This northern town is a port city on the Gulf of Bothnia where iron ore from mines north of the Arctic Circle is trans-loaded to ships. There’s a traditional passenger station that serves sleeping car trains that originate here for Stockholm and points south; a coach yard and sidings.
Markku Pulkkinen, Matti Mäntyvaara, Asko Räsänen and I arrived in early afternoon. We had lunch in the station restaurant and observed the action.
The combination of low-level platforms, ground-level switching activities to make up trains, and conventional locomotive hauled consists made for some proper old-school railroading! And that’s just the way we like it. Only the Kiruna-Narvik service appeared to be provided by a modern wedge-shaped electric multiple unit.
The low northern sun provided some great light for photographs, and I made the most of our visit working with my FujiFilm X-T1 and Lumix LX7 to make digital photos.
I was bemused when a young British girl complained to her father when he went to make a photo of the Rc6 electric on a sleeping car train, ‘Daddy, don’t do that! Why do you make a photo of the train?’ Surely this child needs to be sent to camp for re-education! I blame the internet and/or television.
Petri and Pietu Tuovinen, Markku Pulkkinen and I arrived at the Finnish—Russian border just a minute before a loaded iron ore train crossed with Russian diesels.
I have to admit that 10 days of continuous travel had caught up with me and I’d fallen asleep in the car. “Hey, wake up! The train is over the frontier.”
I managed a decent image of the train. But the best was yet to come. An ominous looking sign marked the border area.
We waited for an hour while the Russian diesels were position on an eastward empty train. A thunderstorm rumbled to the south. Finnish custom agents inspect the train. The Russian diesels idled. It began to rain.
Finally, the train began to ease forward. The driver must have liked the attention and once passed the starting signal, he notched up the locomotives. It reminded me of photographing old Alcos!
By 1997, the QuebecCartier Railway was among the last places in North America where sets of six-motor Alco-designed diesels worked in heavy daily freight service.
This is a remote and isolated line in northern Quebec that extends north from Port Cartier on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence into the wilderness of the Canadian Shield.
George Pitarys and Bill Linley organized a pilgrimage to photograph this remote operation. Getting there from Massachusetts was half the adventure. The two hour drive to George’s place was the first leg. We rented Ford Explorer at the Manchester, New Hampshire airport, then drove north for about 16 hours.
Along the way we collected Bill and fellow photographer Ian at the ferry terminal at Baie-Comeau (they were coming from Nova Scotia.) We stayed at Port Cartier overnight. Our first full day wasn’t blessed with the finest weather, so we focused on some railway activities nearer to Port Cartier, including a tour of the shops of the Quebec, North Shore & Labrador.
After that the skies cleared. To reach the scenic areas of the Quebec Cartier Railway requires a long drive on dirt roads into forest largely populated by swarms of man-eating black flies, thirsty mosquitoes and the occasional moose, but very little else.
Yet, our efforts paid off. We spent several very productive days photographing loaded and empty iron ore trains in the rugged scenery of northern Quebec. This view was made on our second morning.