View Full Version : Is there a train coming?

11-13-2004, 12:56 AM
Hello everyone, I have drastically expanded my photo locations, and have marked on the map where I need to be and when. Well, I am submitting photos on a bi-weekly basis now! There are a few spots I have picked out on a line that seems to be very lightly traveled, though everytime I get a chance to set up at a location, the rails are shiny. These particular areas do not have signals near, and I have spent many weekends, and many hours waiting for a train to just show up. Just last weekend, I found yet another location to shoot on that line, and while my camera was at home charging, I saw a train for the first time in three months on it!

I wondered if I could call BNSF and ask them for a shedule for trains traveling that line? (sorry, I don't know jack about branch names) It would be nice to know a train will be coming when I have the opportunity to go out and take photos. One particular location is of tunnel "Q1" on a northbound brach on the BNSF out of Laurel, MT.

Does anyone know how I could gain information about industrial rail traffic without being suspected as a terrorist!? I read on the Kentucky Railfan's website, that you could use a shortwave radio to recieve rail traffic communications? I don't have one, can't quite afford one, and don't exactly have all day to listen in, let alone leave work in the middle of the week to grab a photo. :roll:

11-13-2004, 02:22 AM
Your best bet would be to invest in some sort of two way radio or a scanner. I doubt that BNSF would give you a lineup of scheduled trains over the phone. You can pick up a new scanner, VHF handheld, or VHF mobile for less than $200.

11-13-2004, 03:10 AM
As kyrailfan said, scanner is probably the best way to go. Most frequencies can be found online by doing a simple google search. Scanners are great in letting you know every little thing that is going on on the rails. Probably the best place to go and buy a scanner would be Radio Shack. They have a variety to choose from and have attachments available. You could also go through Uniden and purchase one of their scanners. My uncle has a Uniden and is very happy with it. There site is here:


Research both and see what you like. Remember, there are others out there, I'm just giving a suggestion.

11-13-2004, 04:19 AM
It would be nice to know a train will be coming

Yeah, and anyone who is willing to do harm would like that information as well. I was not a railfan when 9/11 happened, but I understand that there were quite a few websites, some even rail company provided, that listed trian names and run times which evaporated after those punks hit us.

As far as the rails being shiny, there might be alot of night traffic, which would suck. The scanner option is a good idea. I got mine off eBay for $76; a steal. It has helped tremendously with knowing what the heck is going on. It is well worth the investment, and it might even give you a heads up when a train's on the way...

11-13-2004, 05:11 AM
Remember, there are others out there, I'm just giving a suggestion.

I should've mentioned this earlier...

I have a scanner which I hardly ever use anymore (no it's not for sale) except to check the weather. For railfanning, I have a Yaesu FT-2800 mobile (200+ channels) still yet to be mounted in the Toyota and a GE PCS handheld (16 channels). They both receive really well, and I'll know when a train's coming about 20-30 miles before I see it. Since both radios are tuned on a narrower band than a scanner (137-174 MHz instead of 29 - 960 MHz), they receive much better. So this could be another option for you if you don't want to go the way of the scanner.

11-16-2004, 10:25 PM
I can guarantee you nobody is going to give you any information over the phone. Not only is it against the rules, most operations people on the railroad are too busy these days to answer questions from the public. I miss the days when you could go to the tower and talk to the operator.

11-17-2004, 12:36 AM
Thanks everyone for the information. I didn't think a phone call was a good idea, and I didn't have a clue how, (if possible) to obtain rail traffic information. I tried the internet, and nothing. I immagine scanners can run off of the cigarette lighter in car? I will be looking into buying a scanner to streamline my railfanning efforts!

Can anyone direct me on where to find a detailed railroad atlas (downloadable if possible) by state? I found a couple online that are very vague, and I would like to know branch, or sub names, mile markers etc. Perhaps one that lists nearby cities and roads? I think it would go hand-in-hand with the scanner, since all I know is "there are tracks over there near x-town that go east and west"!



11-17-2004, 02:45 AM
A scanner will run off of battery power or through the adapter to fit in your car's cigarette lighter.

You may be able to do a search for "railroad atlas" and see what you come up with. Most everyone I know carries a DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer with them. These show all rail lines as well as the roads that can get you back to the tracks in some locations. They're very helpful in areas where you're not familiar, and can be picked up for about $20 or so.

11-24-2004, 07:34 PM