Consulter nos archives / Consult our archives

La majorité des documents conservés par le Centre d'archives et de documentation de l'ACHF sont disponibles pour consultation.

Most of the documents kept by the ACHF Archives and Documentation Center are available for consultation.

Canadian Rail 190 1967

Lien vers le document

Canadian Rail 190 1967

July -August
M.V. William Carson furnishes daily servioe between North
Sydney, N.S. and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.
The trans-island Caribou is assembled at Port aux Basques by C.N.
594, the port switoher on June 19, 1956.
(~~ 11~~)
-by Tiv Wilkins –
Only one of the Oanadian Fathers of Confederation was a11ve and
well enough on July 11 1961, to oelebrate the Centenn1al of Confed­
erat10n. The Father s name 1s, of oourse, the Honourable Joey
Smallwood, Premier of the Province of Nswfoundland ever sinoe he
brought the provinoe into oonfederat10n with Canada in the Spring
of 1949. We feel it appropriate that this issue of Canadian Rail
oontain the following in-depth desoription of travel to and on
the unique and fasoinating railroad whioh Canadian Nat10nal Rail­
ways inherited when Canadas youngest provinoe Joined the family.
This artiole is all the more timely in that ON has reoently made
known its intent10n of remov1ng the narrow-gauge passenger trains
in favour of standard gauge buses to operate over the reoently­
opened Trans-Oanada highway. We feel sure that this narrat1ve w111
ent1ce many to r1de these tra1ns wh11e there 1s st111 t1me.
~e stUl remains a narrow gauge train in North America,
operated around the calendar for regular passenger traffic. Its a name
train, too –The Caribou–which runs over Canadian National
Railways 3 6 gauge main line across the island of Newfoundland.
With an impressive consist of sleepers, diner, club car,
day coaches and head-end cars, No.1 departs westbound from St.
Johns every day except Thursday from m~-June to mid-September~ aDd
No.2 eastbound leaves Port aux Basques every day except Tuesday~.
During the rest of the year departures are reduced to Monday-Wed­
nesday-Friday from each end of the line.~ Although the two termi­
nals are only 300 miles apart via the crows flight, the rails con­
necting them wind over a circuitous route of 548 miles through a
country of lakes, rivers, mountains and forests. Scheduled running
time is 21 hours for the eastbound trip and 22} hours westbound.
However, the average 25-mile-per-hour schedule for the entire trip
is not indicative of the speed of the train. Between numerous stops
and layovers at division points, the train runs at a rather fast
clip, even on some of the sharp curves.
Newfoundland -Canadas most easterly province -lies 90
miles across Cabot Strait from the northeastern tip of Nova Scotia.
Daily ferry service is provided by the Canadian National Railways
between North Sydney, N.S. and Port aux Basques, Nfld.; ferry
schedules are coordinated with the arrival and departure of trains
on both the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland sides of the strait.
SCheduled crossing time is six hours.
It was a foggy day in late July 1964 when my wife and I
boarded the ferry William Carson at North Sydney. The overnight
train from the south had arrived an hour behind schedule which
* See schedules following page.
~ Now 101 & 102 daily on different schedule.
C.N. 317 baoks onto the head end of theCaribouat St.Johns
Newfoundland, June 20, 19.56.
. .
AoI …….. M … , .. ~, … , …. ~ .~. T~ .. A ……
• _. Lo … . ……… ..,.i~ ::::,~:~:::~.~::~;:.!:: :::,,:;:i:: .:~;: .. I:,::t::~ …………… 1 .. ..
eQUIPMtr_U,,U: H
T .. ,~. :N~~~-Ht CARIBOU
e:..:::! .. I)iMI.ea….~,,~~ …
Jam lal!l ~S~~s:.:
_II…to.uI~ ~,.C., __ ~_M«O ……
., … MI03 …… IoQ04·lOt
; ~=t..~~5:=~~..r;~l.
………… …. ….. ,.~.n ~I … ,. ….
On, H … , ….. M. … , …….. , ….
,,,,,.,, … , .. ,,.,,,,,,,.
· …….. ,.I.· ….. ….. r ………………
………….. ~ … , … … ,. tW, …. .

.-=~ .. NW …….. ,,0-
~~~ t!;!.1.!:t.!.:;V.:!&
,. … ,t;.~t~;~-
Ie ….. v of CI1 It_ ………. , e ….. .
~:i!:.····· .. …… _·,,>tll .. ..
Stll.VlCItl cOf,lRS O[ TtRRt·,..[UV[
0 …… , ……………. …….. 01 … .
•• …… 1 … 1( …………. _ ….. ..
1Ol …. ~ eN.
ereReNce MARt o_,..c..r.
• …….. WNu.~ :Y.
, fIottoIIr, , .. td4&0, ,.
, …………
,;:-;,rl ….. J,t.w., … o.1.,.
.. u~.,~QM.
>lDl N ………… O.,… …..
.::::. .. · ….. ~I ….. ..-•. u~
8 CI,r.~
L.oo.Jt …. (oN). … :fI).
, M ….. )wI~ …. .,.
, ….. u …… –
..: ~::::.::–…. .,.,–::..
…. , H __ _… .. IoCI .. ..
~T )j …. _-c do h_ ….. I1 ….. · •.
i:1 L;
.. ,

20 .-
… ~ .
tI· .. N.Jw :;.
.. 11.;1 … ,..,.. .. ,. …… .~
..I IAt … , N -mbta.
necessitated a quick transfer from the train to the boat. Depart­
ure time was 7:00 A.H. but because of the delayed arrival of the
train it was past eight 0 clock when the boat pulled away from the
Once settled aboard the ferry we proceeded to the spaciow
and attractive cafeteria. With a seating capacity of nearly 150
people, it was possible to have a leisurely breakfast, which was
greatly apprec~ted after the rush from the depot in a crowded taxi,
working our way to the reservation window at the Port Ticket Office
and hurrying up the long flight of steps to the boat, lugging our
own baggage.
After breakfast we took a self conducted tour of the
William Carson. Trim and neat throughout its entire length of
351 feet, this modern streamlined vessel has a displacement of 7550
tons and is capable of a maximum speed of 16 knots. However, due
to the rather heavy fog, we were travelling somewhat slower than
the maximum. About 300 passengers can be accommodated on two decks
with space below for 50-60 automobiles and trucks. There is addi­
tional cargo space astern the passenger decks. In addition to the
cafeteria, passenger facilities include three comfortable, well­
appointed lounges with individual reclining seats, a number of two
and four berth cabins and a few twin-bed deluxe cabins with private
bath. Except during the summer months the northbound crossing is
at night, hence the sleeping accommodations. Several of the cabins
were occupied on our 98lling, mostly by families with small children.
With different gauge railroad connections at the two ferry
terminals no railway cars are ferried across the strait as is done
on Northumberland Strait between New Brunswick and Prince Edward
Island. (Some standard gauge track has recently been laid at Port
aux Basques to enable direct trans-shipment from the Newfoundland
narrow gauge freight equipment to standard gauge cars which will be
ferried over the Cabot Strait.) Trans-shipment of freight between
the mainland and Newfoundland is made from railway car to ferry at
each end of the crOSsing, then back to railway car on the oppOSite
shore. A new ferry which is to go into service across the strait
in 1967 will result in a significant reduction in the transfer
handling of freight. Now being built, it is to have sufficient
standard gauge trackage to carry 35 to 40 railway cars plus space
for a number of trailer trucks. Transfer of freight to and from
the standard gauge cars will be made at Port aux Basques.
Our voyage across the strait was uneventful, although
never boring. The weather was calm but it became more soupy
toward the middle of the strait. Vie were behind schedule but there
was no need for concern, because we knew the train would wait for
us. After all, nearly all its passengers were on the ferry. With
all the comforts aboard and the opportunity to converse with other
passengers, the crossing time seemed much shorter than the 6t hours
which elapsed.
As we approached Newfoundland the fog became less dense
and we were able to see the rocky coastline when we were perhaps a
mile away. Soon the buildings on shore became visible and as we
made our way through the harbour we got the first glimpse of our
train standing at the station adjacent to the dock. That was our
objective – – -the train we had travelled so far to ride!
Upper: Lower: Railway yards at St.Johns looking towards depot and harbour.
Open-platform sleeper Grand Falls in yards at St.Johns.
Page 15~ -Upper: eN 314 –narrow gauge Mikado –and diesel #904,
during the change-over period between steam and
diesel power in Newfoundland. Lower: A
GMD 875 hp unit in yards at st. Johns. This is
one of the engines used for switohing and branch
line servioe.
Arrival at Port aux Basques was approximately 2:30 P,M
Atlantic Standard Time, But Newfoundland is in another time zone
one-half hour ahead of Atlantic time, Also, all trains in the Prov­
ince operate on Daylight Saving Time during the summer months, so
we set our watches ahead one-hour-thirty-minutes to correspond with
Newfoundland Time. .
Transfer from the boat to the train required only a few
minutes–and this time we had help with our baggage. A forty minute
interval before departure allowed some time to look at the equip­
ment. I las surprised at the number of coaches and trains sleek
appearance. Except for the diminutive size of cars, its exterior
compared favorably with that of some of the top trains we had ridden
on the mainland. The consist at that point included four sleepers,
five coaches, a diner and two head end cars, powered by two 1200 HP
GMDs with a steam generator behind the second engine. We were
later to witness a pick-up of a second diner which doubled as a
club car a few miles out of Port aux Basques, and the addition of
tIO more sleepers at a major stop late that evening, Although the
cars appear to be of fairly recent vintage, they are all of heavy­
weight construction. That was understandable after a few hours
ride over the track!
The sleeping cars have eight sections and one drawing
room, four sections fewer than standard gauge sleepers of comparable
design on CNR mainland lines. The berths appear to be of standard
length although a little narrower than on standard gauge cars, The
train is not air-conditioned –it is not needed! The windows are
screened and equipped with a shutter device which permits r~tion
of outside air coming into the berth, a familiar arrangement to
those of us who rode sleepers before the advent of air-conditioned
trains. The sleeping cars are all named, just as their big brothers
on the mainland. Names of Newfoundland towns have been adopted -­
Bona Vista, Twillingate, Grand Falls, Burgeo, to name a few,
although at least one is named for one 01 the Islands principal
rive rs, the Humbe r •
The coaches have a seating capacity of 48 to 52 passen­
gers. The seats are about as wide as on standard gauge coaches but
the aisles are narrower. The interiors are attractive and are well
maintained. The diners seat 24 and are serviced by three waiters
and two cooks, The cookS galley is very small with much of the
space taken up by a large coal stove. The food and service for
each of the six meals we ate on the round trip lere excellent.
Meals are complimentary for sleeping car passengers.
The train was virtually full when we left Port aux Basques.
Probably 85 percent of the passengers were Newfoundlanders return­
ing home from vacation or business trips. Several others were na­
tive to he Island but had moved alay and were returning to their
homeland to visit. One party of United States Navy personnel and
their families were going to the U.S, Naval base at Argentia. There
was a verr, small sprinkling of Sightseeing tourists, among whom was
another rail-fan couple from l-1assachusetts. They had ridden
trains in many parts of the world purely for pleasure and experience
but this was their first trip to Newfoundland.
An air of friendliness prevailed throughout the trip.
Newfoundlanders are congenial people and are anxious to be good
hosts. Then too, the compactness of the train was conducive to
156 R A I L
fellowship and conversation. Several of the passengers with whom
I talked had ridden this train so many times that it was far from a
novel experience for them. They could not understand why anyone
would come to Newfoundland just to ride what they satiricall?, re­
ferred to as the Newfy BUllet. But of course they were not rail
fans •
For the first few miles out of Port aux Basques the train
travels in a northwesterly direction, winding through an area of
barren rocky land, across an occasional patch of muskeg or a small
lake, then along the shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. At times
the track is at the waters edge but usually a short distance away_
It soon leaves the coastline and gradually swings toward the north­
east, the general direction in which it will wind for the next 150
miles. A range of rugged mountains came into view to our right,
rising abruptly from the lake and tundra dotted land through which
we were passing. It was the southern end of the Long Range, vlhich
reaches an altitude of 1700 feet at that point. Between the clusters
of clouds hovering around the summit, patches of snow were visible
on some of the slopea.
About an hour after the start of our trip we stopped at
St. Andrews, a small hamlet mtuated on an estuary where the Little
Codroy River empties into the Gulf. Here the track crosses the
river and enters a quiet little valley with a scattering of colorful
houses – a striking contrast to the area we had just left. A stop
was made to pick up the diner-club car which had been left on a
siding by Train No.1 on its way to Port aux Basques earlier in the
day. After a few miles the little Codroy River disappeared into
the scrub timber and hills to our rie;ht. The valley widened and we
soon came to the Grand Codroy River, an impressive stream said to
be teeming with salmon. It is a separate river with no connection
with the Little Codroy. The track follows the Grand Codroy for
some 20 miles, occaSionally running along the edge of its steep,
rocky banks.
The terrain becomes quite rough as the train progresses
northward, winding around wooded hills and ravines and across small,
swift streams. Since leaving Port aux Basques the weather had been
as diverse as the character of the land, changing from foggy to
cloudy, from drizzle to rain. Now the late afternoon sun was
shining through the broken clouds which intensified the surrounding
Brief stops were made at St. Fintans and Cartyville, then
through more woods, across several large streams spanned by sturdy
bridges and on to St. Georges, a small picturesque village lying
along the shore of a large bay by the same name. Not far from the
villae;e we passed under a big overhead tram which carries ore from a
distant mine to the ocean steamers which dock here. A few miles
farther we came to Stephenville Crossing where the track crosses a
long steel bridge at the mouth of St. Georges River.
Now it was getting dark and we no longer were able to
look at the scenery. But after an hour of relatively smooth riding
we realized we were again in hill country. Long before this we had
been aware of the degree and tilt of the curves and the undulating
track for which the railroad is noted, but with the outside darkness
it was much more noticeable now, especially sitting in the diner or
walking in the aisles. We could hear an occasional screech of the
flanges as the cars tilted first toward one side, then the other,
in negotiating what seemed like sudden turns. At times the train
would slow down to a snails pace as it climbed a grade, then it
would go likity split down the other side as though the engineer
was getting speed for the next hill. On a few occasions it ap­
proached the thrill one might expect on a giant roller coaster!
Somewhere along this part of the line the train switched
onto a siding where it stood for about 30 minutes. There were no
lights to indicate a town or ~tation, so out of curiosity I went to
the vestibule to learn the cause of the delay. A trainman informed
me we were waiting for a southbound train. As it passed I saw it
was a mixed train with a couple of varnish coaches, a few freight
cars and a caboose. I did not inquire why it took precedent over
the lines crack train. It was apparently by direction, certainly
not by Class.
It was not long after our meet with the mixed train that
the lights of Corner Brook came into view. This was to be a major
stop which I had been anticipating. ye descended the hills to the
edge of Humber Arm of the Bay of Islands, turned eastward, passed
through several small settlements, then around a wide curve to the
Corner Brook depot. As we pulled into the railroad yards a large
industrial plant was seen to the left of the train. The lighted
buildings and the mass of steam emerging from the stacks indicated
a night shift operation. I learned that it is one of the largest
integrated paper mills in the world, a facility of Bowater Pulp and
Paper Company which is a do~t factor in the economy of Newfound­
Corner Brook is the second largest city in the Province
with a population of around 25,000. It is a division point for the
railroad and the location of railway shops. (Humbermouth). Thirty
minutes were spent here changing crews and servicing the cars. Two
sleepers were coupled to the end of our train, one with an open
rear platform. At the time I thought the open platform would be an
idooQ place from which to take photographs of the train and scenery,
but later experience was to prove the falacy of my thinking.
Upon leaving Corner Brook we were to follow the Humber
River for 35 miles to the little village of Deer Lake. There the
track starts an easterly course. Another 16 miles it crosses the
northern end of Grand Lake, then begins a climb into a mountainous
area. We were passing through some of the most spectacular scenery
on the entire trip but because of darkness we would have to wait
for the return trip to see it. On a short jog to the south the
train reaches the highest point on the line, an elevation of 1500
feet. After turning easterly again it descends from the high coun­
try to the Exploits River, follows the river through Bishmps Falls
which is the second Division point, then over the Gander and on to
the eastern part of the island. There the line runs southward for
about 120 miles to Placentia Junction; thence a final easterly
course to St. Johns. None of these courses are straight -the
track is ever winding, avoiding hills, lakes, patches of muskeg and
saltwater inlets.
After several hours of riding over the track I wondered
how soundly I would be able to sleep in my lower berth. However,
much to my satisfaction, I slept quite well. I was awakened only
twice, once by smoke from the heated brakes entering the open wln-
dow, which was easily corrected by adjusting the vent; another
time there was a jerking and swaying motion as we evidently were
winding through some rough country, but that didnt last long and I was
soon back to sleep.
When I awoke the next morning, we were at Clarenville
which is situated in an arm of Trinity Bay. It is a division point
on the main line and also the starting point of a branch which runs
to Bonavista, 89 miles northeast near the tip of the peninsula be­
tween Bonavista and Trinity Bays. From Clarenville the main line
continues south, first through upland country, then along the Come­
By-Chance river to where it flows into a small cove on Placentia
Bay, and finally on an isthmus connecting the main body of the Is­
land with Avalon Peninsula. Just before noon we passed Placentia
Junction where a branch takes off to Placentia and Argentia, 20
miles to the southwest. The junction is a rather isolated spot in
an area of small lakes with only one small trackside structure and
a few houses. The train did not stop at the junction but continued
on seven miles to Whitbourne where the passengers who were going to
Argentia left the train.
Fourteen miles east of Whitbourne is Brigus Junction
where another branch runs north 42 miles to Carbonear, on the west­
ern shore of Conception Bay. After passing that junction the train
winds down a gradual grade, makes a big loop around a cove at the
southern end of Conception Bay, stops briefly at Holyrood, a pic­
turesque little resort village built around the cove, then down to
the edge of the bay and along the shore. The scenery here is strik­
ingly different from that through which we had just passed –with
the big expanse of water, the gravelly beach, the fishing boats and
the quaint little homes and vacation cottages around every inlet.
Part of the track is built on a rock fill at the waters edge. Bell
Island, where, for many years, iron ore was mined from under the
Atlantic Ocean, was clearly visible some distance off shore.
After several miles of this interesting scenery, we turned
inland and started across the narrow peninsula between Conception
Bay and the A~tic Ocean. We were now approaching our destination.
Our train wound across an upland area and soon came to the Water­
ford River, a small, swift stream which we followed the last few
miles into St. Johns. We had completed 548 miles of narrow gauge
adventure and had arrived at the most easterly rail point in North
America. We were a thousand miles farther east than New York City
and 2450 rail (and ferry) miles from St.Louis, Missouri, our start­
ing point four days earlier.
St. Johns, the capital of Newfoundland, immediately cap­
tures ones fascination. It is said to be the oldest city in North
America, steeped with four centuries of history and romance. Situ­
ated on rolling hills, it overlooks a beautiful, elongated harbour
with a narrow opening bordered by steep, jagged cliffs. The city
retains much of the flavor of its past, yet there are new develop­
ments which reflect a determined effort toward modernization. We
spent four delightful days in this quaint and colourful city of
90,000 people, looking at the sights, visiting the historical places
and, of course, train watching.
While at St. Johns I gathered a few interesting facts on
the history of the railroad. It had its beginning in 1875 when the

government of that time authorized a survey of a possible route
from St. Johns to the western side of the Island. Although the
survey showed that a trans-island railroad was feasible, no action
was taken until 1880 when a committee of the legWlature recommended
that a railroad be built. Construction was started the next year
by a company chartered by the government. I found nothing in my
limited research to indicate why the 36 gauge was selected but it
probably can be attributed to the fact that it-was a traditional
measurement used in British Empire countries.
The first authorization called for a line from St. Johns
to Halls Bay, an inlet on the western side of Notre Dame Bay on
the northern coast of the Island, vIi th a branch to Harbour Grace on
Conception Bay. The original construction company failed after
building only sixty miles of track but the shareholders took over
and completed the road to Harbour Grace in late 1884. The last
spike was driven by the late King George V of England, who at the
time was Crown Prince. In 1886 construction was started on the
extension from Whitbourne to Placentia. After some financial dif­
ficulties it was completed by the government in 1888.
After the costly experience on the line to Placentla the
government decided to caEract all future railroad building to pri­
vate constructlon companies. In 1890 one Robert G. Reid, who was
to playa leading role ln the future of the Newfoundland Railway,
entered the picture.~ Reld was awarded a contract to build from
Whitbourne to Halls Bay. However, during construction it was de­
cided to by-pass Halls bay and to build on to Port aux Ba8ques.
The line was completed to that point in 1897. The first throush
train left St. Johns June 29, 1898, making the run to Port aux
Basques in 27 hours-45 minutes, an outstanding accompllshment con­
sldering the time in history, the type of equipment, and the char­
acter of the country over which the road was built.
With the completion of the main line attention was turned
to the branches. After dropping the plan to build to Halls Bay,
access to Notre Dame Bay was achieved by constructing a branch off
the main line at Notre Dame Junction, between Gander and Bishops
Falls, north to Lewisporte. The line to Harbour Grace was extended
to Carbonear in 1898 and the Bonavlsta branch was completed in 1911.
Several other branches were planned, some of which were built and
later abandoned. A line from St. Johns to Trepassey on the south
coast of the Island was completed in 1914 but has since been re­
moved. Probably the most ambitious plan was for a branch to extend
southwesterly from a point on the main line just south of Claren­
ville to Fortune near the tip of Burin Peninsula. Construction was
started on the proposed branch in 1915, but after completing 43
miles of track the project was discontinued and the completed sec­
tion was removed. In 1914-15 the Carbonear Branch was extended to
Grates, on the northern tip of the peninsula, but that section of
track was abandoned in the early 1930s. Another branch, nowaban­
doned, ran northward from Whitbourne to Hearts Content on the
oppOSite side of the penlnsula from Carbonear.
Robert G. Reid (later Sir), of Montreal, was an experlenced rail­
road contractor who had successfully completed a number of rail­
road contracts in Canada.
In 1893, while the main line was still under construction,
Reid was given a contract to operate the railroad for ten years.
Five years later the contract was amended to allow him to operate
it for fifty years with a provision that it would become the prop­
erty of the Reid company at the end of that period. Reid was to
receive large grants of land in return for operating the road, in
addition to grants he had previously received from construction
contracts. That agreement was later modified to give the govern­
ment the option of buying the railroad back at the termination of
the contract. It was operated under the name of Reid-Newfoundland
Company until 1923. By that time the company had met some finan­
cial reverses and had appealed to the government for help. Follow­
ing a long dispute the company relinquished all railway rights to
the government in exchange for a payment of two million dollars.
In 1926 an act was passed changing the name to Newfoundland Rail­
way and providing for a permanent organizational structure.
On March 31, 1949 Newfoundland became the tenth Canadian
province. It was then that the railroad was taken over by the
Canadian National Railways and an improvement program started.
Steam power was gradually replaced by d:lesels, first on the freights,
then on the passenger trains. The power now in operation consists
of 47 GMD 1200 hp road engines numbered from 900 to 946, six 875 hp
GMDs numbered in the 800 series and three 380 hp GE shuttle engines
with 775 series of numbers~ There are presently ~ 94 passenger and
head-end cars, including 17 sleepers and four diners. Freight cars
of all types number 2190. I was informed by an official of the
line that no more narrow gauge passenger equipment will be acquired
but that any necessary replacements will be made by altering stand­
ard gauge cars. Curves have been straightened, the track has been
raised in places and 90 pound rails have replaced the 70 pound rails
on the main line.
Headquarters for the administrative and technical depart­
ments is at St. Johns. The yards are quite extensive, located at
the upper end of the harbour with rail-to-ship transfer facilities.
A modern dry dock is also operated by CNR at this point. The older
buildings are of stone, including the three story depot with offices
on the upper floors, and the large shop building nearby. Other
bUildings are of more recent design. Smaller yards and service
facilities are located at Clarenville, Bishops Falls and Corner
Brook (Humbermouth) which are all division points on the railroad.
Today there are 705 miles of track on the main line and the four
branches, exclusive of yards, sidings and short spurs.
Although the name of the railroad has been changed and
the rolling stock carries CNR identification, at least one vestige
of the former ownership still remains. On the building housing the
shops at St. Johns is a prominent sign above the track entrance
which reads Newfoundland Railway.
The Caribou is the only all-passenger train in Newfound­
land, but additional passenger service is available on several
~ (1965)
Page 162.
Upper: Lower: ON depot and offices at St.Johns.
Two anoient wooden coaches used on Newfoundland lines
in days gone by. The left-hand cOaoh was still in
Newfoundland Railway oolours in 19.56.

163 ~
mixed trains. One of these operates over the main line between St.
Johns and Port aux Basques with a weekly round trip. Both the
Carbonear and Placentia-Argentia branches have tri-weekly mixed
train service between St. Johns and their respective terminals.
Another mixed train makes a tri-weekly round trip over the Claren­
ville-Bonavista branch.
CNR also operates eight steamship lines in addition to
the ferry service from North Sydney. From late spring to mid-autumn
regularly scheduled freight-passenger boats serve towns and vilmges
around the perimeter of the Island and along the east coast of La­
brador. For many of the ports-of-call this service is their only
means of public transportation. A combination trip between St.
Johns and Corner Brook, going one way by train and the other by
boat, is offered but accommodations are limited and reservations
must be made a long time in advance.
In addition to the CNR lines there are two short narrow
gauge railroads in Newfoundland. The Grand Falls Central Railway
is a 23 mile line between Grand Falls and Botwood, a port on an arm
of Notre Dame Bay. The Buchans Railway connects with CNR at Miller­
town Junction which is 34 miles west of Grand Falls. From there it
runs southwesterly 40 miles to an interior mining community. There
is also a standard gauge railroad in the Province -the Quebec North
Shore and Labrador Railway which crosses Labrador in a remote area
at its extreme western end. The road connects Sept Isles, on the
north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and Shefferville, Quebec,
which is just across the border of the northwest corner of Labrador.
Labrador is a political division of the Province although it is on
the Canadian mainland with no land connections with the Island of
Leaving St. Johns on our return trip across the Island,
the train had two more sleepers in its consist than when we started
from the other end of the line. It was not as fully loaded as it
was at the start of our eastward trip but the vacant spaces were
gradually filled that evening and during the night, as passengers
boarded along the way. Most of our fellow passengers were leaving
on vacation so they were more enthusiastic over the prospects of
their ride across the Island on the Newfy Bullet than were some
of their homeward-bound counterparts we met on our trip over. From
conversations I learned that some of the passengers had shipped
their automobiles ahead to North Sydney where they would pick them
up, rather than risk possible damage and delay on Newfoundlands
inadequate roads.
With a 4:30 P.M. departure there were still several hours
of daylight at that latitude. The route to Conception Bay and a­
long its shore, around the big loop at Holyrood and over the hills
to Brigus Junction and beyond was the same we had traversed on our
eastward trip. However, with a different perspective the scenery
was just as fascinating as it was four days earlier. In my desire
to find the best place aboard from which to photograph the moving
train and some of the trackside structures, I went to the open
platform at the rear of the train. But with the variable speed and
the lurching and swaying I soon abandoned that spot and moved to
the other end of the car. Here I could lean from the open upper
half of the Dutch-style doors with much more confidence.
The next morning we were privileged to see some of the
scenery we had missed on our eastbound trip because of darkness. At
daylight we were winding through a wilderness-like area with a
scattering of scrub timber, an occasional stream, and here and there
a small pond. It was here that my wife and others on the side of
the train opposite my berth saw moose browsing in the low brush,
apparently unconcerned with the passing train. While at breakfast
we crossed the northern end of Grand Lake on a wide dam which was
constructed many years ago as part of a system supplying electricity
to the Corner Brook area. Grand Lake, the largest of Newfoundlands
countless lakes, extends approximately 55 miles southwest from the
point where we crossed.
In another hour we came to Deer Lake. which is created by
a dam across the Humber River. For the next 20 miles the track
runs parallel to the lake which, as evidenced by the numerous cot­
tages and well kept campgrounds, is a popular recreation area.
Along this stretch of track we passed Bowater Park with its exten­
sive camping facilities. Here, close to the track, stood an old
Pacific type steam locomotive -Number 593 -retired from service
but spared from the torch to serve as a monument to another era.
Below the dam the valley narrows and is hemmed in by pre­
Cipitous cliffs of varied colours. As we wound along the edge of
the oliffs with the Humber River below, I was reminded of Similar
places in the Rocky Mountains. The Humber river is only 70 miles
in length but it gathers a tremendous volume of water in that short
Suddenly we emerged from the canyon just above the con­
fluence of the river and the Humber Arm of the Bay of Islands. We
passed the Humbermouth railway yard and in a few minutes were at
the Corner Brook station. During the 30-minute scheduled stop I
did some exploring around the station yards. The rear sleeper was
removed from our train and I noticed one of the head-end cars had
been dropped from the consist during the night. A small diesel
switcher, which at the distance appeared to be about a 25-ton -250 hp
unit was shuttling cars in the yards of the pulp and paper plant.
It apparently belongs to the paper company, as it carries the iden­
tification Bowaters No.4. On a track adjacent to our train stood
a string of 40-foot flat cars loaded with new automobiles. Each car
carried two vehicles which were held fast by an ingenious rigging
of small logs around the front wheels. What a contrast to the long
tri-level racks used on standard gauge roads which carry up to 15
It was mid-morning when we left the Corner Brook depot.
We passed the paper plant, swung west and ran through the neighbour­
ing villages which are strung along the bay, then turned south into
the hills. Much of the remaining six hours of the trip was through
familiar territory. I spent considerable time in the rear vesti­
bule observing the winding track, the big, sturdy bridges and the
li ttle hamlets isolated in the wilderness-like country. Recent
track improvements were evident at several places along the line.
Also, at intervals, crews of workmen with heavy equipment were seen
constructing new roads or improving existing ones. It was part of
an extensive highway improvement program in progress all across
• Deer Lake is also the name of a station on the railroad located
at the upper end of the lake, mentioned previously.
Rail & Steamship Routes
in Newfoundland.
Newfoundland, Although there are good roads near the principal
towns, the lack of a continuous improved highway makes travel across
the Island a hazardous undertaking, In fact, road maps and tourist
brochures carry warnings of the difficulties of trans-island auto
travel, But that is to be corrected by the program now underway,
A first class highway between Port aux Basques and St, Johns, with
a network of connecting secondary roads, was expected to be f1nished
by 1966, I could not help but wonder how The Caribou ~Iould be
affected by the improved highway system, Was the last stronghold
of complete narrow gauge passenger service in North America soon to
pass into oblivion? (Recent news items suggest just that -Ed,)
After we came out of the Codroy Valley and sighted the
Gulf of St, Lawrence I realized we were near the end of our journey,
It had been a gratifying trip -not just another train ride, but a
memorable experience, I had acquired a deep respect for the little
narrow gauge train and the area it serves, It is not a revived
ghost, operated solely as a tourist attraction, but instead is a
full-fledged train which performs a needful service,
Montreal Metro Vacuum Cleaning Train
R. M. Binns
he problem of keeping subway tunnels clean is difficult, but
none the less extremely important from tlJe viewpoint of fire
hazard, visibility and the proper functioning of signals and
other electrical devices. While the Montreal Metro is inherently a
clean subway inasmuch as there is no stone, and the braking
system does not produce iron dust, there is bound to be some oureide
dust introduced through the ventilating system and through the sta­
tions, as well as paper and other debris sucked into the tunnels by
the movement of the trains. Also, there will probably always be a
certain amount of cement dust, sand and concrete scale dislodged
from the tunnel structure. Because of the three sets of rails re­
quired for the pneumatic tire traction system, hand sweeping or
washing of the tunnel floor is economically out of the question.
Consequently, a vacuum-cleaning apparatus was designed by Montreal
Transportation Commission and Paris engineers and incorporated into
a specially-built train. Operation of the vacuum-cleaning train is
naturally restricted to a few hours at night when passenger service
is suspended; consequently the public never sees it in operation.
Readers of Canadian Rail might be interested in a brief description
of this recent addition to the Metro rolling stock.
Basically, the train is patterned after similar equipment
used in Stockholm, Paris and New York subways. However, because of
the configuration of the trackwork and other requirements on the
Montreal system, a new design had to be developed and built at a
cost of $300,000. It is comprised of three units, – a centre car
containing most of the suction components and two end cars which
contain the suction fans and filtering equipment.
Below: M.T.C. s Vacuum Cleaning Train.
Opposite: 83-4604, one of the two pneumatic-tyred electric work cars.
In principle, the cleaning operation is re~tively simple,
and is achieved by blowing air at high velocity over the road-bed
and then cap~ng the dust-laden air with large suction hoods under
the centre car. The centre car also houses a control cab where the
operator stands when the train is in operation.
Referring to the illustration of the centre car, (Figure
1) the location of the blower fan will be seen. This is a centri­
fugal, airfoil type, driven by a 40 H.P. d.c. shunt motor. It ex­
pels 7,000 cubic feet per minute through a nozzle ~ctly under the
centre of the car. The nozzle is a slot 5/8 wide and 91 inches
long. Air speed at the nozzle is 15,000 ft. per minute.
Suction hoods, 7 inches x 91 inches, are placed on each
side of the nozzle, and the dust-laden air is pulled through to the
end cars by suction fans. These fans have an output of over 40,000
c.f.m. at 14 inches static pressure. Each suction fan is driven by
a standard subway-car Uaction motor rated at 150 H.P. on continuous
Before passing into the end cars, the air first reaches
settling chambers, where, because of a reduction of velocity and a
sharp change of direction, the coarser and heavier debris drops out
and settles in removable trash boxes. Flexible ducts then carry
the air into the end cars and through the filters. The filters con­
sist of especially woven dacron bags 5 x 8 inches (oval) and 65 in­
ches long. About 1,000 of these bags are suspended from frames in
the roofs of the end cars. The air is pushed up through the filter
bags from which it escapes through louvered doors on the sides of
the cars. (Figure 2).
When the train is returned to the shops, the frames from
which the filter bags are suspended, are shaken by a vibrator me­
chanism and the fine flour-like dust falls from the bags to the
bottom of the chamber. The material is then pulled by a scraper
mechanism to the centre of the car where it empties into a trans­
verse worm screw chamber. This is a simple device, for moving the
dirt transversally to a discharge port on either side of the cars.
Since the screw can be reversed, it is possible to unload from
either side, into containers.
The dust and dirt extracted is extraordinarily fine, -in
the order of 5 to 25 microns, -mostly the product of construction,
but also appreciable quantities of lint are found, which is to be
expected from an environment in which great numbers of people are
An auxiliary suction fan is installed at the top of the
centre car for c~aning areas out of reach of the main fixed suction
hoods. The latter operation is effected by means of a small flexi­
ble hose, just as one would use a domestic vacuum cleaner.
Fire is a potential hazard, and for this reason, a com­
plete carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing system is installed on the
train. Outlet heads are strategically located iri settling chambers,
fan chambers, dust collectors and throughout the ductwork. Sections
can be isolated by automatic dampers. Fire detection is by thermo­
stats in all areas susceptible to fire, and when triggered, C02 is
automatically released through discharge nozzles.
The vacuum cleaning train was built and equipped in the
Metro shops by an outside contractor, under the supervision of M.T.
C. engineers. The centre car was built new, but two of the trailer
flat cars (Nos. 82-4509 and 82-4510) were used to construct the end
cars. These flats were completely equipped with train-line air­
brake and electrical systems. The train runs on the steel rails,
but is unpowered.
A speed of 2 to 8 MPH gives the best results. For moving
the train at this low speed, two of the pneumatic tyred electric
work cars (Nos. 83-4604 and 83-4605) were fitted with special re­
sistors to permit continuous slow operation without damage. One of
these is coupled on each end to provide two-way operation, -both
working in unison under multiple-unit control. Therefore, the com­
plete train while in operation consists of five cars.
The exterior of the train is finished in gray and dark
blue, with a small City of Montreal crest on the centre car. The
3-car vacuum cleaning set bears the number 82-4514.
As mentioned earlier, vacuum cleaning operations are con­
fined to about two hours at night. Even in this short time, about
six stations and the tunnels between can be covered.
Note: Much of the information in this article was obtained from a
paper delivered at the American Transit Association Rail
Transit Group Conference held in Montreal April 3-6, 1967,
by Mr. Roger Choquette, Eng., of the M.T.C. Plant and Engi­
neering Department, to whom the writer is indebted.
by Derek Booth
CN is investigating the possibility of reducing
its transcontinental passenger service in favour of an improved
inter-city service across Canada. The present transcontinental
service does not meet the needs of inter-city transportation
and studies presently underway may lead to the operation of
only one transcontinental train per day with increased inter­
city service. However, the existing service will not be
altered for at least two years.
A group of 350 Valleyfield residents have signed
a petition to Transport Minister Jack Pickersgill asking that
passenger service on the New York Centrals line into Montreal,
which was dropped ten years ago, be restored. Their feeling
is that the population of the region has grown sufficiently in
recent years to support a commuter service to Montreal with
stops at St. Timothee, Beauharnois, Chateauguay Heights and
Montreal West and that existing public transportation facilities
to the centre of Montreal are inadequate.
As a result of unexpected increases in cost
estimates the Federal government may drop the railway feature
of the projected causeway linking Prince Edward Island and
New Brunswick.
On June 23 CN inaugurated the Expo Extra, a new
train service from Montreal to Toronto, leaving Montreal at
1745 hours daily except Saturday. Only stop on the service to
Toronto is at the new CN Guildwood station near Toronto and on
the Montreal bound train at Dorval.
Garbage and trash from urban areas may provide
U.S. railways with a new source of revenue. The NYC and the
American public Works Association are investigating the
possibilities of using railways to haul refuse from urban
areas to remote rural dumps or to areas where it might be
used as land-fill.
The Federal government is reported to be ready
to consider new development railways into the Yukon and
North-west Territories possibly in the Central Yukon and
MacKenzie Valley areas.
Deliveries: up to June 22, 1967.
)240 was delivered on May 24, 1967, serial number M-3477-19.
rentals from D.M.& I.R.
D.M.& loR Received by Proctor, Minn.
143 June 13
149 June 12
152 June 12
154 June 12
155 Apr. 28
156 June 13
~S 15 Apr.
All are assigned to Symington Yard, near Winnipeg, Man.
Retirements: up to May 31, 1967.
#4 was sold to the Steel Company of Canada for use 1n Edmon­
ton. Mr. W. Brow reports sighting the unit at Plant #1. The 1000-
motlve was de11vered to eN on October 10, 1956, 1s class ER-4b, was
bu1lt by GE w1th a 400 HP caterp1llar eng1ne, and was ret1red on
the Mountain Region on May II, 1967.
Locomotive Transfers: up to May 31, 1967.
3100 -3109 Great Lakes Rgn St.Lawrence Rgn 18/5/67
3120 -3129 Great Lakes Rgn St.Lawrence Rgn 18/5/67
3655 -3670 St.Lawrence Rgn Atlantic Rgn 18/5/67
3845 -3849 St. Lawrence Hgn Atlantic Rgn 18/5/67
4126 -4133 Prairi .. Rgn Grea t Lakes Hgn 18/5/67
4147 -4156 Prairie Rgn Great Lakes Rgn 18/5/67
4330 -4339 St .Lawrence Rgn Mountain Rgn 18/5/67
4400 -4404 St.lawrence Rgn Mounta In Rgn 18/5/67
4451 -4463 St.Lawrence Rgn Pra1rie Rgn 18/5/67
4466 -4470 St.Lawrence Rgn Pra1r1e Rgn 18/5/67
6500 -6504 St .Lawrence Rgn Pra1r1e Rgn 18/5/67
6505 -6508 St.Lawrence Rgn Pra1r1e Rgn 30/5/67
6510 St.Lawrence Rgn Pra1r1e Rgn 30/5/67
6600 -6604 St.iawrence Rgn Pra1r1e Rgn 18/5/67
6605 -6607 St.Lawrence Rgn Pra1r1e Rgn 30/5/67
6609 -6610 St.Lawrence Hgn Pra1r1e Rgn 30/5/67
D-I04 Great Lakes Rgn St.Lawrence Rgn 17/4/67
D-116 Great Lakes Rgn St.Lawrence Rgn 12/5/67
D-1l8 Great Lakes Rgn St.Lawrence Rgn 1/5/67
D-204 St.Lawrence Rein Great Lakes Rein 1/5/67
5O St.Lawrence Rgn Grea t Lakes Rgn 12/5/67
D-53 ~lounta1n Rgn Atlantic Rgn 1/5/67
D-500 Atlantic Rgn St.Lawrence Rgn 1/5/67
D-506 f1ounta1n Rgn St.Lawrence Rgn 1/5/67
(Informat1on courtesy Charles E. De Jean).
Indian State Rallways: up to June 22, 1967.
The road numbers of the last two units are 6197 and 6198.
Spruce Falls Power and Paper: up to June 22, 1967.
The road number of SFP&Ps new un1t w111 be #108.
More passengers every morning …
this place will he like a Toronto suburh yet!
Published monthly (except July/Aur,ust combined) by
the Publications COTTU:li ttee, Canadian Railroad Historical
Association, P.O. Box 22, Station B, Montreal 2, Canada.
Subscription includes Associate Membership: $4.00 annually.
D.R. Henderson, Chairman Anthony
William Pharoah
1illiam Phnroah
Anthony Cler,(,; De
rek Booth
Derek Boles
Murray Dean
John 11. Saunders
J. A. !leatty
We hope you will visit
exp067 : It ~
MONTREAL -(r M-if APR. 28 -OCT. 27.1967
OTTAWA VALLEY: Kenneth F. Chivers, Apt. 3, 67 SomerDet st. -/., Ottawa, Ont.
PACIFIC COAST: Peter Cox, 2936 W. 28th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C.
SASKATClffiWA}: J.S. Nicolson, 2306 Arnold St., Saskatoon, Sask.
ROCKY HOUNTAnr: V.H. Coley, 11243 -72nd Ave., Edmonton, Alta.
FAR EAST: W.D. McKeown, 900 Senriyama (Oaza), Suita City, Osaka, Japan.
BRITISH ISLES: John H. Sand ern , 67 l1illoVI Way, Ampthill, Beds., 1neland.
Copyrir,ht 1967
Printed in Canada on
Canadian pa~er

Demande en ligne