I'm big in the NJT Rail forum, and on my railfan trips, I'd bring along my Uniden Bearcat scanner to listen to the North Jersey Coast Line dispatcher. I can't recall offhand, but the frequency is like 160.xxxx.
I'm looking into getting a new scanner, and have seen many high end 2-ways reprogrammed for one way scanner use.
My question is, what should I be looking for, what has the best range, and anything else like that (the scanner I use now only gets clear reception by Bay Head Yard).
You'll hear the NJ Coast Line on 161.235 MHz. That is the frequency for the NJT Newark Division. The Newark Division includes the NJCL, the Princeton Line, the Raritan Valley Line, and the Atlantic City Line. Newark Division trains also operate on portions of the Northeast Corridor.
Tune in 161.400 MHz to hear the NJT Hoboken Division. The Hoboken Division includes the M&E Lines which are made up of the Morristown Line, the Montclair Line, the Gladstone Line, and the Boonton Line. It also includes the Main Line which is made of up the Main Line, the Bergen County Line, the Southern Tier Line, and the Pascack Valley Line.
This information came direct from an NJT employee timetable from 2002. I was a former train dispatcher for NJT. I spent most of 2002 working on the Main Line desk. I returned to public safety dispatching after finding out that sometimes it's better NOT
to realize your dream job.
In addition to being a dispatcher of one kind or another for the last 16 years I'm also a licensed ham and radio is definitely my second hobby. You can
buy a two-way radio and have it reprogrammed to receive only but I think you'll be better off just buying a good scanner. I do have a Motorola HT-1000 two-way and it is a good radio but it performs no better, or worse, than any of my scanners or ham radios.
Radio performance, especially hand-held scanners, is dependent on many things. Geography, distance from the transmitting station(s), weather, etc. Those things are generally out of our control but one thing that you can control is the antenna. Buy a good hand-held scanner and antenna and I think you'll be satisfied with your results.
I currently use a Yaesu FT-60R hand-held amateur radio with a speaker mic and a Maldol AS-30 antenna while trackside. It allows me to monitor the railroad AND
stay in touch with my railfan buddy who is also a ham. As long as he remembers to bring his radio when we're out railfanning we can stay in touch with each other as we generally spread out while we're taking pictures.
Check these links for radio and antenna ideas: