These special instructions are extremely useful to piece together how the line was operated. You remember I said recently I was a little bit puzzled by Ciment St-Laurent and its interaction with the rest of the layout. Durin the open house, Jean-Pierre Veilleux told us the special cement train was mainly a thing from the 60s and early 70s, when Hydro-Quebec and Quebec government were in the middle of a construction spree. That traffic dwindled later and was handled by regular freight trains servign the Murray Bay Sub.
Interestingly, the 1994 CFC (Chemin de fer Charlevoix / Charlevoix Railway) Timetable gives us a few hints about operation at the cement plant. Also, it is good to know CFC used the same CN train numbers (522/523). In fact, to some extent, CFC didn't change the formula when they took over the subdivision. Thus, we can base our assumptions on their timetable with a high degree of confidence to try to figure out how CN operated the line back in the mid 80s.
Jean-François Dumont was kind enough to send me a copy of his personal archives. Here's a translated version of the special instructions:
- At Limoilou, pick up the train on "Fl 01 to Fl 08" or "Cl 71 to Cl 73". [TN: these are tracks located in Limoilou Yard]
- At Villeneuve, spot cars on track T 2.
- Léo Cauchon, set out and pick up cars "eastbound. T 11.
- At Beaupré, set out cars on track T27.
- At Clermont, set out cars on track U 93 and surplus cars on tracks U 94, U 79 and U 81. Pick up cars on track U 95 and surplus cars on U94.
- Don't leave Clermont before 11:00 AM if cars are not ready.
- At Wieland, report work done on the 522 to CSC, inquire of the work to be done on the 523 and provide rotation for 523.
- On return trip to Beaupré's "Donohue", pick up cars on track T 27 and wait until 2 P.M. if cars are not ready.
- At Villeneuve, the company can make us wait up to 3 P.M.
It is in fact very interesting to see trains 522/523 handled that traffic on a regular basis. It means we could add Villeneuve as a regular stop on our actual operations. It would means slightly longer trains which isn't a bad thing in itself. Also, that means traffic at the plant would no longer be unit trains, but rather small cuts of varied cars. It would make switching there more interesting and in fact, it means the local switcher would have to complete its task before train 523 is back in Villeneuve.
I think including the cement plant as a regular customer on 522/523 round trip is the most effective way to bring life in this part of the layout. It doesn't mean we won't run extra trains from time to time as required, but that there will be more variety in switching moves, as occured on the real prototype.