A Franz Diversion
On Occasion, trains come off their rails. These accidents are otherwise known in railway circles as "Affairs". The carrier is subjected to two choices when these "affairs" occur.
1. Stop, back and storage.
Yes.......go around. You need permission from at least two railroads however. In the case of Franz Station, a wreck along the Canadian National mainline would require traffic to be diverted at Oba to the Algoma Central (Now Canadian National) mainline to Canadian Pacific's mainline. Most diverted trains at Franz were reunited with their parent railroad at Thunder Bay or North Bay.
During the winter of 1975, I walked into the dispatchers console room. Eastern Dispatcher, George Lengyl looked over his glasses and casually said " Dave.... when you get to Franz you have a diversion". I replied, "You're joking? Right?". He looked at me again, "No I'm not".
A CN freight train had wrecked near Folyete.
The agent had left Franz a few hours earlier on No. 418. I was to arrive in Franz at 5 am. Tied up in the shed track was CN's westbound Supercontinental passenger train. I grab my pencil and yard log and headed to inspect the train. The night was cold and a sitting, steaming train could be a problem. This train needed to be keep mobile every couple of hours or it might freeze on the spot. Disconnecting the engines from a passenger train could also cause the unpowered/unheated train to freeze internally, and/or become unmoveable. ACR trains and dispatcher controlled switches were often frozen, or experienced excessive icing. Stalled or unservicable locomotives required coolants and other water tanks to be drained, before beoming seriously damaged while frozen.
I encountered a young passenger from the train who mysteriously asked. "Where the hell are we". I calmly responded to him, that he was at an unexpected stop called Franz.
Reporting to the dispatcher, we proceeded to copy several bulletin orders for the White River Subdivision. I moved the passenger train to the yard, in anticipation of other trains and access to the water tower.
Soon after, several CN freight trains arrived southbound.
On days like this, extra tracks such as The Hole, ACR Lead, Shed Track and Sidings were used to the maximum. Although the mainlines were generally clear for normal traffic, they were used often to "run around" Depending on the location of the wreck on the CN, the direction of the diversion would
Trains which travel on foreign railroads require pilots. Normal train crews accompany the train's crew to each subdivision. I needed to store the CN freight, while pilots were incoming. Also, clear of normal daily freight and passenger operations.
Several CP showed early and waited for incoming trains, but we often waited for long periods for ACR pilots, mainly because there was only two northbound trains daily, arriving within an hour of each other.
Franz was a busy place for the next 2 days. Communication with 3 railroads was not difficult at Franz. A Bell Phone, two dispatcher phones, two local phones and a telex made train movement possible, for the mostpart. I issued alot of train orders and clearances as well as relayed crew information (name, position) between companies.
Fortunately, despite extremely cold weather and increased traffic, the lines operated clearly. Crews from both CN and CP where fed in the bunkhouse. They were very amiable and the atmosphere of the diversion was light hearted and friendly. Late travellers aboard the CN trains were patient, remaining aboard the train for the mostpart.
It was a rule of thumb, it was important to supply yourself with extra amounts of food when going to Franz. You could be easily be inundated at a moments notice by diversions or wayward travellers who miscalculated connection times or otherwise expected more local services.
Subsequently, I attended a diversion in Manitouwadge following another CN derailment. There is no diamond there, but it does terminate and join the Canadian National line at Geco