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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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Shipspotting 101: Sailing vessels

Cat Boat

catboats are simple, and feature only a main sail. the Opti or the Laser are common Examples. Not restricted to small dingys, the  Hinterhoeller built Nonsuch is a cat rigged keel boat that was built in lengths of 22-40 feet.

 

Sloop

sloops feature 2 sails – a Main sail behind the mast, and a Jib forward. a Jib will not extend rearward beyond the mast, however a Genoa will. Genoa’s are also known as an overlapping jib, and can be seen on the examples above. this is also a Simple fore and aft rig (with a sail infront, and behind the mast) which will be repeated on larger vessels.

Yawl / Ketch

Dorothea is a ketch. Both vessels add a second “Mizzen” mast behind the main sail, the difference in name comes from whether that mast is located Fore or Aft of the Rudder post. In Dorothea’s case, the rudder is on the Transom, So its a Ketch. The Mizzen mast on a Yawl is typically much smaller then the main, and as far to the rear as possible.

a famous yawl was Joshua Slocum’s vessel Spray

Schooner

Schooners are a complicated sail plan, because there can be so much variation. Bluenose is an example of a Gaff rigged schooner. A schooner is a ship rigged the main sail (largest) on the main mast, and a foresail on the foremast. The Gaff rig refers to the the spar member at the top of the sail, which allows for more sail area as the sail doesn’t need to be triangularly shaped to come to a point at the mast.

3 masted schooners are also common, and simply add an additional sails. (the largest schooner featured 7 masts) topsail schooners feature additional top sails on the masts, as seen on the Pride of Baltimore II.

Finally a Bermuda rig schooner features triangular sails off the fore and main masts, as you would see in a sloop. – Not surprisingly, the Bermuda rig is found on the 3 masted schooner Spirit of Bermuda. This Ship also Shows the relative hights of the Masts – the Main Mast (the center mast, carrying the largest sail) is Tallest, the foremast is next, and the mizzen is shortest. The Spirit of Bermuda’s masts are also Raked – or angled rearward. this was done to improve performance of the ship.

Brigantine

A brigantine is like a schooner, however it features a Gaff rigged main sail on the main mast, and is Square rigged on the foremast. While many historical examples exist, the only current examples I know both belong to Bytown Brigantine, The Black Jack, and Fair Jeanne (pictured)

Brig

A brig features 2 square rigged masts. the Main Mast features a Small Gaff rigged sail as well to improve maneuverability. the US Brig Niagara is a replica of Oliver Hazard Perry’s relief flagship on the great lakes durign the war of 1812.

Barquentine

A Barquentine is a vessel with 3 or more masts – the foremast being Square rigged and the others being gaff rigged. Peacemaker (above) is an example.

Barque

A barque is a vessel with 3 or more masts, the foremast and main mast being square rigged, and the Mizzen mast gaff riged. The Picton Castle is a good example of a barque.

Full Rigged Ship

A full rigged ship features 3 or more masts, all square rigged. The Italian Navy vessel Amerigo Vespucci is a full rigged ship, though I don’t have a photo of her with her sails up.

 

Finally, In Summary:

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How a Container Terminal Works

As a followup to the ShipSpotting 101 post on Container vessels, A look at how the Container terminal operates was in order. The process here applies to both terminals in Halifax.

_MG_7193

Loading and Unloading trucks and railcars is known as working the terminal.Once the train arrives, the locks holding the Containers together must be released. this is done by a guy on a platform on the back of a truck. they unlock one side of the train, then flip to the other side and release it.

In this Case, a Toplift picks up the container, and backs up. a yard tractor advances, and the container is placed on a Chassis. The yard tractor then takes the container to its appointed block. Someone then removes the locks from the top of the bottom container still in the rail car.

Each block is sorted by ship, so all containers destined for a vessel go to the appointed blocks. Once there, another toplift picks up the container and adds it to the stack. the container will then dwell here until the appointed ship arrives. Similarly, outgoing containers will dwell in a stack until they can be loaded onto a train or truck. Halifax Dwell time is less then 2 days.

_MG_7122

Outside the terminal group, there is a lashing force, and a number of crane units. These handle containers on and off the ship.

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The lashing force has the task of releasing locks, and removing the lashings used to secure the container stacks on deck. The locks are released by pulling on a tail on the lock with a long pole. the locks release the top container from the one below it, and remain inserted in the bottom of the container. a team stationed at the brow of the ship, removes the locks as the yard tractor brings the container around.

Deck containers sit on hatch covers – which they are locked to. however the hatch covers are not held down. the lashing rods help stabilize the stack and secure it and the hatch cover to the deck. In the photo above, the platform is the hatch cover itself, and you can see the lashings securing the stack to the catwalk. bellow is a look down one of the catwalks. The rods are inserted on an angle into the containers, then the bottom is placed in a turnbuckle (AKA a Bottle) and tightened.

12917852_579181522229448_1612875436_n[1]

Each hatch is identified by 3 numbers. the Middle number is used if 40′ containers are used. the two side numbers are used if there are two 20′ containers on the hatch. In other words, you can have a 40′ in row 21, or a 20′ in row 20, and a 20′ in row 22. containers longer then 40′ go on top of the stacks, and over hang the walkways between stacks. (Some vessels, Such as Oceanex Sanderling, have deck positions for 53′ containers) Containers below the hatch covers are held in place by guides – so there are no lashings or locks to be undone. below we are looking into one of the holds. its 9 containers deep.
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Each crane unit Consists of the equipment and men required to run one crane and Supply it with containers. Besides the crane itself, it consists of yard gantry’s and top lifts, as well as 5 yard tractors. ideally each crane unit moves 30 containers an hour.

13398554_838994832900379_1669648389_n[1]

Containers are sorted on ship by destination. So all containers destined for Halifax will be located in only a few stacks. when loading, the containers get placed based on their destination. As Containers come off a checker in the crane records the serial number and indicates which block in the yard it should be placed in. the Crane pulls a container off ship, places it on a yard tractor, the yard tractor takes it to the appointed block, Stoping at the brow to have the locks removed,  and a toplift or yard gantry removes it and adds it to the stack. Loading the process works in reverse

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Shipspotting 101 – General Cargo

General Cargo vessels can carry containers, Bulk Cargoes and Break Bulk Cargoes.
We have Looked at Containerized Cargo, and Bulk Cargo but havent yet touched on Breakbulk.

breakbulk is basically any cargo that is not in a container, and cant be poured. Heavy Equipment, telephone poles, Bags of Nickle Sulfate, locomotives are all examples of breakbulk cargo, and can be carried in general cargo ships.

Nirint makes a regular run to and from Cuba. the HC Melina is carrying containers, but also bags of Nickle Concentrate in bags in her hold. these bags get unloaded from the ship, then onto railcars for points west.

Holds typically do not have container guides. Also usually the full hold can be opened. These vessels may or may not have cranes, and are typically in the 100-150m in length range.

(Above) Capri ( and several other Vessels) frequently deliver rails for CN.
(Below) Frisian Spring Loading Poles for export. Note that Capri (above) Has Cranes, where as Frisan Spring requires shore based facilities.

(Above) SE Veridian Delivered Windmill Components.
(Below) Flintermar Loading Wood Pellets.

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Shipspotting 101 – Container Ships

Containerships are one of the most common vessel types to call on Halifax. While these vessels can be measured by their dimensions, the most common unit of measure is the TEU – Twenty foot Equivalent Units. This is the count of the Number of 20′ containers that can be carried on a ship. Containers are typically 20, 40, 48 or 53 feet in length, and can vary slightly in height.

Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS)

These ships are typically over 10000teu. The main spotting feature is a midship superstructure to enable sight lines over the forward container stack and the engine exhaust stacks at the 3/4 position as they are in smaller ships. The largest ULCS to call in Halifax is currently just under 11,000TEU. Prince Rupert holds the record for the largest in Canada at 14,500. The worlds largest ULCS is at 22,000 TEU.

Post Panamax/Neo Panamax

post panamax ships are ships too large to fit through the original Panama Canal.  Halterm has been dredged to 50′ to accommodate these vessels.

APL Coral is a Post Panamax vessel that frequents Halifax. Post Panamax vessels are usually larger then 6000teu. Currently the largest caller is just over 9000TEU. With the opening of the New locks in the panama canal, vessels of 1,401′ in length, 180′ in beam, and 50.0′ in draft are able to use the canal. this leads to the creation of a new catagory of  Neo-Panamax Containerships, which are up to 13,000, basically encompassing the entire post panamax category of vessels.

 

Panamax

For Container ships,  965′ long, 106’wide. Draft 39.5′ and a 190′ Airdraft. The Airdraft of the 2 Harbour bridges is 50m, 7m less then panamax, though most ships have a lower mast. these ships are in the 4000-6000 teu range.

OOCL Antwerp is Typical of the Panamax vessels we get. She Comes in at 5888TEU. Panamax vessels were, up until 2015 made up the majority of the container ships coming into port.

ULCS – Ultra Large Container ship

The ULCS is the category of Container Ship capable of carrying 13,000+ TEU. Halifax is likely a number of years away from seeing one of these vessels make a regular call.

SeawayMax

Seawaymax vessels are 740′ long, 78′ wide, and have a draft of 26.51′ and a airdraft of 116′ they are typically sub 3000teu, and can make it into the great lakes. Maersk Calls on Halifax (And Montreal) with a set of 2902TEU veseels.

The presence of container guides in the holds typically differentiates Container ships form general cargo. The Guides are easy to see on the AFL New England (Now trading as WEC Majorole) And the Stadt Cadiz (below) Compare the 2747 TEU Stadt Cadiz to the 700 TEU AFL New England.

The Stadt Cadiz also carries cranes. this is common, and allows ships to service unequipped ports. If overhead cranes are available, the ship mounted ones are simply swung out of the way. The Melfi Iberia blow shows how versatile container traffic can be. with flat racks, you can ship entire trucks, buses and trailers.

 

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Shipspotting 101: Con-Ro’s

Con-ro’s are vessels that carry both Containers and have Roll on Roll off Capability. Once more frequent, these vessels are quite flexible, And Halifax is served by Several Regulars.

Oceanex Runs a twice weekly service from Halifax to St John’s Newfoundland with the Oceanex Sanderling. Looking Much like a container ship, the huge Stern Ramp gives her away. She typically moves between Halterm and Autoport. Carrying Cars, Containers, Heavy equipment and even some traditional trailer loads.

 Oceanex also runs the Oceanex Connraiga, which offers a similar service, but from Montreal. Her stern ramp is built into the large block on the Stern.

 The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia, now operating as Bahri, has a fleet of New con-ro’s serving Halifax monthly. more space is devoted to Roll on Cargo, and containers are stored up front. The new vessels also carry 2 cranes for container, which is unique for a con-ro if this size.

Atlantic Container Lines runs a twice weekly service between Halifax and Europe. Besides Containers, ACL frequently carries heavy equipment, Helicopters, and Assembled sections of Bombardier CRJ Aircraft in the RO-RO bay. These Vessels will be replaced by newer ones in the coming months.

Fusion ran a weekly service to the French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquleon off Newfoundland. She can carry containers in a Hold or on deck, and features a stern ramp to allow trucks and other vehicles to drive on and off. Fusion was Replaced by the Larger (But near identical in Layout) Nolhanava

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Shipspotting 101: Bulk Carriers.

Recent CSL Arrivals make a good lead into Bulker terminology. Firstly a bulker is a Bulk Carrier – they typically carry bulk cargos such as gravel, salt, grain, gypsum, wood pellets etc. They come in 2 Basic Types – Geared and Gearless.
Atlantic Huron is a Geared bulker, She carries her own fixed to ship unloading Gear.
Atlantic Huron is built to Seaway max dimensions, hence its stout appearance. Passing through tight locks also leaves her sides looking rough as seen in a stop from 2012 . Compare her to CSL Tacoma Earlier in the week, which is only built for ocean travel.  (Below)
Both of these bulkers are self unloading. the Holds empty onto a conveyor belt, that travels up and to the end of the boom. this greatly speeds the unloading process though at a cost of capacity. Atlantic Huron at top is unloading to the Halifax grain Elevators, but you can truly See the power of the unloading boom on CSL Metis in Tampa
Malmens (below) is a much smaller bulker, and usually carries gravel. She too is a self unloader with her boom mounted midship, and able to swing out over the pier.

Another type of geared Bulker uses cranes and clamshell buckets for unloading. Universal Amsterdam clearly shows the clamshells on deck between the First and second Crane.

Other Vessels, offer both Options – Such as Barkald, Which has both unloading Cranes and the Self unloading arm. Presumably this offers some flexibility, such as being able to load trucks or rail cars directly with the buckets at unimproved ports.

Finally we have Gearless Bulkers. These vessels rely on shore side handing facilities to offload Cargo. CSL Birchglen is an example of these.

While this post has concerned itself with unloading, We do have 2 posts on Loading. first we have Patron, a Small gearless Bulker loading grain for export. We also had a post on the geared bulker Irma loading wood Pellets.

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Nautical Disasters.

So I started out to make a list of the top 10 incidents I’ve covered. This didnt work out so well, since there seem to be so many, So Instead, I present 9 types of assorted Pearls at Sea

1. Damaged Cargo/Containers During Handling

A Container being unloaded failed, Causing a Radio Active Scare at Fairview Cove. The container in question, once removed, and still in the hold

 2. Hull Failure

The container ship MSC Montery discovered a Cracked hull. Fortunatly it was not structural, and was repaired easily. the same cannot be said for the  MOL Comfort, which developed a crack, Broke in two and sank.

 

3.Tow Issues

Ex Rusian Cruse Ship Lubov Orlova snaped a tow line, went a drift, and launched fears of ginormous cannibal rats landing in Europe. The Ship Likely Sunk.

The M/V Miner also broke a tow line, and ended up on the beach of Scatrie island. finally the tow of HMCS Athabskan ran into Troubles when a tug lost power and lines parted.

 4. Fires:

AlgoNova Suffered from an engine room Fire. She was towed to Halifax for repairs.

HMCS Protecteur also suffered and engine room  fire returning from Hawaii.

 5. Groundings

Blue Putties Parked on Shore in Port Aux Basques. She was repaired in Halifax. The Bulk Carrier John1 lost power and went Aground off Newfoundland. She went to Argentia NF for repairs. The Bulker Tundra also Went aground, in the St Lawrence off Sorel PQ. She eventually made halifax to load grain.

 

6. Weather

Renate Schulte’s anchor broke free and punctured her bow thruster compartment. She was temporarily repaired, and scrapped after this incident.

The Car Carrier Asian Emperor took a parametric roll, and trashed some heavy Equipment

And High Seas caused broken Containers on Zim Colombo

 

7. Human Error

The Bounty Sunk after the captain went sailing in a hurricane.
The first and Second posts were in near real time as facts were known. You can also read All Posts covering the disaster and investigation.

8. Piracy

The tall ship Silva was Set Adrift.

9. Sinkings

Unknown sailing vessel in the North West Arm  Sunk. The port authority salvaged her, but a few months under water made her fit for the dump.

The Sailboat Captain Morgan, also sunk one winter.
In both cases, I suspect a frozen Through Hull fitting failed allowing water ingress.

 

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