Rail Movement Software???

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New Member
A number of years ago, Railroad and Railfan had an article about downloading a link, where in real time, you could watch the movement of trains, just like railroad dispatchers do.

This is NOT the simulation software. It's a program you can download to a laptop and take it railfanning with you.

Anyone know what it is? Or have the link? It would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Rader Sidetrack

New Member
You are probably referring to ATCS Monitor.To download the program, you need to join this Yahoo Group:

This program utilizes radio signals transmitted to/from lineside equipment. Generally, only lines with CTC and radio transmission can be monitored. If the transmissions are via wire, satellite, cell network or fiber, no monitoring is possible. If the line you want to monitor is ABS signaled, or not signaled, ATCS monitoring is not possible.

If you are lineside, and have appropriate radio equipment feeding your laptop, field monitoring is possible. To do lineside monitoring without a radio feeding your laptop, there must be established servers capturing those radio transmissions and feeding that data to the internet. Not all lines capable of being monitored with ATCS Monitor have servers.

The ATCS Monitor program is not for everyone. Some reasonable level of computer competency is required to get the most out of the program. ATCS Monitor is user supported. There is no "technical support" department, although the Yahoo group members generally, as a group, do support the program.

There is a Wiki for ATCS Monitor, here:

You would be well served to review at least the "Getting Started" section before joining the Yahoo Group to see if this program is really for you.
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New Member
I use ATCS Monitor when railfanning the BNSF side of the Columbia River Gorge, where a wonderful railfan has set up a server so I can monitor it without a radio link.

I run the program on my Windows computer (it only runs under Windows) and access that computer over the internet with my Android phone running TightVNC. Lucky I have cell service throughout the territory.

I am working on getting my scanner modified to feed a laptop directly for areas that don't have a server running. Otherwise, I prefer the phone so I am not tied down to my car (as I was using the laptop with a cellular modem, another option I've tried).


New Member
Thanks Rader Sidetrack and robjacox for your information. I found an ATCS website and did some reading about it this morning. While I an pretty computer literate, it did seem to be above my skill set level. And from their service map, it did not appear that it was much in use at all along the West Coast. Am surprised to learn that robjacox can use it in the Gorge (one of our favorite railfan areas). Sure wish there was a easier program to use--it would add a lot of fun to my railfanning adventures.
Thanks again for your help guys!


PDX, UPRR MP 13.67
I have been using ATCS for just two months now and it has added a whole new dimension to railfanning and given me a real appreciation for the dispatchers and train crews. While it is not a "plug and play" program I did not find it too difficult to get set up. I also think that the information out there leans a bit on the technical side so to some it may seem challenging. What worked for me is a bit of trial and error over an afternoon, then it turned into a fascination with string line charts, now I am trying to figure out how to make certain sounds for certain movements. I used to tether my phone to my laptop for being track side but lately have my PC at home running ATCS linked to my phone in my pocket. We've all heard a train asking for track time and being told to wait for two westbounds first, but now I can see those two westbounds. And I can see trackwork and bridge openings. I can see the train I am chasing, knowing whether I am ahead or behind. From home I can watch a train I am waiting for make it's way from into town before I go out to catch it.
The info I saw before I started ATCS led me to believe that the West Coast was lacking coverage but without being a member in the yahoo ATCS group you cannot see the available files and how much coverage there really is. I'm on the UP side of the Columbia Gorge and most often use three subdivisions to monitor Portland east out the Gorge, south to Eugene, and north to Seattle.
mrbbq- Which Subdivision(s) are you most interested in? Don't doubt your skill level, it increases as you challenge yourself. We all newbies at some point. Have fun!


New Member
Thanks for the info Somethinginmyeye and Rader Sidetrack. Great stuff indeed. Maybe it would be good to meet up with one of you sometime and watch the ATCS in action. Wish someone could live stream it on the web, like Railroad Radio.Net. Pretty cool stuff indeed. It's amazing the marvels technology brings to our lives.

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