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  1. #1
    Jim1348 is offline Rookie
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    Anybody Here Knowledgeable of the Railroad?

    I want to listen to the frequencies for the railroad line closest to my patrol area. How can I tell what frequency is used for the that rail line? I believe that the tracks are Canadian Pacific Railway because of the sign at the grade crossing is marked CPR 380429H, but the locomotive parked a couple of miles away is marked Progressive Rail. Anyway how do I determine what frequencies are used for that particular line? The location is in Rosemount MN near Highway 3 and 120th Street. Here are the GPS coordinates if that helps.

    Decimal Degrees (WGS84)
    Latitude Longitude
    44.77456 -93.11696


    Degrees, Minutes & Seconds
    Latitude Longitude
    N44 46 28 W93 07 01


    GPS
    Latitude Longitude
    N 44 46.474 W 93 07.018


    Also., are there any online maps that show the rail lines and mileposts. I think when I have listened a little bit in the past they referenced mileposts, but I had no idea where each milepost was. When we get incidents involving the railroad I want to be able to hear the folks in the locomotives giving additional information while I am responding.

  2. #2
    NavLaw's Avatar
    NavLaw is offline Officer First Class
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    check with your local radio shack, or next time a train stops ask one of the crew.
    If you can't do it from a boat. Do you really want to do it?

  3. #3
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    Search the web....most of your Rail Fan pages will have a list....
    As far as asking the crew....they may or may not know....alot of times they just refer to channel numbers and not actual frequencies.
    Also if you are not in a patrol car they might assume you are a terrorist and then report you to the railroad police (ie myself).

    As far as what line you are on...the name at the crossing will be the one. It doesn't matter what locomotive you see.

    So are you a rail fan, just curious about trains or what?

  4. #4
    Jackalope's Avatar
    Jackalope is offline Yell O
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    All railroads in North America share the same 96 frequencies, with very few exceptions. You can program all 96 into your scanner, and you should be able to hear whatever is happening on the line you're interested in, but you may also pick up other lines and you won't know which is which. The list of frequencies can be found here.

    If you do get a chance to speak to a crew member, they'll probably give you the frequency in either a two-digit or four-digit number. They're referring to the frequency number from the list I just linked to. If they say they use "channel 23," then look up 23 on the list. If they say "2323," it just means they both transmit and receive on channel 23. If they say something like "2361," it means they're transmitting on channel 23, but receiving on channel 61. In this case, you'll probably want to listen to both.

    Make sure to ask them about any other forms of communications they use. A lot of railroads still use PBX systems, which still go over the air on one of the railroad frequencies. The PBX is most likely to be used by maintenance employees, but they're just as likely to spot a problem as the train crews are.

    And finally, you might inquire at http://www.railroadforums.com. It's a forum for railfans, and if any of the members live in your area, they'll probably have way more information than you could possibly want.
    "I'm not a coward,
    I've just never been tested
    I'd like to think that if I was,
    I would pass"
    ~Mighty Mighty Bosstones~

  5. #5
    Jim1348 is offline Rookie
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    Thank you for the replies. I am not really a railfan, but I am an amateur radio operator. In fact I have an amateur radio installed in my unmarked car. Anyway, since it will tune into railroad frequencies I thought that I would be nice to have just the frequencies that cover my county. That is why I would rather not program in nearly 100 channels and not know who is talking about what. I get confused about the railroad stuff because a neighbor told me today that it is Progressive Rail that operates on the tracks near where I live, BUT he said that the Union Pacific issues track warrants for that line. To confuse the matter even more some of our maps show that same line as either Soo Line (old name) or Canadian Pacific Rail. That neighbor tells me that the train is on 161.115 for their stuff, but gets the track warrants on 160.845. I just want to know which channels to tune into if say a truck gets stuck on the tracks or the locomotive crew calls in trespassers. I know that it sounds kind of silly, but one of the PDs that I work with actually gets calls fairly often from the railyard that their are trespassers. I would like to be able to tune in directly to the channel that they are talking on when they give updates, etc, because too often the dispatcher is low in airing the call and the guy is gone when we get there. Also, what is the best way to tell what telephone number to call when something happens on the railline? I think somebody told me that they are 800 numbers for the three big railroads in my area (CP,UP,BNSF) I like to know this stuff ahead of time because when I dispatched years ago I seemed like we had difficulty communicating with the railroad dispatcher about locations. For example, I had the fire department out on a grass fire and the fire boss advises me to contact the railroad because they have fire trucks on an active railline. I am thinking no problem. So I call the 800 number on our list and I get a recording. I call the operator and get a different number for Burlington Northern. Finally I get ahold of somebody at BN and they tell me that the tracks belong to Wisconsin Central now. So I finally get ahold of them and tell them fire trucks are on the tracks and ask if any trains are coming soon. They ask me if it is between Coon Creek and Cardigan Junction. Neither of which are names I had ever heard of. Finally I tell the fire department that we can't tell if a train is coming or not. Turns out later that the locations of Coon creek and Cardigan Junction are points near where we are talking about, but the railroad has their own names for stuff, but we non-railroad folks have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. They other thing that confuses me is their mileposts on the railline. I had somebody tell me that I live near milepost 333. So if I could find a webpage that showed where the mileposts are on the various lines in this area it would probably help quite a bit.

  6. #6
    Jackalope's Avatar
    Jackalope is offline Yell O
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    It's possible that Progressive Rail relies on another company (or multiple companies) to do their dispatching/track warrants. If that was the case, you'd want to talk to whatever company is doing the dispatching. You may want to call Progressive before your next emergency to find out who to call when the emergency does happen. Their number is 952-985-7245.

    Soo Line was bought out by Canadian Pacific several years ago. Anything problems regarding "Soo Line" tracks should be directed to Canadian Pacific. Their emergency number is 800-716-9132.

    Union Pacific's emergency number is 888-877-7267.

    BNSF's emergency number is 800-832-5452.

    Wisconsin Central does not exist anymore, it's owned by Canadian National. Their emergency number is 800-465-9239.

    Every section of track has a name, and those names often don't match any nearby town or neighborhood names. Finding out the railroad names will be difficult unless you can get your hands on a timetable.

    What might be easier would be figuring out the railroad mileposts. You could give the railroad the approximate milepost of any problem, and that would be just as good as a place name.

    Most crossing should have an electrical control box nearby, and they will probably have a sticker on them listing the emergency number and the "crossing number." They might also list the milepost of the crossing. You might also look at the railroad signals. There should be a four digit number below the light. The first three numbers will be the mile that the signal is in. The last digit may or may not be the tenth of the mile, it depends on the railroad. And finally, if you see any signs along the right-of-way that just show a three-digit number, that is the exact mile of that location.
    "I'm not a coward,
    I've just never been tested
    I'd like to think that if I was,
    I would pass"
    ~Mighty Mighty Bosstones~

  7. #7
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    Yup...what Jack said.....
    All crossings have the 800 number for the railroad along with the DOT number for the crossing....You give them that and they know where you are.

    If there is an emergency on or near the tracks and you have notified the railroad it is a good idea if available to send a flagman a min. of two miles in both directions to ensure protection from trains. The flagman will need a flare or reflective object to wave horizontally to stop a train. Also a spotter will be needed at the scene of the emergency to also watch both directions for trains. Remember a loaded freight train traveling at 50 mph takes approx. 1.5 miles to stop.

 

 

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