The crew of the Westbound manifest train - lots of grain hoppers - called in the power trouble while still some distance east of Jasper. One of the two units lost 3 of its 6 traction motors. On arrival the units were uncoupled and moved ahead to a more convenient spot. The service people arrived, but couldn't rectify the problem. The defective unit was placed into an adjacent track.
Meanwhile yet one more Eastbound had advanced to "Home", tied up and secured the train, the units advanced. Ahhhhhh .... at least one replacement unit for that urgent Grain Train. Anyway, this one is about the to and fro of engines to get the grain back on the way to Vancouver.
2013 was a bumper crop of grain on the prairies, the railways have been hard pressed to move it all - short of cars, power and crews. There have been bitter complaints regarding the lack of transportation - part of the blame addressed the increase in oil traffic on rail (higher earnings for the railways), another part the efficiency drive to make more money with less resources.
Given all of that, I was surprised that CN wouldn't have a spare power unit at Jasper.
It's part of the "move everything (max loads) with the minimum of power" philosophy, which backfires quite often when equipment is working at the limit. I happens all along the stretch between Jasper and Vancouver. Sometimes in very inconvenient locations e.g. the Thompson and Fraser Canyon section.
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