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Technical Tours

UMASC wants to facilitate the professional and personal development of all it's Chapter members. To achieve this, UMASC organizes activities to acquaint students with topics of interest in railway engineering through guest speaker luncheons, Chapter sponsored trips, and technical tours. As railway engineering is a multi-disciplined industry, we strive to bring in speakers that span all technical aspects of the industry. 

Check our Calendar to see upcoming events hosted by UMASC. As always, if you'd like to have a technical tour at a specific facility or guest speaker brought in on a particular topic, don't hesitate to contact us.

Upcoming Technical Tours 

Come learn more about the CN railways with the AREMA student group on Jan 30, 2020. This tour will compromise of Hands-on Simulation, Micro training for key railway jobs and CN museum Tour with free shuttle to and from U of M. To learn more email us at or sign up using the following link Sign up here for the CN Tour.

Technical Tours

Symington Yard Tour -  November 17, 2018

Led by: Jim Bertrand (Transport Canada)

On Saturday, November 17, the AREMA Student Chapter went on a field trip to the Symington Rail Yard. This event was hosted by the CN staff. It was a morning packed with numerous things to see as a group of our members made the journey from the University of Manitoba in a CN campus bus. Our tour began with an overview introduction to the rail yard's operations and brief stories of our tour guide's career paths in the rail industry. After a short education on safety at-work, our group was first brought to the Diesel Shop. This was followed by tours through the Car Shop and the C-tower.

CP Yard Tour -  October 29, 2017

Led by: Jim Bertrand (Transport Canada), Darcey Hormann (CN)

This tour was held at the CP Yard and Weston Shops & NSC off 478 McPhillips Street in Winnipeg. The tour began with providing members with safety explanations and equipment (as the photo is provided below) which stressed the importance of safety, especially in the vicinity of tracks and shops, where the environment brought safety concerns. Then a couple of CP employees recounting their careers with CP across North America and describing what a career in the railway could look like for new civil and mechanics engineers. This was so beneficial for the members who were curious about the future carriers in the railroad industry.

The tour then moved through various wheel, rail, and track maintenance shops, where the CP employees explained about their carrier background, responsibilities, and the procedure of wheel and rail assessment. We learned about the process of separating bearings, bearings assessment, and classifying them based on their conditions, which was explained by a technician who had been certified in mechanics. Next, we visited the entire CP shop, followed by the rail maintenance facilities. Our tour ended by visiting the rail assessment shop, where the technicians explained the procedure of receiving defected rails, investigating the rails based on their defects, and providing the report of findings. Our tour lasted approximately six hours from noon to 6 pm, which was so valuable in learning how much work it takes to assess the railroad facilities and ensuring safety in the practice from the attended member’s perspectives.


UMASC thanks all those who led, helped, and supported this tour!

CN Symington Yard Tour - Saturday, October 29, 2016

Led by: Jim Bertrand (Transport Canada), Chris Yeroschack (CN), Brody Labuick (CN)

On Saturday, October 29, the AREMA Student Chapter was hosted by CN staff at the Symington Rail Yard. This morning was packed full of things to see as ten of our members made the journey from the University of Manitoba. Our tour began with an introduction to the rail yard's operations and brief stories of our tour guide's career paths in the rail industry. After a short safey briefing, our group was first brought to the infamous hump yard where trains are disassembled and reorganized using advanced computer algorithms and the power of gravity.

Next we were treated to a panoramic view of the entire rail yard from the C-Tower. This is the rail yard's equivalent to an air traffic  control centre which organizes the trains that are coming in and going out. Following this, things got high tech as we moved to CN's data server warehouse where all the real-time and historic data crunching happens. Using this information, metrics on performance are used to help CN modify their operations and interpret the effects of engineering decisions.     


Finally, we took a stroll over to the maintenance workshop where we saw the non-stop work involved with wheel replacement, engine maintenance. Overall, out tour turned out to be a great day with beautiful weather where our love for the railway was increased... once again.

UMASC offers its thanks to Jim, Chris, and Brody in leading our tour and showing us Symington Rail Yard!

CN Engineering Yard Tour: Continuously Welded Rail – Saturday, January 30, 2016

Led By: Darrell Trask, Manager of Engineering Facilities, CN, and Jim Miller, CN

With the support of: David Lilley, Senior Manager of Training and Development, CN

This past tour was held at the CN Engineering Railyard off Pandora Avenue in Transcona. This tour began with a safety briefing by Mr. Darrell Trask, who is the Manager of Engineering Facilities. Mr. Trask outlined the importance of a safe workplace and explained the steps which CN has taken in past years to improve safe working conditions for all employees.

The tour then moved into the rail yard, where AREMA Student Chapter members were able to experience the automated process of continuously welding stretches of rail together, which span hundreds of feet. Wow do those welds ever get hot! Student Chapter members were also able to experience the point at which these sections are loaded 9 high by 6 wide onto the long train cars which deliver the rail to its destinations.

The AREMA Student Chapter thanks Mr. Trask, Mr. Miller, and Mr. Lilley for making this tour possible for us on a Saturday morning.

A link to all photos from this tour can be found here

Paterson Grain Terminal – Thursday March 19, 2015

Led by:

Henri Ritchot and Greg Bowey

This week the AREMA student chapter was treated to a very special and unique tour of the Paterson Grain Terminal just inside the Northwest perimeter highway in Winnipeg. This grain terminal features dozens of storage bins which can accommodate a wide variety of commodities, and serves places in eastern Canada and the United States, potentially many miles away. The grain terminal also features a large loop track to assist with railcar-terminal transfer as well as a large warehouse, with a capacity of thousands of tonnes.

On this tour, we were able to get a close-up experience of all operations of the terminal, including computer systems, quality testing equipment, and the truck unloading process. We also were able to see parts of the facility that you do not get to see every day, such as the roof of the terminal bins, and the interior of the Paterson-owned locomotive. Additionally, we were able to experience the operations at the warehouse, including the truck loading process, and inflow conveyor belt.

We all enjoyed this tour very much and got to see some very cool aspects of grain terminal operation. The AREMA Student Chapter would like to thank the folks at the Paterson Grain Terminal for taking the time out of their busy schedules to give us this in-depth tour and teach us all about the facility. You can see a video with some of the tour highlights below!

A link to all photos from this tour can be found here.

Plessis Road Underpass Project – Saturday, September 20, 2014

Led by:

Tanya Worms, Transportation Engineer, AECOM

Bob Paetsch, Sr. Project Manager, AECOM

Gordon Rybuck, President of GR Rail Inc.

The first part of the September 20th UMASC technical tour featured the Plessis Road Underpass Project, located just north of the intersection of Plessis Road and Dugald Road. The project will increase efficiency and safety at the intersection using a grade separation between Plessis Road and the adjacent railroad tracks. The project features surface drainage, active transportation facilities, roadway improvements, and utility relocation, and is due to be completed in 2015.

Tanya, Bob, and Gordon began the tour by covering the challenges of evaluating options during design stages, coordinating the many construction activities involved in the project, and working around existing project constraints such as private property and utilities. Next, our student chapter was lucky enough to explore some components of the temporary track diversion as part of the tour. We were able to learn first-hand about the characteristics of ballast, track joints, switches, signals, and signal controls. This tour gave us a perspective of what a construction project of this size involves.

UMASC would like to thank Tanya, Bob, and Gordon for taking the time out of their busy schedules on a Saturday morning to give us this very memorable tour! See below for link to all photos.

CN Campus Transcona – Saturday, September 20, 2014

Led by David Lilley, Senior Manager of Training and Development, CN

The second part of the September 20th tour was held at the new CN Training Facility, located on Pandora Avenue in Transcona. The 100,000 square-foot facility opened in 2014, and hosts hundreds of students from across Canada on a weekly basis, with hands-on training for key railway jobs.

David was generous enough to show us just about every aspect of the campus, starting with some switch displays, and then moving onto the defects yard, the outdoor welding facility, and the systems troubleshooting testing room. Next, our student chapter was given a glimpse of some of the hands-on simulation training offered to CN students at the campus. We were able to test out some of the train simulators, crane simulators, and welding simulator. We were also given a tour of some typical classrooms on campus, which are equipped with state-of-the-art display equipment and hands-on models to promote an interactive environment. The tour was finished-off in the main display room, which featured rail cars, wheels and switches. This tour gave UMASC valuable insight into the operations at CN.

UMASC would like to thank David for taking the time to give us this in-depth and exciting tour of the facility!

A link to all photos of the CN Campus Transcona and Plessis Road underpass project can be found here.

Canadian Pacific Weston Yards - Saturday, October 19, 2013

Organized by Tim Yamashita, P.Eng., General Manager Engineering Canada, Central Region

Thank you to Tim Yamashita and the staff at the Weston Yards for making this a memorable experience. UMASC members were given a full tour of the Weston Yards including  hands-on experience using maintenance equipment (see the slideshow), an overview of safety and derailment analysis, and got a chance to see the control room for network operations. This full day tour even had lunch included which, as a student, is always greatly appreciated. The second half of the tour gave the students a chance to experience how a rail yard operations works through a training simulation exercise used by the staff at CP. The simulation turned a 24-hour day into 24 minutes in which students were given specific roles and had to work as a team to make sure all the trains were received, sorted, and dispatched as efficiently as possible - what a great learning tool! Again, we, the student chapter, would like to express how thankful we are that veteran railroaders are willing to take time out of their weekend (did I mention this tour was on a Saturday?) to help educate future railroaders: THANKS CP!

A link to all photos from this tour can be found here.

CN Symington Yard - Guided Tour through shops and control tower

Led by Mike Adams, Canadian National, Asst. Track Supervisor

Arranged by Tom Wincheruk, Canadian National, Asst. Chief - Regional Engineering

UMASC was given the opportunity to tour the CN Symington Yard - Western Canada's only hump yard. The tour began on a snowy November morning at the main offices where Tim Pulak, Superintendent Transportation - Manitoba, and Tom Wincheruk, Asst. Chief - Regional Engineering, took time out of their busy schedules (on a Saturday morning) to tell the Student Chapter about CN operations and the activities at Symington. Following the introductions, Mike Adams, Asst. Track Supervisor, gave the Chapter a safety briefing, did a head count, and then our caravan (three full vans totalling 21 persons) followed Mike in his CN truck over to the Locomotive Reliability Center (LRC). 

At the LRC, UMASC had the chance to get up close to the locomotives in the repair bays where they receive inspection and repairs for traction motors, wheelsets, diesel engines, alternators, and everything in-between. Our tour guide, Bob Gray, Manager of the Symington LRC, brought us through the service bays and did a great job explaining the activities that go on inside the shop. One of the highlights in the shop was the polished up 1950s EMD E9, don't get a chance to see these guys too often! From the LRC, the Student Chapter moved on to the Car shop where Laurent Richard, Asst Superintendent - Mechanical, guided us through the shop car bays, showed the Chapter the crane used for derailments, and brought us outside to where they switch out wheelsets.

For the last part of the tour, Mike Adams guided us through the yard to Control Tower 'C'. This is where all the action happens for trains coming in and out of Symington. Marty McLaren, the Signals and Communication Supervisor, gave us a breakdown of the software and equipment used to control and monitor the hump. We then climbed the stairs up to the top of the control tower to speak with Vinnie Mask, Asst. Superintendent - Transportation, who told us what the guys upstairs do to make sure cars and trains keep moving through the yard. One thing's for sure: communication is key!

UMASC would like to thank everyone at CN who helped make this tour possible, we had a great time touring the yard and seeing what it takes to keep the railroad moving. We'd like to extend additional thanks to Mike Adams, who helped organize the tour and took time on his day off to lead UMASC around the Symington yard. Please enjoy the slide show of this tour below, and look for more pictures to be added as they come in from our members.

A link to all photos from this tour can be found here.

1950s EMD E9! Beauty!