Thursday, September 24, 2009

Transport: Out of Gas

The CN Tower, five rail miles away, had the best view as Canadian Pacific locomotives awaited fuel at Lambton Yard in Toronto, Ontario on 24-September-2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO - I happened to overhear an interesting conversation between a Canadian Pacific Rail Traffic Controller (RTC, that's what dispatchers are called up here) and Binghamton, New York to Toronto, Ontario train #255 today. The train crew had gone on duty at 03:30 in the morning, and it had taken them seven hours to reach Lambton Yard in Toronto, Ontario, a distance often covered in half that time.

With Lambton Yard closed since April, it was rare for train #255 to stop there, but on this day their orders included pulling some stored cars out of the yard for transport to the main Toronto yard at Agincourt. So, about 10:30, they started that maneuver. The problem reported by the crew was that their locomotives were about to run out of fuel.

The original plan was for the train to be left at Lambton and the locomotives would run alone to Toronto Yard, as that would take less fuel than pulling the train. However, upper management decided it would be better to refuel the locomotives at Lambton, and a fuel truck was called in to meet the diesel locomotives there. ("We don't have to pay cash for the fuel, do we?" the crew ribbed.) Meanwhile, the second of the two locomotives shut down as it ran out of fuel, and the train crew decided to not even try to get to the originally-designated meeting place at the Lambton Yard office and instead stopped in the yard not far from the Rona Lumber near Keele and St. Clair.

A fuel truck tended to the Canadian Pacific and leased Capital Finance locomotives near Keele Street in Toronto, Ontario on 24-September-2009

Of course, the fuel truck did not go to the locomotive's actual location, even though it had been reported to the RTC. Having arrived on-scene, I decided to head toward the Lambton Yard office to see if maybe I could guide the truck in, but fortunately a Canadian Pacific maintainer was already there, and he piloted the fuel truck over to the locomotives' actual location.

A half hour later, both locomotives' tanks had been refilled, and their engines were restarted by the crew. They called the RTC to gain permission to move again, joking "we're all refueled, and our windows are washed." The locomotives returned to their train, and at 13:30, train #255 finally departed Lambton Yard for its destination of Toronto Yard, more than three hours after their arrival.

Train #255 pulled eastbound out of Lambton Yard in Toronto, Ontario after refueling on 24-September-2009

The train presumably made it to Toronto Yard before their hours of service expired at 15:30, but it may have been the longest fair-weather run for the crew in recent memory.

No comments: