November Operating Session at the WRMRC

The monthly operating session at the WRMRC was held last Saturday afternoon and evening.    No one had claimed the job of east end yard crew at Sudbury yard, so I signed up and got to work.  It was a busy day and I only grabbed a few shots to share.

I’m hoping that some of the members will fill in the blanks for me.  I forget what the date was, and I didn’t take note of which westbound trains I captured in these images.


I was a late for my shift, having taken too much time at local Tim Horton’s on the way in. The west end switch crew and the Yardmaster were none too pleased with me.  Here I’m trundling down the east yard ladder, on my way to start on my first switch switch list with locomotive 6591, an MLW S-3.


Empty boxcars for paper loading at Espanola are being collected together on track 3.


This westbound from Toronto will terminate here in Sudbury.


The same train as above, in the ‘going-away’ perspective this time.  My switcher is tucked out of the way on the “south lead” in the foreground.


The eastbound pulp train arrives from the Cartier subdivision. The yard crews will coordinate moving the van to the east end of the train while the power runs around.  With the train put back together and air pumped up, they’ll move westbound out of Sudbury on the Webbwood Subdivision to trade loads for empties at E.B. Eddy. Once they’ve done the exchange, the train will re-trace its route and they’ll once again change ends to proceed westbound back up the Cartier Subdivision.


A westbound is working its way into Sudbury yard as my switcher is tucked out of the way on the ‘south lead’ in the foreground.


Some troubles with 6591 caused us to take it back to the roundhouse and change it up for S-4 7108.


11 thoughts on “November Operating Session at the WRMRC

  1. That westbound (northbound, really) was 955, the Mactier Bullet. It’s a short haul freight from Toronto with mostly local traffic for the Sudbury area. Your shots of the Pulp Train were of its return journey, heading back to Cartier. At this point we run the southward leg of that train first thing in the session, which would have been close to midnight on the clock–around the time you were still hanging out at Timmy’s.

    It’s nice to see that it’s possible to get some reasonably realistic photo angles at the club, with a minimum of benchwork/unfinished scenery/other unsightlies getting into the frame. We really do need to get more scenery finished.


  2. Thanks for the clarification Jurgen. I should probably pay closer attention to the train schedule so I can get to know the trains by sight. I find that I still don’t get the big picture of the system because I’ve been focused on the details of the particular assignment I’m working at the time. It would probably help if I stick to working the yard for a few sessions in order to get a handle on how things work.

    Chris, we had some minor snags but worked together and managed to get through the session just fine. I had some thoughts about resurrecting the use of blue flags to denote the two-hour block of time required to inspect outbound cars. I’ve noticed that Yardmasters sometimes ask the yard crew to add cars onto outbound blocks at the last minute. They obviously feel pressured to keep things running smoothly by forwarding cars as soon as possible, but this doesn’t reflect the reality of yard operations. Jurgen said we have actual blue flags to plant on either end of a cut of cars, but we couldn’t find them. It would be cool if we could find those for the December session.


    • I definitely do try to keep cut-off times in mind when running the yard, and I don’t worry if something’s not going to make a connection. Absolutely not.

      It is easy however to be merrily switching away, writing out switchlists for the next job and not paying close attention to the clock to end up with a crew still switching cars into a track when a train arrives that wants to lift from that track. Just something for the YM to really pay close attention to. Actually instituting the use of blue flags on tracks that are theoretically having the carmen going over prior to departure could help enforce that and slow the pace a little and make it a bit more “railroad-y”. Of course there’s a lot of things for the YM to keep track of already, so there’s a bit of a learning curve for new yardmasters.

      I’m still looking forward to the day when the west yard tracks are useable for switching operations.

      • Yardmaster is a complicated job. I wonder if it would help if the yard crew(s) work with the YM by keeping an eye on the time and the lineup. The way we operate right now, the yard crews aren’t told which train/lift they’re building on each track. Because I’ve switched the yard on most operating sessions that I attend, I’m slowly becoming for familiar with the lineup of trains. Eventually, I’d like to do the Yardmaster’s job, but I think I should work the yard until I’m familiar with the rhythm of things.

      • The one problem with counting on yard crews to tell you when things need to be done, is that they don’t know what time it is themselves, and don’t have a lineup to go by. I think a checklist with time indexes ought to be created for yardmasters so that they can see what needs to be done and when, and will have a record of what they still need to do.


  3. Basic mid-1970’s schedule for Sudbury, times can vary greatly (even passenger trains):

    00:00-01:00 – Pulp train (loads) arrives from Cartier – departs to Webbwood Sub. – requires run-around move
    01:00-03:00 – #912 (Chicago-SOO-St Luc manifest) – works Sudbury
    02:00-04:00 – #921 (Toronto-Winnipeg manifest) – works Sudbury as required
    02:00-06:00 – #946 (Winnipeg-Toronto manifest) – works Sudbury as required
    05:00-07:00 – #955 (Toronto-Sudbury pickup freight) – terminates at Sudbury
    05:00-07:00 – Pulp train (empty) arrives from Webbwood Sub. – departs to Cartier – requires run-around move
    ~06:00 – #73 “Coal Train” – Little Current Sub local job departs
    08:00 – #427 – RDC passenger train departs for Sault Ste Marie
    09:00-10:00 – #2 – Eastbound ‘Canadian’ arrives from Vancouver, train splits into #2/#12 Montreal/Toronto sections
    09:00-12:00 – #911 (St Luc-SOO-Chicago) – works Sudbury, usually goes into yard tracks to avoid interfering with ‘The Canadian’
    ~12:00 – Espanola Turn – Departs for E.B.Eddy paper plant, Espanola Ont.
    12:00-16:00 – #74 “Coal Train” – returns from Little Current Sub.
    12:00-16:00 – #925 (St Luc-Winnipeg manifest) – works Sudbury as required
    12:00-16:00 – #954 (Alyth-Toronto manifest) – usually lifts-only @ Sudbury, as required
    16:00-19:00 – Espanola Turn – Returns from E.B.Eddy plant
    17:00-21:00 – #974 (Cartier-St Luc pickup freight) – works Sudbury
    17:00-21:00 – #96 (Webbwood Sub pickup freight) from SOO – drops Sudbury cut & lifts locals cars for Webbwood & Thessalon Subs – returns to Webbwood/SOO
    18:00-22:00 – Copper Cliff Turn – works local Sudbury industries at Creosote & Copper Cliff
    21:15 – #428 – RDC passenger train arrives from Sault Ste Marie
    20:00-23:59 – #965 (Toronto-Coquitlam thru-freight) – does not work Sudbury
    20:00-23:59 – #50 (Parry Sound / MacTier Sub pickup) – departs for Toronto Yard
    23:00-23:59 – #1 & #11 – Westbound ‘Canadian’s arrive from Montreal/Toronto, trains combined into #2 for Vancouver

    Extras, 2nd Sections, and Unit trains (acid, grain, potash) can operate at any time

    Not listed:
    #417/418 – White River RDC passenger trains (not operational yet)
    #901 – Toronto-Coquitlam thru-freight (not operational yet)
    #902 – Coquitlam-Toronto thru-freight (not operational yet)
    #949 – St Luc-Alyth thru-freight (not operational yet)
    #952 – Alyth-St Luc thru-freight (not operational yet)
    #953 – Toronto-Winnipeg manifest (operating, but runs as required)
    North Bay Turn – Cartier Sub east-end pickup job (operating, but runs as required)
    Falconbridge Turn “the falcon” (not operational yet)
    Phelans Turn (not operational yet)
    Nickel Ore Trains – Levack, Creighton, Crean Hill & Clarabelle jobs (not operational yet)


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