Waterloo Central Railway equipment parked at the former Waterloo station.
By Tudor Costache - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5144483
Waterloo Central Railway
The Waterloo Central Railway (WCR) is a non-profit organization that is owned and operated by the Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society (SOLRS) in Canada. In May 2007, SOLRS received joint approval from the Region of Waterloo and the City of Waterloo to run trains from Waterloo to St. Jacobs and potentially as far north as Elmira. On a typical operating day, the train runs three times a day on Tuesdays (June to August), Thursdays (May to October) and Saturday (April to October). In 2015, the railway lost regular running rights south of Northfield Drive to make way for the Ion light rail project. All Market Train service now runs between St. Jacobs Farmers' Market, the Village of St. Jacobs, and Elmira, Ontario. The train also runs on certain special events including the Maple Syrup Festival in early April.
Operations and Milestones
The WCR operates on the former Canadian National Waterloo Spur now owned by the Region of Waterloo, which connects Elmira, St. Jacobs and Waterloo toKitchener, Ontario by rail. Through an agreement with the Region of Waterloo, the WCR operates passenger service in daytime hours, and the Goderich–Exeter Railway operates freight service in evening hours. From 2007 to 2014, the WCR leased space in the City of Waterloo Visitor and Heritage Information Centre which was formerly owned by the Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway. As of 2015, the WCR no longer operates south of Northfield Drive.
The Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway operated on the Waterloo Spur between 1997 and 2000. When it ceased operations, the Region of Waterloo purchased the railway right-of-way and the City of Waterloo acquired the railway's modern Waterloo station. SOLRS operated on the line briefly in 2003 as part of a province-wide steam tour in Ontario.
2007 to 2014
The inaugural season began in 2007 with diesel-hauled service serving Waterloo, the St. Jacobs Market and the Village of St. Jacobs on Market Days. Ex-Essex Terminal Railway Steam Engine Number 9 was moved along with most of the SOLRS equipment from St. Thomas to Waterloo Region in the fall. Santa Claus trains begin this season as well. The 2008 season added annual excursions to service the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. In 2010 a restoration and service shop in St. Jacobs allowed for the reactivation of the restoration programme. Ex. ETR No. 9 was stored under cover for the first time since it arrived from St. Thomas. Ex. CN 79482 caboose was restored as WCR 482 and returned to service. Ex. CNR 50845 Burro Crane and steam locomotive 124 were relocated to St. Jacobs.
The final train departed from the Waterloo station on Sunday, December 14, 2014. No further services will depart from the Waterloo station.
2015 and beyond
In 2015, the St. Jacobs Farmers Market Station became the main departure point for all future Market Train departures. The 2017 season began with an excursion to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival departing from the St. Jacobs Farmers Market station on 1 April 2017.
The Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society also runs a Rail School to teach people certain aspects of train operation. On completion of the full hours of training, graduates can receive Ministry of Transportation Certification as Engineer, Conductor, or Safety Crew.
Effective for the 2018 season, the railway's southern terminus will be Northfield Drive in Waterloo, just north of the Ion system's Northfield station.
Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society
The Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society (SOLRS) is the parent organization that operates the Waterloo Central Railway. SOLRS became a registered Canadian charity in 1988 and maintains that status today. The mandate of SOLRS is to preserve, to restore and to operate vintage railway equipment for the education and enjoyment of the public and to present the cultural heritage in a new and more meaningful way to generations past, present and future.
Engine 1556, a diesel-powered GE 70 ton locomotive built in 1950 for the Pacific Great Eastern Railway as 556. In regular active service.
Engine 9, former Essex Terminal Railway steam locomotive Number 9, a 0-6-0 switcher built in 1923 at Montreal Locomotive Works. In occasional service.
Engine 6593, a diesel-powered MLW 105 ton S-3 locomotive built in 1957 for the Canadian Pacific Railway as 6593. It is in active service.
Steam Engine 124. Under active restoration.
SOLRS has a variety of heritage cars in active service and others that await restoration. When SOLRS takes extended tours, they also bring a baggage car, two air-dump hopper cars, two boxcars and a tank car with them.
Former Motive Power and Rolling Stock
Engine 1518, a GE 95 ton locomotive built in 1956. The engine was donated by Praxair Inc. of Tonawanda, New York. This engine has since been scrapped as restoration was not feasible.
A restoration and repair shop in the Village of St. Jacobs was completed in mid-2010.
Waterloo Central Railway Overview
Termini: Elmira, St. Jacobs
Built by: Grand Trunk Railway
Original gauge: 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
Owned by: Track owned by the Region of Waterloo
Operated by: Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society
Stations: Elmira, St. Jacobs
Preserved gauge: 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
1921: Canadian National Railway inherits line
1990: Canadian National Railway sells line to Waterloo – St. Jacobs Railway
1997: Waterloo – St. Jacobs Railway commences operation
1999: Waterloo – St. Jacobs Railway ends operation
2000: Regional Municipality of Waterloo acquires right-of-way
2003: Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society steam tour visits
2007: Waterloo Central Railway commences operation
2015: Waterloo Central Railway leaves Waterloo and moves operation north to St. Jacobs Farmers Market
Headquarters: St. Jacobs, Ontario
Waterloo – St. Jacobs Railway
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Text: wikipedia.org. Images: Public Domain; http://www.commons.wikimedia.org (unless otherwise specified) and 17 U.S. Code § 107 fair use. References: Lewis, Robert G. The Handbook of American Railroads. New York: Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation, 1951, 2nd Edition 1956. Site Map Contact webmaster HERE.