Railfanning Cobourg ON


Spent this past weekend in Cobourg, Ontario; an hour-and-a-half east of Toronto. We went out to celebrate Father’s Day with my wife’s parents who have a condo on the Beach. While the kids went swimming and out for a puddle on their uncle’s sailboat, I ‘excused’ myself to do some railfanning.

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I had never been to the Cobourg train station before. It is located just off Division Street about 5 minutes north of the downtown strip. A couple of things make this an excellent railfanning spot. First off, the CN Kingston Subdivision, the major railway line connecting Toronto with Montreal that carries the majority of CN traffic between these points runs just north of the Station. VIA passenger trains also travel this route.

Just to the south of the station, and not more 4o meters on the other side of the parking lot is the CP Belleville Subdivision, Canadian Pacific Railway’s similar mainline route. The CP line is a bit overgrown, but there is a crossing where you can get some good pics. It is possible to stand in one place and literally be surrounded by CN and CP traffic – which is pretty thrilling!


Two other features make this an ideal spot. VIA has built the oddest passageway up and over the tracks. One only knows what the architect was thinking because the structure is so mammoth and over-engineered (see image above) for a simple pedestrian bridge. No matter, for the Railfan it is a godsend providing an incredible vantage point to overlook the mainline action. This is especially interesting as I have found it difficult to get good top down image of freight trains (typically the way that modellers view our HO scale trains). The last feature at this location is a nicely placed signal bridge that conveniently would ‘announce’ upcoming trains.


I didn’t get to spend more than a couple of hours here on Saturday, but in the short time managed to capture a couple of VIA trains, a pretty cool CP work train and a CN intermodal heading westbound. Enjoy the clips below for a sense of the action in this location.

Managed to get back for an hour on Sunday with #1 son who wanted to join me for some Father’s Day trainspotting and he was my videographer for the VIA clip below. I definitely plan to return to Cobourg soon and hope to spend a day by the tracks. Hope to see some nice CP action and some mixed freight.


5 thoughts on “Railfanning Cobourg ON

  1. There is (or was) a really neat switching operation on the CN that left the north side of the main and served an industrial park. It’s been a while since I visited, but it would make for an interesting switching layout. And you’re right – as a rail fanning spot, it doesn’t get much better…
    – Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64)


  2. I suspect the overpass is as large as it is because it contains elevators at each end for accessibility. It would also have to have stairwells for safety – in case power went out – and enough space in the overhead walkway to allow for safe passage of people in the event it had to be cleared quickly. So, mammoth, but justified.


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