I don't need to tell any of you that 2020 has been a write-off in many respects. For me, it's been a challenge at times, particularly with this blog. Last week, I shared some photos of a nearly empty, quiet railyard in Stratford, since there was nothing happening when I arrived. Later the same day, I made a return visit, just in case. This is what I saw when I returned.
Nothing special right? Well, no quite. First of all, that string of hoppers was not there earlier in the day when I surveyed the yard, so it was obvious to me that a local spotted the cars at some point during the day, when I wasn't around. So that was disappointing. Those cars might have been headed for the salt mine in Goderich or an agricultural spur somewhere on the GEXR Goderich Sub. I'm not sure of the customer base on the CN Guelph Sub. I am just guessing it was headed for Goderich since I was at the same place last year and saw two orange GEXR geeps towing a string of covered hoppers toward the Goderich Sub.
Anyway, you will see that the two signals are showing red. What made that significant was that the signal on the left is a searchlight signal, which is dark unless something is imminent. That was my clue that something was coming. Exciting right? Well, not exciting exactly, since it was clear to me by the people on the station platform that the train that was coming was a Via Rail corridor train heading west for Sarnia. Not exactly was I came to see, but I decided to make the most of this grain elevator backdrop.
This shot, above, was my favourite. I have a few others where P42 906 is closer, but I much prefer this shot, since is incorporates more of the hopper cars and grain elevator. You will notice on the extreme right that I did purposely try to keep the flatcar in the shot as well. I figured, if I couldn't catch a freight train, I might as well keep as many of the freight cars in my shot as possible. I also like what the weeds add to the scene. To me, it screams secondary route, small town. That's the type of image I love to catch.
Here's a shot of the corridor train from a closer vantage point. I included it just for comparison's sake. I've noticed on a lot of railfan sites that these type of shots are usually the preferred image. I have been moving away from these images for quite a while. This is not to say that my way is any better. It's just a personal preference. I find I am much more interested in the overall scene, rather than how much of my frame is filled with the actual train. Still, I like how this shot at least keeps the grain elevator in the shot.
Here's one more shot of the train at the station, with an idle F40 on the tail end. This father and son were checking out the railway action along with me. At one point, they walked off the platform to check the signals, which were just beyond the end of the asphalt. This is a big difference I notice in smaller cities and towns. There is a much more liberal attitude toward railway property. I don't agree with this. I also saw another local resident cutting across a large piece of CN property that was clearly being used as a storage area for various pieces of construction and MoW equipment. I suppose if the railway has no active presence in the town, people don't worry so much about being caught. I still think it is always a bad idea to trespass on railway property.
The worst example I ever saw of this attitude was when I saw multiple people crossing through CN's Dundas Subdivision yard in London, Ont. to take a shortcut. Given the railway's active staff in the yard and the frequency of trains on this busy route, I can't think of many things that are as reckless as this.
Anyway, before I left Stratford and headed home to Ottawa, I did manage to sneak in one last trip to this rail yard the next evening to catch the same Via Rail corridor train en route to Sarnia. I managed to try something a little different and was pleased with the end result. That will have to wait for another post.