Ontario Southland returns RS18 to action, repaints SW1200

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Two RS18s — the first seen in the area for a decade — power Ontario Southland's Woodstock turn as it crosses the double-track Canadian National Dundas Subdivision.

Stephen C. Host

SALFORD, Ontario — The Ontario Southland Railway has made two moves of note for rail photographers, returning RS18s to service on the railroad’s St. Thomas Subdivision and repainting SW1200 No. 1245, which becomes the first such locomotive to wear OSR livery.

Ontario Southland's CAMI power — freshly repainted No. 1245 and another ex-CP SW1200, No. 120 — pauses at Ingersoll while the Woodstock turn lifts its cars.

Stephen C. Host
The pair of RS18s are in action on the division for the first time in more than 10 years, after returning from the Guelph Junction Railway on Sept. 30. The Canadian Pacific Railway ran RS18s on the St. Thomas Subdivision into the late 1990s, and even had a Control Cab made out of a former RS18 for use on its St. Thomas-to-Oshawa frame train into 2004. According to company sources, the locomotives are expected to be used in regular rotation, based out of Salford. No. 181 spent its entire OSR life at Guelph Junction until it was returned home, and No. 182 was transferred to Guelph in 2017 before returning in September.

In recent year, Ontario Southern RS23 No. 503 has been the only active MLW, but it has been drained and parked for the winter, as have most of the Guelph Junction Railway RS23s have been drained and parked for the winter. In recent years the number of active MLW’s out of Salford had been only one unit, RS23 OSR 503 and it too has been drained and parked for winter.

No. 1245, a former CP SW1200 of the same number, was involved in a summer grade crossing accident, and with half the unit requiring paint, the decision was made to make the first SW1200 in OSR livery. Painted by OSR Mechanic Bob Merriam and the shop forces, the locomotive was released this month.The unit is assigned to the Ingersoll's General Motors CAMI assembly plant, with both a day and night job to switch the loading racks, prepare cars for the Woodstock turn, and bring cars to the CNR in the evening.

OSR rosters four SW1200s, all formerly Canadian Pacific.

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