Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Riding the Rails into Baltimore, MD

If you like trains and railroading, like I do, bring your scanner with you the next time you take a train trip. It will give you an exciting behind the scenes look at railroading! Last weekend I took a trip on Amtrak Northeast Regional from Providence, RI to Baltimore, MD for a mini weekend vacation with my wife. I thought this would be a great opportunity to monitor railroad communications on the move rather than from my hobby room.

My gear for the trip:

  • Uniden BCD396XT
  • Shadow Earpiece
  • Leather case with swivel belt loop
  • AC Adapter
  • AA Lithium batteries
  • Small notebook

    This was the first time I used an ear-piece for scanning, the Shadow Earpiece was very comfortable plus I could enjoy listening without disturbing anyone else. This was the first time using AA Lithium batteries with my scanner... I put in a fresh set of batteries at the start of my trip and I never had to change them.

    I was able to find a few frequencies here and there online. This was a great opportunity to use the scanner "Railroad Service Search"and the (Uniden) Close Call feature.

    Below I found the Road Channels for each region along the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington DC:

    Boston, MA – New Haven, CT
  • Road Channel - 160.9200 ARR Channel 54

    New Haven, CT - New Rochelle, NY
  • Road Channel – 160.5450 ARR Channel 29

    New Rochelle, NY – Philadelphia, PA
  • Road Channel – 161.0100 ARR Channel 60

    Philadelphia, PA – Washington, DC
  • Road Channel - 160.9200 ARR Channel 54

    What are Road Channels?
    For Amtrak these channels are used for the train crew and for train to dispatcher communications.

    Monitoring around Baltimore, MD:
    Once I got into Baltimore I switched gears from rail to public safety communications. The city of Baltimore has a 800MHz Motorola Type II Smart Zone Trunking system with 98% of the talk groups using digital (P25) voice communications. So a digital scanner is a must for this area. I was getting great reception in most area.

    Who is on the City of Baltimore Trucking System?
  • Fire
  • Police
  • Public Works
    ***As of right now this system is not rebanded.***

    I was able to monitor both Security at Camden Yards and B & O Railroad Museum from my hotel room a little over a mile away. I could also hear a lot of CSX Railroad communications as well.