Monday, July 12, 2010

Racing Trains: An Unusual Sight

I was railfanning in Mishawaka, IN in July, along the Norfolk Southern Chicago mainline, when I spotted a headlight in the distance—always a good sign.

No, wait—it's two headlights. Could it be? I had never seen one train overtake another before, but was happening in front of my eyes. I zoomed in and saw that there were two trains traveling side-by-side.

When I realized that the train on the north side of the tracks was overtaking the one on the south, I switched over to the south side for a better shot of the action. (I was at a controlled crossing). Darn it, though, my camera was still set on zoom, and I couldn't adjust in time before the train was right there—which is why I only got this partial frame.

Then came the mixed freight, moving at a leisurely pace.

And then the units were past me, with the intermodal racing way out ahead.

We see this kind of thing on modular layouts all the time. But does it happen in real life other places, too?

I posted that query on the Atlas Model Railroad Forum. Places where trains are permitted to pass each other on a double-track main include on the CN main line near Kingston, Ont.; Butler St. Jct. in Hamilton, OH (where the NS and CSX lines converge), and on the CSX in the Westland/Plymouth/Canton area of Michigan.

Amyone else seen something like this? It was a first time for me.


  1. Neat NS action, John. The most common passing trains scenario here on the Kingston Sub is an intermodal train passing a slower freight before the next crossover. More commonly, the VIA's doing 80+ mph go around the 50+ mph freights. Now, I'm working on a post for Trackside Treasure on meeting trains, that is railfanning at a certain spot out on the mainline and two trains meet right in front of you at speed, so I'll be posting some photos as well. Mishawaka to say.

  2. This happens often between passenger trains on busy lines in Europe. A common configuration is 4 main tracks, the center 2 for intercity trains, the outer 2 for local trains.

  3. I saw it right here in Winnipeg... the Hudson Bay (VIA 693) overtook CN 199, both heading west along Wilkes.