Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

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Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Feb 01, 2015 6:49 pm

Hello,
This summer, I'm going to be in Vancouver for a few days, most likely in August. I'm going to have a lot of time to railfan. I won't have access to a car so my options will be rather limited. Where are the best spots for railfanning in and around Vancouver for those people who won't have a car? I'm interested in railfanning primarily passenger rail and Skytrain. Thanks.
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby ENR3870 » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:43 pm

New Westminster Quay is the best for not having a vehicle. 4 railways go through there and it's easily accessible from the Skytrain.
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Thu Mar 12, 2015 8:05 pm

Sounds good. Which railroads pass through there? Does Amtrak and VIA do? If so, what are the aproximate times? Where are the best spots to photograph West Coast Express? Thanks.
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby bdawe » Sat May 16, 2015 8:13 pm

njt/mnrrbuff wrote:Sounds good. Which railroads pass through there? Does Amtrak and VIA do? If so, what are the aproximate times? Where are the best spots to photograph West Coast Express? Thanks.


CN, CPR, and Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY, same people as MRL) run through the Quay. Amtrak and VIA do not pass through New Westminster Quay, but rather pass along New Westminster Bridge further east. You can reach New Westminster Bridge in a 10 minute walk east of Columbia Skytrain Station.

At New Westminster Rail Bridge, you can observe CN, CPR, BNSF, SRY, Amtrak, VIA, and the Rocky Mountaineer. The Amtrak Cascades leaves Vancouver at 6:30 am and 5:30 PM, so add some time to that too see them in New Westminster. The Cascades arrives at 11:45 am and 10:50 pm, so subtract some time for that. VIA's Canadian leaves Vancouver Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 8:30. The Canadian arrives in Vancouver Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays at whatever time pleases the Train Gods . The Rocky Mountaineer schedule is intermittent, and can be found on their website, with trains going through Kamloops and Seattle passing through New Westminster Bridge.

The West Coast Express is most accessible from it's terminus at Waterfront Station where it connects to the Skytrain. Scenic viewing locations include anywhere in North Burnaby, or some of the scenic shots you see in Pitt Meadows or so. It's a scenic commute, and I'd recommend taking it between Waterfront and Port Coquitlam, and taking the 190 bus back into town. You can get back on the bus from as far as Maple Ridge, but not Mission. The tickets are $7.50 and are accepted for 180 minutes on all other transit services.

Good railfanning spots from transit would include Commercial Broadway Station, where you can see the skytrain, Amtrak, Via, and the occaisional CN freight all in one scenic, transit-accessible location. I'm fond of the area around Second Narrows, where CN, CP, and the WCE can be observed, though it is not easy to transit to.
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby steve scan » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:56 pm

You might want to try a few stations further up from New West as well, at Sapperton and Braid there are usually several BNSF locos stabled there or working the yard at the bottom of North rd.
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Jun 20, 2015 7:55 am

Where are the best spots to stand taking pictures of the Amtrak and VIA near the Commercial/Broadway Station, as well as the New Westminster Bridge?

I'm thinking about going to White Rock to catch one of the Cascades, perhaps the morning one. How is the lighting there for the beginning of August in the morning?
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby steve scan » Sat Jun 20, 2015 9:27 am

You can get overhead shots from the road overpass just outside the station, or you could get off at Renfrew and right outside the station you are at the crossing plus there is an excellent model railway store there. At New West there is a bridge at the west end of the station, or you could leave the station at the east side turn south, cross over the road and in front of you there is an iron footbridge across the tracks to the river front, there are plenty of spots right by the track there for ground level shots, I am new to railfanning so this is by no means an exhaustive list but hope it helps, cant help with White Rock unfortunately.
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Sat Jun 20, 2015 9:45 am

Where in North Burnaby are the best spots to photograph WCE trains? Thanks.
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby bdawe » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:45 pm

njt/mnrrbuff wrote:Where in North Burnaby are the best spots to photograph WCE trains? Thanks.


There's some trails down the cliffs at Confederation Park. Barnett Marine Park is also a good spot, which can be reached via the 160 and 190 buses.

Furthermore, by Pacific Central Station there's a mound on Evans Avenue, off Terminal, where passenger yard operations and VIA's maintenance center can be viewed. WCE is also serviced there
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:34 am

Where are the best places to photograph Skytrain operations?
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby AC4400 » Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:08 pm

I'm also visiting Vancouver next week for a whole week.
I was planning Monday (8/3) for a railfan day, but unfortunately I just found out that Monday is BC day and no WCE trains run on that day.
I'm wondering besides New Westminster Quay, is there any other places to watch WCE?
If WCE doesn't run, where does it sit? Mission?

BTW, I'm taking Amtrak Cascades 510 to VAC.
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby bdawe » Thu Jul 30, 2015 6:24 pm

The WCE does not go to New Westminster Quay and cannot be seen anywhere near New Westminster.

The trains sleep in Mission, which is not accessible by convenient transit save for the WCE itself. However, you can potentially observe maintenance operations for the WCE down at the VIA Rail yard behind Pacific Central Station which usually has 2-3 WCE coaches and a locomotive on the property. They'll be on the right side window of the Cascades on the way in to the station
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby AC4400 » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:16 pm

That's great information.
Is The Canadian also sitting in Pacific Central Station on Mondays? (It leaves VAC on Tuesday)

bdawe wrote:The WCE does not go to New Westminster Quay and cannot be seen anywhere near New Westminster.

The trains sleep in Mission, which is not accessible by convenient transit save for the WCE itself. However, you can potentially observe maintenance operations for the WCE down at the VIA Rail yard behind Pacific Central Station which usually has 2-3 WCE coaches and a locomotive on the property. They'll be on the right side window of the Cascades on the way in to the station
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby NorthWest » Thu Jul 30, 2015 9:09 pm

A good place to watch WCE action is New Brighton Park, and the Commissioner Street overpass.

For SkyTrain, SkyBridge is very close to the New Westminster Rail Bridge and can be viewed from the same park.

As for White Rock, the former station area is a good location.
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Re: Railfanning in Vancouver and its Metropolitan Area

Postby AC4400 » Fri Jul 31, 2015 12:44 am

Thanks for the Commissioner St. overpass! I saw it's easily accessible by trolleybus route 4!
I saw there's another overpass (Main St. overpass) near CRAB park. Also, is it possible to see Rocky Mountaineer trains?

NorthWest wrote:A good place to watch WCE action is New Brighton Park, and the Commissioner Street overpass.

For SkyTrain, SkyBridge is very close to the New Westminster Rail Bridge and can be viewed from the same park.

As for White Rock, the former station area is a good location.
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