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Eastern Railroad Discussion > CN Intermodals on the Old GTW Main


Date: 06/23/22 08:18
CN Intermodals on the Old GTW Main
Author: inrdjlg

Having taken a short vacation to Northern Michigan last week, I stopped to gas up at Charlotte, MI, and got a brief glimpse of a late afternoon westbound stack train on CN's former Grand Trunk main.  That got me to wondering how many stack trains CN runs today on the old GTW.  I thought I'd read several months ago that they'd managed to consolidate everything down to just one big stack train each way a day.  Is that the case, or does CN add containers to a mixed freight or two to handle overflow?

Also passed and noted the auto loading facility along I-69 on the southwest side of Lansing.  Does CN run any dedicated auto rack trains, or do mixed freights move the racks as well?

Lastly, to avoid the I-69 road work around the northwest side of Lansing, I took I-96 over to U.S. 127, then headed north, passing very closely to Trowbridge, where CN and CSX cross.  In the process, I saw a CN loaded coal train parked in a siding just east of the I-69 / I-96 junction.  There was a power plant nearby, north of I-96, so I'm surmising that the coal train might have been for the plant.    

Loved the trip.  Even without heavy train traffic, I continue to wish I could've taken at least three times as much vacation time to go exploring and doing things in "Pure Michigan.".   


  



Date: 06/23/22 09:32
Re: CN intermodals on the old GTW Main
Author: toledopatch

CN still operates just one daily intermodal train each way between Chicago and Toronto/Montreal - Q148 eastbound and Q149 westbound. I believe some Detroit-area containers may move on Q116 from Chicagoland to Flat Rock as well. I'm not sure if any other CN trains on the former GTW handle any containers either as a regular block or on a spot basis. CN feeds the Moterm facility in Ferndale, Mich., with L514 that connects to Q148/Q149 at Flint.

There are definitely some dedicated autorack trains in this territory, although someone else will have to tell you their symbols and profiles. Autoracks move on manifest trains as well.



Date: 06/23/22 09:41
Re: CN Intermodals on the Old GTW Main
Author: jbohdan2

Good questions.  I was out shooting on the former Grand Trunk Western this past Monday, June 20th, and I encountered three trains touching on this subject.  At Griffith, Indiana, I shot a westbound auto rack train that appeared completlly dedicated to cars of that type.  Oddly, toward the end of the train, there was one boxcar buried deep back in the otherwise pure consist.  With three units, it was a pretty long heavy train.  I did not catch his designation, but it went straight through west over the diamonds, unlike most of the former Trunk traffic which seems to use the connecting tracks to the former EJ&E.  Later that same day, I caught an eastbound empty auto rack at Wellsboro, Indiana, where he would meet a westbound stack train just east of the diamond.  Perhaps this is the same stack move you saw further east on the former Good Track Road.








Date: 06/23/22 10:30
Re: CN intermodals on the old GTW Main
Author: bustermanning1

Containers on 116 get dropped at Moterm



Date: 06/23/22 11:11
Re: CN intermodals on the old GTW Main
Author: ironmtn

The coal train that you saw may have been destined for the Lansing Bureau of Water & Light (BWL) Erickson Power Station, which is just north of I-96 and not far from the I-96 - I-69 junction. That is probably the power plant that you saw. It is still operating, and is coal-fired. It was scheduled to be decommissioned by 2025, but that date has apparently been moved up to 2022, per some reports that I have seen and BWL's own website: https://www.lbwl.com/about-bwl/facilities.

The coal train may also have been bound for the DTE Energy (formerly Detroit Edison) Belle River plant, located not far south of Port Huron and just west of the St. Clair River in China Twp. near St. Clair, Michigan. I have seen coal trains bound for for Belle River on CN ex-GTW track in Lansing previously. But in my experience, they just move right through Lansing pretty briskly, and don't tie up there.

So my best guess is that the coal train you saw was for the BWL Erickson plant. With closure apparently at hand, it may have been one of the last of its kind.

Glad you had a good trip and enjoyed some Pure Michigan experiences. Come back anytime.

MC
Muskegon, Michigan



Date: 06/23/22 11:40
Re: CN intermodals on the old GTW Main
Author: wyeth

toledopatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> CN still operates just one daily intermodal train
> each way between Chicago and Toronto/Montreal -
> Q148 eastbound and Q149 westbound. I believe some
> Detroit-area containers may move on Q116 from
> Chicagoland to Flat Rock as well. I'm not sure if
> any other CN trains on the former GTW handle any
> containers either as a regular block or on a spot
> basis. CN feeds the Moterm facility in Ferndale,
> Mich., with L514 that connects to Q148/Q149 at
> Flint.
>
> There are definitely some dedicated autorack
> trains in this territory, although someone else
> will have to tell you their symbols and profiles.
> Autoracks move on manifest trains as well.

New trains for the CN Springhill and Bedford subs (trainorders.com)

According to this recent post on the Canadian board, there are new trains, a Q122-Q123 pair operating between Halifax NS and Chicago.  It says these are new train; did this traffic used to ride on Q148-Q149 to Toronto, then get moved to the Z120-Z121 trains to Halifax prior to this change?



Date: 06/23/22 12:00
Re: CN intermodals on the old GTW Main
Author: toledopatch

wyeth Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> New trains for the CN Springhill and Bedford subs (trainorders.com)
>
> According to this recent post on the Canadian
> board, there are new trains, a Q122-Q123 pair
> operating between Halifax NS and Chicago.  It
> says these are new train; did this traffic used to
> ride on Q148-Q149 to Toronto, then get moved to
> the Z120-Z121 trains to Halifax prior to this
> change?

I was not aware of this development. I have not been up on the ex-GTW main since these trains' introduction to observe if they have been running through from/to Chicago.

They would be a welcome addition, given that in my opinion, CN has never realized the potential of this corridor that it promoted when it built the new St. Clair River Tunnel 30 years ago.



Date: 06/23/22 22:16
Re: CN intermodals on the old GTW Main
Author: irhoghead

No matter how long it has been, I still can't get used to seeing CN power on the GTW. It just doesn't seem right for someone who grew up with the Trunk.



Date: 06/24/22 05:44
Re: CN intermodals on the old GTW Main
Author: jbohdan2

I agree.  I grew up with the Trunk as well and always enjoyed their locomotive and personalized caboose rosters during the 80's in particular.  The slow but irresistible assimilation by the orange and black parent was a given, but I was sad to see it happen.



Date: 06/24/22 07:49
Re: CN intermodals on the old GTW Main
Author: inrdjlg

Thank you for all of your responses!  I'd also seen the posting about the new Chicago-Halifax trains and had wondered how they were being worked into the mix.  
 
Didn't CN have the contract for a short while to serve the Detroit Edison plant at Monroe?  I think NS has now held the contract for several years, and it's been all PRB coal for much longer than that.   (Even though the coal trains didn't go through the tunnel, it's been around for 30 years?  My how time flies!)  

As a resident mostly of Central Indiana, my experience with GTW was rather limited, as it was just too far to Northwest Indiana, and when I did go up there to railfan, it was usually to watch Conrail at Porter or ride the South Shore.  I do remember one enjoyable encounter with the Laser at Wellsboro, IN.  I also remember one eventful Sunday trip to South Bend and Porter around 1990, as the Indigenous peoples had blockaded both CN and CP mains in Canada, and the railways were detouring through the U.S.   

I used to belong to the Marion Union Station Society, and twice a year they'd gather someplace out in the field for a day of railfanning.  In late September, 1995, that place was Trowbridge in East Lansing, and the trains were still pretty much GTW at that time.  (The CP haulage trains were still running on CSX then, too, but I digress.)  



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