Early in the summer we criss-crossed the Newmarket Sub north of Bradford many times to watch the refurbishing of the tracks and rail bed between Bradford and Barrie for the Go Train expansion to Barrie. We had a chance to speak with Dave Wilfong of PNR a few times who is the supervisor of contruction about the whole process. 1,600 foot sections of rail were brought up from Pittsburg Pennsylvania on big fat cars with special machinery which would feed the rails onto the ground.
Each load brought up from the US had 40 pieces of rail 1,600 feet in length. There were two loads brought up over the summer so if I do the math correctly it’s about 12 miles of brand new track. The pictures above show how the track is carried and pulled off the racks. It was really something to see.
Test trains have recently been put through their paces in preparation for the line opening this winter!
Late in September my dad and I were able to spend a weekend at Kahshe Lake with idea of checking out a siding at Sparrow Lake. Our friend Steve Johnson had shown us where this siding was earlier in the summer so we decided to check it out with scanners, cameras and everything. The leaves were changing and the northbound trains appear out of this long chute of trees. It was really something to see. We had great luck as there were trains coming from both directions and both tracks were used tying up car traffic as well but I didn’t care about that!
It has been quite a while since we added anything to our web site and we apologize for this. Since our last update, my dad and I have been lots of places and taken a few pics and made few new videos. Lots of school work has kept me busy and hockey started about a month ago. Now that routines have been established, we can find time to update our blog.
On this particular day during our vacation at Kahshe, we were making a stop in Gravenhurst for supplies. Since the Northlander comes through around 4:30. The train was late but we waited anyway. The Engineer waved as most of them do and off they went. The Northlander switches from The Newmarket Sub to the Bala Sub in Washago on the southbound trip and vice versa on the way to North Bay
It’s Sunday July 22 and we go to the cottage in one week’s time. I can’t wait to go! I am hoping that since our cottage is so close to Washago that my dad will take me there to watch and video a few trains. The yard there is a decent size with lots of action on the Bala Sub. At Washago is also the junction with the Newmarket Sub which has been abandoned in 1995 north of Bradford to Barrie where the Allandale yard used to be and the tracks that used to go to Washago are gone which sucks. The Canadian used to use the Newmarket Sub untill 1996 then stopped and tracks were taken out. Its shame they are gone because they could’ve been used for future GO service. Then there is Gravenhurst and hopefully a few sightings of The Northlander or Canadian. We can hear train horns from the cottage at all hours of the day or night. Kahshe Lake is right between Washago and Gravenhurst so there should be plenty of opportunity to see something.
Lots to read in the papers these days about CP Rail and Via with potential buyouts and avoiding strikes. Seems there is always news about the rail buisness.
The ATCS Monitor project continues. My dad has replaced the rechargeable batteries in the scanner and bought a charger from eBay. Still need an antennae and to make some modifications to the scanner so we can plug it into the computer but we are getting there. I am hoping we will have it all working by late August or early September. Another good thing I found out is that CN runs a switcher train on the Newmarket Sub quite often switching cars at various industries I think. My friend and I went down and saw it about 2 weeks ago on a Friday morning at about 3am, it was awesome! We missed it going up though but at least we go to see it come back down. It was 2 engines and about 10-12 cars long.
Timing is everything. Seems that sometimes we get to the crossing and nothing happens for a while and other times we get there and things happen right away. This past weekend (July15) we decided to go earlier in the morning on Sunday since we didn’t go up north for the day. We got there minutes before a big freighter came through and then about half an hour later another one came through. This all happened between 11:00 and 12:00. After that there was nothing in either direction.
We waited until 1:00 and decided to call it a day. Would have been nice to come back later but my dad wanted to do a chicken on the bbq.
One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing “The Canadian” come ripping through on Saturday at a very fast speed. It was very intimidating and hardly slowed down at all. Was about 20 cars long and was totally awesome!
My dad was happy because we found the piece of trim that came off his car when we hit a raccoon last weekend at night after being at the Vivian crossing. The car is fine but the raccoon wasn’t so lucky.
We are slowly working at getting our ATCS program working. My dad is getting his scanner fixed up and from there we will get the program working.
The problem with watching and video taping trains is that you can’t always predict when they are going to be there. Since the Bala Sub is a pretty busy line we can pretty much go there any time and not have to wait too long to see something. The Vivian Crossing is great because there is a 6,000 foot siding there and many times there will be a “meet” and that’s so cool because somebody has to wait while the other guy goes through. That’s how we got to speak to the one engineer that night. I hope that happens again. Plus there is lots of room to safely park there andd set up the camera.
Fishing for bass is made easier by using a fish finder and if only there was something like that for finding trains! Well, guess what? There is a “fish finder” for trains called “ATCS Monitor”. It’s kind of complicated and we really don’t quite understand how it works but we are in the process of learning. It’s a windows based program and also requires a radio scanner which my dad has an old one. The scanner needs some work and learning the rest will take some time but we should be able to make it work so we can see what’s happening real time. Many times we just drive out to the Vivian Crossing and wait. It’s the waiting some times that’s no fun (my dad sleeps while we wait). If we get this program to work we can use it for other lines as well. My dad is now a Mac guy and isn’t so thrilled with PC’s any more. Should be interesting.
The weather is supposed to be nice. Cool at night and just warm during the day. I hope I get to see what’s going on the Bradford Barrie Go line. My dad and I checked out a few things just north of Bradford last night. You could see where they had done some track work and crossing upgrades.
We will probably hit the Vivian crossing Saturday night and maybe even Sunday. It’s a great siding to watch at. There is plenty of room to park and setup the camera. Lots of room for safety even when it’s dark. With any luck I will get to upload a few videos to Youtube with my dad’s help.
Still hearing lots of horns in the early morning hours on the Newmarket sub/Go Line. One of these nights I’m going to camp out near the tracks somewhere and just wait. I’m very curious about what kind of trains are going up there.
Happy Canada Day!