How to Make a Railroad Video

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In this video, I’m going to show you the tools that I use to make quality youtube videos.
With youtube, you can post videos of almost any quality, but when I first started posting railroad videos a couple years ago, I was immediately attracted to the high quality videos made by such users and CSX6900 and Delay in Block Productions and Distant Signal.
The most obvious tool needed is a camcorder. Today’s cameras are of such high quality that almost any camcorder will produce high definition video. Even smart phones now shoot 4K video! I currently use two Panasonic 4K camcorders.
Another essential tool for shooting quality work is a tripod. I know a lot of people hand hold their cameras or phones when they shoot railroad video, but it always looks amateurish. If you want to produce a high quality product, a tripod is essential.
Another very useful tool, depending on where you are working, is a handheld scanner. I live in Bernalillo, NM which is on the line that goes from Albuquerque to Raton, New Mexico. There is very little freight traffic on this line and most of what passes through here are New Mexico Railrunner trains that serve the route from Belen to Santa Fe. Amtrak runs two trains through here everyday. The area isn’t covered by ATCS Monitor, which I will discuss shortly, so a scanner will often let me know when a train has received track warrants giving me an idea when it will pass by. The NMRX dispatcher is on a repeater so that I can hear it clearly from my house even though I can often hear only once side of the conversation. Scanners can also hear defect detectors. Defect detectors are placed along the tracks to analyze the train as it passes over or through it. After the train passes, an automated broadcast is made informing the crew of any defects it may have detected. Depending on the detector, it will broadcast the train speed, number of axles, or other useful information.
Signals can be very useful. (Insert Carkeek)
Another useful tool is a website called This is a nationwide Amtrak tracker that gives location, speed, and timeliness of Amtrak and Canadian Via trains. It is fairly reliable, but like all things Amtrak, it has moments when it is down. It also lags realtime so you have to take into account that these trains are often ten miles further along than is displayed on the map.
Another tool that I use is the Amtrak App on my iphone which will tell you when a specific Amtrak train is due to arrive at a station, or if it has departed. Again, it’s not 100% reliable, but combined with other tools, you can get a good idea where an Amtrak train is.
ATCS Monitor is a program offered through Yahoo Groups where you can download software for a specific division and it will provide you with a dispatcher display. Once you learn how to use it, you watch the progress of trains along the line. I have used this extensively in Washington State, especially on the Bellingham and Scenic subdivisions to let me know where trains are.
There are several useful webcams that I use to help me decide if an Amtrak train is worth going trackside to video. Private cars, heritage locomotives, or unusual consists are things that I’m particularly interested in shooting. Virtual Railfan has a live feed at La Plata Missouri where I can see Amtrak 3 the day before it passes through New Mexico. Early in the morning, around 5:30AM, Amtrak 4 passes through Flagstaff, AZ and can be seen on the Flagstaff webcam. This webcam is mounted on the train station roof. It is notoriously unreliable, times out after a short time, and can be controlled by other users. Virtual Railfan has a Flagstaff cam installed and expected to become active soon. This requires a paid membership.
In this video, we’re going to track the Lamy Local which goes from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Rosario, New Mexico where they will set out full asphalt tank cars and pick up empties, returning them to Albuquerque. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to