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Railroad Com's & The Future

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Armadillo5

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Sooo, forgive me if I sound a little offbeat but I have been reading about the railroad upgrading their com's in the near future and one question comes to mind...what does it all mean?

I read about the NXDN/6.25 radio's and how com's may not be heard. Yes, I like listening in to crews calling out milepost #'s, etc. Seems like rail activity has picked up which makes for some good pictures, etc as well.

Anyway, I was wondering if someone could maybe highlight the top 5 answers that would help explain how listening to railoads in the future will be?

Thank you for your help and again forgive me if I sound a little offbeat. Not looking to argue or what is right or wrong, just some clear understanding on what it means. Thank you for the help and understanding.
 

DPD1

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I don't think anybody really knows for sure just yet. Probably not even the railroads are 100% clear on how it's going to work. NXDN will slowly start appearing here and there eventually. My guess is probably not for quite a while on road stuff. As in years. But it will eventually show up. And for now... there is no cheap way to monitor it with scanners. But that doesn't mean things can't change. There's many people like you, and where there's a demand, there's a solution. So I wouldn't worry about it for now. What happens is people hear about new radios getting handed out, or a non rail services switching their equipment or something, and then the rumors about it all being gone any minute start flying. But it's not that simple. It will take quite a while. There's going to be areas where extended testing will take place, and they'll take time working out all the wrinkles before they start changing everything. And the those changes will take time.
 

Armadillo5

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Thank you for the help. I do like to listen in and the comm's are pretty neat. The CSX lines are cool to listen in on when traveling. There seems to be more being handled by rail and an increase in rail traffic which means more radio traffic.

Some of it I figured to be rumors and frustration by those listening. I know the railroad is pretty slow in getting things done. Hope it stays open for a while or maybe an idea on how to listen in the future.

Thank you again for the help.
 

radiowilson

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new here, joined today.
I work with a UP radio tech and they are also waiting for a more solid direction from their corporate HQ regarding what is next for voice, data and lineside systems.

Out here UPRR is using Kenwood TK-790's in motiive power (inside another box that fits the standard radio mounting location...from their previous models, I supppose). Wideband VHF with no PL tone. This surprised me as I thought this commercial band would have been required to be narrowband and even digital by now. RR safety and interoperability, I guess.

As I learn things that are public knowledge I will surely share.

John
 

DPD1

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Yes, it can be fun to listen. It was a little more fun in the old days, back when they used the PBXs a lot more, and also back before most busy lines used CTC. Then you would get all the track warrant calls and everything. Many of the CTC lines have a lot less radio traffic now days.
 

burner50

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Out here UPRR is using Kenwood TK-790's in motiive power (inside another box that fits the standard radio mounting location...from their previous models, I supppose).


lol.... I needed a good laugh



No they're not.
 

Nasby

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Here in Ohio the radio traffic was really fun to listen to back in the early 1980's. There were radio equipped interlocking towers along many of the busier lines. It was always fun to see if raising the antenna height or getting heavier coax or even a new scanner would bring in the towers that were further away and previously out of range. Of course, we knew the locations of the transmitters because the tower operators would identify their location. (ie; "Conrail Alliance tower calling TV-62, over.").
Good times!!
 

DPD1

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Yeah, I did a similar thing with a small local road I grew up next to. There were about 5 main towers system wide, all theoretically within listening distance. I don't think I ever got them all at the same time though. On occasion one of the distant ones would squeak in. Still like that today, even though it's part of a large road now and they added a couple towers. But it was cool when you could potentially hear the entire railroad from one location.
 

radiowilson

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On the UPRR here in Oregon the crews are on the radio a lot. If they are going into a siding (one of which is below my house) they might wait a bit, but pretty soon they call up the dispatcher to ask how many they are waiting for. This is to better plan for their wait, as some sidings have private crossings that may need to be opened (they must cut the train at the crossing, then suffer the reassemble and air test to proceed). They even call before passing the diverging switch, and if the meet is immediate they will prodceed into the siding and not cu the train. If the meet is some time off, they will hold the main in the clear of any crossings and await the opposing train. When they hear a detector go off they know it is getting close and proceed into the siding.

The conversations between crews is very......um......enlightening, as they freely discuss company issues regarding power problems, scheduling, crew shorages, equipment issues, etc. Very enjoyable for a train buff!!!!!!
 

radiowilson

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lol.... I needed a good laugh



No they're not.
HA! Heard the radio gand wrong! I thought they did, but never been up in the cab recently. Their mobile fleet does, though...at least on the LaGrand Sub. Met the radio crew at their offices to talk about our public safety systems on Hinkle Yard property and looked into a crane truck getting a -790 installed.

Glad I could provide you a chuckle, though!
 

burner50

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HA! Heard the radio gand wrong! I thought they did, but never been up in the cab recently. Their mobile fleet does, though...at least on the LaGrand Sub. Met the radio crew at their offices to talk about our public safety systems on Hinkle Yard property and looked into a crane truck getting a -790 installed.

Glad I could provide you a chuckle, though!

I thought so...


I've seen Spectra's and 790's in various managers vehicles, but never on the headend.
 
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The conversations between crews is very......um......enlightening, as they freely discuss company issues regarding power problems, scheduling, crew shorages, equipment issues, etc. Very enjoyable for a train buff!!!!!!
Some of the conversations are downright embarassing:

I once heard a crew talking to mechanical about their lead unit went down. Mechanical, of course asks the engineer if there is any fuel in the tank. The engineer says the "dipstick" has "plenty of brown stuff sticking to it".

Some are personal:

Such as 2 trains passing each other, crew knows each other and starts talking about how one hasn't had relations in a few weeks and needs relief fast. I had been assigned to a local job out of York, was waiting to get into main track 1, our cab radio had a scan feature and yep, it was scanning.

Lets not forget the occasional ringtone noises, farting, belching and "Management" that make you feel stupid transmissions.

Sometimes the kids get ahold of their Daddy's radio(s) some keep spare portables around for various reasons and will play cops and robbers, Star Wars, among some things. There was an issue with that for about a week at Hobson Yard in Lincoln, Ne. until the radio techs tracked the transmissions down.
 

BisManRadio

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Nxdn

There was an article in Mission Critical Magazine about railroads talking about going to digital and what types of different radio types they are using/can use. Looks like NXDN maybe the winner here, it talks about how the AAR has also set their own deadline for narrowband use by the railroads etc. pretty interesting.

Check it out at mccmag.com click on the guy wearing the firefighter helmet. The digital issues on their website are free to view.

Honestly I think its going to take alot of time before they start actully using digital, years probably and who knows about the use of it on the road channels. I think once this narrowband deadline gets closer there may be alot of trouble and alot of delays before it actually happens. And who knows, the deadline may keep getting pushed back and back, similiar to how the digital TV conversion took place, but this will be on a much bigger scale.
 
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stutch13

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Some of the conversations are downright embarassing:

I once heard a crew talking to mechanical about their lead unit went down. Mechanical, of course asks the engineer if there is any fuel in the tank. The engineer says the "dipstick" has "plenty of brown stuff sticking to it".

Some are personal:

Such as 2 trains passing each other, crew knows each other and starts talking about how one hasn't had relations in a few weeks and needs relief fast. I had been assigned to a local job out of York, was waiting to get into main track 1, our cab radio had a scan feature and yep, it was scanning.

Lets not forget the occasional ringtone noises, farting, belching and "Management" that make you feel stupid transmissions.

Sometimes the kids get ahold of their Daddy's radio(s) some keep spare portables around for various reasons and will play cops and robbers, Star Wars, among some things. There was an issue with that for about a week at Hobson Yard in Lincoln, Ne. until the radio techs tracked the transmissions down.
I've heard a conversation once recently where a guy asked another if he lived around here and the other guy said yes and where he lives.. But that is very rarely on the UPRR mainline out here in western Ne.I don't think they are allowed to talk like regular everyday type of things, just railroad stuff and by that I mean "track and time" type of things..

I do have a question though, I just started hearing comms where they talk about "pilots".. What is a pilot? is that what they call engineers now or is it the guy guiding them through the work zone? There was a derailment down west of Sidney a couple weeks back and they are also converting some signal lights, adding some and taking others down and generally adding other "things(?)" to the track and all..
 

W9BU

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If an engineer or conductor is not qualified on a particular territory, they will be assigned an engineer or conductor pilot who is qualified. Sometimes, the Road Foreman responsible for that territory will serve as a pilot.

When derailments happen, sometimes trains are re-routed to avoid the derailment. Those re-routes sometimes put crews on unfamiliar territory, thus requiring pilots.

When CSX took over Avon Yard after the Conrail break-up, CSX started running trains between Evansville and Avon using crews that were qualified between Evansville and Terre Haute, but not between Terre Haute and Avon. Those crews got former Conrail pilots until they were qualified.
 

radioman2001

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From my dealings with the coordinators at the railroad they are a bunch of primadonna's. Right now, their attitude is that you MUST go 6.25 digital NXDN only, or not receive any channels when narrow banding takes place. My attitude is let the market finds it's own equilibrium. We are planning to go MOTOTRBO, we have played with both digital formats and the Motorola works much better, and meets the same FCC criteria for one channel per 6.25 slot. I suspect that because of this divide there will be little if any changes for going to digital for Rail Traffic Control. Everyone nationwide has to use the same format. I suspect that RTC will stay analog and support services, yard, etc will go digital for now.
BTW it is a shame that all those nice Clean Cab Spectra's won't qualify for narrow band after the FCC comments of 01-20-2010.
 

BisManRadio

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When everybody starts scrambling to meet this narrowband deadline, I think itll get interesting. Not only for rail but for all LMR licensees. I think there will be alot of fighting with the FCC on this issue of going narrowband.
 

DPD1

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I think some people are confusing two different things... The closest mandate of 12.5 is not the same as 6.25/digital.
 
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