What Is The Best Way To Determine What Railroad Frequencies I Should Monitor?

JASII

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It has been a long time since I have tried listening to the railroad frequencies. I could program in all AAR frequencies, but I would rather focus on the ones that are likely to be used.

Are any of the 7.5 kHz frequencies getting used these days?

As far as modes go, is it still mostly analog? Who or where is NXDN being used?

Is there much use of PL in the railroad band these days?

I also seem to recall that track warrants are no longer done via voice for some railroads. Is that true of all the Class 1 railroads now?

If so, that would likely mean the Road Channels are much quieter than they were in the past.

Anyway, where are the best sources of active railroad frequencies these days?
 

AK9R

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In my experience, the 7.5 kHz freqs are not being used.

With the exception of the Florida East Coast Railway, NXDN is not being used on main lines on a widespread basis. You may find it being used in larger yards. I'd stick with mostly analog.

In my experience, PL is rarely used on railroads. Since PL is primarily used for selective access to repeaters, I'm not a big fan of programming PL tones into my scanners unless I have an interference problem.

Track Warrants are issued, modified, and cleared by voice on the dispatcher channels on CSX.

In my experience, the road channels are just as active as they've always been. Defect detectors are usually announced on road channels. Crews use the road channels when switching on the main or in smaller yards.

The RadioReference database would be my first place to look for frequencies. There are lots of Facebook groups that are focused on specific rail lines where you might find frequency info. For example, I live in central Indiana and I'm a member of groups for the Indianapolis area, CSX St. Louis Line, CSX Chicago & Evansville Division, CSX Monon line, CSX and NS in the Lafayette area, CSX Chicago Division, North Central Indiana railroads, NS New Castle District, CSX Indianapolis Line, CSX Indianapolis Division, CSX Indiana Division, INRD, LIRC, and several others.
 

JASII

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Thank you for the reply.

According to the website of the city I live in, we have the following railroads operating in my city.

What is the best way to determine which Road Channel I should be listening to?

(I think I might want to try 160.845 for the UPRR.)

Union Pacific​


FrequencyInputLicenseTypeToneAlpha TagDescriptionModeTag
160.845 KNJZ613BMUP Albert LeaAlbert Lea Sub - St. Paul to Mason City IAFMNRailroad
160.890 WNGP579BMUP AltoonaAltoona Sub - Necedah WI to MinneapolisFMNRailroad
160.455 BMUP 2 UtilityCh. 2 UtilityFMNRailroad
161.040 BMUP 2 RoadCh. 3 RoadFMNRailroad
161.175 BMUP 4 YardCh. 4 YardFMNRailroad
160.320 BMUP 5 YardCh. 5 YardFMNRailroad
160.485 BMUP 6 MOWCh. 6 Maintenance of WayFMNRailroad
160.575 KGC589BMUP FairmontFairmont Sub - Butterfield to Mason City IAFMNRailroad
160.890 WNGG528BMUP MankatoMankato Sub - St. Paul to St. JamesFMNRailroad
160.890 WNGG528BMUP WorthingtonWorthington Sub - St. James to Le Mars IAFMNRailroad



Canadian Pacific​


FrequencyInputLicenseTypeToneAlpha TagDescriptionModeTag
160.230 BMCSQCP RAIL CARCP Rail Car DeptFMNRailroad
160.305 BMCSQCP RAIL GECP Rail GE ServiceFMNRailroad
160.530 BMCSQCP RAIL RDHSCP Rail RoundhouseFMNRailroad
160.680 BMCSQCP RAIL YARDCP Rail YardFMNRailroad
160.980 BMCSQCP RAILCP Rail-Shoreham IntermodelFMNRailroad
161.370 BMCSQCP RAIL CH 1CP Rail Ch 1- Withrow to GlenwoodFMNRailroad
161.520 BMCSQCP RAIL CH 2CP Rail Ch 2- Glenwood to Noyes Port of EntryFMNRailroad
161.085 BMCSQCP RAIL CH 3CP Rail Ch 3- Glenwood & West RouteFMNRailroad
160.770 BMCSQCP RAIL CH 4CP Rail Ch 4- LaCrosse to St Criox, St PaulFMNRailroad
161.430 BMCSQCP RAIL CH 5CP Rail Ch 5- YardFMNRailroad
160.725 BMCSQCP RAIL CH 6CP Rail Ch 6- YardFMNRailroad
160.440 BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
160.455 BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
160.890 BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
161.175 BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
161.205 BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
161.460 BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
160.215161.475RMCSQCPRR MRASCP Rail MRASFMNRailroad
160.260161.400RMCSQCPRR MRASCP Rail MRASFMNRailroad
160.470161.325RMCSQCPRR MRASCP Rail MRASFMNRailroad


Progressive Rail (Twin Cities)​


FrequencyInputLicenseTypeToneAlpha TagDescriptionModeTag
161.220 BMPROG RR BloomingBloomingtonFMNRailroad
160.115 BMPROG RR LakevillLakevilleFMNRailroad
160.350 BMPROG RR 160.35Progressive RailroadFMNRailroad
160.380 BMPROG RR 160.38Progressive RailroadFMNRailroad
 

FrensicPic

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Thank you for the reply.

According to the website of the city I live in, we have the following railroads operating in my city.

What is the best way to determine which Road Channel I should be listening to?

(I think I might want to try 160.845 for the UPRR.)

Union Pacific​


FrequencyInputLicenseTypeToneAlpha TagDescriptionModeTag
160.845KNJZ613BMUP Albert LeaAlbert Lea Sub - St. Paul to Mason City IAFMNRailroad
160.890WNGP579BMUP AltoonaAltoona Sub - Necedah WI to MinneapolisFMNRailroad
160.455BMUP 2 UtilityCh. 2 UtilityFMNRailroad
161.040BMUP 2 RoadCh. 3 RoadFMNRailroad
161.175BMUP 4 YardCh. 4 YardFMNRailroad
160.320BMUP 5 YardCh. 5 YardFMNRailroad
160.485BMUP 6 MOWCh. 6 Maintenance of WayFMNRailroad
160.575KGC589BMUP FairmontFairmont Sub - Butterfield to Mason City IAFMNRailroad
160.890WNGG528BMUP MankatoMankato Sub - St. Paul to St. JamesFMNRailroad
160.890WNGG528BMUP WorthingtonWorthington Sub - St. James to Le Mars IAFMNRailroad



Canadian Pacific​


FrequencyInputLicenseTypeToneAlpha TagDescriptionModeTag
160.230BMCSQCP RAIL CARCP Rail Car DeptFMNRailroad
160.305BMCSQCP RAIL GECP Rail GE ServiceFMNRailroad
160.530BMCSQCP RAIL RDHSCP Rail RoundhouseFMNRailroad
160.680BMCSQCP RAIL YARDCP Rail YardFMNRailroad
160.980BMCSQCP RAILCP Rail-Shoreham IntermodelFMNRailroad
161.370BMCSQCP RAIL CH 1CP Rail Ch 1- Withrow to GlenwoodFMNRailroad
161.520BMCSQCP RAIL CH 2CP Rail Ch 2- Glenwood to Noyes Port of EntryFMNRailroad
161.085BMCSQCP RAIL CH 3CP Rail Ch 3- Glenwood & West RouteFMNRailroad
160.770BMCSQCP RAIL CH 4CP Rail Ch 4- LaCrosse to St Criox, St PaulFMNRailroad
161.430BMCSQCP RAIL CH 5CP Rail Ch 5- YardFMNRailroad
160.725BMCSQCP RAIL CH 6CP Rail Ch 6- YardFMNRailroad
160.440BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
160.455BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
160.890BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
161.175BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
161.205BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
161.460BMCSQCPRRCP RailFMNRailroad
160.215161.475RMCSQCPRR MRASCP Rail MRASFMNRailroad
160.260161.400RMCSQCPRR MRASCP Rail MRASFMNRailroad
160.470161.325RMCSQCPRR MRASCP Rail MRASFMNRailroad


Progressive Rail (Twin Cities)​


FrequencyInputLicenseTypeToneAlpha TagDescriptionModeTag
161.220BMPROG RR BloomingBloomingtonFMNRailroad
160.115BMPROG RR LakevillLakevilleFMNRailroad
160.350BMPROG RR 160.35Progressive RailroadFMNRailroad
160.380BMPROG RR 160.38Progressive RailroadFMNRailroad
You might start out monitoring the frequencies you posted above. Determine what is actually in use in your area, determine use, etc. From there, you can narrow it down to what is useful to you.
 

JASII

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Does each sub have it's own channel.

Or, to ask this another way, once the channel is determined for a given sub, is it used from one end to the other?
 

chrismol1

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How I started is looking at the FCC database and search my county and adjacent counties. Their base stations used to talk to dispatchers will be licensed there, sometimes road channels as well on a tower site. Yard channels licensed, at least where I am they are very good at licensing their channels properly. I've found a new channel and repeater that way
 

AK9R

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If a subdivision is controlled by the same dispatcher end-to-end, then it probably uses the same road (and dispatcher) frequencies end-to-end.

In mountainous terrain, the railroads often have remote bases on top of the mountains to give them increased range. In flatter terrain, the railroads often use remote bases on shorter towers along the right of way. For example, the dispatcher who controls the CSX line that runs near me has a remote base in Indianapolis, Crawfordsville, which are roughly 40 miles apart, and one location in between. The dispatcher is physically located in Jacksonville, Florida. The audio and control for these remote bases is done over Internet connections.

There is some overlap in channel usage. The AAR channel that is used as a road channel on the branch line near me is also the road channel on the main line running northeast from Indianapolis and on several lines in the Cleveland area and New York and New England.
 

JASII

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I checked the Defect Detector webpage. It shows defect detectors north of me and south of me on 160.845. (Subdivision: Albert Lea)

I scanned that today and listened to the recordings. It definitely sounds like the UP Road channel for the Albert Lea Subdivision near me.


Railroad: Union Pacific
Division: Twin Cities
Subdivision: Albert Lea
Location: Rosemount, MN
Milepost: 337.8
Model: Unknown
Functions: HBD-DED-HWD
Frequency: 160.8450
Active: Yes
Talk On Defect Only: No

Submit A Correction | View On Google Maps

Link To This Detector:
Defect Detector Map



Railroad: Union Pacific
Division: Twin Cities
Subdivision: Albert Lea
Location: Northfield, MN
Milepost: 315.6
Model: Unknown
Functions: HBD-DED
Frequency: 160.8450
Active: Yes
Talk On Defect Only: No

Submit A Correction | View On Google Maps

Link To This Detector:
Defect Detector Map



 

Charlie

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Be sure to have a look at the FCC ULS database for other railroad frequencies listed under the previous operator(s) of the line. You will still find some active licenses under Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern, for example.

Also, based on the general location information you have provided, you may be able to receive the CN Osage sub on 161.190...but don't hold your breath. Licenses here are still listed under Chicago, Central and Pacific, BTW.
 

ratboy

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I have a couple of radios, including my BC125AT and Yaesu Vx-170 searching the entire railband. The Bearcat goes through the whole band in a couple of seconds, but the Yaesu receives a little better with big audio. On really slow scanning older radios, I had about 2 dozen programmed, "just the hits". Back in the Conrail and early days after the split, I heard a lot of really great stuff searching the entire band. Lots of arguments and crews begging for "just one more unit, anything will do us good!". Almost always, the answer was no. Then the struggling train would pass a power move, and the fun would begin.
 
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