What train is that?
August 4, 2014 5:33 PM   Subscribe

There are apps that will tell me precisely what plane is flying overhead. Is there an equivalent that will tell me something about trains I see or hear? (In the U.S.)
posted by beagle to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you're in the US, unless you're near a commuter rail or one of Amtrak's major routes most of the trains you'll hear are freight trains and they don't follow a set schedule. There are train tracks a couple of blocks from me and freight trains go by a few times a day but never at the same time.
posted by mareli at 6:50 PM on August 4, 2014

Mod note: Bunch of comments removed. Please answer the actual question asked, do not get in side arguments about stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:00 PM on August 4, 2014

These people indicate that the system existed and was available on the web. But it was shut down in 2001. And I found a page indicating that's what happened. BNSF used to have a site. Now it reads:
BNSF Public Tracing Tools Move to MyBNSF

September 21, 2001

To better protect our customers' proprietary information, the equipment tracing tools on BNSF's web site (Custom Tracing, CLM Tracing, Equipment Characteristics, and Coal Train Tracing) will be moved to the secure MyBNSF site at www.bnsf.com/mybnsf. We apologize for the short notice, however, we are implementing this change effective immediately due to recent national events.

This change will help BNSF better manage the data it provides to ensure you receive accurate, timely information formatted to your specifications. It will also help you better take advantage of all of BNSF's secured eTools. By the fourth quarter, BNSF will enhance its tracing capabilities so you can track by unique shipping information, such as P.O. or reference number.

If you are a registered MyBNSF user, tracing options are immediately available. If you haven't done so, please register for MyBNSF so you can access all BNSF eTools in MyBNSF. Your registration can be processed in less than 24 hours.

To register for MyBNSF, visit the MyBNSF SignOn page and click Register. For help with the registration process, follow the step-by-step instructions.

As a reminder, BNSF does not provide shipment information to any party who is not clearly identifiable as a BNSF customer.
But the good trainwatchers know. They'll tell you the schedule. Love talking to those guys.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:59 PM on August 4, 2014

I used to have a scanner app on my Android phone. One of the nearby signals it would pick up was a CN signal for the ore docks near my house - basically, people on the trains talking to people at the docks, etc. My fiance has also been able to pick up scanner traffic for trains going through St. Cloud, MN.

So, I'd try downloading a scanner radio app on your phone and seeing which scanners are close to you. You might not get the exact info you're looking for (exact train numbers, what they're carrying etc) but you'll hear some neat chatter about who is going where and what the weather is like down the line.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:17 AM on August 5, 2014

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