Friday, 22 June 2012

First Cast Into the New Stream

I took my camera equiped phone with me at noon over to the Bala crossing I discovered during a recent Friday lunchtime run.

After 3 days of temps in the 90's, it was a nice break with clear air, 25C and bright sunshine.  It felt positively polar in comparison to the heat and humidity of the preceding week.

After using my camera phone to snap a few shots of the crossing and views down the line, I figured I'd afford 10 minutes of wait, just in case I got lucky.  I was just about ready to restart my watch and head back when the bell on the crossing began ringing and the short guard arm came down.  The crossing is designed for foot and cycling traffic, so for safety actual crossing gates are installed on either side of the double crossing, to prevent an unattentive cyclist from slamming into the side of a railcar, moving or stationary.

It's a long visual stretch southbound and no activity could be seen, so I set my sights northward.  Sure enough, around the bend comes a pair of CN freight locos and consist in tow.

The cam phone is a bit awkward to use, with a good full second lag between pressing the on-screen 'button' and waiting for the click, then it shows the image and you must click again to clear it to reshoot.  There's also no optical zoom.  In the bright sunshine it's hard to see what's on the screen, and I didn't dare switch to video mode (vid is pretty crappy on it anyway).  You get audio feedback when taking a pic, but nothing to tell you it's ready for the next shot.  I missed the best shot as the lead engine got into the ideal pose (either that or I deleted it without knowing), but a decent shot further away and another good one just after engines passed.  The lead was CN 2302, an ES44DC.  The second looks also like an EMD in reverse orientation, but the shot doesn't include it's number.  It'll take a bit of research to figure out what unit it was, or I get lucky in zooming in on the longer range images.

The consist itself was almost all double stacked containers, marked mostly with 'Cosco' so a shipment of big-box store products straight in from China most likely.

As it rolled through it became apparent it was slowing down.  I could see at the bend that the end car was approaching and you could hear the brakes pressing hard on the wheels.  It eventually came to a full stop with the second last car blocking the crossing.  A pair of cyclists came by the crossing but neither felt adventurous enough to attempt circling around the trailing car, and I'm making every effort to stay safe and legal on these railfanning ventures so I was not going to cross either.

I grabbed a few more shots of the stationary cars and the wheel sets.  Then you could hear the brakes hiss as the pressure came off, meaning it was prepping to restart.  As the section is double tracked, I assume it was either waiting a northbound to clear the transition to single track further south at Doncaster, or awaiting clearance to join the York Sub.  I wasn't quick enough with switching to video to catch the shunt, which rattled with a nice loud bang as the knuckles reengaged on the last pair of cars, enough to even make me jump.  Having the Sony cam would have been much better for the audio anyway, again the camera vids aren't very good quality.  I did get some of it quietly rolling away which I might upload if it looks good enough.

For an impromptu lunchtime railfanning run, it was pretty successful.  Got to catch a good long consist, watched it stop, watched (and heard) it restart, and the weather was ideal to boot.

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