This March, while I was visiting family in the Sarnia area, my brother and nephew took me on a tour of their favourite spots in the area, including many railside haunts. On our way home, we saw a CN train perched near Telford Road, just east of the limits of Sarnia Yard. My nephew was excited by this slow moving train, as we had not seen any freight trains at speed during our day of railfanning in the area. This was the train as it approached the crossing and then stopped. Note that the Strathroy Subdivision is double-tracked here, and there are trains on both tracks visible in the image below, taken from the Confederation Line.
Just a few minutes earlier, we had left Sarnia Yard, where another freight train, this one heading west toward the Paul Tellier Tunnel, also stopped before proceeding down the grade to the tunnel. A few railfans in the parking lot explained to us that the train was backing up and proceeding forward for a reason. At first, I'll admit that I was curious as to why this train would be doing this, unless they were assembling part of the train that I could not see. The railfans said they were "x-raying" the train. I'm not exactly sure that is the right term, but the sense I got from what they told me was the the train was being scanned before it headed into the United States. Here's a shot of the consist inching forward.
At either end of the yard, there were two enormous freight trains, one due east and one due west. Neither was moving. I joked to my nephew that it was a genuine rail traffic jam. Of course, this was not the case, as precision scheduled railways do not usually have trains with massive dwell times taking up space in congested rail yards. Sarnia Yard usually has its share of cars in the yard, but it's never what you would describe as congested or backed up. The blocks of cars appear very organized, at least to my untrained eye. Still, it was an odd sight to see two freight trains, on both tracks on the main line, apparently motionless.
Moving back to the train due east near Telford Road. Here is a shot as it moved ahead past the end of the westbound train from the image above. I find it interesting whenever I see autoracks behind the engines. It's not something that was terribly common when I was growing up. These cars always seemed to be blocked onto the end of a train. Not the case anymore.
You can see in the image above that the fields looked to be almost ready for planning, even in mid-March. Going back to the westbound train, which we watched for awhile before giving up, here's a shot of the head end through the gantry, which governs trains movements around the tunnel. The bridge also controls the connections to the converging St. Clair River Industrial Spur (and by extension, the CSX Sarnia Subdivision) and the Point Edward Spur, both of which merge into the yard west of these signals.
While I was at the yard, I did spy a tank car that had an old logo on it that is not terribly common these days. I remember these CGTX tank cars when I was younger, but they have slowly disappeared over the years. It was cool to spot one. I know it might seem like a mundane image, but I think it's more important now to capture images of old rolling stock than ever.
These images we got from the yard and from Telford Road rounded out a great day or railfanning, even if the actual number of trains we saw was pretty light. You can check out our other adventure from this day in the post Next stop: Glencoe.
One last shot of an old GP9 idling behind the old roundhouse. This engine is on the approach track that trains off the St. Clair River Industrial Spur and CSX Sarnia Subdivision use to access Sarnia Yard. Sadly, this engine didn't move either. It seemed like a gridlock kind of day when nothing was moving. My nephew wasn't thrilled. I was just happy to get a few images.