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Chasing a pair of GEVOs has never been on my list of things to do, however, the blizzard on April 3rd got me chasing CN 330 from St. Catharines to Port Robinson. Something seemed particularly somber about this trip, but I never thought much of it. This would be the last CN 330 I may ever see, as it and its counterpart 331, were cancelled on April 6th, 2016. Here it passes Garner Road in Niagara with CN 2898 and 2829.

CN 330 began as a Buffalo-Toronto freight, with its counterpart 331 running the opposite direction. In the early 2000s they were rerouted out of Sarnia. By early 2008, the two trains were stubbed from Buffalo to Fort Erie. The 2008 recession mothballed them, and their remaining cargo was put on 338, 339, 421 and 422. They returned in October 2009, being stubbed further to Port Robinson, which seemed positive enough. However, shortly afterwards, 338 and 339 were slashed and have been gone since. CN added 232 as a relief autorack train to run as required, however rarely ran and still rarely does. Otherwise, things largely stayed the same until April 2015 when CN stubbed 421 and 422 from Fort Erie to Port Robinson, transferring all remaining marshaling operations there. The length of CN 330 and 331 had been in question ever since the St. Thomas Ford plant closed, meaning it no longer hauled autoparts cars from there, but especially more recently as they have constantly hovered around 50 cars.

CN 421/422 will no doubt have difficulty hauling 330/331's traffic, as both trains are already typically 130-160 cars long. Perhaps CN 232 will see more frequent usage, as well a possible counterpart train introduction for when 421/422 cannot handle all the traffic. Nonetheless, with GO Transit now pushing to buy the Grimsby Sub, it seems relatively predictable that CN could reroute its remaining traffic to the CP Hamilton Sub, especially with all the rumours going around this may occur, which was before GO even took great interest. As of now, the CN Grimsby Sub sits at four trains a day, Via 97/98, and CN 421/422. Just skeletons of what existed as recently as 15 years ago. It's sad to see, but Niagara is just one of many places between Canada and the U.S that has had this happen.
Copyright Notice: This image ©Daniel Odette all rights reserved.



Caption: Chasing a pair of GEVOs has never been on my list of things to do, however, the blizzard on April 3rd got me chasing CN 330 from St. Catharines to Port Robinson. Something seemed particularly somber about this trip, but I never thought much of it. This would be the last CN 330 I may ever see, as it and its counterpart 331, were cancelled on April 6th, 2016. Here it passes Garner Road in Niagara with CN 2898 and 2829.

CN 330 began as a Buffalo-Toronto freight, with its counterpart 331 running the opposite direction. In the early 2000s they were rerouted out of Sarnia. By early 2008, the two trains were stubbed from Buffalo to Fort Erie. The 2008 recession mothballed them, and their remaining cargo was put on 338, 339, 421 and 422. They returned in October 2009, being stubbed further to Port Robinson, which seemed positive enough. However, shortly afterwards, 338 and 339 were slashed and have been gone since. CN added 232 as a relief autorack train to run as required, however rarely ran and still rarely does. Otherwise, things largely stayed the same until April 2015 when CN stubbed 421 and 422 from Fort Erie to Port Robinson, transferring all remaining marshaling operations there. The length of CN 330 and 331 had been in question ever since the St. Thomas Ford plant closed, meaning it no longer hauled autoparts cars from there, but especially more recently as they have constantly hovered around 50 cars.

CN 421/422 will no doubt have difficulty hauling 330/331's traffic, as both trains are already typically 130-160 cars long. Perhaps CN 232 will see more frequent usage, as well a possible counterpart train introduction for when 421/422 cannot handle all the traffic. Nonetheless, with GO Transit now pushing to buy the Grimsby Sub, it seems relatively predictable that CN could reroute its remaining traffic to the CP Hamilton Sub, especially with all the rumours going around this may occur, which was before GO even took great interest. As of now, the CN Grimsby Sub sits at four trains a day, Via 97/98, and CN 421/422. Just skeletons of what existed as recently as 15 years ago. It's sad to see, but Niagara is just one of many places between Canada and the U.S that has had this happen.

Photographer:
Daniel Odette [153] (more) (contact)
Date: 04/03/2016 (search)
Railway: Canadian National (search)
Reporting Marks: CN 2898 (search)
Train Symbol: CN M33031 03 (search)
Subdivision/SNS: Mile 6.3 CN Grimsby Subdivision (search)
City/Town: Niagara Falls (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
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13 Comments
  1. Daniel thank you for the in depth description. Caught this train in Stoney Creek on the 3rd. Was hoping to see 551 but wasn’t free at the right times this weekend with my travels between home and Niagara.

  2. A little more history on these on-and-off again trains… back in the 90′s there was 418/419 which were Sarnia to Fort Erie trains I believe, but at times were cut and at times originated in Hamilton! Then in the late 90′s 330/331 appeared and operated between Battle Creek and Buffalo (don’t think they ever went to/from Toronto), then were cut back to Sarnia, etc as described.

    Yes in the 90′s there were a lot more trains but they were shorties! NS 327/328, CN 230/231/235/236 were usually in the 20-ish car range and the freights were usually under 80. (332/333/334/335/448/449). When those 180 car 421/422 roll by, you can see bits and pieces of all of those trains in there!

  3. Daniel: Well written caption to remind us all along Niagara that the railroads are about on par with the jobs and the population. Either stagnant or sinking….

  4. Thanks for the info. You guys are funny. My descriptions do seem to put it like it’s the end of the world, I can see now when I reread them. Lol. I did manage to see 232.

  5. Well, 232 just ran on the Grimsby sub this afternoon…

  6. Steve..poor Daniel…20 years after the trains left..he is still suffering from PTSD. Maybe a second 232 one day will cheer him up :)

  7. Daniel, I wasn’t there in 1996 but apparently there was a bit of a recession and traffic was down big.. what I do know is the train ran east one day and west the next… hardly justifies being basically the only train on the middle section of the CASO (Mile 30 at Hewwitt to 169 at Fargo)

    (By comparison, Fargo to Detroit in 1996 still had six trains a day, two CSX (R322/323 – also ending April 96), Two NS (#344/343 which continued until 2004) and at least a pair of CN’s (maybe more).

    Personally, I’d have imagined CSX saw the writing on the wall with Conrail and made the decision that they won’t be needing the Canadian through route for much longer..

  8. Interesting. I guess CN technically kicked CSX off the CASO because they wanted that traffic? I have seen video of it and R321 and it did have a lot of tankers. Good to know 523/524 are replacing 330/331.

  9. a 524 is making up his train at Aldershot CN 2548 at 1400 hours

  10. It should come as no suprise that 330/1 carries a lot of Sarnia traffic, a good chunk of which traffic used to go on CSX R321/R322 on the Former C&O Canadian division until 1996.

  11. 523/524 (or 522?) are Mac Yard to Port Robinson trains. They are feasibility trains to replace 330/331s traffic.

  12. I’m aware, it’s mostly oil though. Even with the oil boom 330/331 were not that long, as the oil traffic doesn’t go through here. I did see 551 returning from Port Rob around 1930 as well. I’ll have to keep tabs on 523. Never heard of it.

  13. Daniel, rail traffic is down all over.
    However today – I noticed a 551 going from Aldershot to Port Rob..(leaving Aldershot now @ 1600 hrs ) .must have something to do with 330′s demise; and a 523 this morning…not sure where he was from/to.

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