CFL Grey Cup display train in Portage La Prairie October 4, 2012 (PAGE 1)
***Don't forget to check out PAGE 2 (link below)!***
On an extremely unpleasant, windy, rainy and snowy October day I made the trek to Portage to experience the CFL Grey Cup train. While the train was scheduled to display in my home city of Winnipeg on the upcoming Saturday, I felt that access, photos and parking would be much easier in Portage. So I took Thursday afternoon off from work, picked up my lunch before leaving the city and braved the weather bomb for the hour drive west. The Grey Cup Tour website indicated the train was scheduled to enter Manitoba via the Bredenbury sub (after displaying in Yorkton SK) and then into Portage via Minnedosa. The website also said that the train would be on display in the back lot of the Portage Centennial Arena as opposed to the CN side where F40s are usually seen. This meant F40PH-3 6445 would be on some very unfamiliar trackage. I first photographed Grey Cup 6445 on the CN line a few feet away (in Portage as well) last month and was fascinated at the prospect of seeing this unit on the opposite line.
Here's what the display looked like when I first arrived at 12:24PM.
CP freights passed by quite frequently, including this one with AC4400CW 9772 and SD40-2 5764.
VIA's Canadian (formerly CP's train) #1 was scheduled to arrive around 1PM and my idea was to frame the photo so #1 would be in the foreground (on CN) with 6445 and company in the background on CP. The photos show that I did manage to pull this off despite the extreme weather. One of these shots even rated a mention on Steve Boyko's blog - cool, thanks Steve!
What was extremely challenging was the wind, driving rain and piercing ice droplets. I was well dressed for the weather but the wind nearly blew me over a number of times and it was wet and rainy and muddy everywhere. The camera lens also kept getting pelted with rain drops and I went through a lot of kleenex continually wiping off the lens. My clothes were soaked and the rain and slush filled the air and made many of the photos appear fuzzy.
Seeing 6445 on CP tracks was exciting enough for me but I also decided to board the display train. I got a nice "Winnipeg Blue Bombers" sponge football, temporary tattoo sticker and someone on the train was offering a 1 for 1 exchange of special Grey Cup loon dollar coins. I had seen them in my change previously so declined the kind offer and toured the rest of the train. The heating in the cars was welcome as it was only +3 outside (-3 with windchill) and my clothes were wet. I also got my photo taken with the cup at no charge. The CFL did a bang up job with this display train. Kudos and thanks to all the smiling faces and friendly volunteers that made this a memorable experience.
Shortly after 2:30, a WB rail train stopped and uncoupled CP Rail SD40-2s 5864 and 5991 (two more classics!) and fetched 8711 from the front of the Grey Cup train. # 8711 had been piloting this train on CP since Edmonton. Seeing 8711 removed was surprising to me as I had expected and was hoping for the train to proceed to Winnipeg via the Carberry sub. I spoke to a couple of other railfans (I only saw three the entire day) and was disappointed to learn that my plans to photograph 6445 at Meadows and Marquette (classic wooden grain elevators!) were foiled. 8711 was placed behind 5864 and 5991 on the welded rail train and proceeded west, leaving 6445 to lead the Grey Cup train for just a short distance on rare CP trackage in Portage.
Grey Cup Train finally sheds its CP pilot unit!
© updated 5-19-14
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