CRHA GO trip 2019 – Brampton

Our CRHA (Canadian Railroad Historical Association) Niagara Chapter has been running an annual GO trip for about 7 years now and for our 2019 (August 9th) trip we elected to ride to Brampton. We spent the day mostly on the platform of Brampton station watching the trains roll through.

Early morning GO train at St. Catharines Station (5:44 EDT)

Early morning GO train at St. Catharines Station (5:44 EDT)

The day began before dawn as the participants in this trip (11 in all) boarded at various locations ranging from the train’s origin in Niagara Falls to Clarkson. I boarded, with others, at St. Catharines, bleary-eyed, at 5:44 a.m.

After a leisurely 2 hour trip, we arrived at Union Station to grab some breakfast and wait for our GO train to take us to Brampton at 9 a.m.

 

 

 

Our CRHA crew having just gotten off the morning train from Niagara

Our CRHA crew having just gotten off the morning train from Niagara

One of the issues with trains from Niagara is the mandated slow pace through Hamilton due to many industrial sidings and level crossings. Combine this with having to back into West Harbour station and then make all stops from Aldershot on makes for a long trip. So it’s train service, just not fast train service. Still, we would rather be riding a train, even a slower one, than sitting in traffic.

 

 

 

 

We spent a bit of time shooting some photos on the platform before heading into the station for breakfast. The work on Union Station is on-going but so far has yielded great results. The once-dark and dingy trainshed is now bright thanks to the large glass canopy. This venerable station has been turned into a modern transportation hub. We descended from the York concourse to the newer food court below and purchased breakfast.

 

Our GO train arrives, ready to take us to Brampton

Our GO train arrives, ready to take us to Brampton

After breakfast, we made our way back to the platforms, after consulting the GO status screen to determine which was the correct one. Our Brampton train rolled in and we climbed aboard for the ride out. We passed the junction where the UP Express splits off for its run to Pearson Airport (the subject of our 2015 GO trip).

During the ride out we noted the amount of infrastructure work (grade separations, station improvements) being carried out by GOs parent Metrolinx. The good news for train and mass transit fans is that we’re living in a rail renaissance. Even VIA has recently contracted for some new equipment.

 

The locomotive pushing our train gets ready to depart from Brampton Station

The locomotive pushing our train gets ready to depart from Brampton Station

Our GO train arrived at Brampton after a 40-minute trip and we disembarked onto the platform. The mid-morning weather was warm and pleasant, a perfect day for watching trains.

GO trains operate in a push-pull configuration, with a locomotive typically facing east (if you’re at Union Station) and the other end of the train being controlled by a specially equipped car which features the necessary controls to run the locomotive and train brakes.

We snapped some photos of the train as it departed to catch the locomotive pushing the train. Built by GMDD in London Ontario in the late ’80s and early ’90s, many of these units have now been retired and the remaining few won’t be in service much longer. The thing about trains is today’s commonplace is tomorrow’s rarity. During the 1990s  and up to 2008, these hard-working locomotives were all one would see on GO trains. Now they’re disappearing. We thought we would take some photos while they were still running.

 

Over the next two hours, we were treated to a parade of freight trains, VIA and GO passenger trains.

In addition, there is a shortline, operated by the Trillium Railway that runs on tracks that cross the mainline just west of the station. We heard an airhorn an hour after arriving and walked down to the diamonds  in time to catch the small freight. After pausing for another GO train, the short train proceeded south and the crew waved enthusiastically as we snapped photos.

We walked down Main street to an eatery called Wendel Clark’s Classic for lunch. Not the greatest but the beer was cold. Over lunch, we heard two freight trains pass. We returned to the platform for the afternoon for another series of trains.

Before long our GO train appeared to take us back to Union Station. After a short layover there we boarded our train back to St. Catharines where arrived, on time at 7:15 p.m. We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather and the Brampton location was a good one too. We thanked our planner, Paul Chapman for working out all the details. It is a legend in our group that when Paul is present, the weather is great. This day was no exception.

Our CRHA photo line at Brampton

Our CRHA photo line at Brampton

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