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Garmin for Train Drivers?

Hi everyone

I'm training to drive high-speed long-distance trains on a complex route. One of the hardest things to deal with is track knowledge - especially remembering station locations so I don't shoot through them instead of stopping.

I would like to be able to geofence parts of my route to give me warning of approaching stations and speed limits. What Garmin product, if any, would be suitable for this role? Can I customise notifications (eg a specific sound for each place, or even better a voice reminder)? I would also like to vary the size of the geofence, if possible.

I'd love to hear any suggestions. Thanks!


(I previously posted this in another forum and was kindly re-directed to this one.)


  • No idea if Garmin has a map for rail road tracks. I have never seen one. But it's the map that would provide the information you are looking for. Though I have never seen train as an option for navigation. The Garmins I have offer auto, bike and pedestrian options.

    Have you asked the professors at your school? I'd think that if such maps/units exist the RR companies would use them. Such maps would be very specific and custom.
  • Thanks for the response.

    Actually, the workforce is very much anti-technology, since it obliges the company to train us longer and pay us more. Memorising routes is hard work.

    I was hoping to be able to geofence an arbitrary point on a map, or by coordinates, and set a perimeter of anywhere from 200 to 2000 metres. Even if the GPS device isn't optimised for rail, it will at least still be able to warn me as soon as I enter the geofence.

    No one in the stores I've visited has even been able to tell me if the Garmin products they sell are capable of geofencing.

    Is there any particular model that would be suitable for this role? I'm really fumbling in the dark here.
  • sussamb 961 Points
    edited October 2017
    Most of the handheld models I think can be set to warn you when you're entering a 'proximity alert' as Garmin term it. Certainly it's possible on both the Montana 650 and Etrex 20 that I have, and you can set the distance for the alert. You can also use Garmin's BaseCamp program to set proximity alerts for waypoints which is quicker than trying to do a number of them on the device itself.
  • Great advice - thanks! I'm looking into the eTrex. There seem to be several different models. Ideally, I'd find one whose alerts could be broadcast by Bluetooth straight into my headset, as drivers' cabs can be pretty loud.

    Have you been happy with your eTrex 20?
  • sussamb 961 Points
    Certainly happy with my Etrex but you certainly cannot broadcast them into your BT headset. If that's a requirement the only Garmin devices that do that are their Zumo range as they're designed for motorcyclists. However I don't think they'll do proximity alerts.
  • Chris_Sav 136 Points
    edited October 2017
    276CX but ONLY if Garmin ever fix the performance problems sounds an option (big screen, Bluetooth, long battery life etc.)

    TalkyToaster look & feel maps give the best individual track rail representation I have found, There's no easy way of getting the route to follow the tracks without direct routing and adding waypoints (limit 50 on the Montana) that I can think of.
  • sussamb 961 Points
    The 50 limit doesn't apply for direct routing, it's 250.
  • Boyd 2045 Points
    edited October 2017
    PaulMac said:

    Actually, the workforce is very much anti-technology, since it obliges the company to train us longer and pay us more. Memorising routes is hard work.

    I would be a little concerned about this unless it has the blessing of your company and supervisors. Any electronic device has the potential to be a distraction and that is a very hot issue these days. For example, the NTSB ruled that the horrible train crash near Philadelphia a few years ago was caused by an engineer who was distracted by two-way radio chatter. A beeping GPS might also distract you, especially if you need to look and see why it's beeping. Are you allowed to wear a headset?

    I can appreciate that memorizing routes is hard work, but maybe that talent is required to safely operate a train? Please don't take offense... I just think this should be discussed with your supervisor and fellow engineers before proceeding.
  • Thanks for the useful comments, everyone.

    Indeed, I couldn't even consider installing a GPS device in the cab without express permission of the trainers. You have to stay very, very focused to drive a train at high speeds on our antiquated signalling systems. But I am keen to experiment within the limits of acceptability.

    GPS would be particularly useful when driving in difficult weather conditions. There's nothing quite so disheartening as blowing through a stopping station at 180 km/h just because you lost situational awareness in a patch of fog.
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