VIA yard ops and the wisdom of friends

I’ve been picking away at this blog for a couple of years now. I feel so lucky to have made some great friendships and to have been able to use the blog as a common place to think about ideas online. I love railroading and I’m especcially fond of things like urban railroading, everything GO Transit and of course the Prince Edward Island Railway. Recently I posted some musings about VIA yard ops. Tonight Eric Gagnon left a really excellent comment on that VIA post. His insight was just too great to leave buried in the comments reel. I think it’s worth a post of it’s own so everyone can see it.

Chris, I would say that early in my railfanning era there was definitely a role for switchers in VIA passenger operations. Locomotives were locomotives and cars were cars. Locomotives went to the roundhouse. Cars went to the coach yard.

Once the LRC came online, the VIA maintenance centres were specifically built to handle entire consists/trainsets. Trainsets travelled from stations to the maintenance centres. Having said that, sometimes they were coupled together with each other, other locomotives, or single cars – some variation.

As Steve has noted, this pattern has pervaded VIA, with routes using trainsets. Switchers may be used to remove bad order cars, re-position cars to other tracks at the maintenance centres etc. As Jason Shron has mentioned, at Toronto a fleet of S-13′s were kept busy assembling/disassembling consist at Spadina, and variations of this happened elsewhere. A steam generator-equipped GMD-1 was used during the pre-HEP era to switch passenger cars and consists.

In fact, you might be interested in the car cycles of the Canadian starting November 1981 when it was running on the Kingston Sub, comparing the westbound consist with the eastbound one returning a few days later, as one example.


Eric, if you’d rather this stayed as a comment let me know and I’ll take this down immediately.

Now about the comment itself. Just think about that great scene. Strings of great early VIA coaches, yup a sea of VIA blue and old Tempo cars (fingers crossed on that detail…ha!) being pushed around by classic Canadian switchers. I could build a layout around that. I probably won’t but it sure is fun to research and think about. I tell you what I am going to do – I’m going to dig out Eric’s book and start mapping out some of those consists.

Thanks Eric. Thanks for reminding me again how great this hobby is.


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