Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The busy spur with the long name

Lambton County 2017 Part II

I often mention my rotten luck when it comes to trains, but I have to say that I was incredibly fortunate to see lots of railway action and even knock a few items off my railfan to-do list. As I mentioned last week, I finally caught a freight train on the CSX Sarnia Subdivision near my hometown. This was the first time I have documented action on this line since the early 1990s. You can read that post here.

The next day, I was heading out to visit family when I was approaching the St. Clair River Industrial Spur level crossing along the Rokeby Line. As luck would have it, three warhorse CN GP9s were switching the industrial tracks near the crossing. Of course, since I didn't have any advance warning, I had to make do with a spot on the edge of a farmer's field, which was one of the few places I could stash my car on Rokeby, which has no gravel shoulders, but very, very deep drainage ditches.

Yes, there is a major hydro corridor right next to this line. Hard to shoot without running into a few towers!

I wasn’t sure if the crew was servicing the Suncor Energy Ethanol plant. I say this because the train the crew was assembling for a run back to Sarnia Yard was comprised of covered hoppers almost exclusively. So, my first thought was the train must have been serving the Nova Chemicals Moore refinery, which is located on the Moore Line, just a concession south. Upon further thought, the train might have been collecting hoppers that were used to deliver raw material for the ethanol plant.

Check out the tree behind the GP9s!

Whatever they were doing, they were assembling a pretty impressive consist for a spur, which is what the line is. As I have mentioned in this post, this industrial spur is quite long and likely among the busiest spurs you will find. CN boasts some siginificant customers on this line, including the above mentioned customers, along with Nova Chemicals’ Corunna refinery and the Terra International nitrogen products plant near Courtright. These are all big facilities, which require significant service. In other words, this is not a spur like the Renfrew Spur, which sees a lone train to and from Arnprior each week.

This is my favourite shot from the meet. It shows you a little of everything, including the thunderstorms south of Rokeby.

As I will explore in a future post, CN is about to see business increase on this spur as Nova Chemicals is in the midst of a massive expansion of its operations in Corunna and near its Moore site. You can see the signs for the expansion of its rail facilities along the Moore Line. The company has already bolstered its operations at the plant and is operating two switchers each day.

But at this moment, I wasn’t thinking about all the developments along this line. I was simply enjoying the show as the old geeps trundled back and forth and assembled a train bound for Sarnia. This meet marks the first time I have caught a train on this line. I have taken photos of rolling stock, like this shot taken at the former Serviplast plant near Corunna, but I have never captured a train.

I backed up the zoom in this shot to show a little bit of the Suncor ethanol plant (at left) and the high-voltage towers to the right of the spur.

So, if you’re keeping score, that’s two big items I had on my list for this trip down south that were crossed off. I caught trains on the CSX Sarnia Sub and the CN industrial spur. As I will show you in a few more posts, I managed to cross off some other items from my to-do list. It was an eventful trip for sure.


Canadian Train Geek said...

Nice catch! A trio of GP9s is rare these days.

I like the last photo the best.

Michael said...

The more I look at the bottom shot, the more I like it. It just goes to show that there is so much more to shooting trains that getting the train in the shot. This meet was pure luck but the added bonus of the coming storm really added a lot to the shots I got. Thanks for stopping by, Steve.

DaveM said...

I like the zebra stripes, I don't see many of those any more.


Michael said...

There are a surprising number of these old striped beauties around in rail yards. I found a few Sarnia and in London this summer.