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After setting off a defective car, eastbound CP freight #142 departed Smiths Falls at 1430 hrs on Sunday, February 9, 2020. From where I was standing on McCrea Road, seven miles away, the sound of the train throttling up echoed like thunder.

The train is led by "HMCS" CP 7022, assisted by mid-train DPU 8723 and rear DPU 8548. The three units had 142 up to the 50 mph track speed when it hit mile 116 at 1437 hrs. The grey of the lead unit and the vortex of snow enveloping the train are great camouflage for the gloomy overcast day, typical of winter in Eastern Ontario.

Scenes like this will change soon. The Winchester Subdivision is currently directional double track with OCS/ABS, but it is slated to be converted to single track CTC. New "Darth Vader" shrouded LED signals are being positioned beside some of the classic ABS searchlights, and track removal is likely to start in May.
Copyright Notice: This image ©Jakob Mueller all rights reserved.



Caption: After setting off a defective car, eastbound CP freight #142 departed Smiths Falls at 1430 hrs on Sunday, February 9, 2020. From where I was standing on McCrea Road, seven miles away, the sound of the train throttling up echoed like thunder. The train is led by "HMCS" CP 7022, assisted by mid-train DPU 8723 and rear DPU 8548. The three units had 142 up to the 50 mph track speed when it hit mile 116 at 1437 hrs. The grey of the lead unit and the vortex of snow enveloping the train are great camouflage for the gloomy overcast day, typical of winter in Eastern Ontario. Scenes like this will change soon. The Winchester Subdivision is currently directional double track with OCS/ABS, but it is slated to be converted to single track CTC. New "Darth Vader" shrouded LED signals are being positioned beside some of the classic ABS searchlights, and track removal is likely to start in May.

Photographer:
Jakob Mueller [2] (more) (contact)
Date: 02/09/2020 (search)
Railway: Canadian Pacific (search)
Reporting Marks: CP 7022 (search)
Train Symbol: 142 (search)
Subdivision/SNS: Mile 116 Winchester Sub (search)
City/Town: Merrickville (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
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Photo ID: 39150

Map courtesy of Open Street Map

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5 Comments
  1. Jakob, Brad

    A double track mainline is designed to handle upwards of 30 to 50 freights and passenger trains per day.

    It’s highly overkill for what’s on the line today and unfortunately, you won’t see the return of the traffic that once was.

    Converting to CTC will also increase capacity – it’s a common tactic to single track and convert to CTC to maintain capacity – of course this is only for Freights – who can wait 2 hours at a siding for meets.

    CN ripped out double track on the Strathroy and Grimsby subs in 1999/2000 and added CTC – converted from OCS/ABS directional running. While this maintained some capacity it slows down passenger trains who have to wait for freight meets.

    On those lines traffic has never returned to even pre OCS/ABS levels, in fact it continues to see reductions as the years go by as trains are eliminated only to create longer and longer but fewer freights.

    Railfans argued that ‘they’ll regret it’ in the long run yet here we are, 20 years later.. it was a good decision for the freight railroads. Less track to maintain means less costs, less signals at xings,

    the only time it’s a bad decision is for passenger service – and there is none on the Winchester :)

    The fact the Winchester is still double track after all this time is surprising to me. You’re lucky it lasted this long.

  2. Thanks Brad.

    I agree about the track removal. Ironically VIA is making noise about congestion with CN freight trains, and the parallel CP line is under capacity. CP lost some traffic to CN recently.

    Of course that’s the big picture, and CP is only accountable to its shareholders. Currently there are only three scheduled CP freights each way here, plus a local, plus oil and grain extras. CP must think that they can manage just fine with single track on CTC, and thus save money by maintaining some sidings instead of the full second track.

    Of course, this doesn’t help if traffic picks up in the future. Anytime rail is lifted, it is related to a traffic downturn, and no one ever thinks about the future upswing. “Precision Scheduled Railroading” is all about maximizing shareholder returns today, and has been criticized for lacking longer-term vision.

  3. Any idea why the removal of the 2nd track? Seems like the reverse of progress. Love the HMCS unit. Well done!

  4. I think you’re right Michael. I admit I only heard “7022 East” on the radio and assumed it was 142 because it showed up exactly when 142 normally does. There was no manifest freight on the train – just intermodal platforms and autoracks, which jives for 112 – but that wouldn’t be the first time I’d seen 142 look like that either.

  5. This was 112 I believe.

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