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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Call of the Northland: On Sale September 29!

After two-and-a-half years of research, writing, rewriting, editing, rewriting (you get the picture), I have signed off on the proof copy of Call of the Northland and I am delighted to announce that it will go on sale to the public on September 29, 2014! The book looks gorgeous and will appeal to anyone interested in the ONTC, railways, Ontario, history, politics or travel (and hopefully other tastes too).

The book will be available to purchase online or through selected local retailers across Ontario. If you would like to sell Call of the Northland in your store, it isn't too late to order (you don't even have to be in Ontario). To get in touch, contact me through the book's website.

Let the countdown begin!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Shoo-fly, Shoo!

A long-overdue update on the construction of GO Transit's maintenance facility in south-east Whitby. So far this year, crews have excavated the site (several times it seems), installed drainage and now built a large berm next to the tracks.

On South Blair Street, my beloved level crossing has closed forever. I am sorry to see it go since it was the first place I used to go to watch trains with my father 20 years ago. However, I understand why the crossing is impeding traffic flow and ultimately inconveniencing the railway companies as well.

In place of the crossing, a new underpass will be built over the next few years. To do this, the GO Sub has been replaced with a shoo-fly track at the former crossing site. A shoo-fly is a temporary diversionary track used by railways to bypass construction or other obstacles (such as a washout). Once the portion of the bridge for GO trains is complete, the Kingston Sub will also be shoo-flied (?) to build the rest.

This photos shows how the site looked as of the end of July. It was taken with a zoom lens at 250mm while standing on the Hopkins Street bridge to the east of the site. Incidentally, the bridge will also be a casualty of the construction as it will be demolished and replaced with an access road to the south of the site, thus destroying one of the best rail photo spots in the GTA. Nothing lasts forever.

Construction in Whitby / Construction à Whitby

Of interest in the image are (from left to right):
  • The CN Kingston Sub. Without a level crossing to worry about anymore, CN freights can now go right up to the signal bridge while working the Oshawa yard.
  • The red and black pile-driver at the former site of the South Blair crossing and future site of the South Blair underpass.
  • The GO Sub shoo-fly with train 916 not-so-slowly rounding the "s" curve on its run east to Oshawa. Temporary signals were installed when the original signal bridge (roughly where the pile driver is) was removed to make way for the construction.
  • The berm, marking the southern limit of the future GO maintenance facility.
Also gone with the construction is the classic sound of trains blowing through the crossing. I miss the horns, even if they can still be heard sometimes when trains approach the construction workers.

For more updates, see the Metrolinx Flickr account, which gives good updates on all the major rail construction projects in the Toronto area, including those in Whitby. Even better, no need to trespass!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ontera sale to close Sept. 2

Summer time, and the ONTC news is largely quiet. That said, the sale of Ontera continues, with the deal set to close next month. While most people are relieved that the bulk of the ONTC will remain in public hands, the sale of Ontera is not popular. Was the telecoms division undervalued? Why is Bell Aliant shedding upwards of half the workforce? What level of service will be guaranteed?

>>>Ontera sale to close Sept. 2 | North Bay Nugget<<<