I am a very active railfan and have some railfan friends who railfan even more than I do, so I thought I would share my experience with modern day railfanning. Unfortunately timetables are no longer useful for predicting when and where a train will appear. I still collect them however for detailed information about different routes. If you have a scanner it really comes in handy if the line you're railfanning is TWC (Track Warrants). I have a friend who railfans every single day and catches anywhere from 3-7 trains a day and he mostly uses his scanner when he's near a line that has TWC. With TWC you'll hear them giving track warrants from point A to point B, clearing warrants from A to B, and you'll hear them call out signals by milepost. I live close to a TWC controlled line, and a friend of mine who lives close to the tracks a few miles away was fortunate to inherit two mid-size Ham radio towers from someone who was active in that hobby. He hooked his scanner up to it and can hear the RR talking about 30-40 miles east and west. It is very useful, however he says he uses his mobile car antenna more. When we are in CTC territory we don't hear as much activity on the scanner. We just go by the signal indications for the most part and learn the traffic patterns the best we can. He actually leaves his scanner home a lot of times unless it's a TWC line he's railfanning. Traffic patterns are good to try and memorize, however they change, so just as soon as you get used to a certain train coming through at a certain time then things will change somewhat. With CTC, you generally know you have something coming if you have any signal indication better than all red (stop), however I have railfanned lines where there are only a few trains a day and the signals are set to green (proceed) several hours in advance before the train actually comes through. It is annoying, but the only option is to find a good spot and wait a while to see if anything comes through. We've caught several trains on CTC lines that never used their radio at all. Having said that, it's still helpful to have a scanner and at least leave it turned on just in case. Another helpful tool is a new piece of software called ATCS Monitor. You have to be approved by the administrator of the ATCS group on Yahoo to be able to download the software. It is very helpful in CTC territory. However, ATCS software is kind of difficult to set up on your computer and unless you have mobile internet it's basically just a fun program to play around with at home without any trackside benefits. Certain railfan hotspots have started to utilize it however. Pacific, MO is one location. Facebook and private messaging is another really good option, possibly the best. There are several groups on Facebook that provide updates on the whereabouts of certain trains. Here's a few: NSILT Norfolk Southern Illinois Trackers, Middle & Southern Illinois Headsup, CSX St. Louis Line Heads Ups, Norfolk Southern Heritage Locator, and Norfolk Southern Heritage Units group. Networking is one of the best options. I would have missed many trains if friends had not notified me of their location. Talk to other railfans, share information, and in return as a courtesy provide your own information on traffic patterns you've noticed or the whereabouts of a certain train. It really is team work. Most railfans don't have a problem with sharing the information they have and really enjoy meeting new people. A useful tool that goes along with this is a smartphone or even a cell phone that has texting set up will still work.