Thursday, March 24, 2011

Eras and Context

Not only have I finished the transcription phase, I've now finished proofreading all the train information that I've prepared for the book. Though the information is ready for publication, it isn't really complete without being presented in the appropriate historical context. (I hesitate to use the term historical when referring to VIA Rail, but there it is.)

To accomplish this, I'm drafting a composite history of VIA: combining corporate, operational, equipment and trackside elements to give the reader an idea of why VIA ran the trains it did, when it did, in each of its eras. This history will precede each era's train information, and help to answer those often-asked questions...When did the LRC enter service? Why did VIA buy F40's? How and when did VIA's transcontinental trains operate on CN and CP?

If you enjoy this type of contextual background, and find it as educational and interesting as I do, it should add to your enjoyment and reading of this book. VIA's trains tell a story, and I think you'll find this a good read. Highball!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Heading West

In December of last year, I mentioned trains I'd seen on several trips across western Canada aboard VIA Rail. As I work my way through them, I'm again surprised at what I'm finding as I'm transcribing. It's not limited to information on the trains I was able to ride.

There are the trains I saw while waiting to board the Canadian, trains we met along the way, switching and combining of sections at Sudbury, business cars in Calgary and Vancouver, and an absolutely rich and astounding variety of cars in trainsheds and coachyards.

A current Yahoogroup discussion focuses on "transition eras", normally thought of as steam-to-diesel, but also including sea change in trains, equipment and operating philosophies. The early decade of VIA involved impending transition from service on the full VIA network, through cutbacks, to the advent of Head End Power, and F-units being replaced by newer power. Rolling stock was standardized and then sold off.

But why was 9480 tagging along on the end of the Super Continental? Highball!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Time for Moving On

This engineer has just picked up his mid-morning snack from the club car. A quick word with the conductor and it's time for moving on.

Earlier this week, I completed the formidable task of transcription of original train information, which now covers the entire history of VIA Rail, from 1976 to 2011. I was amazed by the amount of information transcribed - VIA's motive power, rolling stock, equipment cycles and rotation of equipment, and of course unique and colourful consists. And many, many additions to paint scheme transition data.

Now I'm moving on. Western consists throughout VIA's early years: River-class and I-series sleepers used as crew accommodation, a nice mix of E-series and Chateau/Manor cars, CP Geeps and RS's on the Canadian, and quite a few surprises.

Then I'll be working hard to complete the many other parts of this book. Expect a notable contribution from a well-known VIAphile. Highball!