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Railfan Technology > ATCS availability in SF Bay Area and Northern California


Date: 11/26/16 19:56
ATCS availability in SF Bay Area and Northern California
Author: ShoreLineRoute

Hi all,

I've been under the impression that BNSF and UP don't use ATCS in the SF Bay Area and Northern California.  Has this changed recently, and if so, for which main lines is this information accessible to railfans?  I suspect that the coverage map in the ATCS Monitor website might not be up to date.

Thanks in advance!
Oliver Barrett
Sunnyvale CA



Date: 11/27/16 18:12
Re: ATCS availability in SF Bay Area and Northern California
Author: jimB

UP uses ATCS on its Bay area lines that are CTC (Coast sub between Elmhurst & Newak is TWC as are some areas South of Gilroy) . I believe BNSF does as well but I am not as familiar with their lines. Caltrain does as well. Some areas have spotty coverage - need more reciever sites!

Jim B



Date: 11/28/16 10:09
Re: ATCS availability in SF Bay Area and Northern California
Author: RyanWilkerson

I run a server covering UP in the northern most part of California (roughly Marysville north to Weed). There is a Roseville server that covers Sacramento, Roseville, Donner and more. PM me if you'd like more details.

Ryan Wilkerson
Fair Oaks, CA
ShastaRails



Date: 11/30/16 11:34
Re: ATCS availability in SF Bay Area and Northern California
Author: ShoreLineRoute

Thanks for the responses!

Oliver



Date: 01/24/17 13:51
Re: ATCS availability in SF Bay Area and Northern California
Author: Graybeard1942

Perhaps a clarification is in order here.   There is the ATCS system based upon CTC radio-shared data that the railroads use, and the ATCSMonitor software which is often data-shared on the Internet.  The latter is not ubiquitous.  However, for the Union Pacific Railroad there is radio-shared 800/900 MHz CTC data available along its entire route from Roseville to Portland, with a single exception.  That 'dark' area is between Springfield OR and the Cascade Summit where Code Line was still being used when I last visited the area.  Except for that exception, one can capture and decode the CTC data within reasonable range of each Control Point.  Access information has been documented and available for several years.

[It should be pointed out that in the process of upgrading its railside communication systems in anticipation of the implementation of PTC, some databases have slightly changed.]

'Armchair ATCS' coverage is not readily available for many rural segments of the UP I-5 Corridor. That is a function of a lack of volunteers willing to invest time and equipment since private ATCS Internet servers utilize input from a number of remote receivers.

Personally, I utilize what I call 'Front Seat ATCS' when railfanning. With a portable radio on my center divider console and a laptop computer, no matter where I am on the UP Northern California/Oregon routes, I can track the path and progress of trains in real time. No Wi-Fi  connection is necessary.  I have been doing this sucessfully since 2006.
 



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