By Eric Gagnon
On December 10, 1968 the first press run of CN Turbo P-201 eastbound at Kingston struck a transport trailer at a signalled, but not gated, crossing at Division Street. This was two days before the inauguration of regular Turbo service, and the incident garnered front-page publicity for CN across Canada. Reporters + photographers + crash = coverage! Maybe it’s true that there is no such thing as bad publicity. London Free Press photographer Ernie Lee was aboard the train and snapped the photo of the year. Adrian Lunny of the Montreal Star took this photo from westbound P-204:
It’s interesting that Elliott Avenue had crossing gate protection, while Division Street, a main artery to and from Kingston’s north end and Highway 401, did not.
Online views of the two Turbos. From trackside (below) and from onboard (above):
“Turbo’s 3:59 Montreal-Toronto trip time and higher speeds had reduced the time between tripping crossing circuit and reaching the crossing. At the time of the accident, there was a 25 m.p.h. slow order at Division Street due to an earlier accident – a Rapido had struck a cement truck at the same crossing, just one day earlier. Overpasses were planned here and just over two miles to the west at Princess Street.”
Stacked boxes of meat on the east side of Division Street. This crossing is signalled, though the CP Kingston Subdivision, which also crossed Division Street just to the north, has only crossbucks (and a wig-wag!). Highway 401, where the truck likely came from, is in the distance.
Front part of the destroyed trailer pending removal:
Views of the Turbo at the Elliott Ave. crossing, signal- and gate-protected, with one side of the nose having been removed (below). This Turbo was back in service within 36 hours!
Opposite side, with CP Kingston Subdivision embankment crossing over the CN in the distance.
On January 13, George Lilley returned to document the site further. Remnants of the trailer at its new resting place:
Recreating the scene – shots of eastbound Rapido and Turbo (below) as the truck driver would have seen the crossing:
The photographer also walked west nearly a mile along the CN Kingston Subdivision, photographing the track view the engineer might have seen. Just to the left is CP’s Kingston Subdivision which approaches, then curves away from the CN as it enters a wide curve and grade to surmount the CN and enter Kingston, between Division and Elliott:
Getting closer…CP in the distance, no traffic on Division Street but nothing to stop someone from just driving across willy-nilly!
In January, 1969, another view of the crossing and CP in the distance. Footings for the re-aligned Division Street are in place, as are gates now protecting the crossing!
The number of level crossings in Kingston continues to shrink – John Counter Boulevard is under construction and will be the next to open. Lots o’ links:
- CRHA Canadian Rail special issue No 207 on the Turbo.
- Turbo’s Unique Technology from Rolly Martin Country – part of an excellent Turbo series on my brother’s blog
- Turbo’s Central Station Turbo Maintenance Area and Turbo press clippings also from Rolly Martin Country