port Alberni sub maintenance
The East End Track Gang (EETG) was formed in May 2009 to maintain the eastern portion of the E&N Railway's dormant Port Alberni Subdivision from Parksville (mile 0.0) to Loon Lake and the Alberni Summit at mile 22.2.
Members of the E&N Division CRHA and Alberni Pacific Railway (APR) volunteers joined forces to reopen the Port Alberni Subdivision from Parksville (mile 0.0) to McLean Mill (mile 33.33) with APR maintaining the west side from Loon Lake to the McLean Mill spur switch at mile 33.33. The remainder of the subdivision from the McLean Mill spur at mile 33.33 to end of track in Port Alberni at mile 39.0 is operated by APR for their steam excursion train.
The EETG and APR collaborate to remove brush, rock slides, and conduct track inspections and repairs. Initial brushing was intense but completed within one year, all-volunteer, all by hand.
Our current focus is continuing with maintenance in order to keep the line open, free of suffocating vegetation and other obstructions. In the future, we hope to operate a tourist train over the entirety of the line. The current barrier to any train operation is the condition of the wooden trestles along the line. Click Here to sign the petition, support our goals and help save these vital structures.
This is a large and sometimes difficult project with rock slides and ongoing maintenance, with the attended difficulties of transporting equipment to remote locations without using a railcar. We currently cannot use large rail equipment due to tie and trestle conditions. If you wish to make a donation in supporting our short and long term goals on the Port Alberni Sub, feel free to visit our Donations Page.
For more information about the Port Alberni Subdivision and our East End Track Gang, please Click Here.
Coombs Siding & museum Project
The E&N Division CRHA working with Alberni Pacific Railway and the Coombs Community are undertaking a museum rail project that will see a transformation of the Coombs landscape. Over the past year, we have met with Alberni Pacific Railway and Regional District members, Regional District of Nanaimo Parks Department, including planning and museum societies. They share our vision of a rail interpreted museum that will include the use of our E&N Division's historic rail equipment. This project will also promote the Alberni Pacific Railway's steam train operation and possibly a new home to the Coombs Museum.
Plans were drawn and presented to all the interested parties. Site work has started with clearing of over sixty years of vegetation growth. Several extensive work parties have completed initial work that included grading, ballast, and the installation of a switch and track off the current Port Alberni Subdivision of the E&N Railway. This project is currently being supported by volunteers and companies providing heavy equipment.
The E&N Division CRHA and our East End Track Gang (EETG) have worked tirelessly on a number of levels with planners and the community of Coombs, jointly with Alberni Pacific Railway (APR) in making this project come to life and receiving official approval from the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF).
Click Here to view project plans and official ICF approval.
We will keep you posted as to the progress! Here are some photos of this undertaking:
Fairmont Brush cutter Restoration
The E&N Division's EETG has taken on the restoration of our Ex CPR unit 4305.02 (E&N) Fairmont Brush Cutter. This unit was used on Vancouver Island and donated to the E&N Division CRHA back in the early 1990s. At that time it was restored back to working condition and used on the CN line at Tide Water in Cowichan Bay. It then spent a number of years clearing brush for the Alberni Pacific Railway. Time has taken its toll on the unit and it is now currently in Parksville under restoration. The unit is now stripped down to its frame. New metal and much work is going into the structure at this time, more photos to follow.
Update: The unit has received a safety yellow paint job. Hydraulic lines have been repositioned and electrical redone. The gearbox has been restored. The vacuum brake has been repaired and restored. The unit is in the process of being reassembled and put through operational tests. New decals and markings have also been added.
Cafe Lounge Car 754
This car was originally built for CN in 1954 by Canadian Car & Foundry as a coach and used on CN's transcontinental passenger train "The Super Continental" which VIA Rail later took over. Its first number was CN 5543 but was rebuilt to coach-cafe-lounge CN 3006 and later rebuilt again to cafe-lounge CN 754. Under VIA ownership, it became VIA 754 and when VIA then discontinued use of CN's passenger cars in favour of CP's streamliners still in use today, this car was sold and ended up at the Feather River Railway Society in California as FRRX 754. Now privately owned as RPCX 754, it was only recently transported to Vancouver Island in 2019 for restoration by the E&N Division.
Currently repaired and repainted in CN heritage colours, we hope this car will serve the remainder of its life with our division for use in coordinated events such as which it was used for the Tour de Rock Train and Nanaimo Toy Drive Santa Train both organized by the ICF in collaboration with SVI Rail Link and our E&N Division CRHA.
Much work is to be done to fully restore this Cafe Lounge Car. A great deal of clean up was needed after its long journey from California. The outside of the car received a pressure wash in preparation for a new paint job. The car was thoroughly cleaned, including the carpet which was professionally steamed cleaned. The electrical system required various repairs and modifications in order to run power on its own generator. Fabrication of a platform to run between the car and the attached caboose was also required for entraining and detraining.
Larry Stevenson, CEO of the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) and Andrea Thomas, Corridor Development Manager, came aboard for a chat and to see the ongoing transformation of the car. As we move forward on this project we truly appreciate the full cooperation that the ICF and Southern Rail are extending to our E&N Division.
Sponsorship graphics from the Tour de Rock event remain for now.
Here are a number of photos documenting this car's quick transformation!