Ramblings of a frustrated armchair Railway Modeller

Everyone is entitled to my opinion, so I've decided to enter the blog-o-sphere in order to share them with you.
My focus is the rationale and development of my model railway, but I am likely to wander off topic from time to time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

To CARM or not to CARM

Lex Parker sent me a link to an article by Charles Cooper.

Re: Interesting summary on CARM = CARM at the crossroads - 2011

My response, which holds more questions than answers is as follows, but you really need to read the original article first in order for all of this to make sense:
Hi Lex and Charles,

Interesting article.

As an outsider, I'd like to add my perspective to be taken with a grain of salt, since I do not foresee my joining CARM or NMRA - ever.

The CARM website and Forum is a catch-22: You need to be a CARM member to access most of the website, but there's not enough there to entice membership.

You need to open the Forum to the public in order to engage and recruit more members.

The nature of all forums and/or list-serves is that only a tiny [5%] percent actively participate on a regular basis and the remainder "lurk". Don't worry about how many people are "talking" on the forum. Take a look to see how many people are hanging around to "listen". Are the "lurkers" checking in on a regular basis to keep up to date? Or did they join and then let their forum membership languish?

I've always viewed CARM to be a splinter of the NMRA.

The impetus to form CARM was that the NMRA was not fulfilling the needs of Canadian Members and that the timing of SARS and the Maple Leaf 2003 was the final straw.

Would there be a CARM if SARS had not happened?

Many CARM Members are and/or continue to be NMRA Members.

Why not let bygones be bygones and merge back into the NMRA? Apply CRTC Can-Con rules.

Become the C-NMRA.

Form allegiances, not divisions.

Merge with Canadian Railway Modeller. I think that it would be mutually beneficial to both parties. I see the "forced bundling" may be a concern, but arrangements could be made to opt out of receiving the "new and improved" newsletter.

Is Canadian Railway Modeller offering a discounted subscription to CARM Members?

Will it?

Who approached whom first?

Who's more likely to gain from this allegiance?

Lastly, but foremost in my mind: Merge with the Toronto Christmas Train Show. It is perceived to be in decline and needs to be refurbished. They've already got the Convention Center for the Public Show and there is a lot of space left in the hall for extra "Members Only" areas. For Clinics, Contests etc... It's on the airport strip with lots of available accommodations and Meeting / Clinic / Contest space.

I hope that you've found my ruminations useful.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Route of the Voyageur et Courier des Bois

A while ago I went searching the internet for a picture of a "Voyageur" and/or "Courier des Bois" portaging a canoe. I wanted to use the picture on which to base the Logo for the Humber Valley & Simcoe Railway.

The Humber River flows South from a point about halfway between Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe.

Flowing North from that midway point is the Holland River into Cooks Bay on Lake Simcoe.

It's an ancient waterway with a portage that now passes through a Golf Course at the midpoint.

I found just the right picture of a Statue in Mattice, Ontario, Canada which is considerably further North than where the HV&S will run.

The rest is/was/will-be history...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Narrow Gauge Through the Bush

I love this book and you have an opportunity to buy it for half of what I paid!
Deadline: January 31, 2011

Posted elsewhere by Russ Milland:
Many of you are aware that a local railway history enthusiast, Rod Clarke, published a definitive history of the pioneering Toronto, Grey and Bruce and the Toronto and Nipissing narrow gauge railways which he researched and wrote after several decades of dedicated effort. I created a website to promote and publicize the book which can be found here:


We also did a news item on this book here:


Derek Boles, our historian at the TRHA, wrote a testimonial as follows:

"This is quite simply the most magnificent book ever published on the history of Toronto railways. Rod Clarke is to be commended for his significant contribution to railway scholarship."

Many of us purchased a copy of the book for $65.00 when it was first published, I did and I still consider that price a bargain. However, now that the print run of 1,500 copies has diminished to only several hundred copies being left, the price has been reduced and the current price is $32.50 which is a really good bargain to my mind.

So I have decided to offer the book to anyone who wants to get one before they run out at a cost of $35.00 (with the HST included)..

If you would like a copy of this book, please reply to this message. I will work out how to get your copy to you in due course...

Please note my e-mail below re this excellent book. This book will likely go out of print in the next year or so as there are only a few hundred copies left.

I am accumulating orders for what may be my last purchase of a batch of these. If you are in the southern Ontario area and any of you want a copy I am sure we can arrange a way of getting it to you without paying the $14 postage.  I live in St. Catharines but visit Toronto often. Let me know by January 31st if you or anyone you know wants a copy.

Happy New Year!

Russ Milland <rmilland@cogeco.ca>

Monday, January 03, 2011

Back on December 28, 2005 I was thinking...

About the Humber Valley & Simcoe Railway:

I'm working on a Modern Narrow Gauge railway line that does intermodal and roadrailers like the Swiss RhB, but in Canadian (Southern Ontario) 42" gauge instead of European meter gauge...

Well, I haven't really put a lot of thought into the subject but while I was standing and waiting for a bus the other day, I was counting the number of Transport Trucks that passed on the 401 Hwy. In about 5 minutes, I counted over sixty. Not including smaller Freight in cube vans and the 2-5 ton axle vehicles. There's plenty of traffic that would translate to several trains per hour...

Here's the idea...

Model Railroaders often lament the the decline of the railroads through the 20th century. So many fallen flags and mergers. Service cuts, rails abandoned and torn up. The cars and trucks that run on the roads and highways that take passengers and freight away from the once mighty railroads...

Here in Southern Ontario, in the 1980's and '90's, the trucking industry applied for the right to haul multiple trailers on the highways. Road-trains, like the ones that cross the Australian Outback, in order to realize economies of scale...

At the same time, trucking industry standards were falling, and/or not being maintained. Trucks were falling apart on the Freeways and there were several incidents of flying truck tires and fatalities.

The general populance was pushing for special trucking lanes and/or restrictions to keep trucks off the freeways.

Maintenance Inspections and stiff penalties were introduced... But not much else changed...

As always, the status quo is upheld.

This brings me around to my idea...

The major railroads have to maintain their own ROW's, and therefore, focus on profitable unit trains and shy away from, or charge a premium for LCL's. Passenger service has been abandoned by the Railroads and has been taken over by the Government that has to rent/least trackage rights in order to operate.

The Trucking Industry handles the LCL and Time-Sensitive deliveries. More freight is handled on the highways than railways. Although the trucking industry is private, it is heavily subsidized by the various levels of government indirectly through the fact that the tax base supports the infrastructure that the trucks run on. Toll routes in Canada are almost unheard of. To my knowledge, there are only two overland toll routes in Canada. Hwy 407 in Southern Ontario, and the Coquihalla in B.C.. The rest of the Freeways are supported by government subsidies.

What I propose is a lane in each direction on the Ontario "400-series" highways be replaced with Narrow Gauge Railway. And all freight would move in containers, road-railers or piggy-back. The initial expense to convert asphalt to rails would bring about long term savings.

It would be a new-ish industry and subject to a whole new set of rules and regulations regarding labour and regulations. Taking the best from the Trucking and Railroad industries.

Adopt a model that is similar to what the Swiss are doing on the RhB for using tolls for heavy trucks and introducing equipment that handles LCL's with small containers and Self unloading intermodal along with traditional Road-Railers, containers and piggy-back.

Here's a list of links for information and inspiration:
Intermodal Association of North America
The Intermodal Container FAQ
Intermodal Transportation Institute
Welcome to Intermodal Transportation Matching
General Electric Intermodal and Rail Equipment and Services
Intermodal Container Page
Piggyback Consolidators
Intermodal 101
RoadRailer® equipment photos
Roadrailer Wiki
Wabash National Roadrailer