One of the first things that occurred to me when I first started leafing through Eric Gagnon’s excellent VIA Rail book “Trackside With VIA” is just how much great data he has provided inside. This is easily the largest collection of consist information I’ve ever had the chance to look through. What’s even better is that those consists are backed up with dates, train numbers and directions. This evening I started copying those consists into a little database to start playing around with them.
Years ago I had been curious about designing a layout inspired by the British “terminus to fiddle yard” approach. I wanted it to be passenger operations focused and thought I’d add in that it should be Canadian. My first thoughts were to set it in a late-eighties or early-nineties GO or STCUM/AMT scenario and I keep coming back to that. In fact though I settled on VIA thanks to a neat picture taken in one of VIA’s coach yards. I looked at the picture and the trains inside and thought about how many different operations one could model and represent and the idea sort of took place there. I tried researching this subject and learned a lot but not quite enough – that was until I picked up Eric’s book. I was thinking about that idea again today and thought I’d start copying in the car and engine numbers provided into the book.
I’m hoping that as I start to key in these trains, locomotives, cars, dates and directions some trends will start to appear. On the surface I’d expect to see some trends in train design and composition. A little deeper into the data I’m interested in seeing if any trends regarding turnaround time for individual cars starts to appear. For example: How long does a car stay at rest at it’s terminal station? For instance, if a coach arrived on an eastbound train how long until we could see it leave on the next train out?” I don’t know enough about VIA operations to know if cars stayed within a region or not. I’m trying to apply what I know about larger operations. Given the data’s perspective in Eastern Canada cars noted in the book terminate in Montreal. If a car moves to Montreal in the data and doesn’t re-appear for some time did it just sit in Montreal or did it head further east on a train to the Maritimes, Quebec City or northern Quebec?
I’ve always considered the golden age of Canadian railroading to be during the nineteen-seventies and it’s great that Eric divided his book accordingly. I’ll be using the data from his 1976-1981 section to play around with. I had a little time to start working on this and so far I’ve captured the period July 7, 1975 to June 19, 1976. I brought in all the data he’s provided and a field for:
- Car or locomotive number
- Reporting marks (some of the entries show CN or CP power)
- Location where provided
- Train number
I hope this will provide some decent flexibility with the data and I’ve already given in to temptation to see if anything interesting starts to emerge. I’ll start a new post for what I’ve seen in a few minutes.
My apologies too. I linked to that picture on Railpictures.net in this post. I love the treasure trove of photos shared on that website but I hate the pop-ups.