Climb on up and lets embark on a journey through the beautiful wilderness of the North, captured through the many camera lenses of Mike Robin. Join us as we witness first hand, the day to day operations of the North's legendary Ontario Northland Railway. Ready to go? Well, put on your bug spray because we're heading North!
APCU's 220 and 221 (which began their lives as Amtrak F40PH's) are captured being worked on by Techs from NRE on 2 Track at Cochrane Shops April 6th, 2019.
Jonathan gives a thumbs up from the cab of GP38-2 1800 as he rolls the unit along 2 track passing GP40-2 2201 at Cochrane Shops April 6, 2019.
GP38-2's 1802 and 1806 captured on Tracks 3 and 4 at Cochrane Shops April 6, 2019.
Today's "Saturday Shops Shot" features the line-up for an obviously heavy 313 as all 3 of ONR's GP40-2's are captured m.u.'d on 3 track at Cochrane Shops April 13, 2019.
A definite sign of spring as loads of brand new ties arrive at Cochrane April 12, 2019.
Working the 4pm Yard Job at Cochrane April 12, 2019.
Northbound 213 rolls into the Cautionary Limits of Cochrane Yard on a very rainy April 12, 2019.
The morning Bear rolls through Clute (mile 9 of the Island Falls Subdivision) Friday April 19, 2019.
It's a big wave and a symphony of horns as Peter hauls the morning's 421 Polar Bear past Clute located at mile 9 of the Island Falls Sub April 19, 2019.
GP38-2's 1805 and 1802 are captured on Cochrane's shop track after arriving on 620 from Moosonee April 20, 2019.
Polar Bear Express Line Car 264 is captured at Cochrane Shops on April 20, 2019. Here you can see where the power and air lines are hooked up to the car thus providing air and power to the entire Polar Bear consist coupled to the 264 while weekend servicing is performed. The APU you see ahead of the 264 is shut down.
Shops Crews are captured sanding GP40-2 2200 at Cochrane April 20, 2019.
A roster shot of coach 652 captured at Cochrane April 21, 2019.
A roster shot of APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) 204 captured at Cochrane Shops April 21, 2019.
A roster shot of APU 202 at Cochrane Shops April 20, 2019.
The old guard of ONR 850 series coaches (ex-VIA) and spare baggage car are captured standing by ready for the call to duty on steam 3 at Cochrane April 20, 2019.
May is turning out to be another busy month! Stay tuned for "May 2019 in Pictures" coming soon!
Ontario Northland's Heritage liveried SD40-2 1730 was sitting in Englehart on May 5, 2019 which allowed myself the opportunity to address the many requests for a view of the topside of the unit for the railroad modelling enthusiasts.
This first photo begins with a view of the Engineer's side of the unit where you can see the the fans, horn, and rear pilot. As you can see the walking areas are all painted a flat black.
This second photo focuses on the details of the long hood and gives you a peek at what the exhaust looks like. You can also see the piping for the horn.
In this photo you get a clear view of the top of the cab. You can see the radio and CDU antenna, the snow shields, and you'll notice the the top of the nose is also painted flat black.
We now look at the Conductor's side where you can see a clearer view of the top of the nose and a really good view of the piping from the original horn location to the later horn location.
In this photo we're at the midway point on the Conductor's side of the unit.
And we wrap it up with a view of the rear section of the Conductor's side of the 1730.
A big Thanks goes out to everyone at Ontario Northland Englehart for their cooperation in capturing these images.
The Polar Bear Express train which travels between Cochrane and Moosonee can best be described as a true necessity and a vital part of the Northeastern Ontario infrastructure.
This train service isn't seen as an "option" for travel, much like passenger rail services in more southern parts of North America. The Polar Bear is rather an important link to the north since there are no roads beyond mile 93.5 of the Island Falls Subdivision which is only half way to Moosonee from Cochrane. The only travel options aside from the train beyond 93.5 are via a winter road which is only open 2 to 3 months per year, or via airplane which is very very expensive.
With very limited ways to get from point A to point B in this part of Ontario, the Polar Bear has evolved over the many decades into a very diversified service. Baggage is one of those services that have changed with the times. We had an opportunity to have a look at Polar Bear baggage car 413 on May 4th, 2019 and one of the special touches that are unique to 413.
First, for all of the rivet counters, baggage car 413 was purchased by Ontario Northland from Via Rail back in 1983. It's Via number at the time of the sale was 9604 and the car was originally built by National Steel Car back in 1954.
Since the car was obtained by Ontario Northland, some unique changes have been made to it. In the photos on the left you'll see one of the adaptations that have been made which is a cute little addition to the car affectionately nicknamed "The Pound".
On the top left, you can see the hefty partition built to protect the area where pets are kept. This closed off area serves as a more private area for pets and also serves as a fail safe should a pet get out of his or her cage or kennel. Passengers can also visit with their pets without having to deal with the busy operations of loading and unloading at the many stops the Polar Bear Express makes on it's 186 mile journey.
In the left middle photo you get to see some of the extras that can be utilized by passengers caring for their pets which include clean bowls for food and water, some rags, water, and cleaner for those little messes that can happen, and even a little toy for some entertaining of your pet.
In the bottom left photo, you'll see exactly how spacious and private "The Pound" is. It's kept very clean and comes complete with plenty of room to spend some quality time with your pet.
In a future blog we'll take a look at some of the other unique adaptations made to 413 exclusively for Polar Bear Express service.