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Eastern Railroad Discussion > GPS tracking of the Heritage units?


Date: 04/26/12 08:43
GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: P

While the Heritage program is pretty exciting, what would be more exciting is being able to track said units as they move about the system.

To be able to go to a website - perhaps the NS website - and find out where the units are would be wonderful to anyone looking to go see a particular unit. True, it wouldn't necessarily let you know where it will be headed, but at least you could determine current location.

I wonder if this is something that was even discussed by NS? What kind of costs/risks would be associated with doing this? Do thier locomotives already have GPS tracking for internal use?


p.s. Sites like TO are great, but as 19 units move about the system, I doubt anyone can rely on a single fan website to keep track of these units. As an example, updates here on some of the units already released are days old.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/26/12 08:45 by P.



Date: 04/26/12 08:45
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: junctiontower

I joked a few weeks ago that us railfans should sneak up on these units a hide a GPS transponder on them, but i don't think that is something that NS would even remotely entertain.



Date: 04/26/12 08:48
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: toledopatch

junctiontower Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I joked a few weeks ago that us railfans should
> sneak up on these units a hide a GPS transponder
> on them, but i don't think that is something that
> NS would even remotely entertain.


Agree. Huge potential trespassing and liability problem. NS is already annoyed enough as it is about how certain representatives of the "railfan community" have behaved regarding these units.



Date: 04/26/12 08:55
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: P

I would not be so quick to agree with this sentiment even though for several years now, we have been trained to 'stay away' from railroads. i.e. stay 70 feet from the ballast, do not cross tracks and do not take pictures of us.....

They were made to be seen and get attention. They were meant to generate good PR and visibility to the company. With today's technology, it would be easy enough to publicize thier location. Similiar to the RBBB circus train, why hide something you want people to see? In the same vein, if you do want people to see, why not use today's technology to allow them to be seen by the maximum number of people?



Date: 04/26/12 09:08
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: toledopatch

I expect there to be an ample number of staged events featuring these units, such as the Pennsy unit's planned appearance at National Train Day in Chicago 5/12, to satisfy NS's publicity goals. I view NS's primary motivation with this as an employee-morale/relations thing, not something for the general populace, since John Q. Public mainly views trains as an obstacle that gets in the way of his daily trip to his job or the local watering hole after work. Railfans, meanwhile, are a decidedly mixed bag for the railroads, because while many are well-behaved, there's that small number whose erratic behavior is a thorn in the railroad's side.



Date: 04/26/12 09:25
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: Pattenburg

Patch- well said!



Date: 04/26/12 09:59
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: hartrick24

toledopatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> junctiontower Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > I joked a few weeks ago that us railfans should
> > sneak up on these units a hide a GPS
> transponder
> > on them, but i don't think that is something
> that
> > NS would even remotely entertain.
>
>
> Agree. Huge potential trespassing and liability
> problem. NS is already annoyed enough as it is
> about how certain representatives of the "railfan
> community" have behaved regarding these units.


I think putting a GPS on a loco is such a bad idea. I would not even joke about doing such a thing.The west has a fan celled CaliforniaSteam.Maybe
Train Orders would consider a section for tracking NS heritage units the LEGAL way.



Date: 04/26/12 11:20
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: LV95032

Doesn't every unit already has a GPS? Supposedly GE can locate and monitor the performance of each locomotive for troubleshooting purposes?



Date: 04/26/12 11:22
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: WM303

The reason many folks like to railfan is the interactivity. Being track side when any unit of interest to the community passes is the catalyst that prompts folks to report via their hand-held device the unit and its location and direction. If you remove that element from rail fanning, you may as well just sit at home and stare at your computer screen..



Date: 04/26/12 11:51
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: toledopatch

LV95032 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Doesn't every unit already has a GPS? Supposedly
> GE can locate and monitor the performance of each
> locomotive for troubleshooting purposes?

That may well be so, in which case what is being advocated here is public access to the tracking data.

I don't see that happening, for the aforementioned reason.



Date: 04/26/12 12:16
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: bioyans

toledopatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> LV95032 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Doesn't every unit already has a GPS?
> Supposedly
> > GE can locate and monitor the performance of
> each
> > locomotive for troubleshooting purposes?
>
> That may well be so, in which case what is being
> advocated here is public access to the tracking
> data.
>
> I don't see that happening, for the aforementioned
> reason.

The vast majority of the locomotive fleet already has GPS installed, and they can track and download data remotely.

The chances of NS allowing public or railfan access to that data is probably as close to zero as one can get.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/26/12 13:49 by bioyans.



Date: 04/26/12 12:23
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: toledopatch

bioyans Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The vast majority of the locomotive fleet already
> has GPS installed, and they can track and download
> data remotely.
>
> The changes of NS allowing public or railfan
> access to that data is probably as close to zero
> as one can get.

Let me paint a scenario as to why this would never happen -- and why, if I were in charge of a railroad, or even in its public relations department, I wouldn't recommend it:

Injured Railfan: Well, I was chasing this specially painted locomotive, and for just a moment I glanced over to the tracks, and that's when I ran the stop sign and....
P.I. Lawyer: How did you know where the specially painted locomotive was going to be?
Injured Railfan: Norfolk Southern set up this GPS link so people would know where they were to go out and see them, and....
P.I. Laywer: Brilliant! OK, we add Norfolk Southern to the list of defendants on this $5-million dollar injury claim we're going to make, and I'm sure the lawyers for the estates of the three little kids who died in the other car will be interested to know about this, too....



Date: 04/26/12 16:04
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: Bath_wildcat

That right there is why I would be against this too. If I want to chase the Conrail and NKP units, I'll look here to see where they are and if I need to go the extra mile with Dad.



Date: 04/27/12 08:40
Re: GPS tracking of the Heritage units?
Author: mkostecky

toledopatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> bioyans Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > The vast majority of the locomotive fleet
> already
> > has GPS installed, and they can track and
> download
> > data remotely.
> >
> > The changes of NS allowing public or railfan
> > access to that data is probably as close to
> zero
> > as one can get.
>
> Let me paint a scenario as to why this would never
> happen -- and why, if I were in charge of a
> railroad, or even in its public relations
> department, I wouldn't recommend it:
>
> Injured Railfan: Well, I was chasing this
> specially painted locomotive, and for just a
> moment I glanced over to the tracks, and that's
> when I ran the stop sign and....
> P.I. Lawyer: How did you know where the specially
> painted locomotive was going to be?
> Injured Railfan: Norfolk Southern set up this GPS
> link so people would know where they were to go
> out and see them, and....
> P.I. Laywer: Brilliant! OK, we add Norfolk
> Southern to the list of defendants on this
> $5-million dollar injury claim we're going to
> make, and I'm sure the lawyers for the estates of
> the three little kids who died in the other car
> will be interested to know about this, too....


I have no doubt that a scenario as you described could and would happen today.
It is still a sad commentary on today's mind set to always blame somebody else instead of taking responsibility for ones own actions.
"The railroad caused this accident because they put that GPS unit on their locomotive which let me know where it was and caused me to go and look for it, therefor forcing me to drive distracted and have this accident."
I guess Common sense isn't so common anymore.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/27/12 08:43 by mkostecky.



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