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The story behind this long hood forward move is a long one, though I'll try to keep it reasonable. CN 421 had encountered a problem with it's middle unit (8930) somewhere west of Grimsby resulting in a shutdown. The EOT then failed and had to be replaced, bringing 421 to a halt just west of St. Catharines. After replacement, the two remaining online units, 2639 and 2694 managed to get going again with about 12000 feet of mostly loads. 421, however had to battle Merritton Hill (if you want to call it that), which climbs at almost 1% until around the Third Canal east of Seaway where it increases to 1.9% for about a mile before leveling out. The head end was able to crest the hill, but 2639's wheelslip didn't help and 421 stalled just west of the QEW overpass. No help was available, and eventually 421 started up again with only the first half of its train to Port Robinson. 2694 was then set out to take 531 to Seneca Yard in Buffalo, leaving 2639 to come back alone to pick up the remainder of the train.

Here, 2639 returns now assigned as 562 to pick up the remainder of 421. Perhaps it was overlooked that most of the remaining 5000 foot section was on the 1.9% grade. Nonetheless, 2639 got stuck for the second time this day. Luckily CN managed to resuscitate 8930 at Port Robinson, and the unit responsible for the stall was now coming to rescue the rescue train. Quite some irony there. 8930 was tacked on the end of 562 and the whole train backed down to Glenridge to get a running start at the 1.9% grade. By the time the ordeal was over, both the morning and evening Amtrak trains had passed, a span of over eight hours. Luckily, 539 doesn't usually depart Port Robinson until around 9pm, so from all that chaos, all the traffic likely still got to Buffalo in time for CSX.

Had this happened two years ago, the eight hour ordeal likely would've been over before the end of the morning since Port Robinson still had a set of Geep power. CN 385, another one of Southern Ontario's monsters, stalled on Copetown Hill the same day, though it was quickly resolved by using 580's Geep power from Brantford. Ultimately the Niagara cuts a little while ago backfired today, though I doubt this one blip had much of an effect on CN's cost savings. That being said, it'll be interesting to see if AC and or DPU power is used more frequently on 421 in the future since help is typically not readily available to assist trains in Niagara.
Copyright Notice: This image ©Daniel Odette all rights reserved.



Caption: The story behind this long hood forward move is a long one, though I'll try to keep it reasonable. CN 421 had encountered a problem with it's middle unit (8930) somewhere west of Grimsby resulting in a shutdown. The EOT then failed and had to be replaced, bringing 421 to a halt just west of St. Catharines. After replacement, the two remaining online units, 2639 and 2694 managed to get going again with about 12000 feet of mostly loads. 421, however had to battle Merritton Hill (if you want to call it that), which climbs at almost 1% until around the Third Canal east of Seaway where it increases to 1.9% for about a mile before leveling out. The head end was able to crest the hill, but 2639's wheelslip didn't help and 421 stalled just west of the QEW overpass. No help was available, and eventually 421 started up again with only the first half of its train to Port Robinson. 2694 was then set out to take 531 to Seneca Yard in Buffalo, leaving 2639 to come back alone to pick up the remainder of the train.

Here, 2639 returns now assigned as 562 to pick up the remainder of 421. Perhaps it was overlooked that most of the remaining 5000 foot section was on the 1.9% grade. Nonetheless, 2639 got stuck for the second time this day. Luckily CN managed to resuscitate 8930 at Port Robinson, and the unit responsible for the stall was now coming to rescue the rescue train. Quite some irony there. 8930 was tacked on the end of 562 and the whole train backed down to Glenridge to get a running start at the 1.9% grade. By the time the ordeal was over, both the morning and evening Amtrak trains had passed, a span of over eight hours. Luckily, 539 doesn't usually depart Port Robinson until around 9pm, so from all that chaos, all the traffic likely still got to Buffalo in time for CSX.

Had this happened two years ago, the eight hour ordeal likely would've been over before the end of the morning since Port Robinson still had a set of Geep power. CN 385, another one of Southern Ontario's monsters, stalled on Copetown Hill the same day, though it was quickly resolved by using 580's Geep power from Brantford. Ultimately the Niagara cuts a little while ago backfired today, though I doubt this one blip had much of an effect on CN's cost savings. That being said, it'll be interesting to see if AC and or DPU power is used more frequently on 421 in the future since help is typically not readily available to assist trains in Niagara.

Photographer:
Daniel Odette [153] (more) (contact)
Date: 10/26/2017 (search)
Railway: Canadian National (search)
Reporting Marks: CN 2639 (search)
Train Symbol: CN L56231 26 (search)
Subdivision/SNS: MIle 5.4 CN Grimsby Subdivision (search)
City/Town: Niagara Falls (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
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5 Comments
  1. Great catch and insight, always seem to miss out on the fun in Niagara while at work.

  2. Expect scenes like this to continue. The railways are hauling more and more tonnage with just enough power to get over the road. Any failures on line just calls for creative thinking utilizing whatever power they have on site or from any “overpowered” trains nearby. But that seems to be a rare occurance in this region.

  3. It doesn’t help that 421 and 422 are almost 200 cars long, either.

  4. Or they could bring back geeps, but I’m probably over-thinking lol

  5. Nice catch and story Daniel. Never knew the hill was over 1%. Enjoy watching 333? many years ago on the hill.

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