RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

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RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby Ken W2KB » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:20 am

Have any railroads converted to digital radios for operations? Any known plans to do so? Will the digital radios continue to utiltize the existing railroad spectrum (i.e., 160-161MHz) or move to new spectrum?

Arising out of Project 25, there are radios available that are capable of conventional (and future narrow(er) band) operation as well as digital. Many agencies are converting to P25 radios for the extra confidentiality that digital affords, and the dual mode radios facilitate phase-in over time meeting budget constraints. I have heard that FRA is "ecouraging" railroads to acquire digital capable radios when new or replacement radios are acquired.

Anyone have any insight?
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby DutchRailnut » Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:30 pm

other than narrow band, no changes will be made to railroad radio's, simply because it would hinder interchange of locomotives to other railroads.
no one is gone start or pay for changing 25 000 locomotive radio's in USA.
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby EMTRailfan » Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:48 am

DutchRailnut wrote:other than narrow band, no changes will be made to railroad radio's, simply because it would hinder interchange of locomotives to other railroads.
no one is gone start or pay for changing 25 000 locomotive radio's in USA.


Speaking of the narrowband, is that why a lot of the locomotive talk seems very low in output now vs. the dispatchers talking. I notice it particularly with CSX. I guess I'll have to convert my CSX channels to narrow band if that's the case. Yes, I fan with a radio (Kenwood TK272), but I cut the tongue out of my radio :wink:
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby AgentSkelly » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:34 pm

Union Pacific out here in Portland operates a 2 site trunking system with P25 digital voice for the carmen at two yards.
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby kitn1mcc » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:25 pm

from talking to a few guys i know who work for the MBTA they are looking to go to the Icom i-dash digital

right i am trying to get Valley on narrow band. i told them it is gonna be big dollars
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby EMTRailfan » Wed Dec 09, 2009 11:39 am

EMTRailfan wrote:
DutchRailnut wrote:other than narrow band, no changes will be made to railroad radio's, simply because it would hinder interchange of locomotives to other railroads.
no one is gone start or pay for changing 25 000 locomotive radio's in USA.


Speaking of the narrowband, is that why a lot of the locomotive talk seems very low in output now vs. the dispatchers talking. I notice it particularly with CSX. I guess I'll have to convert my CSX channels to narrow band if that's the case. Yes, I fan with a radio (Kenwood TK272), but I cut the tongue out of my radio :wink:


Since making the above post, I fanned CSX up on the Lake Shore in North East, PA last Saturday. I converted my CSX channels to narrowband, and it seemed to help with receiving the output volume of the train crews. They were still considerably "quieter" than the dispatcher although they were very clear as I was right at CP73 when they were calling it out. To describe, it just sounded like the Engineer was holding the mic open for the Conductor to talk from the other side of the cab.
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby jmp883 » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:31 pm

Personally I don't see railroads going digital (P25). The AAR mandates that all locomotives that operate in interchange service be capable of operating on all licensed railroad frequencies. Not only would the railroads have to replace all their locomotive radios but they'd have to buy new handheld radios for their crews and upgrade their dispatch facilities. Of course the MOW people would either have to upgrade their radios as well or, illogically, stay on their current systems. That doesn't make any sense since 2 radio systems would then need to be maintained.

The one definite change that is coming is the narrowbanding of the current railroad band. The December 2009 issue of Monitoring Times magazine has an excellent article on the narrowbanding for railroad radio. The target date for all US railroads to be compliant is sometime in 2013. Most scanners and ham radios already come with user-programmable channel spacing so, for hobbyists anyway, it won't be that much of a financial burden. I'm not sure how easy it will be for the railroads to update their radios for narrowband operation but even if it means outright replacement vs. just a software upgrade it will still probably be cheaper than buying an all-new P25 digital system.

Should the railroads go digital? That's a debate I don't really want to start here....... :-D
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby kitn1mcc » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:26 pm

jan 1 2013 compliant and proper license
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby Ken W2KB » Wed Dec 30, 2009 3:56 pm

came across this Kenwood press release on digital and/or P25 railroad conversion:

"Since the NEXEDGE™ series can realize a simple and low-cost transition from traditional analog systems, it is the best system for developing of small- and medium-sized systems. It has been extensively introduced by public service authorities such as railroad and electric power companies. . . "

http://www.kenwood.co.jp/en/news/2009/20090317.html
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby CarterB » Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:09 pm

As a radio dealer, I see no real advantage for the railroads to go digital. 12.5KHz frequency splits on analog after Jan 1, 2013 should work just fine. Most radios purchased in the past 10 yrs or so, are reprogrammable from the 25KHz to 12.5 KHz banding splits. Why fix it if it ain't broke??
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby AgentSkelly » Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:26 pm

CarterB wrote:As a radio dealer, I see no real advantage for the railroads to go digital. 12.5KHz frequency splits on analog after Jan 1, 2013 should work just fine. Most radios purchased in the past 10 yrs or so, are reprogrammable from the 25KHz to 12.5 KHz banding splits. Why fix it if it ain't broke??


I agree. Plus the fact I would think that AAR would have to agree on a standard for all railroads to operate on. Which the AAR has not made any official announcement.
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby Ken W2KB » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:24 pm

Here's an e-magazine blurb on a new model clean cab radio that is designed for digital compatibility:

Ritron RCCR "Clean Cab" Railroad Radio

FCC Narrow band compliant locomotive radio is also "upgradeable" to digital NXDN @ 6.25kHz. The rugged, high performance, tri-mode capable RCCR is designed specifically to meet the rigors of the railroad environment. It is available in both a one-piece or two-piece remote head model. Made In America.

Found a link to the details: http://www.ritron.com/prod_rccr.html
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby kitn1mcc » Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:30 pm

RutRow Ritron i never meet a Ritron Radio that was any good
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby jgallaway81 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 8:13 pm

As with the Federal mandate for the conversion of the TV stations to go digital, the time is coming where even teh railroads will be mandated to a conversion to digital. Part of that is the implementation of PTC.

The BIGGEST factor for the mandating of digital spectrum is the increased bandwidth capabilities. If more frequencies become available for licensing in the same spectrum range, the FCC gets to make more in licensing fees. Like everythign else, it comes down to the all-mighty dollar.
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Re: RRs changing to digital (vs. analog) radios

Postby DutchRailnut » Sat Jan 23, 2010 8:27 pm

and since no one will pay for 117 000 new railroad radio's other than Federal Government, if change is mandated, it will be safe to say that either way the Federal government will loose money.
A small railroad like Metro North has to replace over 1900 radio's and who do you think will foot the bill, specially after we just replaced all for narrow band capable stuff ;-)
Last edited by DutchRailnut on Sun Jan 24, 2010 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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