The Toronto Railway Museum is open! Please click here for more information.     
Click Here to
join the TRHA
discussion group.

Powered by Blogger


Field Report: Clearing wrecks in northern Ontario

Patrick Batchelor was an active volunteer with the TRHA while he was training in Toronto for a career in the railway industry.  Before sharing a note from him about what he is doing today, a little background information is needed.

Railways used to have their own wreck trains and crews on staff many years ago to quickly clear train wrecks, especially from heavily traveled main lines.  Today, they use outside contractors who are paid retainers to maintain crews at the ready for such emergencies.  These firms operate under challenging performance contracts to ensure that quickly restore the right of way to operational status.  Where once the used massive rail-based cranes for this purpose, modern approaches are much different as you will read below.

Patrick says:

“I have been absent for quite awhile from Roundhouse Park and thought I'd best contact you with an explanation.  For the last six months I've been employed with Hulcher Professional Services Inc., with headquarters in Denton, Texas.  I work out of their Toronto shop located inside the bowl at CN's Macmillan Yard.  Hulcher is a railroad contractor specializing in train wrecks and derailments. We also change turnouts and switches, signal towers, wheel sets and traction motors.  Being on call 24 hours per day and 7 days per week has not allowed me to visit the roundhouse.
For the last three months I've been stationed in White River, Ontario which is an hour northwest of Wawa.  It is very cold up here, -30 C most days in the winter,  and boring.  We've handled a few wrecks this winter, including two engines on their sides near Chapleau and several big derailments out in the bush near Hawk Junction.  We have our own train consist of six flat cars for the equipment, an engine and two caboose.

I am an operator on one of the four Caterpillar 583 Sideboom Tractors that we use to right a derailed or wrecked train.  It is difficult and dangerous at times, but I have learned a great deal about this unique business."

Patrick briefly returned to Toronto on 22 February and lent us a hand.

Posting by Russ Milland; Photos by Patrick Batchelor
Click on each image for a closer look!

News and Events About Us Museum Collections History Links Contact Us Resources Home