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Canadian Railroads > Last Train on the Windsor Branch


Date: 11/06/10 15:51
Last Train on the Windsor Branch
Author: cn6218

The Windsor branch of the old Nova Scotia Railway may have seen its last train. On Tuesday, November 2, the Windsor & Hantsport ran a cleanup train of 12 covered hoppers from their yard in Windsor to the interchange with CN at Windsor Jct. The weather was appropriately dreary, although it didn't actually rain. The WHRC appears to have walked away from the grain business they once cultivated after taking the line over from CP in 1994. After a number of derailments, the railway effectively abandoned the track west of Hantsport in 2007, instead transloading the grain to trucks in Windsor and then trucking it to customers in Port Williams and New Minas. The potato chip plant in New Minas elected to truck their cooking oil all the way from its source, so they lost that business entirely. With the recent change, grain will now be trucked from transload facilities in Truro and Halifax. The only source of traffic on the line now is gypsum, but that has been very sporadic since the housing meltdown in the US.

In the first image, B23-7s 4079 and 1968 have shoved the 12 covered hoppers out onto the main line from the Truro Spur, pushing some empty gypsum cars that had been stored there out of the way.

Next, the train is eastbound, passing a private crossing and CP-style whistle post in 3 Mile Plains, just outside Windsor.

A few miles farther east, they're climbing up the grade to Newport Station, leaving the Annapolis Valley behind.








Date: 11/06/10 16:14
Re: Last Train on the Windsor Branch
Author: cn6218

The roughly 30 miles of the Windsor branch was built about 150 years ago as part of the Nova Scotia Rwy. It was a pet project of Joseph Howe, and was owned from the start by the province. It was built to a broad gauge, as was the main line to Truro from Halifax. The NS Rwy was rolled into the ICR as a term of Confederation, and around 1875 was standard gauged to allow easy interchange with the rest of the ICR as it was being built. At some point, the branch was leased to the Windsor & Annapolis Rwy, and then about 1915, the whole thing was leased to the DAR. The fact that the WHRC didn't actually own the track, and that it will revert to CN (successor to ICR and CGR) in 2014, probably influenced their decision to spend little or nothing on it for maintenance. This overhead shot at the Hwy 101 overpass shows the splintered ties and missing plates that are typical of the whole line. Near by, there is a 6 inch section of rail head missing at one joint.

The second image shows the train crossing Route 1 as it reaches the summit of the line at Mt. Uniacke. There is a short, overgrown siding here, but years ago there was a wye, and a number of industries.

In the last image, the crew poses for the assembled railfans, before taking their light engines back to Windsor. The past few years have been hard on the crews, with them on lay off most of the time, only getting a call for the grain trains once a week, if they're lucky. They'll be busy with gypsum for the rest of the week, but the future is uncertain. It's only 30 miles from Windsor, but it took them over 3 hours to travel that distance, and another 3 hours to go back. There have been a number of slow speed derailments on this section of track over the last few years too.

One of the hoppers actually went back loaded, because they ran out of time in Windsor, so it will go to one of the new transload sites.

GTD








Date: 11/06/10 17:35
Re: Last Train on the Windsor Branch
Author: moonliter

Thank-you for the update...sad news indeed.

Gerry Gaugl
Ottawa ON



Date: 11/06/10 17:35
Re: Last Train on the Windsor Branch
Author: spdaylight

"There have been a number of slow speed derailments on this section of track over the last few years too"

Wow . . . with track in that condition, I'm surprised every movement didn't de-rail . . amazing . . . thanks for a most interesting post.



Date: 11/06/10 19:26
Re: Last Train on the Windsor Branch
Author: eminence_grise

Looking at the Canadian Trackside Guide, which lists all the W&H track as the "Halifax Subdivision", am I right in saying that they are going to abandon from Windsor Jct. (Mile 0) to Windsor (Mile 31.7)?

This would leave W&H without a rail connection. Basically it is becoming a quarry to dockside operation for the gypsum industry.

Is it still part of "Iron Road Rails", the Delaware company which previously owned Canadian-American, BAR and Quebec Southern?



Date: 11/07/10 04:33
Re: Last Train on the Windsor Branch
Author: cn6218

That's correct Phil. All of the WHRC is the Halifax Sub, except for the mines located on the old Truro Sub, now Truro Spur.

The "Windsor Branch" is the part of the Halifax Sub that goes from Windsor Jct. to Windsor, roughly 32 miles.

The WHRC is no longer owned by Iron Roads (I think Iron Roads went bankrupt), but is now owned by one of the former Iron Road principals, Bob Schmidt.

This move does leave the WHRC isolated, although I don't think there is any move to rip up the tracks yet. Even the track west of Hanstport is still there after three years, although getting rather overgrown. If they need to move engines or other equipment over it, it could still happen, until it deteriorates further.

There had been some shipments of white gypsum by rail to a customer in Ontario, perhaps 100 or more loads each summer, but that hasn't happened for 2 or 3 years now.

GTD



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/10 04:39 by cn6218.



Date: 11/18/10 14:19
Re: Last Train on the Windsor Branch
Author: dlh

Notched plow very cool. It's from the units days on Conrail where these diesels were pretty much captive to the Hudson line between Selkirk and NYC. The plows were notched to fit around the third rail on the electrified lines into the city.



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