Rail Monitoring around Richmond

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gcgrotz

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Asking for a railfanning friend here in CHO, he says around Richmond when monitoring CSX, sometimes it seems like when the train talks to disp they will come back on different freqs. I'm wondering (since I don't know) if he is just hearing 2 different freqs as used by road/dispatch or if, as he is wondering, they are doing some sort of trunking. He also thinks he is hearing data and wonders if they are testing digital. Since I don't know details of where he was, I suppose it is possible he was getting interference or overload from a STARS tower site.

Any thought? trainman111?
 

W4UVV

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Csx

Asking for a railfanning friend here in CHO, he says around Richmond when monitoring CSX, sometimes it seems like when the train talks to disp they will come back on different freqs. I'm wondering (since I don't know) if he is just hearing 2 different freqs as used by road/dispatch or if, as he is wondering, they are doing some sort of trunking. He also thinks he is hearing data and wonders if they are testing digital. Since I don't know details of where he was, I suppose it is possible he was getting interference or overload from a STARS tower site.

Any thought? trainman111?

CSX dispatch is in Jacksonville, Florida. CSX does have road/dispatch and other simplex and frequencies but many of CSX comms can be heard on 160.5900 mhz. Selected CSX defect detector transmitters also share this frequency as well as other selected CSX frequencies in different areas. CSX uses 6,000 mhz. PTP data links typically on the towers you see at different intervals also the the RR tracks right of ways.
 

n4jri

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Generally, CSX trains have both a road and a dispatch freq

160.23 & 160.32 - C&O lines

161.55 & 160.41 - old RF&P

160.59 & 161.52 - old Seaboard

If the train wants to call teh dispatcher, it will switch to the dispatcher's freq for the msot part.

But a dispatcher who wants to hail a train may start things out on the road frequency, because that's what the train is monitoring. Maybe your friend heard a dispatcher hail a train on 160.23 for example and then they switched to 160.32. For CSX it should be simplex.

NS dispatchers on the line though Charlottesville have a half-duplex thing where the dispatcher will transmit on 160.245 while the train replies on 160.83. (but I've also heard things just be simplex on 160.95)

The former C&O line coming through Charlottesville is not Buckingham Branch and all road/dispatch comms should be simplex on 160.455. I think they also have a separate maintenance freq.

Hope that helps.
 

trainman111

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There have been rumors of CSX testing digital modulation on the RF&P Sub. I haven't personally seen it yet, but then again, I haven't been out railfanning a whole lot lately. As for trunking, they definately aren't using a trunking system for train-dispatcher comms. n4jri pretty much summed up the different channel uses. If a train on the Rivanna Sub. wants to call the dispatcher, he'll switch over to the Dispatch channel (160.32) and dial the dispatcher. But, since the trains are always (most of the time...) monitoring the road channel if the dispatcher wants to get in touch with a train, he will call the train on the road channel (160.23) and then they can stay on the frequency or switch over to the Dispatcher frequency. I'm pretty sure it's done this way on most of the CSX system (at least that's what I've observed from my own observations.)
 

gcgrotz

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OK, that's good. I suppose he may have heard some digital, but I understand about the split freq thing. NS around here just says go to channel 2, usually when other traffic in the area is getting back to the disp on 160.950. I hear that all the time. It hasn't changed in the 25 years since the first time I lived up here.

As for the BBRR, their yard office is 3 blocks from me, I listen to them make up the local almost every morning. The wood pole with the antenna is plainly visible from my shack window in the winter. Sometimes the yard guys will switch to channel 2 when it gets busy, that freq is 160.710.

We have a nice little group around here, including Garland at the Amtrak station, who is also a ham. Many of them are on the BBRR Yahoo group and a couple post regularly to railfan.
 

csxfanimrkva

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not so....

There have been rumors of CSX testing digital modulation on the RF&P Sub. I haven't personally seen it yet, but then again, I haven't been out railfanning a whole lot lately. As for trunking, they definately aren't using a trunking system for train-dispatcher comms. n4jri pretty much summed up the different channel uses. If a train on the Rivanna Sub. wants to call the dispatcher, he'll switch over to the Dispatch channel (160.32) and dial the dispatcher. But, since the trains are always (most of the time...) monitoring the road channel if the dispatcher wants to get in touch with a train, he will call the train on the road channel (160.23) and then they can stay on the frequency or switch over to the Dispatcher frequency. I'm pretty sure it's done this way on most of the CSX system (at least that's what I've observed from my own observations.)

most of the trains in central virginia once you get north of Richmond are testing a form of trunking. I personally have heard BBRR and a CSX hopper train end up on about five different channels when talking (including narrowband channels) The tone up was on 23 then the reply was on 40 then BBCC was on 90, then the rain AAR 105 (narrowband) the dispatcher then on 40 again, the train responded on another narrowband....and you get the picture.

As for 'digital modulation' that's been becoming more and more and it's not just a pure modulation. It's heard to call something modulation when there are three beeps then digital noise followed by the three beeps. Is it a form of MA/COMM? I don't know...I still haven't nailed down what's being used but they are most definitely testing out digital and digital cab radios in the NXDN format are showing up on the marketplace.

As for BBRR, I can't give out info or sources I've got but there's a distinct possibility they might be locking railfans out of their communications (or else a vender is giving them a load of BS that remains to be seen)...
 

trainman111

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What do you mean MA/COM? That's the company that makes EDACS and Provoice equipment. What does that have to do with NXDN? I guess maybe I didn't understand you clearly. And what do you mean by it not being digital modulation? Modulation is how a signal is sent so it can't really be anything else right? What type of trunking do you think they are using on BB? Have you found a Control Channel yet?
 

n4jri

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I have the morning and early afternoon free, and am going to try to hit Doswell, Ruther Glen and Milford. I don't see anything unusual in frequencies licensed at these spots, but we'll see what happens. And who knows, some cool Hanover and Caroline stuff may turn up as well.

73/Allen (N4JRI)
 

gcgrotz

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I can't imagine BBRR "locking out" railfans, even if that were somehow possible on a shortline's budget. They just spent a boatload of money getting 160.455 installed all the way from Doswell to Clifton a couple years ago. They are also known, around here anyway, to be quite friendly to fans. Some are regulars on the Yahoo BBRR group. I personally have chatted with some off duty employees hanging around downtown here that were fans as well.

But I will pass it on to my friend what csxfan reported. They probably know each other anyway...
 

n4jri

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I can't imagine BBRR "locking out" railfans, even if that were somehow possible on a shortline's budget. They just spent a boatload of money getting 160.455 installed all the way from Doswell to Clifton a couple years ago. They are also known, around here anyway, to be quite friendly to fans. Some are regulars on the Yahoo BBRR group. I personally have chatted with some off duty employees hanging around downtown here that were fans as well.

But I will pass it on to my friend what csxfan reported. They probably know each other anyway...

I have a scanner buddy here in Richmond who likes to railfan up around Doswell and also finds BBRR folks to be friendly. Could you post a link to the Yahoo group?

But I digress before I even start my report....

This morning, I hit Doswell, Ruther Glen, Penola and Milford looking for NXDN or other mysterious transmissions on rail freqs. Found none. I did find some jumping around, but everything was coherent, logical, and analog. The only unusual thing was 160.23 active around Milford. This might've been associated either with work on grade crossings just south of town, or movements by the B793 on track 1 who was visiting the Quarles LP gas place. If NXDN is being worked with, maybe some of the guys further north might catch it.

Other catches on this trip:
462.250 [d115] - Has to be Bear Island Paper. (also licensed to Philip Morris in Ashland)
159.600 [d073] - towing company possibly near Carmel Church
154.600 [67.0] - SR207 between I-95 an US1. Flying J has been noted as using 154.57 with this same PL.
151.775 [d606] - near Milford. User not ID'ed
151.625 [d125] - SR207 near Polecat Creek. Two drivers headed south on 95. Seems I've heard this same stuff in the same place before. Maybe someone HQ'ed at Carmel Church or Bowling Green.
152.270 [67.0] - I think this is licensed to Lake Land Or
152.405 [88.5] - large nursury just north of SR54 in Ashland. appears to be a repeater
451.950 [88.5] - Memorial Regional Med Ctr. (unknown if 461.300 is still in use)
159.735 [d631] - Lee-Davis High School...unknown if 151.805 is still in use

73/Allen (N4JRI)
 

gcgrotz

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Hey Allen, just go to groups.yahoo.com and search for BBRR.

Lots of good pics from the area on railfan.net under Charlottesville.
 
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