Canadian Pacific: A Decade-Long Strategy Of Diesel Leasing (Part 1 - 1963 to 1965)

UP FA1 #1601 is flanked by several B&LE leased locomotives at Toronto Yard in early 1964. (Doug Hately photo)



Canadian Pacific during the 1960/70s frequently supplemented its motive power fleet by leasing locomotives from U.S. railroads There is no documentation outlining whether the practice was a pre-planned strategy or an approach that simply evolved when surges in freight traffic dictated. The impetus may well have been the Canadian-Russian wheat deal signed in 1963. In September of that year, Russia's Communist-led government agreed to purchase nearly a half- billion dollars of Canadian wheat; it was (at the time) the largest business transaction of its kind ever between the two countries.

Canada's two major railroads: Canadian National and Canadian Pacific experienced sizable increases in traffic as a result. Unlike CNR, the CPR was power-short, and the Russian deal only added more stress to the railroad's aging locomotive fleet. CPR responded to the challenge by assigning its top-ranked locomotives to hauling grain and primary freights; secondary trains were a separate issue. The answer to that question was found in the U.S -- More specifically on Bessemer & Lake Erie (B&LE), Boston & Maine (B&M), the Soo Line (SOO) and Union Pacific (UPRR), all had surplus power available for lease.

With the exception of the 33 EMD-built cab units from B&LE (10 cabs, 10 B units) and SOO (11 cabs, 2 B-units), the other lease units had the familiar ca-thunk ca-thunk of an Alco 244 prime mover. The UP provided seven Alco FA1s and eight FB1s, which were frequently operated in pure sets. B&M leasers took the form of Alco RS3s. By the close of 1965, UP's so-called "rent-a-wrecks" and the SOO F-units had been returned. As for the Bessemer power, and those locomotives from B&M, they remained under lease, for an extended period.

One final point is worth mentioning. Beyond leasing from U.S. railroads, CPR also "borrowed" locomotives from its Western Region fleet. The units were notable because they were aging FM/CLC Trainmasters and C-liners that had lost 15-20% percent of their tonnage ratings.

CPR's 1960s/70s leasing strategy will be explored further next month.



Photo Gallery

B&LE F7s were a common sight during early 1964 while leased to the CPR. This 9 April 1964 scene has CPR FA1 #4010 leading a B&LE pair near Windsor, Ontario. (R. Craig photo)

The date is 18 May 1965 and leased B&LE F7A #717 barrels passed the Oshawa, Ontario station with a good-size westbound CPR manifest. The trailing GP9 is rare southern Ontario visitor. (Doug Hately photo)

The leased Bessemer & Lake Erie F-units were reliable which was a very important factor when it was time to consider extending their lease, on multiple occasions. (Doug Hately photo / Bruce Chapman collection)

The Bessemer lease units were well liked by CPR because the F-units were m/u compatible with CPR's existing road power. This November 1964 photo shows CPR #8427 mated to B&LE F7B #718B. (John Whitmore photo / Mark A. Perry collection)

A rare visitor from the western region, CPR H24-66 #8918 was temporarily assigned to the area to help balance available horsepower. It was spotted at the Windsor, Ontario engine facilities on late October afternoon in 1965. (Lloyd Judd photo / R. Craig collection)

Kingston, Ontario-built CPR #4056 was among the small group of displaced western region FM/CLC locomotives. Trainmaster #8920 idles behind #4056 at the Winnipeg, Manitoba engine terminal in October, 1964. (John Whitmore photo / Mark A. Perry collection)

Just in with CPR Train 903 from the east, Boston & Maine RS3 #1512 and CPR RS10 #8470 wait their turn at the fuel rack in CPR's Windsor, Ontario facility on 12 May 1965. (R. Craig photo)

The busy diesel shop in Cote St. Luc, Quebec provides the backdrop for this December 1965 image. Leased B&M 1514 and sister RS3 1512 (in background) wait for an opportunity to get some routine maintenance. (D.W. Clark photo / R. Craig collection)

Three leased UPRR Alco cab units slow as they approach CPR's Windsor, Ontario yard with Train 903 from Toronto. Two new RS11s from MLW 4th and 5th out in the power consist are headed for Mexico. (R. Craig photo)

UPRR FA1 #1628 and two Omaha running mates stand at the west end of CPR's London Yard, waiting for a dispatcher's "highball" to proceed towards Windsor. (Harry Juday photo / R. Craig collection)

Delivered in 1947, this classic A-B-A set of Alcos originally ran on UP's rugged Salt Lake & Los Angeles sub division. However, they spent their final days leased to CPR in freight service between Toronto and Windsor. (Ron Vicoskis photo / Bruce Chapman collection)

The UP Alcos had a 21-pin m/u system and subsequently the units were not compatible with CPRs standard 27-pin m/u connections. UP FA1 #1628A leads a manifest though Campbellville, Ontario. (Bill Thomson photo / Bruce Chapman collection)

A white-flag CPR extra rolls through Guelph Junction on 2 February 1964. Led by SOO F7A #2224A and F7B #501C, ex-EMD Demo #9053 [11017, 11/49]. The EMD pair the wear maroon and gold of original owner Wisconsin Central. (W.D. Thomson photo / Bruce Chapman collection)

It should be noted that CNR also leased a few first-generation locomotives during that time. Late in 1963, a set of B&LE F7s departs Danforth, Ontario with a CN manifest, including a pair of GMDD SW1200RS. (Doug Hately photo / Bruce Chapman collection)

Bruce Chapman, Doug Hately and Bill Linley provided photos and data that contributed to the development the above profile.


  • 3015, 3021, 3023, 3026, 3035, 3041, 3042, 3045, 3047 & 3048 (Winter 1965/66)


  • Roster of Lease / Loan Locomotives

    UP FA #1601 at Trois-Rivieres, QC Yard in 1964. (Roger Boisvert photo (Ron Vicoslis collection)

    Alco C630 UP 2903 & 2904 (Winter 1964/65)
    Bessember & Lake Erie F7A
    • 713A, 715A, 716A, 717A & 718A (Winter 1963/64): locos arrived on CPR 1Apr64 after prior lease to CN beginning 12/63
    • 716A, 717A & 718A (Winter 1964/65)
    • 713A, 714A, 716A, 717A & 718A (Winter 1965/66)
    F7B
    • 713B, 715B, 716B, 717B, 718B (Winter 1963/64); locos arrived on CPR 1Apr64 after prior lease to CN beginning 12/63
    • 713B, 717B & 718B (Winter 1964/65)
    • 712B, 713B, 716B, 717B & 718B
    Boston & Maine S3 1178, 1179 & 1181 (Winter 1965/66); ** THESE WERE A SPLIT LEASE W/CN; CN leased December to April; CP lease April +
    S4 1263 & 1268 (Winter 1965/66); ** THESE WERE A SPLIT LEASE W/CN; CN leased December to April; CP lease April +
    RS3
    • 1511, 1535, 1536 & 1540 (Winter 1965/66)
    GP7
    • 1556, 1557, 1558, 1559, 1561, 1573, 1574, 1575, 1576 & 1577 (Winter 1965/66)
    Chicago Great Western F7A 150, 153, 155 & 156 (Winter 1965/66)
    Delaware & Hudson S2
    • 3015, 3023 & 3026 (Winter 1963/64)
    • 3024, 3026, 3028, 3031 & 3032 (Winter 1964/65)
    Duluth Missabe & Iron Range SD9
    • 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 111, 112, 119, 121, 123, 124 (Winter 1964/65): these were a split lease w/CN; used by CN from December/64 until Feb/65
    • 112, 114, 117, 119, 123, 159, 161, 162, 164, 165; first five units were replaced by - 113, 121, 124, 131, 135 (Winter 1965/66)
    SD18 175, 179, 185, 188, 189, 190, 192, 193 (Winter 1964/65); ** these were a split lease w/CN; used by CN from December/64 until Feb/65
    EMD SD40X CP 7000/EMD434D & 7001/434C -- EMD Demonstrators (Winter 1965/66)
    Lake Superior & Ishpeming RS2 & RS3
    • 1608, 1609 & 1610 (Winter 1964/65)
    • 1503, 1603 & 1606 (Winter 1965/66)
    RSD12
    • 1802 & 1803 (Winter 1963/64)
    • 1802 & 1804 (Winter 1964/65)
    • 1803, 1804 & 1805 (Winter 1965/66)
    SOO Line F3A 202 & 203 (winter 1963/64)
    F7A
    • 213, 214, 221, 2201, 2224, 2225, 2228, 2229 & 2230 (winter 1963/64)
    • 201, 204, 213, 214, 221, 2201A, 2225A, 2228A, 2229A, 2230A & 2501C (Winter 1964/65)
    F7B
    • 501C & 503C (Winter 1963/64)
    • 503C (Winter 1964/65)
    Union Pacific FA1 1601, 1616, 1624, 1627, 1628, 1637, 1641 (winter 1963/64)
    FB1 1608B, 1608C, 1614B**, 1616C, 1618B, 1622C**, 1636B, 1636C, 1642B (Winter 1963/64)

    ** it is thought 1614B was replaced by 1622C early on

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