London, Ontario, Part I
I've been to Sarnia Yard many times over the years and as anyone who watches trains in Sarnia knows, there really is only one decent spot to shoot pictures in that yard. The old Via Station, off Campbell Street, offers one of the few legal spots with a decent vantage point. The drawback is, given the direction where you are shooting the action, you almost always have to make do with terrible light. Cloudy days are usually best there. And now that the pedestrian portion of the Donahue Bridge is now closed off, forget about taking shots of the tunnel entrance.
When I went down to visit family in the Sarnia area, I tried to stay away from the yard so I could focus on getting some shots of trains moving on the Strathroy Sub (mission accomplished), the St. Clair River Industrial Spur (check) and the CSX Sarnia Subdivision (check).
However, I did manage to drop by the yard and spotted something I hadn't seen before.
Yes, it was track maintenance day in the area. I say this because I saw these types of MoW equipment on both the CN tracks and the CSX tracks in the area that day, although this was the only opportunity I had to get a decent shot. Other than that, all the action in the yard was taking place behind that long line (actually multiple lines) of covered hoppers.
The skies were threatening as you can see from the top image, but I did manage to see a set of GP9s and a slug idling away, no doubt in preparation for work on the St. Clair River Industrial Spur, which is where those engines are situated. It began to rain shortly after I arrived and the gantry was not suggesting that anything was imminent, so I moved on.
Shortly after my time in Sarnia, I visited London for a family wedding. It was during this week that I discovered the Highbury Road overpass, which offers a stunning view of the London East CN yard, and Egerton Street, which amazingly crosses over multiple tracks (I think it may have been seven) in the yard. I don't think there are many places where a rail yard is as open as this one, so I took full advantage of the opportunity. I was amazed at what I was able to see up close from Egerton Street and from Pine Street, which parallels the yard and allows you some great close-up shots of interesting rolling stock. Here is what I found.
The three units in the yard were idling and ready to go when I first arrived. I liked that they all represented a different CN paint scheme. Also, the yard engines seemed to parked on the track right next to a scrapper's yard, which helped add another industrial element to the shot. That's quite a pile of old cars heaped up next to the tracks.
There was nothing going on the first time I arrived, even though the yard engines seemed to be set for action, as the lead unit was lit and seemingly ready to go. The second time I visited the yard proved to be a gold mine as I was able to catch two eastbound freights in the yard, one from the Highbury overpass (stay tuned for those trains in future posts).
From Pine Street, I was able to get relatively close and take a shot of this twelve-axle heavy duty flat car. I have never seen one these in person and was happy to snap a few shots of these brutes. I was a bit surprised by the relatively small cargo attached to the car, which is clearly meant for much larger items. There were several of these cars in the yard, which were shunted around a few times in the days I was in the city.
This shot above gives you an idea of how close you are to the action while on the sidewalks of Egerton Road. Again, I am surprised that there is this type of access to a rail yard in London. You can see some large silos in the distance. I wasn't able to make my way to those elevators to see what they stored.
You can see the limits of the yard from Pine Street. I was surprised how many people ignored these signs and crossed over multiple tracks to get to where they were going. Security seems to be light here and the potential for danger seems immense, given how little people seem to care about the dangers of being around trains. Stay off private property, especially when it's something as potentially dangerous as an active rail yard. Railway officials often say anytime is train time. I can't stress this enough.
One final shot of a lonely ex-Government of Canada grain hopper, now patched for CN. I took this shot because it also gives you an idea of how large those heavy duty flatcars are.
I purposely spaced out all that I saw in this rail yard, as well as the CP London rail yard because there was simply too much to cram onto one post. Stay tuned for four more posts that will show you my meets with two massive CN freight trains, one CP local and all the rest of the miscellany I saw in the CP yard.
I can't wait to railfan in this city again.