Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I do if I realize I made a mistake?
  • Report the posting you made with the error as a Bad Spot. Our system automatically deletes posts reported as erroneous by the person who posted them. You may then enter a new one with the correct information.

  • When should I post a Heritage Unit report?
  • If you have seen a Heritage or other noteworthy locomotive yourself in the field. We accept postings the day of or the day after the observation.

  • Are Web camera sightings acceptable?
  • Yes. However, HeritageUnits' photo section does not accept screen captures from Web cameras (see Photography FAQ).

  • I saw a Heritage unit on a moving train a few hours ago. Should I try to project where it is now?
  • No. Please list only the time and place where you observed it. Trains' locomotive consists sometimes change en route, for a variety of reasons.

  • Some special paint schemes are on more than one engine. What if I don't know the locomotive number(s) of the engine(s) I saw?
  • Please do not post guesses. However, you may be able to determine which locomotive(s) you have seen based on previous postings. For example, if one of two engines with the same or similar paint was recently observed a long distance from your location, chances are you saw the other one.

  • What information should I place in the location field?
  • Please list first the community and the two-letter postal abbreviation for the state or province. That way, our geo-coding system will correctly place the report on our map. Spelling out state names or including other information may confuse the system. Spots that end up in the wrong place on the map are subject to deletion. Place other information (yard names, interlocking locations, etc.) in the Comments field.

  • I don't know the train number or symbol. What should I place in that field?
  • If you know what kind of a train the engine was pulling (or pushing), a brief description (coal train, tank-car train, container train) is appropriate. If you have no such information, leave this field blank. Please do not place the locomotive number in the Train No. field - that serves no purpose and in some cases creates bad information - and please do not guess at train symbols.

  • I don't know the train's destination. What should I place in that field?
  • For this or any other field for which you have no information, just leave it blank unless the system requires an entry (engine number, location, day, time, direction).

  • The engine I saw was at a yard or other location where it was not moving or likely to move soon. What should I enter for its direction?
  • Use N/A in these situations. If you wish to say which direction the engine was facing - useful information for photographers - include that detail in the Comments field.

  • Why was my posting removed?
  • Postings are removed by moderators when they contain inaccurate or misleading information. The level of inaccuracy warranting removal of a post is at the moderators' discretion. Some posts that are inaccurate but not misleading may be left up at least until there are later posts of the same subject, so that visitors who use this site to track engines' progress on a particular train do not lose that information. People who habitually post bad information may have their posting ability restricted. Those who deliberately post false information will be banned.

  • I received a message after submitting my report that this is a rare event and your report needs reviewed?
  • If you're receiving this message; it's because of a bad geocode on the location entered OR you're reporting a locomotive as "In-Person" and your device is not in the proximity of that location at the time of the report OR our reporting engine has detected suspicious activity.

  • What happened to submitting reports as "Heard on Radio"?
  • Starting in June 2023 we officially stopped accepting these reports. When we analyzed the data we realized that these reports were usually unreliable.

    So quick numbers... 3% of the total reports submitted were under the type of "Heard on Radio" and of those we had to remove over a larger portion of them due to in-accuracy (they had a 10x worse error rate than webcam/in-person reporting).

  • What is the Inbound Train feature?
  • This feature, which has undergone over 3 years of development and is still being worked on, aims to display a train en route to your location when a locomotive is reported on Heritage Units with a valid train symbol.

  • How do I get access to this feature?
  • This requires a premium membership.

    Because of the extensive server processing needed for this feature, it necessitates larger servers for support, and the payment of membership fees directly contributes to covering these costs.

  • The system is showing an ETA to arrive at a location; is this accurate?
  • While our aim is to achieve accuracy, we kindly request that you maintain a realistic expectation, as perfection cannot be guaranteed at all times. Numerous factors, such as speeds, train types, sub divisions, and more, contribute to the ETA calculation. While certain railroads strive to adhere to a schedule, unforeseen circumstances such as train emergencies, track work, crew availability, and others may arise. Therefore, we urge you to consider this information as a guideline rather than an absolute truth.

  • When does the ETA update on locomotive?
  • Whenever a new report is submitted to the system, the ETA will be automatically recalculated. This means that the more reporting the railfan community contributes, the more precise the ETA will become as the locomotive approaches your area.

  • What railroads does this work on?
  • At present, we offer support for the major Class I railroads and some regional Class II railroads. However, we currently do not perceive the advantages of extending our support to Class III railroads at this time due to their smaller size and infrequent operations.

  • I know a locomotive is inbound to my location but the app is not showing it; what's happening?
  • A couple things can be in play...

    • 1) Missing Train Symbol and Route

      To provide you with timely updates on train paths, it is essential to have a valid train symbol and assigned route included in the report. These two pieces of information are necessary for us to accurately determine the train's path and provide the necessary alerts. If you come across a report missing any of these vital details, please submit a bad report submission, and we will promptly rectify the issue.

      Please utilize the train symbol database for conducting searches and submitting any necessary modifications. If you come across a situation where a route appears to be incorrect, kindly inform us by submitting an edit request, and we will promptly address and rectify the route accordingly.

    • 2) Missing Mile Post data around your location

      The system will search for inbound routes to your location; however, it requires the presence of mile post data configured within a few miles of your location. If you encounter any difficulties in this regard, please feel free to contact me. I can enhance the mile post data specific to your location. It's important to note that while we are mapping the entire US/Canada rail system, not all sub-divisions have been fully detailed yet.

    • 3) Prediction is to old

      If the server determines that the route prediction is too old then it will remove it from your inbound train alerts

Photo Submissions
  • What are the requirements for photo submissions?
  • Generally any photo submitted to the site for final approval by by the user must meet minimal requirements. All images submitted, must be approved by either the site manager or moderators, it can contain one or more of the currently tracked units.

    Users are asked to provide the Heritage/Special Interest Unit number using the same format as reporting (Example AMTK822, CSXT5000, etc.), date the shot was taken, and a brief description.

    To prevent any copyright concerns, the photo must be owned by the user submitting the image. Watermarks, and copyright labels applied by the owner of the image are permitted provided the original image that is watermarked or copyrighted is owned by the person submitting the image. When applying watermarks or copyright labels, they should be discreet and unobtrusive within the image. will apply a secondary copyright at the bottom of the image once it has been approved, and will identify the user.

  • How many images can I upload to the site?
  • Premium members are unrestricted and can upload as many photos as they want. Free basic accounts are limited to 10 photos maximum.

  • My image contains a shot of a currently tracked unit, however the image is several years old prior to formal tracking. Can I still submit the image?
  • Yes, we have no restrictions on the date the image was taken. We ask that as much information be entered as can be recalled.

  • What image formats are generally accepted and are there any file size restrictions?
  • At this time most all formats except Camera Raw are permitted. File sizes should be kept moderate in size, as the website software resizes and reformats the image to the requirements for display.

  • My original image is rotated 90 degrees, do I need to rotate the image in advance of uploading?
  • We ask that the user rotate the image for the correct orientation in advance if possible. However, at the time the image is being uploaded, a preview screen that allows the user to enter the image information, a “Rotate Image” button will display giving the user an opportunity to rotate the image prior to sending it for final approval. In addition, original images in either landscape or portrait will be accepted as long as the image orientation is correct.

  • I’m a spotter that monitors railcam’s and have tried to submit screenshots from my computer to for approval but they have been rejected. What is the reason for the rejection?
  • Due to copyright concerns, does not accept railcam screenshots due to ownership questions. Generally, railcam feeds are copyrighted by the owner of the railcam, therefore when a user submits something that is already copyright protected by someone else, the image the user submitted would be rejected based on copyright violation.

  • I have a marginal quality shot showing a Heritage/Special Interest unit and I would like to still upload the image, will the image be approved even if the quality is compromised?
  • Depending on several factors, the image may still be approved. The site manager or moderators will review the shot and decide if it merits approval. If the shot is very dark and hard to see the unit being displayed, or if the image is overly out of focus, or in the case of night shots, being hard to see the unit being presented, then it will be up to the approver to make the final call. We are only subjecting the image to minimum requirements. The unit number must be viewable in the image. If the image is clear and the unit being presented can easily be seen and identified, then most likely the image would be approved. The final decision to approve or deny a submission will be at the discretion of the staff.

  • I’m a spotter that monitors Railcam’s/CCTV cams and have tried to submit screenshots from my computer to for approval but they have been rejected. What is the reason for the rejection?
  • does not accept Railcam or CCTV images (screenshots) due to copyright ownership. Railcam feeds are owned and copyrighted by the owner of the Railcam/CCTV system. We have a long standing policy and will not accept images that are the property of others. Furthermore, will not accept written permission submitted by a user allowing them to use an image (screenshot) by the owners of the Railcam/CCTV system. Any submitted image we determine that appears to be a screen shot of a Railcam/CCTV image will be rejected and the submitting user will be notified of a site use violation.

  • I’m a user that’s been given permission to use a photograph taken by someone else of a Heritage/Special Interest Unit and I’d like to upload the image on there behalf, will the image still be approved even though I am not the original owner of the image?
  • No. HeritageUnits has a long standing policy on photo submissions and only images owned and photographed by the actual registered user may be submitted. will not accept images on behalf of others even though permission has been granted by others no matter the circumstances. Any submitted image we determine appears to not be owned by, or an image submitted by a user on behalf of others will be rejected and the submitting user will be notified of a site use violation.

  • All photo submissions are subject to final review and approval by the moderators, and there may be casees where images may be denied for any reason.