Wednesday, February 3, 2021

New Trains - CN Nos 516/517


On CN's Kingston Subdivision, train Nos 516/517 was an irregular Toronto-Belleville train over the past few years. Normally taking cars from local industries east and west of Belleville to Toronto's MacMillan Yard, Belleville yard power pulled the train, heading to the locomotive shop there for scheduled maintenance. Recently, CN has changed the frequency of 516/517 to daily, normally weekdays but sometimes also on weekends. Besides the increased frequency, and perhaps coincident with the move of CN dispatching from Toronto to Edmonton, 516/517 are now powered by two road locomotives. (Top photo - BCOL 4601-CN 2567 head No 517 west with 75+ cars from Belleville at 1245 on January 19/21 - image courtesy Railstream, LLC) Toronto to Belleville and return - these big ponies are no longer the small Geep yard power I found ready to take 517 west in April, 2015 (below). Also, their run has been extended east to Brockville. Some January locomotive consists: 2166-2403, BCOL 4601-2567-5675-5630-2538-5685, BCOL 4605-2417, 2548-5605, 2634, 2101-26xx, 5639-2610, 2559-2446 (NA map scheme).

This post examines new 516/517 in all "five W's"!


In decades past, the maid-of-all-work trains on the Kingston Sub were Nos 317/318. These two took a day (or two) to work Kingston Sub online yards between Toronto and Montreal. Once they stopped running, or operating as a weekend-only dimensional load/fill tonnage train, road freights have made lifts and setouts at Belleville and Brockville. Perhaps the service design wizards at CN now prefer to have only one train handling all the online work, not delaying multiple trains at multiple yards along the busy subdivision.


Eastbound 516 brings cars to Belleville for roadswitcher No 519 to Trenton/Cobourg/Port Hope and No 518 to Millhaven/Kingston, as well as Brockville cars. Westbound, 517 takes cars from those same places - empties that have beeen loaded and loads that have been emptied - back to Toronto for furtherance on the CN system. At times, the locomotives run as light engines between Brockville and Belleville.  


It's a train that operates normally at night through Kingston, and it's been a long time since I've observed any train that runs in the middle of the night! Observations show that 516 arrives at Belleville after suppertime, changes its designation to CN No 526 through Kingston by midnight thence Brockville. Returning through Kingston at zero-dark-thirty, possibly lifting here, still as 526, 517 leaves Belleville before lunchtime, thence working Oshawa before arriving in Toronto. (Interestingly, 516 has also headed east to Montreal, or conributed east traffic to 586 at Brockville/Maitland!)


I've been able to observe several iterations of 516/517 at Belleville, in a socially-distanced way, from Kingston. Train length can be anywhere from 20 to 70 cars. It's an interesting and unpredictable consist. Unpredictable because Bellevillle-Trenton-Port Hope 519 (night job which sometimes also heads east from Belleville) operates on the opposite weekdays from day job 518 Belleville-Kingston, the latter usually running Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Cars brought in to Belleville be 518 and 519 are taken west on the next 517, so for instance, Kingston Invista cars can be seen on 517 on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.

  • Cars from Belleville: Soltex tank cars; plastic pellet covered hoppers, and roofing granule covered hoppers.
  • Cars from Kingston: Invista covered hoppers/tank cars; KIMCO I-beam steel loads on bulkhead flat cars or Railgon gons, and scrap loads out in IC gondolas or CMBX gons and bathtub gondolas.
  • Cars from Millhaven: stored covered hoppers, Procor sodium chlorate covered hoppers and tank cars in and out, Coco Paving asphalt tank car loads in and Gibson Gas propane loads in.
  • Cars from Port Hope: single eye-catching SFLX white/brown tank cars with hydrogen fluoride.
  • Cars from Cobourg: plastic pellet covered hoppers, 2-6 bulkhead flats with slat wood for pallet plant.
I haven't yet dived into the abyss - divining which of 516/517's 30-50 tank cars go where. I've noted one or two black/white DPRX tanks consistently, and 5-20 Corn Products short corn syrup tanks and EVOX hydrogen peroxide white tanks, the latter two types likely from Brockville/Maitland/Prescott. There are also shorter SHQX/UTLX/TILX leased to Dyno/Nobel tanks placarded for UN 2426 hot ammonium nitrate/cesium UN1407. At Johnstown, there is a 320-car Canadian Rail Equipment Works & Services (CREWS) transload/storage facility. Cardinal's Ingredion facility stores cars there, as well at Dyno/Nobel at Maitland. Same for the 1-18 plastic pellet covered hoppers. However, 516 does bring traffic for Brockville: for CP, and for CN roadswitcher No 532.

Kingston Invista receives 4-7 KLRX, MGRX and INVX covered hoppers and 4-6 TILX black tank cars each time it's switched. 

The 5-12 Belleville granule cars are an eclectic mix of shorter covered hoppers - old cylindricals, NAHX and MWCX newer cars and clapped-out former Boston & Maine AEQX's like 3001, 3007, 3008, 3012, 3028, 3030.

Unpredictable consist cars include:
  • KRL or QTTX flatcars carrying Alstom (Bombardier) Flexity Freedom LRT cars from Millhaven, heading to Winnipeg, Eglinton or Kitchener, with idler flats fore and aft. Bryan Martyniuk adds that the vehicle pictured is on its way to Alstom Bombardier in Thunder Bay for finishing before delivery to Toronto's Metrolinx TTC (Below and top photo - image courtesy of Railstream, LLC):
    Bryan kindly sent a photo of the same Flexity on CP in Thunder Bay:

  • On occasion, up to 50 empty 'bare-table' well cars heading west, representing the current imbalance of containers mostly heading east on the Kingston Sub.
  • Stray LRS/ATW/WC boxcars, ingot loads and lumber loads (further research required as to destinations, - in Belleville, Brockville or maybe Prescott.
  • Up to 20 auto racks
  • CN(WX) grain cars or auto racks, 1-2 of each with two auto racks going through to Brockville!
  • Lost cars, misswitched or bad-ordered online. Misdirectomies.

Based on 66 consists that I've viewed, here are some statistics on typical 516/517 consists at Belleville:
  • Average number of cars: 40
  • Average arrival time for No 516: 2030
  • Average departure time for No 517: 1200 before Feb. 8; 1600 after Feb. 8
  • Two units assigned if over 50 cars
  • Average numbers of cars on appropriate days: 18 tank cars, 12 granule covered hoppers, 8 covered hoppers, 5 KIMCO cars, 5 Invista tank cars, 5 Invista covered hoppers, 3 Cobourg bulkhead flats, 5 ingot flats.
So, if you see a certain cornucopic consist canoodling along the CN Kingston Sub, day or night anywhere west of Brockville, you could be seeing 516/517! Enjoy! Thanks to Chris de Vries, Malcolm Peakman, Paul Hunter and Logan Cadue for additional information in this post.

Running extra...
I switched from Jimmy Fallon to Stephen Colbert for the latter's acerbic, wry and wordy commentary including his extended intros to his Quarantinewhile... segment. With your indulgence, I'm going to practice an intro that's pertinent to this tail-end part of each Trackside Treasure post. Hmmm. Goes like this:

"Every so often, when I'm concocting the word salad and cheesy casserole of observations and wallowed-in nostalgia and photographic pastiche known as my main blog post, I also measure out, mix and food-process some tasty, non-sequiturial accoutrements swept from the bottom shelf of my refrigerator into a gastronomic dustpan dessert, known for its sweet and syrupy, word-wise and world-wise view of all things not necessarily train-related that I then couple together and slowly but surely drag out of the departure tracks of this blog onto the mainline for all the trackside folks to wave at, salute and enjoy, in the flat-wheel-laden segment I call....Running Extra..."

Stephen used to enjoy pronouncing the name of disgraced and fact-fearing White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (which he feistily pronounced KayleighMACKENANNY!!" but will now have little trouble with her replacement, Obama-era Jenn Psaki. And I don't know why, because the funniest letter in the alphabet is 'K'.

Fun fact: Every 'c' in 'Pacific Ocean' is pronounced differently. Cee what I did there?

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