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Halifax Area Rail Operations

Halifax Consists of 2 CN Subdivisions. The Bedford Sub runs from the Halifax Ocean Terminals to Truro. The Dartmouth Sub runs from Windsor Junction to Autoport in Eastern Passage.

Dartmouth Sub

The Dartmouth Sub is unsignaled, and relies on an occupancy control system. the dispatcher issues a set of rules governing the allowed limits of a trains movement.

The Train geek has a 2 part post that explains OCS
Part 1: OCS Basics   Part 2: Finer Details

The Dartmouth Sub runs several trains.

Trains 407/408: runs Dartmouth to Moncton and back Daily. 408 arrives in the early predawn hours of the morning, and 407 returns mid morning.

Train 503  is the Burnside Industrial Park Switch Assignment. it is unscheduled. this is also the train assignment that takes autoracks to autoport.

Train 511 (above) is the Gypsum Train, running from Wrights Cove to Milford and back.  Runs Week Days.

Westbound Eastbound
Mile Station CN 407 CN 511 CN 408 CN511
16.25 End of Track
Autoport
15.1 Imperial Oil

Dartmouth

0710 0515
10.1 Wrights Cove
Wrights Cove Spur
National Gypsum
0700 1510
8.72 Burnside Industrial Spur “D”
1.2 Miles N
8.52 Burnside Industrial Spur “B”
0.5 Miles N
8.39 Burnside Industrial Spur “A”
1.5 Miles N
0.2 Windsor Junction……….
Connection to CN Bedford Sub
0739 0710 0444 1500

Standby CH 1 161.415mhz
RTC Call in CH 3 160.935mhz

Bedford Sub

The Bedford Sub Uses CTC – A dispatcher sets signals and remotely configure switches in preparation for the trains. Trains get their clearances from the signals.

Clear and Stop Are pretty easy to understand. The other signals, Limited, Medium, slow and restricted reffer to speed limits

  • Track speed. This means whatever the pre-approved speed limit for the track.
  • Limited speed. 45 mph.
  • Medium speed.  30 mph.
  • Slow speed.  20 mph
  • Restricting speed. This means an absolute maximum of 15 mph, and the crew must be extra cautious as well as being able to stop in half the distance of vision.

There is a 4 part Video Explanation of the Canadian Signalling System Available Part 1: The basic three light system
Part 2: One and Two Light Systems
Part 3: Diverging and Limited speeds, to and at signals
Part 4: Dwarf Signals

Trains 120/121 : These are the Inbound and outbound Container Trains. 120 Arrives in the morning – typically around 9 or 10 am. 121 assembles itself around 7pm, and departs between 8-9pm. Run Between Toronto BIT and Rockingham.

Train 501: CN Local from Rockingham to Kinsac, and Back. Runs Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. This serves Bedford Quarry, and likely picks up and delivers cars for 407/408 at Kinsac.

VIA Rail – The Ocean: train 15 Departs Halifax at 1200 Wed, Friday, Sunday. Train 14 Arrives at 1735 Monday, Thursday, Saturday.
Via publishes a Schedule in PDF  and allows for near realtime tracking by train number, but this third party site shows everything.

Eastbound Mile Station Westbound
 VIA 14
 CN 120
 CN 408
 CN 511
 CN 501
 CN 507
 VIA 15
 CN 121
 CN 407
 CN 511
 CN 501
 CN 507
17:35 0.0 Halifax Ocean Terminal
VIA Rail Station
12:00
5.0 Fairview
Deepwater Branch (HIT) 2.4 miles N
Fairview Maintenance Depot
0945 0500 1800 6.0 Rockingham
Yard
2000 2100 1000
7.96 Millview
10.6 Bedford
15.6 Junction with CN Dartmouth Sub
17:10 0930 0444 1500 1730 15.8 Windsor Junction………. 12:25 2025 0739 0710 1030
16.33 Hotbox detector
20.0 Kinsac
Siding 3553’
27.0 Sandy Cove
Siding 3800’
1649 0900 0415 1305 1700 30.3 Hotbox detector 1245 2125 0830 0800 1100
1300 36.6 Junction with National Gypsum 0805
1500 38.4 Milford 1430
44.3 Hotbox detector
51.2 Alton
Siding 6300’
56.0 Brookfield
Canada Cement Spur 2.8 miles S
61.3 Hotbox detector
61.5 Hyde
16:05 0820 0305 64.0 Truro East……….
Connection to CN Springhill Sub
13:31 2200 0940

Standby CH 1, 161.415mhz
RTC Call in CH 8, 161.025mhz

Other Trains
CN 308/305 is a Daily Run from Toronto Macmillian to Moncton (and Return) This is the main East/West General Freight.
CN Runs Local 515 from Truro to Brookfield (Canada Cement) weekdays. Also Train 534 runs Moncton to Amherst (no schedule)

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Sambro Light

The need for a landfall lighthouse for Halifax was apparent early on, and in 1752 a lottery was formed to fund the construction. It failed to raise the necessary funds, and the first act passed by the first legislature in 1758 was a tax on ships to fund the light. The Nova Scotia Archives recently released a number of documents and photos related to the Light, including the Tax Records for the lighthouse funding.

Landfall lighthouses are tall structures, designed so that the light can be seen at a great distance, to point ships to a harbour. The light is octagonal in shape, and constructed of masonry, covered with wooden shingles due to early moisture issues.the Sambro Island Light is visible for 24 Nautical miles (44km)

(Above) Sambro Island Light as built, An additional 22′ of height was added in 1906 to increase the lights Range.

(above) the Heightening of the Sambro Light. Photos from the Department of Transportation Albums at the Nova Scotia Archives. (below) the completed tower. the Red White the stripes were added in 1908.

The Sambro Light is the oldest Lighthouse in North America and the Caribbean. Louisburg’s lighthouse was originally built in 1733, but was destroyed by the British during the Siege of Louisburg. Boston Light location dates to 1716, but the original was destroyed in 1776 by the British, during the revolutionary war. The current light was rebuilt on the foundations of the original light in 1783.

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Cranes Coming Down

The scrapping of the original Halterm Gantry Cranes continues. The process has just gotten under way at Ceres.

 

these cranes date back to the late 60’s and 70’s, and are now too small for most ships calling on Halifax.

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Halterm Upgrades Yard Equipment

Halterm yesterday announced the purchase of new equipment.

The terminal will be spending 10Million Dollars over the next year to increase refer capacity by 25%, as well as purchasing 3 Kone Rubber Tire Gantries (or RTG). The 3 units are expected to be delivered in February (1) and October (2) of next year. The New RTG’s will straddle a container stack 5 high, and 6 wide.

The terminal also recently began scraping the 3 original container cranes. Small, and unused, they took up space at the end of the pier.

This continues a recent history of new equipment since the Installation of the New Super Post Panamax Cranes in 2014. Earlier this year the Terminal took delivery of new Kone Reachstackers

Kalmar Ottawa Yard tractors and Toplifts.

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Dartmouth Ferry “Governor Cornwallis”


Natural Resources has a site that explores some of the features of Halifax Harbour. One of those features is the wreck of the Ferry Governor Cornwallis.

The ferry was built by Dartmouth shipbuilder Hugh D. Weagle for $93,551 and opened to the public December 6, 1942. It was the first Diesel Powered ferry used in Halifax Harbour. The ships log book showed many mechanical problems, and on December 22, 1944 a fire was discovered in the ceiling of the engine room. passengers were let off in Dartmouth, and the ferry was towed and beached on Georges island to Burn. She sunk, and slid into deep water. It was concluded that the fire was caused by poor installation of the heating furnace’s smoke pipe.

You can clearly see the wreck off the south west corner of Georges Island. NRCan Also offers the Side Scan image below.

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TSB Report Into Near Collision of the Summer Bay and Grandeur of the Seas.

On June 29, 2016 the Tour boat Summer Bay had a very near miss with the Grandeur of the Seas. From the TSB Report

the master of the Summer Bay altered course to 071° and crossed the bulbous bow of the Grandeur of the Seas at a distance of about 25 m. The fog signal from the Grandeur of the Seas was heard on the Summer Bay about 10 seconds prior to the course alteration. The Grandeur of the Seas bridge team was unaware that the Summer Bay was crossing their bow until the pilot saw the Summer Bay‘s mast as it appeared from underneath the bow on the starboard side, after it had already crossed.

the weather at the time was foggy, and the Summer Bay altered course, from the pre-arranged passing plan while in the Grandeur of the Seas radar blind spot.

the report indicates that the master of the Summer bay was new to Murphys, and had limited experience operating vessels in Halifax Harbour and in low visibility. Murphy’s also lacked procedures for operations in low visibility.

Murphy’s the Cable Wharf has made the following changes to its tour vessels:

  • It has added automatic identification system units to all vessels except those that are amphibious.
  • It has developed standard operating procedures for its vessel masters in reduced‑visibility conditions.
  • It has commissioned an external audit of its safety management system.

Given the recent issue with the Harbour Queen, one should question if these changes were enough.

The full report can be read at http://www.bst-tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/marine/2016/m16a0141/m16a0141.asp

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New Feature – The Port Report

we have launched a New Feature on our site – The Port Report. you can Reach it at http://halifaxshippingnews.ca/portreport.php

This report generates on demand, and updates every 2 hours. It currently features the latest posts on HSN,  Weather, Wind & Sea Conditions, and Arrivals & Departures.

We will be looking to add new information and features to the report, and are happy to entertain requests and comments.

 

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Sydney MegaPort!?!!

so the port of Sydney Nova Scotia is attempting to develop a megaport called Nova Port. The Idea is that it will be the Newest and greatest port on the east coast, and container lines and their 18000 TEU ships will flock to the port. The development is being done by SHIP Sydney Harbour Investment Partners, which includes China Communications Construction Company, Canderel Group, and Bechtel.

yesterday they announced a partnership with Ports America to run the thing. SHIP has said that they will start construction as soon as they sign up sufficient business. Its not going to happen.

First, Sydney Isn’t close to anything. getting containers to and from the port will be a pain. Sydney is 4 hours further up the road from Halifax, and the rail line, Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway, is near abandonment, having seen the last train from Sydney in December 2014 and likely in need of a massive overhaul to carry container traffic. A previous container service by Terra Transport via Marine Atlantic ferry  to Newfoundland, was re-routed to Halifax in 1997.  – in part because CN was uninterested in running trains to Cape Breton, favoring Halifax instead. this likely hasen’t changed, and its doubtful  CN will be interested in having to deal with the traffic, as will will only serve to slow down their existing trains.

Second, they keep referring to attracting Ultra Large container vessels, however no line currently has them calling on the East Coast of North America. while this might change, the large volumes occur in the pacific trade, and can justify these vessel sizes. its unlikely they will make the trip around when the smaller classes already service the routes with excess capacity.

Third – the only way they can make a business case is if they can keep the cost of container handling lower then any other East coast port. Since most of the costs to handle containers is labour, they will either automate, reducing jobs, or attempt to keep the facility non union and pay lower wages then any other port.

Finally, of note, Ports America abandoned its lease in Oakland, declaring bankruptcy for its operation there. That terminal handled 1/5th the traffic in the port of Oakland, which ran 2.4 million teu’s in 2014. Port Americas share of traffic in Oakland was about 100,000teu more then that entire port of Halifax handled last year. If they cant make that operation work – how are they going to make Sydney work.

My thought is SHIP is basically playing with other peoples money. They will make money whether anything is built or not. they will collect management fees, market the investment opportunity, and collect government subsidies. I don’t think any major shipping line is ever going to want to call on Sydney, and this mega port will never be built.

Look, Sydney NS does have a business case for port development. It has an excellent location in the Gulf of St Lawrence, close to Newfoundland. and inland waters. Its a central location for a tug base, or many other marine services. But a mega container port. no way.

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Container Terminal Moving to Dartmouth? probably not.

I was recently quoted in a CBC Article by Paul Withers. I thought it would be a good idea to flesh out some of the thoughts in that article.

The Port authority has announced that it is undertaking a study looking at relocating one of the container terminals. They haven’t said which one. they also made comments suggesting they want to alleviate downtown trucks. This leads everyone to think the Southend terminal is moving to Dartmouth.

I think this is an unlikely scenario. The South End Terminal consists of the Halifax Ocean Terminals (Piers 20-35) And Halterm (Piers 36-42) Besides numerous transit sheds, the south end facility is also home to the grain elevator. It already has deep water, and is unencumbered by bridges. It seems unlikely that the port authority would relocate Halterm, leaving the rest of the facility there. recall that the main goal is to accommodate bigger ships concurrently. Even as a pure real estate play – the coming of availability of land from the cogswell interchange would make it seem that prospects for development would be offset for a number of years.

More likely is that Fairview Cove closes. Its big constraint for this terminal is the bridges – already the largest ships calling on halifax cant pass underneath at high tide – or on westbound legs when they are carrying mostly empties. The Macdonald is being Raised as part of the big lift, however the Mackay will remain at the same height until it needs redecking. There are also stories that Ceres wants to terminate the lease early – which suggests they see the writing on the wall.

A move to Dartmouth is problematic. Any new facility would need to be constructed from scratch on Infill. There is not currently sufficient rail capacity to accommodate trains there, and the logical place to build such a terminal is where the imperial oil docks currently are – and they are unlikely to go anywhere. Anywhere else would likely run afoul of the neighbors.

I suspect the best option will be another extension of Pier 42, or extending pier B further into the Harbour. As for the truck issue, I would suggest that the city build the planned, but never built Northwest Arm bridge, and highway connection to the 103 as a transit and Truck route only. this would solve the problem of getting buses from Spryfield, Tantalon and Timberlea onto the peninsula bypassing traffic choke points, and remove trucks from downtown. Trucks could exit into the railcut to access the port from Robie street, and could be subject to a toll to fund the road. Busses could connect to Robie.

 

 

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Constructing the Halifax Ocean Terminals.

Recently there have been Suggestions that the Halifax Ocean Terminals Move to the Dartmouth shore, where the refinery currently is. This is problematic, as the tank farm and moorings are still in use by Imperial Oil for their terminal operation, and Irving has recently rebuilt its facilities to gain independence from the shared facilities it was using with imperial oil.

With that said, its worth a look at the construction of the Ocean Terminals.

Untitled

The Ocean Terminals were built in the south end of the city, close to the mouth of the harbour, and were meant to be new, modern and larger port facilities for Halifax. It was quite the civil engineering feat. The project was for the construction of what we know today as Piers 20-28, the railway cut, and port facilities.

ot_plan

callfortenders Halifax for a while dominated as Canada’s East Coast port, but poor railway access made it too distant; and antiquated methods, unprofitable. In 1910, improvements were made to Pier 2 at the deep water terminus in the north end, however it was constrained by space available to it. Wharves, private residences and businesses had encroached, and there was no longer space for railway expansion. In 1912, the Dominion Government decided to proceed with the Ocean Terminals project.

Though expected to be much larger, the initial project called for the construction of the passenger terminal, interconnected with the rail terminal, as well as Pier A, and the breakwater. The requirements were for 45′ depth.

 

 

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The construction contract was held by Foley Bros, Welsh, Stewart & Fauquier. James Macgregor was the Superintending Engineer, responsible for design and construction for the Canadian Government.

STR27931a.001.aa.cs

Though Halifax is known for having a deep natural channel, the piers were located close to shore; in places, in as little as 10 feet of water, and so required substantial dredging.  250,000 cubic yards of material was removed to ensure the required 45′ depth was met. As well, stable foundations would be required for the piers.  The area would be drilled, charges set, and then the rock excavated. Most of the rock was excavated by the Canadian government’s 12yd dipper dredge “Cynthia”, though deeper areas were done with a Marion Dragline scraper on a barge fitted with an orange peel bucket. This crane was intended to be used for block placement, but proved versatile.

ot3 ot4
The pier was to be constructed from 3647 sixty-ton Concrete blocks would then be stacked to form the pier face, and then after placement filled with sand rocks and concrete. The area within would then be filled. The blocks were 31′ wide, 22’long and 4’tall. They were cast on site, and stored until they were required to be placed. Though this method was not new, it was to date the largest construction using this method. the Recent Pier 9D was also constructed with a similar method.

ot1A concrete batch plant was setup on site, and the blocks were produced using a forming system. Most of the blocks were identical, so they could be easily mass produced.

ot2

The blocks were cast on site and stored until needed. When they were required, a 100ton crane would pick up the block, take it to the end of the pier and lower it into place. the blocks were cast with keys to ensure they aligned properly when placed. blocklaywallsec

The breakwater was constructed with rock removed from the railcut. Loads of rock would be pushed out on railcars to the end of the breakwater, then across a plate girder bridge, and onto a barge. They would then be dumped. The barge was kept level in the tides by adjusting ballast. As the pier extended,  the barge would be moved further along until the required 1500′ was constructed.
STR27926a.001.aa.csOnce the piers were built, additional Facilities could be constructed. Pier A featured a sizeable freight shed, and the Terminal Shed at pier 21 was completed for handling passengers.

hot1920shed2122jimchristiearchiveorg1

STR27902a.001.aa.cs

The Shed above was constructed on Pier A.

Pier A-1, with Births 30-34 was constructed in the 60’s

Pier B, which now houses Piers 36-39, and is now part of Halterm was constructed in the 30’s
Halterm itself Births 41 and 42, opened in 1970. It occupies birth 40 on Pier B.

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