When I went to work this morning, it was cold and water was falling from the sky. When I left work, it was still cloudy, but water had stopped falling from the sky. By the middle of the afternoon, like the water falling from the sky, the clouds too had vanished, leaving what appeared to be a nice Friday afternoon for watching grass grow. I decided I might as well watch grass grow trackside and headed south.
I ran into a friend at the Amtrak station and we spent a couple hours chatting and CN run trains. I also saw one of the first trains I’ve watched (kind of) get tracked across the state of Michigan. This would be today’s 396, with CN 8101 leading. I caught one of the 8100 series units in Rochelle, Illinois, late last year just days before it was delivered to CN and renumbered. At the time it was EMDX 1208, but I happened to catch the 1208 just after sunset, at a bad angle, and in really, really poor light. Had I known it’s destination at the time, I might have chased it to DeKalb or further east, but the only 20/20 vision I have is hindsight.
The CN 8101’s was running the wrong way for really good photos, but I was able to get some decent broadside and trailing end photos. Unfortunately, broadside and trailing end photos don’t include the new GEVO that was third in the consist (CN 2847), so I chose a different shot to share here:
One of the clues that this was 396 was the Desk 8’s comment to 501 when 501 marked up- 394 and 396 were both in the area, one of which was at West Tappan and the other was close behind. I wasn’t paying as much attention to the scanner as I normally would have, but I did note the eastbound numbers. The second clue that this was 396 was the fact that the train didn’t stop in the yard, but kept moving all the way through. The final clue came as 529 received permission to exit the east end of the yard onto Track 1, and whoever they talked to in Sarnia mentioned that 394 was about to depart east (there were only 2 other eastbounds in the area and one hadn’t stopped in the yard).
After 396 passed and before 394 departed, an unknown westbound arrived from Canada. Unknown because I didn’t hear them call Customs to scan before coming over. Their single unit didn’t seem to have much trouble pulling their train up the hill coming out of the tunnel.
Finally, after 394’s departure, 529 became visible on the east side of the yard. With just 5 platforms between 3 different cars (2 single platform cars and one 3-platform car), the train fit neatly under the signal bridge for this shot:
By the time I could see 529, the temperature had dropped enough that sticking around much longer seemed pointless. It didn’t sound likely that Sarnia would have room for 529 before the sun set and I had a few things to take care of at home. 3.5 trains in less than 3 hours was much better than I was hoping for when I set out this afternoon.