Coal's Revival and Unit Coal Trains (3 of 5)


Canadian Pacific ordered hundreds of new "bathtub" coal cars for the new trains. These cars, each with a capacity of 106.7 tonnes (105 tons), were designed to be unloaded at Roberts Bank by a rotary dumper in a non-stop operation. Cars were equipped with couplers that permitted them to be turned upside down while being moved through the dumper. With this system, an entire train could be unloaded in as little as two hours. At the mines, with high speed loading equipment, a train could be loaded in two and a half to three hours.

New 3000-horsepower locomotives were built for the trains. These engines were equipped for remote control operations so that an engineer in the leading diesel could control "slave" locomotives by remote control far back in the train. Trains left the mines with four locomotives: two at the front and two about two-thirds of the way back in the train. But at Golden, where the trains started their long climb over the Selkirk Mountains through Rogers Pass, and at Beavermouth (later Rogers) where the grade increased, extra diesels had to be added until as many as 10 locomotives were required to pull and push an 88-car train over the toughest part of the mountain grades in Rogers Pass. Once the trains were over the mountains, the extra locomotives were removed at Stoney Creek, Revelstoke and Chase as they were no longer needed, until only the original four remained for the rest of the trip to the coast.


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