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Nineteen years ago, Port Robinson was a relatively lightly used yard that saw a yard job that either went to Thorold South or the chemical plants at the very west end of Niagara Falls. There was also a local that went to Merritton on the Thorold Sub, which was also used by most westbound freights, until Welland Canal bridge 10 was knocked down in mid 1997. Until seven years ago, Port Robinson was still lightly used, however, the economic collapse of 2008, changes in railroad methodologies, and further economic struggles have jammed this yard to capacity. It began with CN 330 and 331 starting and ending at Port Robinson. Before, that location was Fort Erie, until they were briefly cancelled during the recession. Then they returned, and CN 338 and 339 were slashed only a month afterwards, leaving no direct trains to and from Buffalo. CN 421 and 422 were promptly extended to Fort Erie. Around 2012-13, Niagara Falls Yard, which had been used as a storage yard since about 2007, was almost completely torn up. Niagara's manufacturing never really recovered from the 2008 recession, and in early 2015, the decision was made to close Fort Erie Yard for regular use, putting Port Robinson at complete capacity. Now CN 421 and 422 are back to Port Robinson. Port Robinson is a pretty poor railfanning location, despite the sprawling spurs and bustling yard action. Unless you have a quadcopter, the only shot you can really resort to is this one. However, the biggest pain incurred was on the train crews and trainmasters, who have to work around a yard that was not built for heavy activity. Fort Erie wasn't either, however it has much more space. Niagara Falls, which was built for heavy usage, interestingly, was the first yard to hit the chopping block, literally. It was also a very ideal railfanning location.


Today though, Port Robinson stands alone as CN 330 sits, with the leader BCOL 4617 occupying the main. CN 2805, on the far left, most likely was pulled off CN 421 the day before and served the Chemical Lead in west Niagara Falls recently, and quite possibly the Abitibi mill in Thorold South. As for the two GEVOs in the distance, I believe those were off the previous day's 330, and never left for some reason. Today's 330 had three units, BCOL 4617, CN 5735 and CN 2291 elephant style, and also had 95 cars. Both of those factors are quite uncommon, although there was a brief surge of traffic on this train back in early August, which saw three unit lashups of 90+ cars.
Copyright Notice: This image ©Daniel Odette all rights reserved.



Caption: Nineteen years ago, Port Robinson was a relatively lightly used yard that saw a yard job that either went to Thorold South or the chemical plants at the very west end of Niagara Falls. There was also a local that went to Merritton on the Thorold Sub, which was also used by most westbound freights, until Welland Canal bridge 10 was knocked down in mid 1997. Until seven years ago, Port Robinson was still lightly used, however, the economic collapse of 2008, changes in railroad methodologies, and further economic struggles have jammed this yard to capacity. It began with CN 330 and 331 starting and ending at Port Robinson. Before, that location was Fort Erie, until they were briefly cancelled during the recession. Then they returned, and CN 338 and 339 were slashed only a month afterwards, leaving no direct trains to and from Buffalo. CN 421 and 422 were promptly extended to Fort Erie. Around 2012-13, Niagara Falls Yard, which had been used as a storage yard since about 2007, was almost completely torn up. Niagara's manufacturing never really recovered from the 2008 recession, and in early 2015, the decision was made to close Fort Erie Yard for regular use, putting Port Robinson at complete capacity. Now CN 421 and 422 are back to Port Robinson. Port Robinson is a pretty poor railfanning location, despite the sprawling spurs and bustling yard action. Unless you have a quadcopter, the only shot you can really resort to is this one. However, the biggest pain incurred was on the train crews and trainmasters, who have to work around a yard that was not built for heavy activity. Fort Erie wasn't either, however it has much more space. Niagara Falls, which was built for heavy usage, interestingly, was the first yard to hit the chopping block, literally. It was also a very ideal railfanning location. Today though, Port Robinson stands alone as CN 330 sits, with the leader BCOL 4617 occupying the main. CN 2805, on the far left, most likely was pulled off CN 421 the day before and served the Chemical Lead in west Niagara Falls recently, and quite possibly the Abitibi mill in Thorold South. As for the two GEVOs in the distance, I believe those were off the previous day's 330, and never left for some reason. Today's 330 had three units, BCOL 4617, CN 5735 and CN 2291 elephant style, and also had 95 cars. Both of those factors are quite uncommon, although there was a brief surge of traffic on this train back in early August, which saw three unit lashups of 90+ cars.

Photographer:
Daniel Odette [153] (more) (contact)
Date: 01/30/2016 (search)
Railway: BC Rail (search)
Reporting Marks: BCOL 4617 (search)
Train Symbol: CN M33031 30 (search)
Subdivision/SNS: Mile 21.8 CN Stamford Subdivision (search)
City/Town: Port Robinson (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
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7 Comments
  1. Thanks guys. I guess what I meant by regular use is it is it no longer is used for classification like Fort Erie is, hence why you no longer see power laying around in the yard. I didn’t know that Fort Erie was winded down that far back.

  2. Great shot Daniel. Funny was thinking about heading over to Port Robinson on Wednesday with the warmer weather after work if weather was decent. Thanks for posting!

  3. Wonderful shot by the way!

    PRH

  4. Fort Erie isn’t closed to regular use. NS H53 and CN 563 (or sometimes 565) swap cars there 7 days a week.
    Fort Erie has been in its current state since 1989 when it was closed as a home terminal and most of the yard was removed. Operating plans have come and gone over the years which at times have meant more action at Fort Erie, or as it currently is, hardly any at all. It could change again at the whim of a Superintendent. Either way it sure won’t ever again be the place it was prior to 1989.

    In my opinion Niagara Falls should have been closed in 1989, not Fort Erie. Runthrough trains were all the rage in 1989 and the managers at the time certainly didn’t see a future in which traffic volumes would be so low that CN would be unable to operate a run through train to Frontier out of MacMillan Yard as there wasn’t enough traffic to justify it. Since 2008 CN has been back to running transfers to interchange cars in Buffalo with foreign carriers, rather than operate runthroughs which is exactly what they used Fort Erie for. Fort Erie was the place that CN trains died, and all the spoils got divided up between the different American roads. Now that operation continues, but the work is done at little Port Robinson 23 miles west of Fort Erie.

    Isn’t hindsight great?

    PRH

  5. Thanks. There are often more units at the other end of the yard too.

  6. Nice they park the units just off Canby street. Good read.

  7. Very nice work.

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