• CN (former IC mainline)

  • Discussion relating to the Canadian National, past and present. Also includes discussion of Illinois Central and Grand Trunk Western and other subsidiary roads (including Bessemer & Lake Erie and the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway). Official site: WWW.CN.CA
Discussion relating to the Canadian National, past and present. Also includes discussion of Illinois Central and Grand Trunk Western and other subsidiary roads (including Bessemer & Lake Erie and the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway). Official site: WWW.CN.CA

Moderators: Komachi, Ken V

  by Amtrak207
Greetings all:
I plan to model a good size portion of the former IC mainline between Chicago and Carbondale (with the main focus on Amtrak operations @ Union Station.) I have ridden this line a few times and plan to railfan it the next time I am in the area.

Besides the Carbondale area, I am looking to model a portion of the line that has:

a) Single track mainline
b) Passing siding
c) Railroad crossing (gate/bell/flashing light-equipped)
d) Small town (no Amtrak station necessary since Carbondale will be modeled)
e) Some place (along the single track) that has a defect detector
f) Some lineside industries to switch

If anyone is familiar with the area that could meet the above requirements please let me know. Some other questions I have are:

How many through freights does CN run daily (ballpark figure)? Any regular scheduled trains besides Amtrak?
Are there any Pointe St. Charles Vans still left in service?
It looks like CN has a decent sized yard in Centralia, do they run locals from there to switch industries?
What type of signals do they have? (Modern-hooded signals, searchlight, etc?)
Is the whole line from Chicago-Carbondale (and beyond) the Centralia Subdivision?

This is a brand new realm for me and am learning this area as I go. Any information would BE GREATLY appreciated.
Thank you in advance,

  by Milwaukee_F40C
If your focus of this line is Amtrak near Union Station, modeling the switchback to and from the Air Line bridge will be mandatory. You can also run Metra Electric parallel for a short distance.

Champaign has all the things you mentioned (see this thread: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 46&t=91321 ). But it is a complicated town to be modeled in addition to Chicago on a layout. Effingham is a low key rural town with a humorous name that would be easier to model, the main features are the Amtrak station by the CSX crossing as well as some warehouse type industry. Chicago, maybe Homewood, Effingham, and Carbondale would sum up the line fairly well on a layout.

The only predictable freight train through Carbondale is a northbound intermodal train every night. I think the southbound usually takes the alternate line to the east. Most freight is grungy grain and I have no idea if there is a schedule, but there are noticeable patterns. Some northbound empties use only one locomotive. Lately, autorack trains or sections have showed up. CN and BNSF coal trains have been seen.

There are no St. Charles vans. IC waycars are still used. One was repainted modern CN freight car brown, others are IC deathstar grey.

Centralia is a freight yard and engine terminal. This was also the main freight car shop. It was damaged in a storm last year and is shut down and being demolished. There is little to no local industry on CN, but BNSF serves some kind of food plant.

Signals would be modern searchlights without hoods. I think everything is the Centralia division.
  by Amtrak207
Hey Chris,

Thank you so much for the information. I've seen that NB hotshot intermodal CN train. I believe it comes from New Orleans and heads to Chicago (correct me if i'm wrong.) It also seems that she gets green lights the whole way.

I agree, the St. Charles Air Line will be modeled. I will be upgrading the house and extending the basement (so you're looking at a fairly LARGE layout.) I have seen the diamond @ Effingham (via Amtrak) and checked it out on Google maps, it looks promising. The BNSF unit coal trains @ Centralia as well as modeling the little town looks good to model as well. I can't do the whole yard there as the MAJORITY of the layout with be the south concourse of Chicago Union Station (to past 21st street to the south (before it swings east to Englewood) and perhaps Metra's Halsted station on the west (praying KATO comes out with their Metra cars in HO Scale.)

Back to the main topic, I take it the grain trains on CN are loaded southbound, and empties northbound?

Thanks for all the help.

  by Milwaukee_F40C
Sounds like an impressive plan for Union Station. I saw a guy who built a representation of every passenger operation out of Union Station, north and south. The Air Line was modeled as dead scenery for compression reasons and the Carbondale trains used the Canal Street Bridge, which is an accurate detour some times. The train can get to the Air Line through Chinatown.

From CN's intermodal page, it looks like the northbound intermodal traffic comes from New Orleans as well as Jackson and Memphis. But only the Memphis yard is open seven days a week. The train is a mix of domestic and international containers and trailers. This route seems to be kind of light on business because major sections of the train are often single stacked or bare tables. Maybe more boxes go southbound, but I never see them.

Most of the grain loads probably go southbound, probably for export at the gulf. However, I see a lot of Incobrasa and Verasun ethanol grain hoppers go both ways in mixed trains. Incobrasa is off the line in Gilman, so those grain loads would have to be heading north from somewhere.

In general, the grain cars move in solid trains or make up the majority of most mixed trains. Besides grain, the other major sections in mixed trains are ethanol and syrup tank cars. There are only a few freight trains a day with more interesting mixes- cement, paper service box cars, lumber, plastic pellets, contaminated dirt, chemical tankers, scrap, autoracks and huge parts boxcars, lots of coiled and slab steel, "carbon black" hoppers, and even carload coal. The mostly deserted Carbondale yard even has a conveyor belt for loading coal hoppers from trucks.

There are a lot of diverging routes between Chicago and Carbondale and I'm not familiar with the patterns further north than DuQuoin, where some trains head to and from St. Louis to the west and the coal region to the east.
  by emd_SD_60
Thru Carbondale

Amtrak 390- leaves at 7:30 AM
M335- usually in the morning between 8 and 11 AM
M396- used to run the Centralia District, now a Bluford District staple. Will run the Centralia District on occasion, usually around the 11 AM- 2 PM time frame when it does.
Amtrak 391- 1:30-2:30 PM timeframe, usually due 1:45 PM
M336- 2 PM-3:30PM timeframe
Amtrak 392- departs at 4:05 PM
A432- usually in the late afternoon-early evening
A431- mid evening
Amtrak 393- usually 9 PM-10 PM timeframe
M343- late evening, 10 PM-12 AM timeframe
Q195- midnight-1 AM timeframe
Amtrak #59- 1 to 1:30 AM timeframe
Amtrak #58- 3 to 3:30 AM timeframe
Other trains- an occasional grain and coal empties/loads to and from Mounds, Du Quoin/Carbondale locals L588(s) and L589(N) and Centralia-Cairo locals L590(S) and L591(N)

On occasion such Bluford District staples such as M342 and M397 will go down the Centralia District to Fulton when the Bluford District is down for repairs. M342 usually comes in before M336.
  by Amtrak207
You guys rock! Thank you so much for this.

Any other goodies, please feel free to let me know! Layout is in the very early planning stages.

  by CN_Hogger
Don't leave out Kankakee as a possibility! You've got a small yard, siding, interlocking with the NS and 2 defect detectors near town. Not to mention 2 of the 4 curves between Homewood and Champaign!

There's quite a bit of lumber that comes out of Canada for points south... we've also been hauling a lot of pipes in gondolas both ways lately which make for interesting loads.

  by GWoodle
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crab_Orcha ... n_Railroad

At the South end you can model the Crab Orchard & Egyptian. You will need a car to visit Marion IL, that is on I-57 E of Centralia. A short line that uses steam on freight for time. for a model you can always use an old short line to connect with the IC main.

THe Burlington had their southern IL coal line here. In modern times, the coal can be washed to make cleaner coal for power plant use.
  by Tadman
I sounds like you already have a good idea of what you want to do, but a few highlights you may choose to include include three interesting interchanges in the Chicago area:

1. BRC
2. South Shore
3. EJ&E

All three present a really crazy variety of equipment which allow you a nice creative license for what you run on your layout. You could easily justify power from just about any class I given the terminal/belt nature of BRC or EJ&E.

I'm sure that you've only got room for one (if any) of the above, but its food for thought. Good luck and remember, "pics or it didn't happen"...