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Date: 03/05/01 20:18
BNSF train tracking
Author: cgrubb80

I'm sure this was brought up a while back. I tried looking for anything and couldn't find anything. I have recently asked about the UP train tracking which is great since it's up to date but why isn't BNSF more up to date. I used this web site to trace a few BNSF engines and the dates I got were in December. Why is this? Any info. would be greatly appricated as I'm a BNSF fan.


Tularosa, NM

Date: 03/05/01 20:28
RE: BNSF train tracking
Author: brian

The BNSF trace only traces freight cars. The engines that it traces are only when they are on a forign railroad.


Date: 03/05/01 20:40
RE: BNSF train tracking
Author: badiron

My understanding is that the public trace systems are updated seperately from (and after) the systems that collect the AEI info and send it to the AAR database (which is what you're interacting with when you use NETRedi or whatever it's called). This theory explains why Amtraks sometimes don't get updated on UP's PET until the train makes a scheduled stop.

Date: 03/06/01 08:56
RE: BNSF train tracking
Author: traintracker

Trains can be traced using BNSF's tracing site, but it takes a little more work since it is driven by car numbers and not locos.

The usual procedure is to jot down several car numbers from a train and then trace these to follow the train as it travels to it's destination. It is also interesting to see how the cars are then distributed to other trains or are reloaded and sent off to new destinations. This is great if you're satisfied with a virtual form of railfanning.

The problem I have been trying to solve is predicting what trains will be where and when so that it is then possible to go out and watch them. Tracing then becomes a means of hunting and requires a knowledge of what cars are likely to appear in a given train. Series of cars can be traced and with the help of a spreadsheet or database, cars in individual trains can be identified and isolated. Then that train may be traced through its cars until you can determine its probable arrival at a convenient point.

I do this regularly with trains over Stampede Pass and usually find them after only a couple of traces. An example of what can be done with this is posted on my website. It is not up-to-date, but does show what can be done with tracing data:


Gregg Pohll has done an excellent job of keeping track of trains on the Oregon Trunk using similar methods:


I have also listed common freight car series seen on the BNSF. These are linked to BNSF's tracing site for quick tracing:


Dave Cooley

Date: 03/06/01 12:26
RE: BNSF train tracking
Author: 458.7

Thanks for the kind words Dave:

I have killed my text only version of the OT Watch....it is now located at

On the page...with Dave's help, I have also created a page of cars that frequently run up and down the west coast on BNSF trackage. Look for "Tracing tools" on the OT Watch...it has a lot more suggestions!

None of this would have come about without the original "Train Tracker" (Dave Cooley) though!

Gregg A. Pohll
Chiloquin OR

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