John Marlor's Canadian Pacific

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Main Line Running

Operation of a railroad in the age of steam was a complicated process. For the

Canadian Pacific Railway heavy traffic on the grades in the mountains of

British Columbia required a complex assignment of locomotives and crews.

The greatest problem was the climb over the Selkirk Mountains since this

section combined both steep ascending and descending grades. Steep grades

make locomotives less efficient and more expensive to operate. An uphill-

bound locomotive is only 33% efficient on a 1 percent grade and only 16

percent efficient on a 2.2% grade. The average grade approaching Rogers Pass

from the east was 1.7% and that from the west 1.2%, But the ruling (steepest)

grade from the east was 2.2%, the maximum allowed the Canadian Pacific

Railway under the terms of its contract with the Federal Government.

The largest and most powerful locomotives available to the Canadian Pacific

Railway in the late 1930s were the 2-10-4 Selkirks. Since the tonnage capacity

of one of the Selkirk locomotives over the Selkirk Mountains was 1,050 tons

(1066 tonnes), trains were normally made up in units based on the capacity of

the locomotive, with helpers added as required. As many as four locomotives

were required on some trains. Usually, the road locomotive was placed at the

head of the train and then two helpers were cut into the middle of the train

while the forth locomotive ran just ahead of the caboose. This permitted an

even distribution of the train weight among the locomotives: the lead

locomotive pulling its full tonnage rating, the second locomotive pushing, the

third locomotive pulling and the fourth pushing.

On the severe grades, extra locomotives were required both for their pulling

power and braking capacity. Braking the heavily loaded trains on the long

descending grades was as critical an operation as lifting the tonnage over the

mountains. A moving train has incredible momentum, and can run away on a

downhill grade of just 1 percent.  Crews regularly tested the air brakes on the

trains and before a long descent was begun the brakes were applied and

inspected. They were then released and re-examined and the retainers set (to

maintain constant brake shoe pressure). Only then was a train ready to begin

moving downgrade. On long grades, stops were required for brake inspections

and to allow the wheels and brake shoes to cool off.

Dispatchers had to take care not to have a buildup of power at a terminal

coming in from one direction. Such a situation could leave insufficient crews

and locomotives at key locations to handle the traffic on the line. This could

be a particular problem with westbound traffic because it required more

locomotives than did eastbound tonnage. Crews could build up at Revelstoke

when they were needed to the east. To overcome this problem, it was

sometimes necessary to run helper locomotives back over the line without

tonnage. This was an essential, if sometimes inefficient, part of keeping trains

moving through the mountains.

TrainPlayer Scenario

Time required to complete: Approximately 1 hour 35 minutes.

RIGHT CLICK here to download track plan JM-12RR.rrw

From file JM-12RR.rrw:

• Select locomotive CP 4115 at Revelstoke and proceed with passenger train

to station track at Clanwilliam.

• Select locomotive CP 1172 at Kamloops and proceed with passenger train

to Taft, then on to Clanwilliam with a stop to cool brakes and meet CP 4115.

• Select locomotive 4113 and proceed to passing siding at Glacier.

• Select locomotive CP 4115 at Clanwilliam and proceed with passenger train

to Kamloops with a station stop at Taft.

• Select locomotive CP 1172 at Clanwilliam and proceed with passenger train

to Revelstoke station track.

• Select locomotive CP 4131 at Taft and proceed to Clanwilliam.

Pick up cars CP 221935, CP 221934, CP 221856 and CP 221852 and

place behing locomotive CP 4112.

• Proceed to the through freight track at Revelstoke.

• Proceed with CP 1172 passenger train to Field.

Replace CP 4112 with CP 4111 and CP 4114 and CP 4131 with CP 4128

for the climb up the Illecillewaet Valley.

Proceed to Glacier. Cut out CP 4111 and CP 4114 and place after

hopper cars in train CP 4113.

• Proceed with CP 4128 to Field, and CP 4113 to the through freight track

at Revelstoke.

• Move CP 4111, CP 4114 and CP 4113 to the servicing yard at Revelstoke.

(Note: TrainPlayer can get mixed up as to orientation of locomotive and

tender and running direction, i.e. forward and backward. If this has occurred

with CP 4111 and CP 4114, presumably as a result of having been coupled

opposite CP 4112 in the consist, trash CP 4111 and CP 4114 and recreate and


Save file as JM-13RR.rrw



Westbound Passenger