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  • Thursday, July 13 2006 @ 10:04 MDT
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Chantelle Rants I've been working on the railway all the live long day (and night). I think that it's painfully evident that I don't quite have the hang of blogging yet. In my defence, I've been incredibly busy in the last couple of months but now I will attempt to catch up on all that is me and wonderful.

For the last 5 weeks I have been studying to be a Rail Traffic Controller. The course (so far) has proved to be fun and challenging. In the first weeks we had what is referred to as RULES and required 16 tests to be written with a pass of 90%. It's been awhile since I've studied that hard. It's amazing how important school becomes when your livelihood depends on it.

This past week I've had the thrill of actually riding a freight train. I had been looking forward to this part of the course but this is one of those rare times where expectation was exceeded. My first call was west on the Laggan Sub. This took me from Calgary to Field and if you thought the Rockies were spectacular driving, you ought to try it by rail. I saw elk and deer in abundance. There is almost a non-stop field of Alpine flowers by the side of the tracks in every colour imaginable. It was a perfect day and I was lucky enough to be on an extra long train so that the trip through the spiral tunnels was really impressive. My crew were great guides and happily answered my million and one questions about every aspect of their job.

In Banff we made a brief stop to let a higher priority train get by us and I became aware that the minute you step off an engine in a CPR hit-me vest you become an instant tourist attraction. There are tourists and rail fans that hang out by the station just waiting to talk to the crews. When we left they all waited by the tracks to wave and there was one rail fan merrily snapping away as we went over the crossing. We waved to everyone at crossings in the parks and the Engineer blew the whistle for everyone that were making the universal (it seems) pull the whistle sign.

We had a brief stop-over in Field until about 0200 in the morning (we had left YYC at 1130 and arrived around 2000) so we went to one of the little restaurants in Field. Field strikes me as very much a “Northern Exposure” sort of place. I got about two hours sleep before coming home and we arrived back in Calgary at around 1000 making the full trip about 25 hours long.

My second trip was to Red Deer (oh, how blissfully exotic) but I was still with a great crew and I took the call for 0300 in the morning (meaning I got called at 0100). We got this trip done in about 12 hours. We were only in Red Deer for an hour or so (enough time to go to Timmy's). I expected the trip to be pretty boring as the tracks are along Highway 2 but it was still quite a pretty trip. There are quite a few more crossings than on the Laggan Sub and most of them through small towns. Only once did we see a small truck ignore the warning lights and rush through the crossing. I understand that had we been travelling during rush hour we would have seen much more of that.

At any rate, I look forward to trips on switchers and high rails in the upcoming days.








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