GTW Mount Clemens Subdivision

The GTW Mount Clemens Sub as seen on the Southeast Michigan portion of the Chicago and Grand Trunk RR route map from The 1891 Grain Dealers and Shippers Gazetteer © 1999 Pam Rietsch. Careful readers will note that the thin line that is marked from (West) Detroit to Rochester is the former Michigan Central Bay City Branch, now truncated at Utica, and presently known as the Conrail North Yard Branch, Sterling Secondary, and Utica Industial Track, respectivly.

The Territory

It's all in a name

Ya'll can call it whatever you want; Canadian National Illinois Central (CNIC) seems to work just fine for some folks.

But here in Michigan we still call it Grand Trunk Western (GTW).

Hope you don't mind.

The GTW Mount Clemens Sub started life as the Chicago, Detroit & Canada Grand Trunk Junction RR (CD&CGTRR) and was constructed from West Detroit to Port Huron in 1853-54. As soon as construction was completed, it was immediately leased by the Grand Trunk RWY of Canada (this is the proper name of what everyone called just the "Grand Trunk Railway"). In 1878 the Grand Trunk RWY of Canada gained control of the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee RY (part of which we know now as the GTW Holly Sub from Milwaukee Junction to Durand).

In 1928, the Grand Trunk RY of Canada consolidated all their leased and controlled lines in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois to form the Grand Trunk Western RR, which was immediately controlled at incorporation by the Canadian National RWY (apparently the CNR was incorporated as the successor to the Grand Trunk RWY of Canada at the same time).

Thus, the Grand Trunk Western Mount Clemens Subdivision historically started with Milepost 0.0 at West Detroit (the junction with the Wabash Rwy and Michigan Central RR, now the CNIC Shore Line Sub crossing with the Conrail Michigan Line, Detroit Line, and North Yard Branch). It is a double track DTC railroad while it parallels Conrail. From this point north to Forest Lawn at mp 7 GTW parallels and crosses the Conrail North Yard Branch at mp 3.8 Beaubien Tower. At mp 4.6 Milwaukee Jct. is the junction with GTW’s Holly Subdivision.

In 1981 GTW aquired 100% ownership of the Detroit & Toledo Shore Line RR. The division point between the Shore Line and the Mount Clemens sub remained at mp 0.0 West Detroit until 1985, when the rail south of Milwaukee Jct. was absorbed into the GTW Shore Line sub. The Mount Clemens Sub now starts at mp 4.6 Milwaukee Jct.

It is double track from Milwaukee Junction to mp 10 Nolan. Both tracks are service tracks and are designated as Northward Service (east track) and Southward Service (west track). Nolan is a spring switch normally lined for the Southward Service Track. North from Nolan it is single track DTC all the way up to mp 55.6 Tappan, where the Mount Clemens Sub joins the Flint Sub at Port Huron, MI.

Text and data graciously provided by Jim Koglin, Jim H. Harlow,
Brad (the GTW Freak) Kindschy, Jerry Sundin, and Wayne "King" Kuhl

The Trains

GTW Train 505 (Detroit East Yard-Richmond Turn) is northbound by the Brickyard in Fraser, Michigan 5/31/00. 505 is an Industry Switcher operating from East Yard to Richmond, called daily except Sunday. He usually has a caboose and 10-15 cars. He'll duck in and out of the sidings to let road trains pass. RCBS clearance to a road train will have instructions to protect against work extra between milepost and milepost . This will require the road train to contact the 505 before entering his work limits.

Photograph Copyright © 2000-2002 Jerry Sundin

Traffic volume is moderate, with some 8-10 trains each day. Somewhat lighter on weekends.Train symbols that ply all or part of the GTW Mount Clemens Subdivision include:


  • 264 (Cincinnati - Toronto) Empty Racks
  • 265 (Toronto - Cincinnati) Loaded Racks

CNIC Inter Divisional

  • 380 (Flat Rock - London) Manifest
  • 381 (London - Detroit Flat Rock) Manifest, usually has truck frames at the head end
  • 382 (CSX Toledo Stanley - Toronto) Manifest
  • 383 (Toronto - CSX Toledo Stanley) Manifest
  • 384 (Detroit Flat Rock - Toronto) Manifest
  • 385 (Toronto - Detroit Flat Rock) Manifest, heavy on auto parts
  • 386 (Detroit Flat Rock - Toronto) Manifest


  • 505 (Detroit East Yard - Richmond turn) Road Local
  • 102 (1st Trick Detroit East Yard/BOC yard job)
  • 202 (2nd Trick Detroit East Yard/BOC yard job)
  • 302 (3rd Trick Detroit East Yard/BOC yard job)
  • 104 (All Purpose/ D&M job) Works industries on Holly Sub from Milwaukee Jct. to Birmingham.
  • 513 (Detroit East Yard - Pontiac Transfer) at Pontiac he will go north out to Waterford on the Holly Sub and switch the remaining industries on Single Track.

List provided by Jim Koglin and James Deeds

Dispatching and Radio Chatter

The GTW Mount Clemens Sub is controlled by CNIC TD2 Dispatcher. The line is dispatched by track warrant except for Haven, the siding just north of New Haven, MI. This siding is CTC.

TD2 issues RCBS clearances to any train operating on the Mount Clemens Sub. They are numbered sequentially for the date restarting at midnight, averaging about 20-30 per day. This is a good indicator of how much activity there has been.

A single RCBS may take a train from Tappan all the way to to mp10, or it may take 2 or 3 clearances if meets are involved. They will typically run the trains in the same direction with a "protect against train ahead" instruction rather than issue multiple RCBS clearances. This makes it really easy to track trains as they are continually updating their current position.

With no contention for the track, a typical 5000' train will take 1.5 to 2 hours for the trip between Tappan and Detroit. If you hear a train cleared from Tappan to MP10, look for him at Fraser in about 90 minutes.

They used to meet opposing traffic at Double Track switch, This is now done at the Haven siding. We believe that CNIC took advantage of the opportunity that the 27-28 mile road bridge condemnations provided to get a three mile stretch of passing track that doesn't foul East-west highway traffic. The way the area is growing it is unlikely that they could have done this in 2010.

    Radio Frequencies:

  • 160.530 Mhz AAR 28 dispatcher
  • 160.590 Mhz AAR 32 road
  • 160.845 Mhz AAR 49 BOC Yard master

Note: These frequencies are used system wide, so one may hear CNIC dispatchers talking to trains on other subdivisions.

The hot box detector at mp 26 has been converted to CNIC and is not real chatty. We believe they reduced the power as the GTW detector was much easier to pickup and had a much stronger signal.

Mucho Text by Jerry Sundin

GTW Mount Clemens Sub Stuff


  • Meintz, Graydon, Michigan Railroads & Railroad Companies (1992)
    Michigan State University Press ISBN 0-87013-318-7

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This website and all contents herein Copyright 2002 by Jeff Knorek except where noted.