• Home scanner question

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

  by Pat Fahey
I started listening to my scanner again, the current scanner I own is a RELM scanner, I can hear the police and fire call with no problem.
Now as for hearing CSX, or Pan Am, on the old railroad frequencies I don't hear a thing, I have put in the newer frequencies and still hear nothing. I use to hear B&M cobble hill or CSX dispatchers, now I get nothing..
And Yes I do know because of this pandemic, the railroads have cut back on freights, and commuter trains...
So my question to the experts. do I need to upgrade my scanner? if so what do you recommend. any answer will be helpful,, thank you, Pat.
  by neman2
I don't know anything about that scanner or where you are but railroads around New England haven't changed radio technology much. Still normal simplex VHF.
Here's a good source of current frequencies from Scan New England to check out. -- https://www.snewiki.com/wiki/index.php/Railroads
  by New Haven 1
I thought I would second what Pat is saying in that most railroad radio traffic is still VHF analog, so, I would think there is something up with your scanner. Unless you have already, I would start by verifying what frequencies you have programmed into your scanner. Also, sometimes railroads will change usage levels on the frequencies they are licensed for, but this generally doesn't happen.

Personally, I have Ham and GMRS licenses and, I use commercial Motorola radios for those services as well as listen to the railroads you mention and others with no problem whatsoever.

I hope this helps.
  by KB1KVD
B&M Cobble dispatcher channel isn't a train dispatcher nor B&M. The cobble hill AAR 039/097 channel is used by the commuter rail radio room for use by the engineering department for various functions. The output side of that channel which is AAR 039 (160.695 MHz) is used by engineering forces out in the field and is often referred to as truck to truck. As for CSX operations you're really only going to hear the dispatchers out toward Worcester. Pan Am (B&M,MEC,ST) are still for the most part on the same frequencies.

As for commuter rail and Mass DOT owned track in southeastern Massachusetts, those have changed a bit. Here's the breakdown of what is used.

Old Colony Dispatcher AAR 041 (160.725 MHz) Cabot (south hampton st area) to the Greenbush, Plymouth/Kingston and Middleboro lines.

Dorchester Branch AAR 092 (161.490 Mhz) Newmarket to Hill (Readville)

Franklin, Stoughton, Needham branches AAR 054 (160.920 MHz)

Worcester Mainline AAR 020 (160.410 MHz) Cove to CP44 in Worcester.

Fitchburg Mainline AAR 032 (160.590 MHz) Swift(Somerville) to Willows East. Willows West to Westminster is Pan Am 094/070 (161.520 MHz/161.160 MHz).

New Hampshire Mainline (Lowell line) AAR 032 (160.590 Mhz) Tufts to South Lowell

West Route Mainline (Haverhill Line) AAR 014 (160.320 MHz) CP-Foley st to CPW-WJ. CPW-WJ to State line is Pan Am 094/070 (161.520 MHz/161.160 MHz).

East Route (Newburyport/Rockport line) AAR 014 (160.320 MHz) FX (Somerville) to Newburyport and Rockport.

Mass DOT tracks in Southeastern Mass. AAR 021 (160.425 Mhz) It is currently used on the Framingham Secondary, Middleboro Secondary, New Bedford Mainline, Fall River Branch, Cape Mainline and Falmouth Branch.

Note: All of these channels are carrier squelch (CSQ). Keolis/MBTA base radios do transmit a tone of 77.0 Hz but that is for squelching other base radios on the same frequency so it does not cause feedback to the dispatcher. Our trains, mobile and portables transmit a PL tone is only for satellite receivers along the railroad. All train,base radios, truck and portable radios operate in CSQ on the receivers. So if you put in PL tones on your receivers you will only hear maybe half of the traffic on the channels.
  by rustyrails
Nothing has changed on all those frequencies. I can still monitor them. I'm wondering what they mean "tone up" to get the NC dispatcher. It sounds like somebody pressing numbers on the keypad, then you hear a control noise. Moments later you hear the dispatcher ask who's calling.
  by jaymac
Depending on the scanner's age/design, it might not be compatible with the change to the newer Narrow Band for VHF-High. PD and FD freqs can be VHF-Low, VHF-High, and UHF, so receiving Public Safety means the scanner could be working on Low or UHF, but not High.
If there's a willing two-way dealer/repairer near you, mebbe a diagnostic trip or -- instead -- a new scanner. Prices aren't that bad, depending on the source
  by markhb
Does anyone know the frequencies for Maine? Both the list in the reply here and the list that was linked to stop at the ME-NH border.
  by neman3
Look on the left side of the page I linked, there are links to the six New England states. After clicking on the state you want you will find a link to "Railroads." Hit that link and you will find them there. Scan New England is a very good and reliable source of New England scanner frequencies.