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Railroad/Railfan Monitoring Forum - This is the place to discuss monitoring railroad communications.

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Old 03-04-2018, 8:10 PM
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Default private radio freqs for scenic railway

Asking for a friend,

He is the IT/ technical guy for a scenic railroad that also links to mainline railroads.
They currently use the railroad freqs for rail operations but have a few dead spots along the line, about 20 miles or so.

Currently they cant talk point to point from one station to the other and were inquiring about a repeater.

vhf repeater would most likely work and when weather is better I will assist with coverage checks using a boom truck to elevate the antenna and use a base radio and see if I can talk both ways, this will tell me if a repeater will do the job. dont want satalite receivers or any recurring monthly costs

I dont know anything about the rules for the federal railroad freqs and was wonder if there are any channel pairs that are authorized for repeater use or can they utilize a GMRS repeater if licensed.

thanks
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Old 03-04-2018, 8:28 PM
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GMRS has a pretty broad definition of "family" but it doesn't include railroads. It's supposed to be for family use.
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Old 03-04-2018, 9:16 PM
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Sounds to me like a voter would help you out. I work for Amtrak and we use voters along with satellite receivers.
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Old 03-05-2018, 9:33 AM
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GMRS? As in General Mobile Radio Service? The service infested with illegally used bubble-pack and CC portable radios?

We're entertaining putting a railroad, that's responsible for the safety of the passengers it carries, on such a system?

I'm hoping that I misread that.
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Old 03-05-2018, 9:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magic_lantern View Post
Asking for a friend,

He is the IT guy

IT guys trying to do radio is always humorous. Just make sure he/she doesn't buy Cheap Chinese Radios off e-Bay or Amazon.
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Old 03-05-2018, 9:57 AM
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Railroads already have an allocation of frequencies. The obvious play would be to coordinate with AAR and FCC to get coverage for the dead spot(s).
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Old 03-05-2018, 10:16 AM
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Apply for a 2nd RR Frequency and use that as the input for a Repeater
Put the Repeater up at a High Spot.

Or as others suggested, just implement a Remote RX site [Voter]
Quote:
Originally Posted by magic_lantern View Post
Asking for a friend,

He is the IT/ technical guy for a scenic railroad that also links to mainline railroads.
They currently use the railroad freqs for rail operations but have a few dead spots along the line, about 20 miles or so.

Currently they cant talk point to point from one station to the other and were inquiring about a repeater.

vhf repeater would most likely work and when weather is better I will assist with coverage checks using a boom truck to elevate the antenna and use a base radio and see if I can talk both ways, this will tell me if a repeater will do the job. dont want satalite receivers or any recurring monthly costs

I dont know anything about the rules for the federal railroad freqs and was wonder if there are any channel pairs that are authorized for repeater use or can they utilize a GMRS repeater if licensed.

thanks
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Old 03-05-2018, 12:36 PM
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A repeater in the AAR Band (railroad band) is your best option. A minor license modification and the appropriate equipment is all that is needed. There is no restrictions for using repeaters in the AAR Band, as long as you are licensed to.
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Old 03-05-2018, 1:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonwienke View Post
Railroads already have an allocation of frequencies. The obvious play would be to coordinate with AAR and FCC to get coverage for the dead spot(s).
Please! You're using logic to confuse this thread,
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Old 03-05-2018, 1:35 PM
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That's my specialty.
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Old 03-06-2018, 6:44 PM
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How many watts is the current base running. what kind of antenna and elevations

A rpt will work. the only draw back is if the HT are on repeter and trying to move trains they might not be heard
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Old 03-06-2018, 8:27 PM
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Go back and look at post #6. Do it the right way.
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Old 03-07-2018, 6:30 AM
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GMRS would be a bad idea for any railroad, the FRA frowns upon the use of any communications device by a RR employee while on, in or near tracks, and never mind train movement, so fines start at around 14K to the individual not the RR.
Voting receivers are good for dispatch but do nothing for unit to unit coverage. Depending where you are located going through TCI the co-ordinator for the AAR railroad frequencies you should have no problem getting a repeater frequency added to your existing license. You will need to either do some work on your own or have TCI do a plot map for coverage. The basic licensing fee will set you back about 4K, but at least you will be legal and SAFE. I would also add NXDN to both licenses and if you are thinking of TRBO do that after you get the new license.
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Old 03-12-2018, 2:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magic_lantern View Post
Asking for a friend,

He is the IT/ technical guy for a scenic railroad that also links to mainline railroads.
They currently use the railroad freqs for rail operations but have a few dead spots along the line, about 20 miles or so.

Currently they cant talk point to point from one station to the other and were inquiring about a repeater.

vhf repeater would most likely work and when weather is better I will assist with coverage checks using a boom truck to elevate the antenna and use a base radio and see if I can talk both ways, this will tell me if a repeater will do the job. dont want satalite receivers or any recurring monthly costs

I dont know anything about the rules for the federal railroad freqs and was wonder if there are any channel pairs that are authorized for repeater use or can they utilize a GMRS repeater if licensed.
To add to what others have said. . .

Yes, you can license a repeater in the railroad band. Definitely stay away from GMRS or other bands; railroads have a dedicated allocation so it's best to use it.

I'd recommend using the existing frequency as the repeater output, and obtain an additional frequency to use as the repeater input. By doing so, someone transmitting on the old (single) channel can still be heard by others on the repeater.

You'll have to get the necessary hardware (repeater and duplexer, antenna, feed cable, etc) and put the repeater somewhere that gives a good line of sight view of the entire route.

When you apply for a new frequency, get one as far away from the existing frequency as you can (for example, if the existing frequency is 161.565, get a frequency below 161.000 as the repeater input. At least 500 kHz away is best, and the farther the better; duplexers aren't cheap and get awfully expensive when the frequency separation drops below 500 kHz.

However, a way to get around an expensive large duplexer is to use a smaller duplexer and separate antennas, mounted vertically as far apart as possible. Getting this right can be tricky, though.
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