Thursday 22 February 2018

Throwback Thursday: Via Rail Canada SD40-2 No. 757?

Via 757 and its train are parked at Porteau, BC, on July 05, 1989.
By Peter Mumby

An observer of current Via operations would note that the motive power roster is quite homogeneous.  If you're not looking at a GE P42DC, then it's  a rebuilt GMD F40PH-3.  However, over the course of Via's history, variety has definitely been the order of the day.

Via Rail Canada, Inc, was born on April 01, 1978.  Although combined passenger operations under the Via/CN banner had already been in effect for a short period, it was in 1978 that Via assumed ownership of its first locomotive and equipment fleet (all of the "previously enjoyed" variety.)  Since that day Via's collection of new or used motive power has come from a variety of builders.
- from Budd - various RDC units.
- from the consortium of MLW/United Aircraft of Canada - turbo train power cars.
- from EMD - 2 E8A and 4 SW1000 units.
- from GMD - a group of FP7A/F7B and FP9A/F9B units, along with the previously mentioned F40PH-2/F40PH-3 locomotives.
- from MLW - FPA-2u/FBP-2u and FPA-4/FBP-4 units, along with a single RS-10.
- from Bombardier - LRC-2 and LRC-3 locomotives
- from GE - the current P42DC units.

As far as I know, this listing is quite complete.  So what of the SD-40-2 mentioned in the header for this post?  Was it just some precursor to today's penchant for "fake news"?  There is a story behind the photo, and here follows my version of the tale.

On July 05, 1989 I was driving south along the Pacific coast towards Vancouver.  Rounding a corner at Porteau Cove I spotted this interesting train set parked on BC Rail trackage.  Since my habit is to "shoot first and ask questions later," I was quickly parked and the photo had been exposed.  It became obvious that this was indeed a BC Rail unit in disguise, and that the trailing equipment came from a variety of sources.  I later learned that these were props for a movie production, specifically The Narrow Margin, which featured Gene Hackman.  The trailing power car was formerly a BC Rail radio control unit, and originally a CP FM C-line B unit.  The cars were leased from Roaring Fork in Colorado.  The station marked "Monashee" in the background was one of two such props assembled for the movie.  The exact location of this station was at MP 26 of the Squamish Sub at the location the railway called Porteau.

So, there you have a description of the anomaly that was Via Rail 757.  And, of course, 2018 will mark Via's 40th anniversary, so let's keep an eye out to see if last year's Canada 150 banners are replaced with ones of the Via 40 variety.  Just one more thing - I never did get to see The Narrow Margin.  If you happen to notice it in the TV listings, maybe you could let me know!


  1. If you're interested in the consist behind 'VIA' 757, Peter: BCR RCC4, baggage 9614 and several Roaring Forks Group cars: domes 7031 and 7032, coaches 5200, 5202, 5421, 5428, diner 5085 and ex-SF/Pullman sleeper 800226.