New year. Same great Montreal.

This year started with a quick run to Montreal to drop my kid back off at school. Though I really hadn’t intended to spend any time trackside there were a few occasions where chance afforded me just that kind of opportunity. It’s been just over a month since I was in the city and I’d forgotten that I’d grabbed a few train photos while there – until now. I didn’t take many and here some favourites I’d like to share.


Most of the morning trains are finished for the day but waiting at Lucien l’Allier were these two train sets.

As I stood on the platform admiring the view it occurred to me I had the time to run about a block along the line to Guy overpass. From here, there’s a terrific view into the station and I managed to get there just quick enough to catch 1330 shoving its train out. Despite the backlit conditions, I really rather quite like these two photos.

Later that day and it’s time to start heading back the hotel and, ultimately, my car for the drive home to the Island. Again, my connections take me right through LuLa and timing provided a quick pause to check out the evening’s trains. 1330 is still working and on the adjacent platform is one of AMT’s new ALP45DP engines. Though I don’t have a photo, about an hour after I took these I was pulling into the parking lot of superb Montreal hobby shop Hobby Jonction, just in time to watch perhaps the same ALP45DP shoving a train west.

On that same camera role a few “firsts” for me. Despite the popularity of taking “selfie” photos I do not like having photos of myself. Then, there was this moment where I had a bit of time on my hands and broke the selfie ice with this:


Kind of in focus? Check.

Smiling? Check.

Not too creepy? Well, two out of three eh?

Let’s call this a win. I haven’t taken any others since but it’s neat to pretend I’m doing something cool for a change. Of course, this sort of stuff is just a gateway isn’t it for other popular photographic activities. A few hours after taking my first selfie I took this one, of a truly excellent coffee I was enjoying at Eva Bee:


My kid raves about this crazy store. It was a blast visiting for the first time. I have no idea how I could possible describe the experience or what the store is really all about. What I do know is the people are super cool, the music was fun, and this coffee was one of the finest I’ve ever enjoyed. It’s likely the most grand coffee presentation I’ve ever been offered and this cost about two dollars – for everything. I felt almost guilty. Needless to say coffee this good was a welcome invitation to lunch and soon this platter was joined with more. The food is all local and made to order. Everything was terrific.

Great food and commuter trains. Most of all, I was invited on a road trip by my kid and I’m so grateful to have been a part of that. Thanks for bringing me to your Montreal Des! I had a blast and can’t wait to go back. Hopefully for longer next time!


Beaconsfield magic

High on the adrenaline rush of trains already sighted, we were pacing that AMT West Island train and the temptation to indulge in a chase was too great. Between stations there would be no way we could keep up but the traffic was moving really nicely and, unlike the train, we didn’t need to stop at every station. I reasoned we could run as far as Beaconsfield and that distance might give us just enough time to park the car, grab the camera, and get out onto the platform in time for the train to arrive. With only minutes to spare we wheeled into the parking lot and with the car barely stopped we ran onto the platform in a manic style that really only those that have gone train chasing can truly know. We were in luck. The train hadn’t arrived yet and for those waiting on the platform, our mania provided a little evening rush hour entertainment. The evening’s sunset was just beautiful and I’m pretty proud of this set of photos.

Walking back to the car I remarked that it would be evening cooler if we got to see one of the evening VIA trains. No sooner did I finish that comment did it appear.

What a great pile of fun!

Not done yet

Still on Autoroute 20 we continued our drive west across Montreal Island. It was around six o’clock and I hoped that we might see one of AMT’s West Island trains rushing commuters home.

“Hey Dad!” was the battle cry in the car and then the train appeared beside the car. Emi still had the camera in hand and she grabbed this shot:

DSC02108Another great photo Emi.

She’s shooting this through our bug-stained windshield and into the sun. You’d never know it. Heck, with this kind of talent on the camera I really don’t think I need to be a part of that at all. The future of railfanning in Canada? The kids are going to be okay and everything is going to be fine.

Better than I ever had

Canadian railfans know the worst part about Montreal traffic isn’t the speed you’re driving at or getting used to the general pace of moving through the city but the fact that CAD Rail’s property borders Autoroute 20 and trying to navigate in that traffic while trying to take an inventory of what’s in their yard using your well honed peripheral vision is a feat worthy of Olympic recognition.

Emi had mentioned how neat it would be if we could see some trains while we were in Montreal and I was describing CAD Rail to her. I joked about how hard it would be to ever photograph anything there as the yard itself is beside the highway and just pulling to the shoulder just isn’t realistic. As we neared their yard I could see what looked like a Santa Fe GP in the mix along with some former GO Transit green. It was then that she grabbed the camera and took this photo.


Considering the speed and how fast this photo came together it’s really great. I’m quite proud of it in fact. Sure is one heck of a lot better than anything I ever would have taken.

Way to go kid!

Montreal electrics in 1989 video

Just a superb video of one of my favourite subjects anywhere.

I highly recommend subscribing to fmnut, he’s posting some really amazing video footage and it’s a real treat just picking things off at random from his channel. Lots to inspire here.

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:

CN ETT #3 for October 29, 1972

Today’s mail brought my latest commuter paper addition in the form of CN Employee Timetable #3 for October 29, 1972. It’s cool that it’s dated for my birthday (if for the wrong year though) and neater still in that it incudes a lot of really great detail on CN’s electric operations in Montreal. I’ve only just had a few minutes to look through it but it’s been a great investment.

I purchased it from Dean Ogle. He has an absoloutely awesome collection of railroad paperwork for sale and I strongly encourage a vist to his website:

Excellent service and very reasonable prices. He really knows the hobby and is a pleasure to deal with.

AMT #705 – July 22, 2000

So far I’ve managed to scan in the photos I took on July 22, 2000 of the AMT train I rode out to Dorval. Our train was lead by leased VIA #6455 and classic ex-CP #836 was tucked in behind. The balance of our train was made up of what was then the newest cars on AMT’s fleet. These being a series of cabs and coaches built by Bombardier and similar to the Amtrak Horizon cars and most commuter rail fleets un and down the American east coast. Why these cars aren’t available in model form is beyond me. Heck it seems like every second week we get yet another Dash-something-or-other but these cars are still missing from most ready-to-run product lines. Since they vary so little from commuter agency to agency I would think they would be an easy home run for someone (ideally) like Kato to release.

But I’m getting away on a tangent…

Our train would leave Lucien l’Allier led by #6455. It’s return trip downtown would be with #6455 pushing and cab #705 in the lead. Before all this excitement occurred I invested some more film and just finished scanning in those prints.

AMT #836 – July 22, 2000

This is the 800-series coach I photographed and mentioned in a few posts yesterday. These cars are all long gone but as a tribute to their condition and AMT’s investment many are still in service on scenic railways. There’s a great video out there on Youtube of a Chinese-built steam engine in Iowa(?) hauling a string of these still in AMT colours and logos.

I’d love to have models of these and think that if I could find drawings somewhere I’d sure like to try my hand at drawing them up in 3d for printing at or somewhere like that.