Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Discussion related to railroad radio frequencies, railroad communication practices, equipment, and more.

Moderator: Aa3rt

Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby Gadfly » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:17 am

I've been seeing this topic creep in from time to time where overwrought "foamers" go so far as to purchase Motorola radios such as MT1000's in the hope of talking to the trains, or at least, ASK about the legal issues. I don't want to pour cold water on peoples' hobbies or avocation, but let me make something clear. It IS to your advantage to heed this advice. Do NOT be mislead into believing that you have some misguided reason for transmitting on railroad frequencies. This is strictly against the law, the railroads will NOT react kindly to it, the railroad dicks AND the Federal Communications Commission will aggressively seek you out and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law (which means FINES of up to $10,000 PER occurance and even JAIL time). This is NOT funny! It is NOT a "game". YOU do NOT belong on railroad frequencies if you are not an employee (or authorized contractor)! You are NOT Rules-trained, you are breaking railroad Union agreements that can cause time claim issues and cost the company money paying those claims. What the railroad is doing is NONE of your beeswax and you must stay OUT and OFF their channels. You are NOT invited to "play".
You can interfere with the safety and operations of trains and their crews!

And here's one railroader that if I ever hear a "bootlegger" on NS or CSX channels, I-will- actively-seek-you-out-and turn you in to the railroad police and FCC's Spectrum Enforcement Division! :( Harsh? Sorry, but this is something you MUST not do! it is perfectly fine to listen on your scanner, but you have NO business transmitting on the railroad's radio channels! Take this warning to heart!


Gadfly
Gadfly
 
Posts: 1156
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:28 pm

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby CarterB » Tue Sep 09, 2008 8:41 am

As a Motorola dealer, I ditto gadfly's comments. I can personally attest to the fact that if the FCC is called on an "infrastructure sensitive" radio usage complaint, they WILL investigate, and they WILL prosecute. I recently had a "gypsy cab" unlicensed radio user interfering with an airport operations frequency. The FCC tracked them down like a rabid dog. Fines are real, and so is confiscation of equipment. If interference causes disruption of a licensed users operations, jail time.
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
User avatar
CarterB
 
Posts: 2541
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:19 am
Location: Bergen County, New Jersey

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby Burner » Tue Sep 09, 2008 11:50 am

Amen Brotha!


These are not CB's, lives could be at stake.

If I hear a foamer on my channel when i'm trying to make a joint i'm going to find him and remove his new toy from him, then use it as a chock for a moving car
User avatar
Burner
 
Posts: 373
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:55 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby Arrestmespi » Tue Sep 09, 2008 5:22 pm

I happened to take a trip on a railroad, a fan trip with lots of foamers and was suprised to see that the foamers had better transceivers then what I am issued at work, and I work as a Communications Maintainer for a Railroad. They were complete dicks, the train went into emergency, and there were foamers broadcasting on the road channel from 17 cars back from the engine that they think they saw something in the gauge. WTF
I hate foamers

I wanted to take there radios and reprogram there code plug for receive only, on the weather band
Arrestmespi
 
Posts: 72
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:56 pm

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby Gadfly » Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:13 pm

You should have called the RR detectives right away and pointed out the foamers! Railroad operations are NOT a game! And all those "would-be" railroad dreamers don't have a CLUE about what the heck they are talking about; they just THINK they do. So if you are one of those with a transmitter/walkie talkie, I strongly urge you to disable the transmit function NOW! IF you want to get your bruttress in a heap of deep doo doo, keep transmitting on it. One day you WILL run into a railroader that will turn you in for it! I already have! I've been told that bail is kinda expensive! :(

Gadfly
Gadfly
 
Posts: 1156
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:28 pm

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby Otto Vondrak » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:41 pm

Wanna talk on the radio to the trains? Join a museum. In fact, join my museum, we're one of the few in the country granted an FCC license to use railroad radio for our train operations.
----------------------------------------------
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site :: A Magazine I Read Often :: A Museum I Volunteer At
User avatar
Otto Vondrak
 
Posts: 20141
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:47 pm
Location: New York

Unauthorized guets transmitting on Railroad Frequencies

Postby Robert Paniagua » Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:04 am

I know, and I agree with the topic originator, Railroad radio use is just for authorized personnel only, NOT Railfans, they ought to be taken to criminal court if they attempt to or do so transmit. Railroad operations are just as serious as Law Enforcement and Fire Operations. And yes, an unauthorized user can be traced using GPS technology, so don't even think about fooling around in the MBTA Railroad (where I live) or transit system anywhere else. This also goes for Subway and Streetcar operations too.
~Robert Paniagua
Moderator: WMATA :: General Railroad Operations
User avatar
Robert Paniagua
 
Posts: 4418
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:11 am
Location: Weymouth, MA 02188

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby OneForTheKick » Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:07 pm

Can be tracked with GPS?

Very few radios, if even 10, that are used outside of the "HAM" band encode GPS into their transmissions.

You can triangulate positions using direction antennas and multiple receivers, but "GPS" is not anywhere near close to describing that.
OneForTheKick
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 4:03 pm
Location: New England

Re: Unauthorized guets transmitting on Railroad Frequencies

Postby Ken W2KB » Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:54 pm

Robert Paniagua wrote:I know, and I agree with the topic originator, Railroad radio use is just for authorized personnel only, NOT Railfans, they ought to be taken to criminal court if they attempt to or do so transmit. Railroad operations are just as serious as Law Enforcement and Fire Operations. And yes, an unauthorized user can be traced using GPS technology, so don't even think about fooling around in the MBTA Railroad (where I live) or transit system anywhere else. This also goes for Subway and Streetcar operations too.


The complaint would have to be filed in federal court. State courts do not have any jurisdiction over radio transmissions, even for law enforcement and fire operations. And for a federal criminal penalty, the following is essentially the only defined radio crime:

"SEC. 333. [47 U.C.S. 333] WILLFUL OR MALICIOUS INTERFERENCE. No person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under this Act or operated by the United States Government."

There are, however, civil penalties (so called monetary "forfeitures") that the FCC can impose for unlicensed transmissions.

I heartily concur that enforcement should be taken in appropriate circumstances.
~Ken :: Fairmont ex-UP/MP C436 MT-14M1 :: Cessna 177B Cardinal N16019
Black River Railroad Historical Trust :: My Personal Site
User avatar
Ken W2KB
 
Posts: 5651
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 9:27 pm
Location: Lebanon Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey & Tiverton, RI USA

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby CarterB » Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:09 am

The FCC can....and has...fined individuals up to $11,000 per incident AND confiscated the equipment. I should know 'cause I have witnessed it myself as a Motorola Radio dealer. And trust me, if I see or hear any unlicensed usage of two way radio, I myself will "drop the dime"...and have.
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
User avatar
CarterB
 
Posts: 2541
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:19 am
Location: Bergen County, New Jersey

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby GP40MC 1116 » Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:24 pm

As far as I know their is nothing illegal about purchasing a commercial VHF portable radio for use as a scanner

Usually whoever programs the radio should realize and understand that unless you have reasons to transmit on a specific frequency (either written permission or prior knowledge of why you should) then the frequency should be beeped out. Basically you can listen, but if you try and transmit your radio will just simply beep.
Last edited by GP40MC 1116 on Tue Nov 25, 2008 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
GP40MC 1116
 
Posts: 2072
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2004 9:38 pm

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby CarterB » Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:39 pm

Perhaps you should review your state's laws on "radios capable of receiving police or emergency frequencies" While the FCC might not involve themselves on a 'monitor only' basis, other governmental agencies can and will.
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
User avatar
CarterB
 
Posts: 2541
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:19 am
Location: Bergen County, New Jersey

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby Ken W2KB » Wed Nov 26, 2008 11:41 am

GP40MC 1116 wrote:As far as I know their is nothing illegal about purchasing a commercial VHF portable radio for use as a scanner

Usually whoever programs the radio should realize and understand that unless you have reasons to transmit on a specific frequency (either written permission or prior knowledge of why you should) then the frequency should be beeped out. Basically you can listen, but if you try and transmit your radio will just simply beep.


Though not legally required, I agree it's a good idea to disable the transmit, as sooner or later, the radio will be inadvertently keyed by some object leaning on it or otherwise pushing the PTT, and there is a remote possibility it could fail in the transmit mode. When that happens with an authorized radio there is no violation, but it would be a violation for an unauthorized radio.

My Motorola railroad HT can transmit on all RR freqs but is authorized to do so only on BR&W RR operations when I volunteer there, so I of necessity must be very careful if it is used for monitoring other railroads.
~Ken :: Fairmont ex-UP/MP C436 MT-14M1 :: Cessna 177B Cardinal N16019
Black River Railroad Historical Trust :: My Personal Site
User avatar
Ken W2KB
 
Posts: 5651
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 9:27 pm
Location: Lebanon Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey & Tiverton, RI USA

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby GP40MC 1116 » Wed Nov 26, 2008 1:52 pm

What I am saying is, you can set the radio up so it will TX on the frequencies you have legal grounds to do so on, and the others your radio will not even let you talk, you can push the transmit button only to be beeped at by the radio.
User avatar
GP40MC 1116
 
Posts: 2072
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2004 9:38 pm

Re: Illegal Use or "Bootlegging" on Railroad Frequencies

Postby RedLantern » Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:21 pm

Just a quick extra mention, I've seen railfans with external speakers on their scanners with the volume cranked up to the point that when a train was passing by and the conductor keyed the mic, I could hear feedback. I've only seen this once first hand, but I've heard the feedback a bunch of times on my scanner from other parts of the system. That part on the back of your scanner where it says "This device must not cause harmful interference" doesn't just mean transmitting. Even if you only have a scanner, if it's up loud enough that the microphones on the crew members' radios can pick it up, that's as bad as broadcasting, since it essentially is.

When a 2-way radio (any 2-way radio, not just railroad issued ones) picks up the sound of itself while the microphone key is down, it will produce feedback, which is kind of a loud annoying whistling sound. EVERY receiver on that frequency within range (or over a repeater) will receive that sound, including other train crews in the area, and even the dispatcher. When the crew member is keying the mic, they won't hear it because they are broadcasting (assuming they don't notice it blasting from your car audio system or they assume it's something else like a flange on a curve), their message won't get through, and they won't know that it didn't get through. So keep your scanners at a reasonable volume, or point the speakers away from the tracks.
Trains aren't dangerous, it's lack of common sense that's dangerous.
User avatar
RedLantern
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:52 pm
Location: Westford, MA

Next

Return to Radio and Communications

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest