Podcast, News and Event listings – All Things Railroad!
Monday February 19th 2018

Adventures in Train Spotting

We are learning lots of things by starting up this podcast.  Even the simple task of taking shots of trains can become complicated when you need to do it.  I’ve always had pretty good luck being in the right place at the right time.  But here are my first adventures in train spotting since starting TrainTalk.TV…

1. Winnipeg

I’m in Winnipeg for a weekend and I found a great spot to shoot Via Rail’s ‘The Canadian’ as it pulled into Winnipeg’s Union Station from the West.  I scoped it out, I checked the schedules, I even checked with Via Rail. I was there early, setup and ready to go.

About ten minutes before the Canadian was due in, a freight train came through. I got some great footage of the freight train.  Then after it passed I waited. A few minutes later I heard the distinct sound of diesel engines idling behind me.

I turned around and there in the station facing me, sat The Canadian.  What happened? Had I read the schedule wrong?  Why was it facing west when it was eastbound?

I had not been to Winnipeg before, except when traveling on the Canadian years ago when moving out west.  When I consulted Google Maps, it turns out that the CN line that Via Runs on zigzags through downtown Winnipeg, and at the point I was at, the Eastbound train actually comes in, very slightly, from the East!  I was in the wrong place at the right time.

2. Banff

We were hoping to catch the Rocky Mountaineer heading through Banff, but the train passed us heading towards Calgary before we even got to Banff! It was almost an hour before the train was scheduled to even be in Banff – but it had already left!

I can only assume that because it was Saturday there was slightly less rail traffic and since the train only handles reserved passengers, it had no reason to wait anywhere along the way.

3. Canmore

This time I was ready.  I had the schedule figured out.  The Rocky Mountaineer had a schedule to board in Calgary at 6:10 a.m. I was near Canmore, about halfway to Banff which is a one hour drive from Calgary.

We were on the bridge to shoot about 6:45 a.m.

Around 8:00, out of coffee, feeling I’d misread the schedule and nearly freezing in the frigid morning breeze off the mountains, I looked down to take a picture of the friends that had accompanied me on my adventure.  I shouted to them to look up, so I could take a pic.

They did not look up, they in fact started clicking pics of the Rocky Mountaineer as it came round the bend!  I almost missed it, but I did get some footage.

We hopped in the the truck to get going. The day before I’d mapped out four spots where we could get a good shot of the train as it passed.  I had a brief monologue prepared to shoot as the train went by.  I completely and utterly miscalculated just how fast a train can travel in a straight line!

The Rocky Mountaineer is not an exceptionally fast train and so while I was not willing to break any speed limits I was still amazed that the best we could do was keep up with the train, and only arrive at the fourth spot I’d chosen, just in time to catch the train heading off further into the mountains.

So, lots of lessons learned!  We’ll see how I do next time.

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