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I was honestly dreading this would become a railfan paparazzi shoot, but alas it has. Lol. Though I couldn't be left out. I was aware CN 5346 had come on CN 421 on Christmas Eve day. So I kept an eye on CN during the morning to see if perhaps 5346 would be shuffled about to lead 422, being it was the only widecab available. This did not happen, and all the units except the SD40 from 421 headed back to TO with a stubby train in tow, which may have even been 524. If it was, 422 most likely did not run today. It's scary to think I've railfanned without a scanner for two years... I definitely need to invest in one again.

Nonetheless, the first try was unsuccessful so I monitored ATCS for a while wondering if perhaps CN 5346 had snuck through during the night somehow. And around 1pm a train was lined straight to Hamilton, myself having no clue what train it was since I don't have a working scanner. Sure enough, luck prevailed and CN 5346 was leading, an empty windmill train of all things. Past occurrences have seen these windmill flats tacked on the end of 422 or 524, rather than a dedicated 315. Today was different, perhaps having to do with the fact it was the day after Christmas. An independent widecab SD40-2W does look pretty iconic on a train, even if it is just flats. Only around 30 of these were in tow, so this was an easy job for this old soldier. L315 would take the cowpath to the Dundas Sub afterwards, heading back into the midwest states presumably for more windmill blades. I'll take this as a late Christmas gift, and am especially thankful it came in the afternoon, yielding a rare case a CN Niagara westbound freight is sunlit.

I chose Beamsville as the location having no idea what type of lashup to expect. It definitely appears it worked out. Beamsville is one of the more nostalgic locations for me in terms of railfanning, as it goes back for me well over a decade. I've avoided it for most part for about six years since it's a good place to draw unwanted attention from the public unfortunately. Being in the a very flat straight section, CN trains (westbounds mostly) regularly get up to 50-60mph here, which is not as easy to find in Niagara as some may think. Passenger trains still trundle along at 65mph here, though that potentially could change once Metrolinx finally gets permanent GO train service to Niagara Falls. 

It's interesting to note I said two years ago when I saw CN 5274 lead CN 330 that perhaps that would be the last time an SD40 is seen leading a train in Niagara. With the economy downturning, it sure looked like that statement may hold. The surge in traffic on CN recently has proved otherwise however. As our moderator had mentioned, this very well could be the last stand for strong variety on CN with the company being quite power short. Class 1's in general are quickly losing that common variety aspect. Once CN's massive order of two hundred AC GEVOs arrive, a lot of coffins will be nailed. SD40s evidently have specific advantages their higher horsepower successors lack though, as many class 1's are still avid users of them for lighter train duties despite their age. So perhaps these will once again slip past the next chopping block while their closer in age successors fade away. Though, maybe not. Regardless, there's a long stood era that's coming to an end, which is the expectation that one will be kept in suspense with variety on class 1 freight roads. One can argue that era is already over, though for what remains of it, make the most of this time before it is almost unanimously agreed upon.
Copyright Notice: This image ©Daniel Odette all rights reserved.



Caption: I was honestly dreading this would become a railfan paparazzi shoot, but alas it has. Lol. Though I couldn't be left out. I was aware CN 5346 had come on CN 421 on Christmas Eve day. So I kept an eye on CN during the morning to see if perhaps 5346 would be shuffled about to lead 422, being it was the only widecab available. This did not happen, and all the units except the SD40 from 421 headed back to TO with a stubby train in tow, which may have even been 524. If it was, 422 most likely did not run today. It's scary to think I've railfanned without a scanner for two years... I definitely need to invest in one again.

Nonetheless, the first try was unsuccessful so I monitored ATCS for a while wondering if perhaps CN 5346 had snuck through during the night somehow. And around 1pm a train was lined straight to Hamilton, myself having no clue what train it was since I don't have a working scanner. Sure enough, luck prevailed and CN 5346 was leading, an empty windmill train of all things. Past occurrences have seen these windmill flats tacked on the end of 422 or 524, rather than a dedicated 315. Today was different, perhaps having to do with the fact it was the day after Christmas. An independent widecab SD40-2W does look pretty iconic on a train, even if it is just flats. Only around 30 of these were in tow, so this was an easy job for this old soldier. L315 would take the cowpath to the Dundas Sub afterwards, heading back into the midwest states presumably for more windmill blades. I'll take this as a late Christmas gift, and am especially thankful it came in the afternoon, yielding a rare case a CN Niagara westbound freight is sunlit.

I chose Beamsville as the location having no idea what type of lashup to expect. It definitely appears it worked out. Beamsville is one of the more nostalgic locations for me in terms of railfanning, as it goes back for me well over a decade. I've avoided it for most part for about six years since it's a good place to draw unwanted attention from the public unfortunately. Being in the a very flat straight section, CN trains (westbounds mostly) regularly get up to 50-60mph here, which is not as easy to find in Niagara as some may think. Passenger trains still trundle along at 65mph here, though that potentially could change once Metrolinx finally gets permanent GO train service to Niagara Falls.

It's interesting to note I said two years ago when I saw CN 5274 lead CN 330 that perhaps that would be the last time an SD40 is seen leading a train in Niagara. With the economy downturning, it sure looked like that statement may hold. The surge in traffic on CN recently has proved otherwise however. As our moderator had mentioned, this very well could be the last stand for strong variety on CN with the company being quite power short. Class 1's in general are quickly losing that common variety aspect. Once CN's massive order of two hundred AC GEVOs arrive, a lot of coffins will be nailed. SD40s evidently have specific advantages their higher horsepower successors lack though, as many class 1's are still avid users of them for lighter train duties despite their age. So perhaps these will once again slip past the next chopping block while their closer in age successors fade away. Though, maybe not. Regardless, there's a long stood era that's coming to an end, which is the expectation that one will be kept in suspense with variety on class 1 freight roads. One can argue that era is already over, though for what remains of it, make the most of this time before it is almost unanimously agreed upon.

Photographer:
Daniel Odette [153] (more) (contact)
Date: 12/26/2017 (search)
Railway: Canadian National (search)
Reporting Marks: CN 5346 (search)
Train Symbol: CN L31531 26 (search)
Subdivision/SNS: Mile 23.3 CN Grimsby Subdivision (search)
City/Town: Beamsville (search)
Province: Ontario (search)
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3 Comments
  1. Great catch Daniel. Would loan you my scanner since I never get out to railfan these days lol.

  2. Get a scanner young man :)

  3. Very interesting catch. Nice picture!

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