First, there was no Tuesday Train last week as I forgot, and by the time I remembered, it was just too late to do it!
So this week, something special and rare. An Amtrak GE Dash 8-32BWH leading Amtrak Train 63/VIA Rail Train 98, the “Maple Leaf” from New York City to Toronto. It’s seen here at Sunnyside in Toronto from the Footbridge connecting King/Queen/Roncessvalles to the Martin Goodman Trail on the waterfront. While the Amtrak Dash 8’s have been rare sightings in Toronto, this arrival on Saturday March 16, 2019 was its third consecutive appearance in Toronto. The equipment for the Maple Leaf is on a two-day cycle. One day the equipment runs from New York to Toronto, the next day it does the return trip, and so on. This week, 514 arrived in Toronto on Tuesday (I found out after it had left), Thursday (where I tried to get a shot but chose a location where the light failed and the monsoon started before it arrived), and Saturday, where I didn’t know for sure it was coming, but had enough free time in the evening to take the shot at going out to see if I got lucky. On the night before St. Patrick’s Day, I guess the Irish side of my background was working and a little bit of railfan luck came my way!
The reason these are rare is Amtrak only owns 18 (2 have been transfered to the State of California from the original 20), and generally they are used for switching yards or on longer distance trains as emergency fill ins. Generally when they have appeared in Toronto, its been a one-off because of a failed locomotive and the need for an emergency replacement. The fact that it has stayed on the route for 3 complete cycles now, means either Amtrak is really short locomotives, or the crews have been happy and there hasn’t been a reason to pull it off the route. Either way, it’s another rarely seen locomotive in Toronto. The Dash 8’s are a variant of the Dash 8 freight locomotives built by GE, the biggest being the ability for the locomotive to divert power from propulsion to provide Head End Power to power the passenger coaches.
The Maple Leaf in June 2017, with the normal Amtrak motive power, an EMD P42DC.
The shot below shows Dash 8 514 powering along the Gardiner Expressway from an angle that shows off its freight locomotive design heritage much more than a traditional passenger locomotive.