AMTRAK Trip Maryland to Pittsburgh

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K4APR

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Next weekend I'm finally getting to take a train trip from New Carrolton, MD to Pittsburgh, PA (Through DC) and then the return trip is back to New Carrolton, MD (Through Philly). With all of the NXDN talk, I'm wondering if bringing my scanner along is even worth the trouble. Will I even have anything to listen to on the trip?

Any tips? Thanks!
 

w2xq

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Unless there has been a change in the past few years (I don't know), I would put in the ~100 AAR frequencies into a scanner or HT. I tried to make up a chart, but (at least for me) that wasn't useful. Over the years in a sleeper on that DC-CHI run, in that mountainous stretch in wMD-WV-wPA, all we heard were the on board train communications. On some stops, the Amtrak train was repositioned to access the coach and sleepers. A lot of crossings were called out, and a GPS phone or standalone GPS was kinda fun to watch in our progress along the twisty railbed. I assume you are taking a coach. Just remember to bring an earpiece for the radio. Have fun. HTH.
 

talviar

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Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh will be Analog FM on the AAR Channels. Shouldn't have any issues monitoring traffic in that stretch.
 

w2xq

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I would be wary of completely trusting entries on that "On Track..." website. The updates were in 2009 and 2013. I've only been on the Cardinal once, very pretty in WV but several hours longer than the Capitol Unlimited. T'was a rougher ride. In the list I tried to compile for the Capitol Limited (4 trips in 2 years), once outside DC I had enough variations so as to attempt a merge of the results wasn't worth the effort. I took the '106 on most of the trips, and IMHO its scan speed was more than sufficient to follow the train communications. YMMV. HTH.
 

K4APR

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Thanks for all of the replies! Sorry I didn't respond until now. We're leaving tomorrow. I'm going to load up all of the standard AAR channels tonight and see what I can hear on the trip. Sounds like that is my best bet. I plan to just listen and watch the scenery go by :)

Really looking forward to the trip.

My only concern now is where I am going to leave my car at the New Carrollton station. I just read that they don't have long term parking. Bad assumption on my part :(
 

K4APR

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I'm back from my trip! I actually came back on Monday, but today was my first chance to post here.

I did as everyone suggested and I just scanned the AAR frequencies. I found a lot of activity in the New Carrollton, Union Station (DC), Penn Station and Philly yards. Along the trip, we made many stops and I did hear a lot of chatter in during the stops, but I didn't make notes at the various stops, so I'm sorry that I can't be more help to confirm those. I do remember channel 14 was being used quite a bit.

We rode a Superliner from Union Station to Pittsburgh and there was plenty of inter-train activity to listen to. It was mostly head end talking to the rest of the train (at least that is what I think it was). I kept hearing chatter like "Give me another sixty seconds." I think he was asking central control for more time through a switch. As much as I love railroading and modeling railroads, I actually know very little about operations. I guess I was hoping to get a little more understanding about how they operate from this trip :)

The ride from Pittsburgh to Philly was not a Superliner and I noticed we didn't have the same inter-train chatter, so I didn't do as much listening during the trip. I tried to listen when we were coming up on a stop. There was some chatter at the stops, but most were so short, they were very brief, if any.

I plan to take another trip later this year. I'll be better prepared to make notes on this next trip.
 

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I thought you were going to take the Capitol Limited, not backtrack through Philadelphia. You won't hear much chatter on Amtrak-owned rails (DC-NY for example]. Nor do I recall sleepers being available on the PHL-PGH run. But glad you you had fun with the AAR channels.
 
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