Railroad radio question

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Railroad radio question

Postby wilmette2008 » Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:32 pm

Hello I routinely monitor Railroad Radios on my scanner, and would like to know what the tone that sounds before the train talks to the dispatcher is? What is the wattage on most Railroad radios? Do Railroads use repeaters? I ask this because I live in Wilmette a mile form the UP Knenosha-sub and can hear the train radio but not the dispatcher why is this? And finally do most train crews use propers radio lingo (over,out, roger, etc,ect...)? Please let me know thank you.
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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby DutchRailnut » Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:10 pm

The tone is a radio identfier its a tone blurb giving radio or unit number
Most Locomotive radio's are 45/50 watt
Railroads do not use repeaters but remote controlled base units.
VHF basicly has line of sight transmiision only around 12 miles if antenna is at 50 feet height +/-
No train crews hardly ever use formal over out etc unless a FRA or supervisor is present.
Most railroaders will use Railroad / unit/train number but not over/out .
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby Gadfly » Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:36 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:The tone is a radio identfier its a tone blurb giving radio or unit number
Most Locomotive radio's are 45/50 watt
Railroads do not use repeaters but remote controlled base units.
VHF basicly has line of sight transmiision only around 12 miles if antenna is at 50 feet height +/-
No train crews hardly ever use formal over out etc unless a FRA or supervisor is present.
Most railroaders will use Railroad / unit/train number but not over/out .



Um.....NS was pretty sticky about it. They'd speak to you about it if you didn't conform to it or they'd bring it up in the safety meeting if you got too lax about it.

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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby JoeRailRoad » Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:37 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:The tone is a radio identfier its a tone blurb giving radio or unit number
Most Locomotive radio's are 45/50 watt
Railroads do not use repeaters but remote controlled base units.
VHF basicly has line of sight transmiision only around 12 miles if antenna is at 50 feet height +/-
No train crews hardly ever use formal over out etc unless a FRA or supervisor is present.
Most railroaders will use Railroad / unit/train number but not over/out .


"Over" - "Out" etc. is mandated buy each railroads operating rules and 49 CFR 220 radio rules.

The FRA inspectors love to sit in the dispatchers office and write out citations for each violation.

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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby DutchRailnut » Sun Jan 02, 2011 5:53 pm

Hmm right, there is a rulebook world, and a real world out there.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby JoeRailRoad » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:47 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:Hmm right, there is a rulebook world, and a real world out there.


That's right.

And the real world is an FRA inspector with his/her citation book out. ;-)

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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby DutchRailnut » Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:03 pm

how many railroaders got fined ????
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby JoeRailRoad » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:05 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:how many railroaders got fined ????



The question is how many railroads get fined.

And how many railroads take action against the employee that caused the fine. :-(

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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby Gadfly » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:02 pm

They didn't make you say "over" or "out" everytime, but they sometimes got sticky about it if you got TOO lax about not using the proper precedure. What they'd do is bring it up in the morning safety meetings. Never heard of anyone actually getting fined over it, tho.

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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby slchub » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:30 am

In the Salt Lake City Hub for the UP, you'll find 99.9% of the guys/gals use over/out. Dispatchers included. GCOR and UPRR rules mandate this. The only exception to the rule would be those working on yard jobs.
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Postby Gadfly » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:28 am

One of the funniest things I ever heard on the radio occurred one night when I was riding pass back from Washington, DC. The dining car crew was supposed to get off at Salisbury, NC. One of the cooks had a girlfriend on the train, and he was a bit slow getting off the Southern Crescent (Train #1). The radio conversation overheard on a trainman's radio went like this:

Old Conductor: "AWright, let's leave here, George, on this here #1, OH-VAAAAH!!!!"

George, the engineer, gets a high green and whistles off, easing away.

"WAIT A MINUTE, GEORGE, AH GOT A DINING CAR FELLA AIN'T OFF YIT!"

George, the engineer, calmly, 'OK, Mr Dearborn, we stoppin, over!" Ka-SHOOOOO, the air goes back down, and the Crescent eases to another stop.

Long pause as the E8's idle.

Conductor Dearborn: "Awright, George, I think....... I think he's on the ground now, le's leave heah, over!"

George:, "Ah gotcha, John, here we go South, OV-AAAAAAH!"

Just we started rolling again the radio comes to life again.

"WAIT A MINUTE, GEORGE", a frustrated voice comes back on (conductor), "THAT DAMN SUMB##CH AIN'T OFF YET!" :) :)

And once again, we lurch to a stop, as George obligingly brings the Crescent to another stop just south of the Salisbury station.

"AWRITE NOW, GEORGE, I KICKED HIS A## OFF THIS TRAIN FER SHO' THIS TIME!" This time, after this series of stops and starts, the Crescent accelerates rapidly amid the sounds of the distinctive Nathan 5 chime whistle.

As if we weren't already giggling histerically at the conductor's gaffe and illegal outburst (cussin' on the radio), Dearborn transmits to no one in particular, still obviously angry at this delay,

'NEXT TIME THAT B#####D DOES THAT, I'M GONNA TAKE HIM TO GREENVILLE AND TEACH HIM A LESSON, OV-AAAAAAAAAAAH!" :)

He was on his handy talkie so I doubt the dispatcher heard it.

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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby slchub » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:04 am

DutchRailnut wrote:Hmm right, there is a rulebook world, and a real world out there.
Very true. And then there is the UP world whereas the MOP's (Managers) will test crews on said radio operations as pointed out on this "snakebites" (BLET local division website) testing in the near future (read , now):

UP MTO MOP source main line testing to include the following:
#1. Red-Yellow Flag (un-foreseen)
#2. Yellow Flag (un-foreseen)
#3. Light out test (darken signal)
#4. Turn off Scanner (voice message)
#5 Besides all the other normal testing:
A. Radio Test (Uses Over & Out)
B. Air Test (must have EOT, Cab, or Air Gauge) before you enter main line. If not don’t go. Main train must have correct air slip.
C. Job Briefing ( on all moves with Train Crew)
D. Protecting Shoves (on all moves with car counts)
E. Conductor Log book keep up to date (Plus your last (5) trips on you at all time)
F. Up to date GO, Supt. Notices, Rule book current, Timetable, SSI, Each employee on train crew must have his or her own copies on hand. (NOTE) You cannot just have one person on crew anymore.
G. Roll by ( all train crews)
H. Hand Brakes (not less than (4) brakes) (No Exception)
I. On and off moving equipment (No Exception)
J. Switch Test (Check switch points on all switches) (No Exception)
K. Locking up switches with locks, latches, keeper or hooks (No Exception)

5A shows that testing has occurred and is known to occur and a crew can receive an FTX for failure to use "proper" procedure. Why test the waters when 100% compliance is the easier, safer, and surest route to making more money?
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Re: Railroad radio question

Postby justalurker66 » Sun Feb 20, 2011 1:30 pm

wilmette2008 wrote:Hello I routinely monitor Railroad Radios on my scanner, and would like to know what the tone that sounds before the train talks to the dispatcher is?

All answers will vary depending on the specific railroad.

The railroad I listen to does not regularly use a tone but they have an alert tone that the dispatchers use when they are having problems reaching a train. One will hear the dispatcher call the train, pause, call again, pause and repeat. When they get tired of no response they will send a tone before the call. Then two tones. Then three tones. Electronic clearing of the throat. (AHEM ... this is dispatch! Answer the radio.)

In other situations tones can be used for other purposes.

What is the wattage on most Railroad radios?

The railroad I listen to has base stations operating at up to 70W transmitter output (232W ERP). The mobiles are 45W. Different railroads use different designs.

Do Railroads use repeaters?

Yes - although this certainly varies. With modern dispatching being well out of radio range you are more likely to find situations where it is just a remote radio operation and not actually repeating the signal over the air but a blanket "no" would be a wrong answer.

The railroad I listen to has working repeaters in place ... trains closer to the repeater than the dispatch center transmit on the repeater input frequency and listen on the repeater output frequency. Their transmissions can be heard via the repeater by anyone in the repeater's coverage area. The dispatcher is heard via the repeater output frequency. Before running a fiberoptic connection they used a radio at the dispach center on the repeater's input for the dispacher, but that is now carried via fiber to the repeater's radio where it can be heard along with the truly "repeated" train radio.

I ask this because I live in Wilmette a mile form the UP Knenosha-sub and can hear the train radio but not the dispatcher why is this? And finally do most train crews use propers radio lingo (over,out, roger, etc,ect...)? Please let me know thank you.

Your reception will vary depending on your antenna and radio, the distance to the transmitter, the height of it's antenna, terrain, weather (did I leave anything out?).

I live over 20 miles from the repeater I listen to and get good reception of anything transmitted over it (including trains using the repeater). That repeater is transmitting 232W from an antenna with a tip 78ft off the ground and my receive antenna is outdoors 30ft off the ground. I'm more likely to lose the train than the dispatcher as the train personnel occasionally forget to change to the repeater input frequency. On a good day I can pick up the main dispatch center 45 miles away transmitting 202W from an antenna with a tip 131ft off the ground.

(If you want to look for a specific system the FCC has a database of all licenses but it can be difficult to navigate. http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSear ... vanced.jsp is the start page. I'd suggest using the geosearch for a large operation so you don't have to go through licenses in California to find those in Wisconsin.)

As far as professionalism ... I've heard some things that are a little loose, but most railroads operate under strict rules. I listen to a line with track warrant control - which is very precise reading from the dispatcher, repeating by the conductor, acknowledged by the dispatcher, acknowledgment acknowledged by the conductor. They follow GCOR with locations and milepost numbers spelled out. The more important the communication the more professional and precise that communication is. The difference I hear is one dispatcher does everything by milepost and another does everything by location name. Both methods accurately describe locations.

Keep listening ... it is fun and eventually you'll catch on to what they are saying. If you don't already have an outdoor antenna and can install one get one. Living only a mile from a line you should be able to pick up both sides of the conversation ... at least for trains where you are.
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