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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Q) re Digital Radios

Date: 03/18/17 14:50
Q) re Digital Radios
Author: Grover

Has the rail industry ever considered upgrading to digital radio communication?  Perhaps this topic has been hashed, and re-hashed in past, forgive me if that is the case.  I've been considering a new scanner, and the thought occurred to me; what happens if they upgrade to digital?  I assume all our scanners would then be rendered a solid state noise generator.
​Additionally, with digital radio they would most likely encrypt the signal.

Date: 03/18/17 17:15
Re: Q) re Digital Radios
Author: sptno

The railroads are  moving to NXDN digital radio format.  No need for encryption, except maybe for special agents.  Encryption will remove the capability for railroads to interoperate radio communications wise unless they had the same encryption keys.

Various utility companies are also using NXDN.

From what I understand talking to some railroad communications folks, they have a ways to go before the but cutover to digital.  Going to be interesting to see how they do that.

I worked with a radio communications consultant before I retired and NXDN is a good way to go digital without spending thousands of dollars.

Digital audio sounds great.  There are a few newer NXDN capable scanners, but be ready to spend between $450 and $600 for each radio.

Austin, TX

Date: 03/18/17 17:28
Re: Q) re Digital Radios
Author: TCnR

There has been some discussion about digital Radio and a hobbyist receiver on the Technology page. Suggest searching with NXDN. There are attractions and there is less sensitivity.

Date: 03/18/17 20:33
Re: Q) re Digital Radios
Author: wa4umr

The railroads atre installing analog/digital radios when they install a new radio these days.  The radios will  operate either mode.  I've talked to a rep from one of the manufacturers and he was saying it might be 10 years before they make the conversion.  Some railroads are using NSDN for some yard jobs, switching,  MOW, and other functions but the road and other major functions are analog.

Go to the "Railfan  Technology" discussion and there are a few threads on there about the subject.


Date: 03/19/17 02:00
Re: Q) re Digital Radios
Author: MW810

There is no big push like there was several years ago.

Quite a bit of infrastructure and solutions for railroad specific applications would be required to be developed for wide area use.

So in short, don't expect to see it outside of site specific locations.

Posted from iPhone

Date: 03/19/17 04:26
Re: Q) re Digital Radios
Author: Grover

Thanks to all.

Date: 03/19/17 09:14
Re: Q) re Digital Radios
Author: Lackawanna484

I've been curious as to how the railroads will integrate digital radio and PTC. My sense is the major lines may choose to use PTC as a means of delivering whatever dispatcher communications are necessary.

[SCREEN beeps]  X9245 west at STAR.  You will  hold the siding at  WEST NILES for X3722.



That somewhat scary scenario puts both the engineer and the DS in the cross hairs.

Date: 03/19/17 21:36
Re: Q) re Digital Radios
Author: MW810


Atcs can already do that but you need to have a good briefing via the radio with a clear understanding of moves.

TWC and CTC will essentially do that already.

On the railroad I work for, mobile data was in place via atcs (primarily for work orders) but wasn't rolled out widespread very long.

If you knew the backend commands, crews on the move were able to check line up, certain dispatcher moves etc. dispatchers didn't like it when they could no longer tell "white lies" to the crews anymore.

Some of the older power from the early 90's still have parts or whole terminals but have long sense been disconnected.

Date: 03/20/17 04:25
Re: Q) re Digital Radios
Author: Lackawanna484

So digital radio and PTC will be rolled out together?

That would seem to be a lot of duplicate investment if the industry end game is self driving trains.

Not saying it is, just that it looks that way.

Posted from Android

Date: 03/20/17 16:24
Re: Q) re Digital Radios
Author: MW810


Completely different animals.

PTC is for collision advoidance and the such.

Digital voice radio is just that / like the old analog TV to DTV. However there is no mandate to switch.

Public safety radio as well as commercial land mobile have done the same thing, at their choice - digital vs analog radio.

The only mandate was narrowband.

The AAR for awhile was pushing digital voice radio, then they found out DTMF controlled rail related items (and there are ALOT of them) have no digital solution.

You cannot send DTMF tones via digital.

In a nutshell, a lot of infrastructure and a new design of compatibility that *works* in a railroad operations needs to be designed.

Date: 03/21/17 02:00
Re: Q) re Digital Radios
Author: ctillnc

Some kinds of digital support DTMF very well. Not all digital modes do.

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