R A I L
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.
CANADIAN 161 R A I L
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
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.
R A I L
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
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
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.
CANADIAN 164 R A I L
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
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 ballB.st, 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
R A I L
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
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 C.N.at 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.
ROAD NU/IBER THANSFEHRED FRON TRANSFEHRED TO DATE
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.
E~ITOR, CANADIAN RAIL:
D.R. Henderson, Chairman Anthony
Anthony Cler,(,; De
John 11. Saunders
J. A. !leatty
We hope you will visit
exp067 : It ~
MONTREAL -(r M-if
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.
Printed in Canada on