Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hidden Industries: Boosting Traffic

Defining industries is tiring exercise, but still required to understand the functioning of any railroad. Murray Bay subdivision may be a regional branchline, but the traffic may be more complex that what lies on the surface.

First of all, a few industries were identified quickly when the project started. In fact, they motivated the actual setting. They are Ciment St-Laurent, Dominion Textile and Donohue. They all have their dedicated trackage and two of them have their own switcher locomotive. But behind these industrial behemoths, there are invisible industries that had spice and diversity.

Most of them are conveniently served by Clermont’s team track. This short piece of track holds more traffic that one could believe: Câbles Reynolds (an electrical wire manufacturer), Coop Agrivoix (the local feed mill and hardware store), M. Grondin & Fils (a local sawmill) and Béton Charlevoix (a concrete mix plant which is a subsidiary to Ciment St-Laurent). These clients don’t ship a lot of carload, but put together, they are a substantial part of traffic. Better, they give some interesting work to perform for 522-523 crews.

Coop Agrivoix is an interesting industry because it is the main supplier for a isolated community. They receive building supplies (plywood, lumber, etc.), LPG, oil, grain, feeds and fertilizer on an irregular basis.

Câbles Reynolds produces about 9% of North American electrical cables. They ship almost everywhere. Most production is trucked, but larger coils for high-tension lines are moved by rail cars. Shipping schedule is according to demand.

M. Grondin & Fils is a medium sized sawmill. Most production is trucked, but a sizeable quantity is moved by train. Expect one or two cars per weeks, mainly bulkhead flat cars.

Béton Charlevoix isn’t a large industry, but it’s still the only concrete mix plant in the area. They are directly served by Ciment St-Laurent. Expect a few cars per week depending on demand. This could explain with old pictures from the mid-70s show cement hoppers on Murray Bay sub East of Villeneuve. I always thought 100% of the production moved westward, but it seems a small part indeed moved eastward to Clermont.

Now, the only thing to do is to figure out where the goods came from or were shipped to. Some are quite easy, but others less evident. One thing is sure, almost all newsprint production from Donohue was destined to New York Times printing shops.

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