TS20: Two Ways Across
Written by Gary Dolzall.
The upcoming Train Simulator Canadian National Yellowhead Pass route features two steel paths across the majestic Rocky Mountains!
Coming soon to Train Simulator, the Canadian National Yellowhead Pass route features two dramatic rail lines – CN’s Albreda and Robson Subdivisions – across the Rocky Mountains!
At the beginning of the twentieth century, railroad fever was in full bloom in western Canada. The great Canadian Pacific already stood in place, having driven its last spike in 1885 and crossing the mountains via Kicking Horse and Rogers passes. But there was fervor for a second transcontinental, further to the north than CP, and two railroads – the Grand Truck Pacific and the Canadian Northern – were building competing lines across the mountains.
Both the Grand Truck Pacific and Canadian Northern has chosen Yellowhead Pass and the route of the Fraser River as the best path to cross the Rockies as it offered a remarkably low gradient means to set a rail line across the mountains with a maximum elevation of 3,711 feet above sea level (Yellowhead Pass had originally been recommended for the Canadian Pacific until that railroad chose its more southerly routing).
Between 1910 and 1913, the Canadian Northern and Grand Truck Pacific completed and opened their two lines through Yellowhead Pass and indeed the lines were at times so close as to be visible together (albeit often at quite different elevations). Today’s Albreda Subdivision is primary the line built by the Canadian Northern while the Robson Subdivision is the line constructed by the Grand Trunk Pacific.
Alas, the costs of building through the Rockies was simply too much for either railroad as compared to revenues and both failed financially. As early as World War I, portions of the lines east of Red Pass were rationalized. In 1917, Canadian Northern was folded into Canada’s nationalized rail carrier, Canadian National, and Grand Truck Pacific followed in 1923.
Now flash forward half a century. With its traffic expanding, Canadian National sought to improve the capacity and operations of its Yellowhead Pass crossing of the Rockies. On the eastern slope, from Jasper, Alberta to Red Pass, British Columbia, CN doubled-track the line. And on the rugged western slope, where the Albreda and Robson Subdivisions took different routes, the line was configured for largely direction traffic, with westbound tonnage moving via the Robson Sub and eastbound tonnage via the Albreda Sub. Eastbound traffic was (and is) directed to the Albreda Subdivision to take advantage of its favorable 0.7 percent eastbound gradient (the Robson Subdivision has a 1 percent grade on the west slope).
To facilitate this traffic flow, new connecting tracks were constructed between Harvey, McCabe, and Peterson to link with the CN’s Tete Jaune Subdivision (toward Prince George and Prince Rupert), and between the Albreda and Robson Subdivisions at Lubin and Charles, British Columbia. One fascinating offshoot of this arrangement is that eastbound trains off the Tete Jaune Subdivision take “the long way around” via Lubin and the south connecting track to reach the Albreda Subdivision, which means eastbound trains off the Tete Jaune and westbound trains working down the Robson Sub are, for a time, heading in the same geographic direction!
The upcoming Yellowhead Pass route is set in the 1980s when the CN line from Jasper to Red Pass had just been double-tracked and the new Robson link line built. Traffic on the busy CN mainline includes general mixed manifest traffic with significant tonnage of lumber and grain as well as unit coal trains, sulfur trains, and intermodals.
The Yellowhead Pass route has been masterfully developed for Train Simulator by Milepost Simulations, known for its creation of other superb Canadian routes including the popular Canadian Mountain Passes route and the Canadian National Peace River route.
As an engineer on the upcoming Train Simulator Yellowhead Pass route, you will take the throttle of Canadian National GMD GP40-2LW and SD40-2W diesel locomotives, both of which feature CN’s distinctive “comfort cab” design. The route will also feature a variety of appropriate freight rolling stock, including intermodal equipment, covered hopper, rotary gondola, flatcars, boxcars, tank car, and a Canadian National steel caboose. A superb selection of ten career scenarios will put you right to work hauling heavy tonnage across the Canadian Rockies.
The Canadian National’s Yellowhead Pass route for Train Simulator is coming soon, so stay tuned here at Dovetail Live! – Gary Dolzall
Coming soon to Train Simulator, the Canadian National Yellowhead Pass route features two dramatic rail lines – CN’s Albreda and Robson Subdivisions – across the Rocky Mountains! Extending from Jasper, Alberta to Valemount, British Columbia, the Train Simulator route will include the eastern section of Canadian National’s Albreda Subdivision and CN’s Robson Subdivision extending west from Red Pass to where it rejoins the Albreda Subdivision at Charles, British Columbia. Screenshots by Gary Dolzall.
Between 1910 and 1913, the Canadian Northern and Grand Truck Pacific opened two lines through Yellowhead Pass and the lines were at times so close as to be visible together (albeit often at quite different elevations). Both became part of Canadian National by the early 1920s. Near Foster, Canadian National trains pass on the Albreda Subdivision (upper line) and Robson Subdivision. Note: Screenshots depict content while in development.
Canadian National’s Albreda Subdivision climbs through Yellowhead Pass and follows the paths of the Miette and Fraser Rivers to achieve a relatively low-gradient crossing of the Rockies. Near Wynd, Alberta, a duo of Canadian National GMD GP40-2LW diesels are westbound with intermodal traffic (above), while a duo of SD40-2Ws have a unit train of sulfur in tow (below).
Between the border of Alberta and British Columbia and the junction at Red Pass, Canadian National’s Albreda Subdivision passes through magnificent lake country including Yellowhead and Moose Lakes (above and below).
Red Pass, British Columbia, 43 miles west of Jasper, stands near the summit of Yellowhead Pass and marks the divergence of the Albreda and Robson Subdivision lines to make their way down the west slope of the Rockies. At Red Pass, a westbound CN coal enters the Robson Subdivision for its descent of the west slope.
On the upcoming Train Simulator Yellowhead Pass route, a trio of Canadian National SD40-2Ws are bringing coal down the west slope and roll past the siding track at Robson, British Columbia (above), then a short time later swing through the link with the CN’s Tete Jaune Subdivision at Taverna (below).
Rolling westbound, CN SD40-2W 5318 is on the Robson Subdivision at McCabe, British Columbia (above). That is the “north” connecting track between the Robson and Tete Jaune Subdivisions at left. At Lubin (below), the CN westbound swings through the “south” connecting track complex. CN built extensive new trackage in the early 1980s to enhance the capacity of its lines through the Rockies.
As seen at the Jasper engine terminal, the Canadian National GMD GP40-2LW and SD40-2W diesel locomotives will be included with the Train Simulator Yellowhead Pass route. The route will also feature a variety of freight rolling stock, including intermodal equipment, covered hopper, rotary gondola, flatcars, boxcars, tank car, and a Canadian National steel caboose.
Masterfully developed for Train Simulator by Milepost Simulations, known for its creation of other superb Canadian routes including the popular Canadian Mountain Passes route and the Canadian National Peace River route, the new Canadian National Yellowhead Pass route is coming soon!
Screenshots and images displayed in this article may depict content that is still in development. The licensed brands may not have been approved by their respective owner and some artwork may still be pending approval.
TS20: Two Ways Across