CP Rail

1988 and yes, that’s an RS18 leading that commuter train!

This photo appeared on the Canadian Railway Observations Facebook page this evening and I was really excited to see it. I have seen RS18’s on the point of Montreal commuter trains before, well photos anyway, but this might be the most “modern” one I’ve ever seen. I have had the pleasure of standing on that platform though.

Here’s a link to the photos on railpictures.ca:


Out of curiousity I took a quick look around the web to see if I could find anything else on that engine and I found this photo of it in maroon and grey colours on the CPR Diesel Roster website:

CP commuter consists – first hand

The 800’s, introduced in 1953, replaced open platform wooden coaches*, some of which I’d seen in Lambton later, awaiting conversion to service cars. When I began to use the line In 1965, the 800’s were then 12 years old, slightly older than some of the RDC’s used on occasional trains (where you could indulge in baggage compartment riding). Still used too at that time were 40 to 50 year-old ex-mainline coaches. These survived until the early 1970’s and would sometimes be mixed in with 800’s. The new gallery cars retired them in 1970, around which time the RDC trains seemed to become longer. I frequently came home to Pointe Claire on a nine or ten-car RDC train.

There were also a couple of experiments. For a while in 1969 we had a full-length smoker, 1700, at the end of train 270 each morning. It had been built for Calgary to Edmonton service between 4-4-4’s. There was a short period when a bar car was attached to the end of one of the afternoon trains, but it didn’t last long.

Motive power was always a steady diet of FP7A’s as now, with help from RS18’s and E8’s such as 1802. I would have hoped that with today’s new cars would come locomotives with about a thousand more horsepower to allow a faster schedule.

Those paragraphs are ones that railfanning legend Robert Sandusky shared in 1989. I enjoy reading his work and these kinds of first hand experiences really help illustrate the types of trains and operations one would have seen if railfanning CP’s Lakeshore trains in and out of Montreal during this time.

Those RDC’s eh? I never doubted the many credible resources that spoke of how CP used RDC’s in commuter service but I’m really starting to buy in to it now. I have seen pictures of these massive RDC consists but had always assumed they were exceptions and not rules. In terms of attempting to translate the prototype into a convincing model I had assumed I’d need some RDC’s but wouldn’t typically need to consider their operation in much beyond perhaps a three car train. Looks like I was wrong. I have a couple of the old Con-Cor RDC1’s with the Roco drives in N scale. I consider these some of the finest operating models I’ve seen in N. I’ve seen the Kato model but never bought one. Looks like I should scramble and pick up a few while I still can.

I’m really excited to see a new question stemming from Mr. Sandusky’s reminisence above. He mentions heavyweight coaches that were still appearing in commuter service. I bought a pair of those really amazing N scale Micro-trains coaches last fall and want to buy a few more. I wonder how close they could be to the ones CP was using? I’ve compared the window and details to the ones that CN was using on their Montreal lines and they compare favourably so I’m hoping to strike it as lucky with CP. There really aren’t any decent photos of this car on the Microtrains website so here’s a link to M.B.Klein’s:

CP 8764 at Montreal West – May 1979

When I first started learning about CP on the Lakeshore trains I assumed that most services were lead by FP7’s. Not that I was far off but I’m fast learning that RS10’s like the one in this shot were also fairly common place.
CPR 8764
Click on the image above and check out the rest of this Flickr photostream. It’s an amazing collection and he’s a lucky guy to have seen those trains and have these photos. I just have the envy.

CP 1412 at Dorval – July 20, 1978

I found this shot online and really wanted to share it. This is just beautiful. With any luck the link from Flickr works and you can see it too:
CPR 1412

Looks like the hood of an RS18 or RS10 trailing that FP7 on the back track. I wonder what train it was on? I’ve seen lots of shots of that arrangement on the lead of the Canadian but to be honest I’d really like to hear it was on the lead of the commuter train headed in the opposite direction.


Thanks to some excellent detective work as noted in the Comments attached to this post, the mystey trailing MLW is an RS10. Great points Chris, thanks for sharing them.

CP Commuter trains in Montreal – operations

Good evening. It feels like with the house move and a busy summer that I’ve really been neglecting this space and I’m keen to back into my usual threads. Now that we’re easing our way into fall I’m excited to share something that I really want to learn more about: Montreal commuter operations during in the era just before MUCTC.

My focal point here is the CP Lakeshore operations from Windsor Station (Lucien l’Allier) and westward.

There have been some exciting examples of rolling stock operated on this line and I’ve been buying up prints and slides as they become available. I’ve been bookmarking websites and similar content online for future reference. During the CP years it’s remarkable that while the coach fleet remained relatively homogeneous the motive power was anything but. The classic units on these trains would appear to be CP’s FP7’s. That said I have a nice slide of a maroon and grey RS18 leading a train of gallery cars and I’ve seen shots of sw1200’s, an FPA4 and RS10’s. While later than I’m concerning myself with I’ve also heard of chop-nosed GP-9’s borrowed from CP and LRC engines in AMT service.

The RDC’s. I’m really fascinated with the RDC’s that seem to have been the predominant feature of these services during the late 1950’s and throughout the 1960’s. I guess most commuter trains were RDC operations. The 800-series lightweight cars would have been around too. I wonder what hauled those trains? FP7’s? I don’t know. Maybe you’re readying this and you do. I’d love to learn more and to hear from you.

How did they turn locomotive-hauled trains before push-pull operations started? Trains of 800-series coaches would have been locomotive-hauled but were not run in push-pull operation. With that in mind I’d like to know what happened with them when they needed to reverse at the end of their run. On arrival at Windsor did a switcher pull the coaches and move them onto a new line where a replacement engine would lead the train outbound? Did the entire consist back out of the station carefully to a wye and the entire lot get turned? I remember reading about the Grand Trunk operations into their Bush Street, Detroit station in the seventies. In that example one train pulled into the station. Once it was empty a spare engine coupled to the back of the train and that new engine would be the power for the next train out. Once that train had left the engine that it had arrived with (the old one) became the spare that would cycle onto the next inbound train. Neat system. Did CP try the same gig at Windsor? I imagine that most of CP’s trains were FP7-led so this wouldn’t work. What do you think?

Next steps. I have some timetables and am starting to put together some consist data. I’m thinking about creating some timelines to document what types of motive power were recorded on what trains. As a modeller’s aid this might be really handy when trying to justify the purchase of a neat model.

I’m excited about this and getting back into some commuter rail research.

Here we go!

In person with Rapido Trains “The Canadian”

Just getting back now and settling in at the house after a really great day trip over to Moncton for the Rapido Trains show-and-tell for their upcoming release of The Canadian.

The models are amazing. The detail is incredible. These are the first diesels I have ever seen that include full underbody details. There’s little doubt left in my mind that these are worth every penny of their asking price. Check out Don’s HO Service to order yours today while some sets are still available. Thanks John Richard for posting the video to Youtube. Follow along with the tour blog here by clicking here: http://rapidotrains.com/blog.html Check out that great looking guy in the red sweater…at least I look like I could be thinking something intelligent…

Now, it’s so hard to look at those perfect CP FP’s today and not think about how great they’d look in this, my favourite engines for all time.

Windsor bound

Not much time for model making lately outside of the work I have been doing on the topographic models but in the wee hours I have been digging deeper into the period in Montreal’s history just before commuter trains in that city became part of the responsibility of AMT and it’s predecessor STCUM.

I came across some pictures of CP Rail operations that I really liked and thought I’d share here.

CP Rail FP-7's on layover in Dorval yard

…and this was too great to ignore

As well I think I came a little closer to solving a mystery I’ve been curious about for a very long time. Here goes…

When I was little, I think in grade one or two my class went on a field trip to the Hershey factory in Smith’s Falls just outside Ottawa. We took school buses to the train station and Via Rail from Ottawa to Smith’s Falls. As our bus pulled in Ottawa’s train station I could have sworn that waiting in the platform was a CP Rail cab unit pulling a string of bi-level coaches. It was a really exciting sight for me. My Dad is a big CP fan and it was so exciting to see real trains just like the N scale ones he had on his model railway at home. That image stuck with me.

As I got older and more and more interested in commuter railway operations I kept thinking about that sighting and how I saw what I saw. By that time (1980-ish) there were no commuter trains to Ottawa at all. Montreal did have them and their train sets were just as I described, typically an FP-7 pulling a string of corrugated bi-level coaches. Knowing that what I saw wasn’t commuter equipment I guess I always explained that memory away as either not remember exactly what I saw (maybe they were just single-level coaches?) or maybe that day’s Ottawa to Montreal train had borrowed equipment from STCUM?

I’m not at home where the URL is for the site where I read this detail but I was reading more about STCUM’s early experimenting with new, to them, commuter rail equipment. Early on STCUM borrowed a train set from GO consisting of a GP40w and Hawker-Siddley single-level coaches. In turn they sent an STCUM set consisting of an FP-7 and Vickers bi-level coaches to Toronto. Well, Montreal to Ottawa just to get to Toronto is far from the most direct route but could it have been that which I saw on that school field trip over twenty-five years ago?

Boy I wish I had a time machine for moments like this one.