Updated 2018.04.22

Overview Maps

Lots of trainage in the greater D.C. area.

It's only about CSX right now because that is all I know about in D.C., plus the fact that NS really does not have a large presence around old B&O territory. That is as it should be. NS used to haul coal to the former P.E.P.Co generating 'Station C' in Alexandria using a spur off the RF&P and across Slater's Lane. Historically, this was the easternmost segment of the original Alexandria, Loudoun, and Hampton railroad that ultimately became known as the Washington & Old Dominion. With the closing of the power generating station and Robinson Terminal it is likely that this spur will be abandoned and taken up.

View overview map of the greater Baltimore, Washington, Brunswick triangle.

View close-up map of Washington, D.C. trainage.

View localizer map of Brunswick area.


Radio Frequencies

In a populous metropolitan area like D.C., a good receiver is essential to minimize interference and maximize reception of the desired radio signal. Scanners are mostly useless near strong transmitters, such as paging, taxi, and business two-way users. Some amateur radio transceivers make fair railroad receivers, but the best bet is commercial grade two-way L.M.R. (Land Mobile Radio) equipment. It's expensive, but worth it.

CSX Radio Frequencies


Frequency AAR Ch. Use
Capitol BC AU 160.23 08 road channel
160.32 14 dispatcher channel (Baltimore, MD)
Landover BC NI 161.07 64 road channel (Benning yard)
161.34 82 dispatcher channel (Baltimore, MD)
Metropolitan BC AU 160.23 08 road channel
160.32 14 dispatcher channel (Baltimore, MD)
RF&P BD CQ 161.55 96 road channel
160.41 20 dispatcher channel (Baltimore, MD)
Amtrak   160.68 38 Auto Train yard crews (Lorton, VA)
161.1 66 Auto Train road crews in yard (Lorton, VA)
160.845 49 Amtrak on-board chat, Lorton Auto Train mechanical dept.
160.92 54 Amtrak Northeast Corridor home
    452.9375   head-of-train transponder
    457.9375   end-of-train transponder

Hulcher on-the-spot wreck cleaners — 43.04 MHz nationwide

Defect Detectors

After the “redman” e.o.t. data frequencies, the defect detector is the railfan's best friend, alerting you of approaching trains and even telling you the length or axle count.

These d.d.s on CSX can be heard suprisingly well around town:

Metropolitan subdivision:

BA2.6 “Corridor Integrity Monitor” — announces whether a MetroRail train has violated sacred CSX space, and vice-versa; near Riggs Rd. and South Dakota Ave. N.E. where the Motorola shop used to be.

BA8.4 — Yet another Corridor Integrity Monitor. It is very necessary to monitor integrity in the Nation's Capital.

BA11.6 “Kensington” — just northwest of Connecticut Ave. near a color position lamp signal.

BA22.6 “Gaithersburg” — Gophersburg, moved from Clopper

BA72.1 “Catoctin” — just west of Lander Road and Point o' Rocks, MD.

Capitol subdivision:

CFP120.5 “Tanglewood” high car detector — on the Alexandria extension, a.k.a. 'The Branch'; should change with double-tracking project.

CFP120.4 “Tanglewood” dragging equipment detector — on the Alexandria extension; should change with double-tracking project.

BAA33.7 “Hyattsville” — just south of JD tower and the wye.

BAA21.7 “Contee” — near the Contee Weather Station.

RF&P subdivision:

CFP110.1 (QL138.9) “Rosslyn” — detects high & wide loads before they tear up or get torn up through the tunnel in D.C. There is also an A.E.I. car scanner here. Long Bridge Park affords views of passing trains.

CFP106.5 “Slater's” — Slater's Lane, Alexandria; triple track through here, can you believe it?! OOOOOOOOOOVER!


Freight Trains

These are some of the busiest stretches of track around, a “Folkston Funnel” of the mid-Atlantic.

CSX Wiki — from the ashes of Georgia Railfan and the BullSheet rises this valuable resource to look up which train runs where. Because a wiki is edited by the railfan community you must contribute what you know to the greater good.

Passenger Trains

There is little point in me trying for accuracy or completeness in these listings since the carriers themselves list their own train schedules. These are provided only as a rough guide.

V.R.E. — Virginia Railway Express

Amtrak sends many passenger trains in each direction every day. As Amtrak does not enjoy the cooperation of its host railroads nor is its future certain, please consult the Amtrak web site linked here for the latest schedule information. In any case, arrival times listed here are more prayer than reality.

Amtrak reporting marks: AMTK

Amtrak Train Symbols and Expected Time Ranges
Symbol Name Via RR Arrives
(WAS Union Station)
P019 Crescent sb NS 18:40  
P020 Crescent nb NS 09:50  
P029 Capitol Limited wb CSX Met   17:20
P030 Capitol Limited eb CSX Met 13:00  
P050 Cardinal eb NS 20:00  
P051 Cardinal wb NS 12:40  
P052 Auto Train nb (Lorton) CSX RF&P 08:30 (LOR)  
P053 Auto Train sb (Lorton) CSX RF&P   16:00 (LOR)
P079 Carolinian sb CSX RF&P   10:55
P080 Carolinian nb CSX RF&P 16:37  
P089 Palmetto sb CSX RF&P   09:55
P090 Palmetto nb CSX RF&P 19:57  
P091 Silver Star sb CSX RF&P   15:05
P092 Silver Star nb CSX RF&P 15:14  
P097 Silver Meteor sb CSX RF&P   19:30
P098 Silver Meteor nb CSX RF&P 19:21  

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