Old 10-18-2003, 08:07 PM   #1
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Default Train IDs

How does one find out the train designation, origination and destination info? Is it possible to obtain it without a scanner?
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Old 10-18-2003, 08:28 PM   #2
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Do you have a particular railroad in mind? This could help narrow down what we're looking for.
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Old 10-18-2003, 08:36 PM   #3
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Yes, the Twin Cities division of the BNSF. There are great vantage points for CP Rail and UP photos as well.
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Old 10-18-2003, 08:41 PM   #4
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You can try www.steelroads.com

My friend told me about this site and locomotive tracing. However I've never tried it, so I can't tell you much about it.

I believe you need to register, but the membership fee is free.

Hope this helps
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Old 03-25-2005, 01:49 AM   #5
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Try this site:

http://www.northwestrailfan.com/bnsf_train_symbols.htm
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Old 03-25-2005, 02:57 AM   #6
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Thanks J, I forgot all about this posting (it was from 10-03). I actually am closer to legally carrying a scanner in my car, Minnesota is strict.

Since then I found similar lists at Q Station and Altamont Press.
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Old 10-23-2005, 12:49 AM   #7
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I tried the two sites... the one gave a breakdown of symbols and destination-origin codes.

Now here's my question: I have two photos, which someone has entered the train ID, months after the photo was taken, so how does this person know that particular ID? One photo was ID'd as Z-SSEMEM.
Image © mtrails
PhotoID: 73832
Photograph © mtrails


The breakdown:
Z-High priority Intermodal
SSE-South Seattle (origin)
MEM-Memphis (destination)

If you read the comment, it's coming from Wichita, and going to [Seattle].
I know this, because a friend of mine works at Boeing, and I told him how cool it was to see the fueselages being transported by train, and he filled me in with the process. ANYWAY, it would seem that the ID for this train would have been Z-WICSSEE. The train in the photo is heading West... Memphis is East. Since I don't know jack otherwise, again my question, how does one know this, unless they are shipping with this train, or are part of the crew? Especially since the Train ID was updated several weeks (or months) after the train has manifested.

If you are going to ID my photo, please let me know!

Last edited by mtrails; 10-23-2005 at 12:54 AM.
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Old 10-23-2005, 01:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtrails
If you read the comment, it's coming from Wichita, and going to [Seattle].
I know this, because a friend of mine works at Boeing, and I told him how cool it was to see the fueselages being transported by train, and he filled me in with the process. ANYWAY, it would seem that the ID for this train would have been Z-WICSSEE.

Someone didn't know what they are talking about in this case, apparantly. How they know months down the road? They probably guess.

Z WICSSE is unlikely, since BNSF does not normally originate Z trains out of Wichita like that, or not to my knowledge. Someone is welcome to correct this if I am wrong. It could well be anything. The car is going to Seattle, but the train may not be. It could be an M PTRDEN or something coming from the south, going to Denver, then that car gets on another train. There's no telling, although in this case it certainly looks like a Z or P train.
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Old 10-23-2005, 05:52 PM   #9
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Well, having come a long way since the original post in 2003, I have learned a thing or two.

I have never known the BNSF to mark a frieght or non-intermodal train as a Z. Furthermore, I believe (not know for sure) that the Q and P trains are also intermodal/stacks.

The two designations for frieght I know are H and M. High priority and regular priority, respectively.

There are places, like Western Minnesota, where one may know which train it is just by the time of day. But Northtown and Hoffman act as funnels to condense all the traffic. One intermodal looks the same as another.

Now I see the problem with my original question.
Quote:
Originally Posted by busyEMT
How does one find out the train designation, origination and destination info? Is it possible to obtain it without a scanner?
The question is two totally separate queries. Live and learn.
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Old 10-23-2005, 11:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by busyEMT
I have never known the BNSF to mark a frieght or non-intermodal train as a Z. Furthermore, I believe (not know for sure) that the Q and P trains are also intermodal/stacks.

Right, Z is for high priority intermodal, so it will not be on non intermodal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by busyEMT
There are places, like Western Minnesota, where one may know which train it is just by the time of day. But Northtown and Hoffman act as funnels to condense all the traffic. One intermodal looks the same as another.
Assuming it is on time. This practice takes a long time to get, a scanner helps greatly, and you may start to recognize patterns. And really, unless I know for sure, I never assume. There are all sorts of little quirks and nuances. BNSF runs a U SEMBIR / U BIRSEM through St. Louis, it always looks the same. One day, I assumed it was a U BIRSEM coming, and then heard on the scanner it was a U BIREOL or something like that. Who would have known? Not me, except I heard it on the scanner. Trains can detour, run late, get annulled, get combined with another train, etc.


Some trains have tell tale cars, so many times you can probably be almost sure what you are looking at, but even then, if it is an assumption, I wouldn't list it as such. Coal is even tougher. You may know the destination based on the cars, but do you know from which mine it originated, especially if one customer is served by several mines?

I wish there was some place you could look all these up, but the info is kept tight nowadays. BNSF used to have an 800 number you could punch in a car number, it would tell you what train it was on. That ended after 9-11-2001 sometime.
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Old 10-25-2005, 01:47 AM   #11
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So it seems to know a train's ID, you have to really pay attention, or get lucky on the scanner. There's no definitive way to find out the ID. Ok that answers that question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4kV
Someone didn't know what they are talking about in this case, apparantly. How they know months down the road? They probably guess.
-Guess, I assume. Why someone was compelled to insert the ID, not a week later, but weeks later? And it doesn't make sense on both of my photo's ID'd, that the origin, seems unlikely, considering both trains were heading West toward the yard, and the origins were west! According to the timetable of where the train headed in from, it wouldn't make sense that the train would travel a set of cars hundreds of miles to backtrack? I'm confused!

I'm not personaly concerned with having the ID to the photo, but when someone know's or thinks they know, I think I have the right to know as well. If I can't prove the ID, and the person isn't coming forth in the forum, I would rather remove that ID.
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Old 10-25-2005, 02:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtrails
So it seems to know a train's ID, you have to really pay attention, or get lucky on the scanner. There's no definitive way to find out the ID. Ok that answers that question.
There are ways, like ask a crew, or get inside info, but otherwise, if you don't hear it, then no, it likely can not be confirmed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mtrails
-Guess, I assume. Why someone was compelled to insert the ID, not a week later, but weeks later? And it doesn't make sense on both of my photo's ID'd, that the origin, seems unlikely, considering both trains were heading West toward the yard, and the origins were west! According to the timetable of where the train headed in from, it wouldn't make sense that the train would travel a set of cars hundreds of miles to backtrack? I'm confused!

I'm not personaly concerned with having the ID to the photo, but when someone know's or thinks they know, I think I have the right to know as well. If I can't prove the ID, and the person isn't coming forth in the forum, I would rather remove that ID.
Like I mentioned, the person who inserted the train ID was wrong. I would just remove it.
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