Saturday, November 30, 2019

Makin' Like a Torontonian and Hoppin' the UP!

November 20, 2019. I'm in Toronto for a week of work-related training. On this beautiful Wednesday evening, after a long day's training, I elected to travel the UP Express from Toronto Pearson Airport to downtown Toronto. Now, according to the UP Express website, the trip takes 25 minutes with departures every 15 minutes.
Once riding the complimentary hotel shuttle to Pearson's Terminal 1, signage clearly navigates you to the UP Express station. Be aware that the signage reads "Train to City" and not "UP Express". 
It's approximately 4:45 pm so this puts us right in the middle of rush hour. This should be a very interesting trip.
I took the liberty of downloading the UP Express App which allowed me to purchase my ticket earlier that afternoon. The app is very easy to use and provides you with a pdf file of your ticket to display to the station staff as you board the train. The photo above was taken at Pearson station. You can see our train on the other side of the window.
The trains are boarded through special entrances in the stations that are level to the train's floor similar to subways. No steps which is great for hauling luggage.
Speaking of luggage, the trains have plenty of room for luggage thanks to strategically placed racks and overhead storage for smaller bags.
There are on board staff that ensure that tickets are purchased and seats are filled during busy times. There are plenty of announcements that are accompanied by video on screens throughout the train which include safety messages, scheduling, and upcoming stations.
I met a passenger who noticed I was logging on to the complimentary wifi which is supplied on the UP Express. She was pleasantly surprised that I was actually logged on. She then informed me that sometimes the wifi fails likely to rush hour demands. But, it worked fine for me even though there was a very full load on this trip. 
According to Wikipedia, the UP Express uses Nippon Sharyo DMU trains. The fleet consists of 18 diesel multiple unit (DMU) cars, as four three-car and three two-car sets. 7 different sets in total. Above you see an outbound from Pearson with a 3 car set on Nov. 21, 2019.
There have been some issues with the trains not being very cooperative in very cold weather, but Metrolinx is quite handy at getting passengers moving with express buses. All-in-all, all public transportation across Canada is limited by the weather, so this isn't a unique UP Express problem.
Much like an airplane, you get the fold down table which allows you to enjoy some space for a laptop, food, or a beverage that you have with you. There's no food or drinks available on the train since it is only a 25 minute ride.
Sure enough, in 25 minutes you arrive at UP's Union stop. Wow, the classic Union Station I've known as a lad has changed dramatically. But, some of that classic Union Station feel is still preserved.
I was hungry and stumbled upon the Mill Street Brewery Restaurant right above the terminal. I thought, "Oh why not?". I found the entrance to the upstairs restaurant (a little tricky to find in rush hour crowds), and soon realized I was the oldest person in the place. But, the sandwich I ordered was quite tasty and very well priced.
After my quick meal, I continued my stroll through the rush hour crowds to Union Station's Great Hall. It is here that the many memories of my youth catching both daytime and night time trains north to Cochrane filled my mind. It was nostalgic and sad all at the same time. But, although there is nothing left now but fond memories of passenger rail service north, I'm glad I took the opportunity to take a stroll through this majestic station. Let's hope that one day, that service will return.
After my stroll, I decide to hop on board my return UP Express train to Pearson, which of course departs every 15 minutes from Union, and enjoyed the return trip to the airport afterwich I caught the free hotel shuttle. I was back in my hotel room by 7:30 pm. 
To sum up, this is a very efficient service which finally connects the massive Pearson Airport to downtown Toronto. I had to try it out just to see how well this service is run. Considering the amounts of baggage that people generally bring when travelling, the UP Express can handle it unlike typical subways and buses. The recorded announcements are very informative and useful. The staff both onboard and off are helpful and very professional. 
At the end of the day, I leave impressed.


Friday, November 22, 2019

On a Chilly Morning in 2009.

Nature and Railway Photography always seem to go hand-in-hand.
I thought I would try to capture some cool morning frost photos around Cochrane Yard on November 22nd, 2009 as 422 was preparing to pull out for Toronto.
While waiting, I could hear some rustling in the tall grass and see this little fella walk right up to me, sniff me out, and hang around. He had no fear and basically just sniffed out the grass around me. I of course said, "Hi" in my best cartoony voice. That didn't phase him. Instead he just poked around.
I even stooped down to his level to get a shot of him. He didn't walk right up to me, bit he did stand there wondering what I was doing all while he was on the hunt for breakfast. The train did eventually pull out and my little pal continued on his way. I completely forgot about this little encounter until it popped up in a 'Facebook Memories' post. 

Monday, November 4, 2019

September 2019 In Pictures

AJ, Jody, and Shawn tackle switching at the local sawmill September 6, 2019.

A "Saturday Shops Shot" featuring GP40-2 2201 teamed up with GP38-2 1800 and GP9 1603 on a cloudy September 7, 2019.

An assortment of equipment from Allied Track Services is seen tied down on Cochrane Yard's scale track September 6, 2019.

Southbound loads bound for Englehart bring up the rear of 414 at Cochrane Sept 6, 2019.

213's 2105 is seen rolling from the south yard to the shop track at Cochrane September 6, 2019.

Northbound 423 Polar Bear Express is captured lifting chain cars at Cochrane September 15, 2019.

423 Polar Bear Express power (GP38-2's 1809 & 1800) is captured rolling into Cochrane's north yard to lift chain cars September 15, 2019.

Southbound 214 is spotted racing past the familiar farmland of the Temiskaming Shores area September 19, 2019.

Chad Evans from Ontario Northland gives a presentation on the company's many different services and activities at the annual ONRH&TS Convention at North Bay September 20, 2019.

Southbound 214 pulls away from Englehart bound for North Bay September 19, 2019.

The group photo from the ONRH&TS annual convention taken in front of T&NO steam locomotive 219 on display at Capreol September 21, 2019.

Ontario Northland's latest SD40-2 rebuild, the 1733, is seen outside of North Bay's Diesel Shop ready for some testing during a special tour given to membership of the Ontario Northland Railway Historical & Technical Society September 20, 2019.

Southbound 214 pulls uphill through the historical silver mining community of Cobalt September 19, 2019.

One of 2 Polar Bear Express baggage cars are seen being built from former unilevel coaches at Ontario Northland's RRC at North Bay during a special tour given to the ONRH&TS September 20, 2019.

One of 2 Polar Bear Express baggage cars are seen being built from former unilevel coaches at Ontario Northland's RRC at North Bay during a special tour given to the ONRH&TS September 20, 2019.

Transloading wood from railcar to truck at Englehart September 19, 2019.

A September 21, 2019 view of the new custom built cab installed on T&NO 4-6-0 219 at the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre at Capreol, Ontario. Beautiful work!

Members of the ONRH&TS get a guided tour of Ontario Northland's RRC with one of the Polar Bear Express baggage cars being built in the background Sept. 21, 2019.

Railroad Photographer and Author Bram Bailey captures southbound 214 as it rolls through Cobalt September 19, 2019.

214 preps to pull out of Englehart September 19, 2019.

Members of the Ontario Northland Railway Historical & Technical Society couldn't resist capturing CN Train #114 pulling out of Capreol during a visit to the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre September 21, 2019.

The tender of T&NO 4-6-0 219 at the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum & Heritage Centre in Capreol, Ontario as seen on September 21, 2019. Fundraising is currently underway to fix up and eventually repaint the tender for display. Coal from her final trip is still inside of it.

Freshly rebuilt SD40-2 1733 is seen in the midst of testing at Ontario Northland's North Bay Diesel Shop September 20, 2019.

A cordial welcome from the North Bay Model Railroad Club captured during a special tour arranged for the ONRH&TS Annual Convention September 20, 2019.

It was a hub of activity at North Bay's Diesel Shop as members of the ONRH&TS were treated to a special tour during the Society's Annual Convention September 20, 2019.

A display featuring some classic signage, shipping labels and a history of the CN's corporate logos at the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre in Capreol, Ontario September 21, 2019.

A very impressive HO scale model of the CN 4-8-2 Mountain type steam locomotive 6043 as seen on the massive Northern Ontario Railroad Museum & Heritage Centre train layout in Capreol, Ontario September 21, 2019. The real thing was built in Kingston, Ontario at Canadian Locomotive Works and delivered to CN in September 1929. It had a 31 year career and now stands on display in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The 6043 still runs on in miniature form thanks to the folks at the NORMHC. 

Here's a September 20, 2019 look at an Ontario Northland HO scale FP7A fully customized and painted by the late Stephen Thompson. The beautifully done 1500 sits proudly on display in his memory at the North Bay Model Railroad Club.