UP radio-controlled switches

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Northe

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In December, 2009, I began hearing what was probably testing of two radio-controlled switches on the UP Nogales subdivision between Tucson and Nogales in Southern Arizona. Initially the switches were operating on a normally-unused channel, and the voices were male.

Within a couple of weeks the switches were operating on the Nogales Subdivision road channel (160.785), and the voices were female. It appears that the switches are controlled using DTMF tones on the road channel.

I'm located near MP 25.9 on the subdivision, and the switches are at MPs 23.00 and 24.65 (north of my location) -- possibly related to a spur to one of our nearby copper mines.

I'm wondering whether radio-controlled switches are unusual on the UP and other railroads or whether they are widely used. I haven't seen any mention of them.

Northe
N6KO
Green Valley, AZ
 

Northe

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Green Valley, AZ
Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) remotely controls their switches on 161.19 MHz (AAR #72)
FLRAILMAN
The testing here was done on 160.515/ AAR 27.

I'm assuming that, at least here, the radio-controlled switches are replacing manual switches, simply allowing the train crew to throw the switch without having to get down from the locomotive. When I think about it, replacing conventional manual-throw stands with these remote-control stands isn't a trivial undertaking, since it means that a motor box has to be installed and power run to it.

I frequently hear the DTMF tones and a report from the switch without the "command received" message, so it might be that the crew is simply verifying the position of the switch as they approach it.

Northe
N6KO
Green Valley AZ
 
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Northeast Nebraska
I'm wondering whether radio-controlled switches are unusual on the UP and other railroads or whether they are widely used. I haven't seen any mention of them.
Some shortline railroads in the east use radio-controlled switches. Certain railroad subdivisions equipped with ABS (Automatic Block System) have remote controlled switches as well.

I'm assuming that, at least here, the radio-controlled switches are replacing manual switches, simply allowing the train crew to throw the switch without having to get down from the locomotive.
The concept of not getting out of the locomotive to line a switch is great, but it is useless when the snow starts flying. The switch points get clogged with snow, rendering the motor inoperable. So the crew would have to climb down and sweep the switch out, even if there is a switch heater installed, those switches sometimes do not reline properly in the snow.
 
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