BCRail: Last Of The Cariboo Prospectors

The British Columbia Railway (BCRail) has run Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) between their station in North Vancouver, and the centre of Northern British Columbia: Prince George, for nearly fifty years. On the 30th of October 2002, the last of these services is due to run bringing to an end daily passenger service on one of the most picturesque lines in North America. I took the oportunity to ride this fantastic route one final time before the line closes, and at the same time bid farewell the last group of Budd RDCs still with their original operator on their original route. No mean feat in itself in these difficult times for North America's passenger services.

These pictures were taken on the Southbound Cariboo Prospector on the 30th of September 2002, where the service from Prince George was operated by an RDC-3 (BC-31) leading, and an RDC-1 (BC-15) following. The daily return service from North Vancouver to Lilooet and return was operated by RDC-3 (BC-30) and RDC-1 (BC-11) which took the lead for the journey south from Lilooet. Two days later (Wednesday 2nd October) the northbound service out of North Vancouver was operated by BC-30, BC-10, BC-31 and BC-15.

BC-31 and BC-15 stand ready to depart from the BC Rail passenger station at Prince George, northern BC. It's 6:50am and the dawn is only just breaking. There are maybe 30 passengers boarding the train at Prince George and all are seated in BC-15. The seating in BC-31 is not used until further south. The train crew consists of no less than six staff - driver, trainman, conductor, customer services manager and two catering staff.

Mid-morning and the Southbound Cariboo Prospector has reached Williams Lake, BC. It's running a little late thanks to having to reverse into a lumber products siding to allow a northbound freight service to pass by. Southbound freights gave way to the Cariboo Prospector at Prince George and Quesnel. The first shot shows BC-31 and BC-15 plus the south side of Williams Lake depot seen from the road; the second one shows BC-31 from the depot car park; the third shows the north side of the depot at BC-15 and BC-31; the final shot is a close-up of BC-15.

It's around 4pm in the afternoon and the Southbound service from Prince George has traversed the impressive Fraser River Canyon and has reached Lilooet. Here the southbound service is coupled onto the daily return service from North Vancouver to Lilooet which was formed by BC-30 and BC-11 on this day. BC-30 takes over the lead position from this point south, the order being BC-30, BC-11, BC-31, BC-15. The other operational RDC-1, BC-10, wasn't in use on this occasion.

there are more photos to come when I get the next film back

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Bevis King <B.King@eim.surrey.ac.uk>
11th October 2002