearance to head east. Unfortunately, I didn't want to head east because the ultimate destination was west. Fortunately, they were restricted to just out of town, where 453 would be meeting them. So, I quickly found a spot and waited for 453 to slowly roll into the yard with units 5546, and 5523 on the head-end (Video).

Now it was time to head for Lloydminster. I wasn't expecting to see any more trains, but would keep an eye out for some as the highway from North Battleford to Lloydminster parallels the CN Blackfoot Sub the majority of the way.

Sure enough, I got just to where the road and rail start to follow each other and along came IC 2718 (in CN paint) with 2243 trailing on a short eastbound train near Delmas.

I screwed up by not tightening the nob on my tripod, and it slowly tilted and messed up the video a bit. I managed to save the video by straightening it out as the tripod slowly leans. You may notice a bit of a shake when I noticed the problem just after the head end passes by.

As I got back on the road, I heard over the scanner that another train had given IC 2718 a roll-by inspection! Awesome!

So, I kept an eye out for this other train, and before I knew it I could see its tail-end. By time I got to the other side of Delmas, I was ahead of them and had set up and waited.

This is probably my favourite catch on the day, as well as the last.

Hope you enjoyed following along on this adventure. It was a great day out for sure.