Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

Philly-Reading Service Could Cost $818M to Get Started

January 13, 2021

Implementing rail passenger service between Philadelphia and Reading, Pennsylvania, would cost up to $818 million in capital expenses, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation study concluded.

The study found the 12-station, 59-mile service could attract up to 6,400 passengers daily,

However, PennDOT said several significant issues must be addressed to determine the concept’s feasibility.

One of those is whether host railroad Norfolk Southern would  be a “willing party” to negotiate access, improvements and fees.

NS tracks would be used between Reading and Norristown and are not electrified, a fact that could complicate equipment decisions.

The report said the existing SEPTA route between Norristown and Philadelphia is heavily used and might not be able to accommodate additional trains.

Additional studies are needed to make a detailed infrastucture and service feasibility study; a Norfolk Southern operational feasibility study; development of local support and funding; preparation of design and environmental documents; and completion of a preliminary memorandum of understanding between Norfolk Southern and SEPTA or whatever entity would be the project sponsor.

If funding can be arranged the service could be launched in 2030.

Bus Schedules Change in North Carolina; Buses Replace Trains to Atlantic City

October 22, 2020

Eastern North Carolina Thruway Service changed on Oct. 20 at certain cities with the changes in effect through Aug. 20, 2021.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said buses 6089 and 6090 are suspended while Buses 6189 and 6190 are canceled on Tuesdays.

Bus service is suspended at Goldsboro, Kinston, Havelock, Morehead City and Swansboro.

Bus service will continue at Wilmington, Jacksonville, New Bern, Greenville and Wilson.

In an unrelated development New Jersey Transit will substitute buses for trains on weekends between Philadelaphia (30th Street Station) and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The bus substitutions will continue through Dec. 18 due to work on the Delair Bridge. The work will affect rail service between 4 a.m. on Saturdays and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Passengers boarding at 30th Street station will board the bus on JFK Boulevard across from the station’s 30th Street entrance. The bus will depart at the scheduled train time.

Those traveling on a bus to 30th Street Station will disembark on  the driveway on the 30th Street side of the station right outside the doors.

Philly Station Project Gets Leader

June 23, 2020

Amtrak said it has selected the North American affiliate of Australia infrastructure investment firm the Plenary Group to lead the project to develop Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

The passenger carrier said the Plenary team, which also includes Gilbane Building Co. of Rhode Island, was chosen based on its proposal and it record of project delivery, extensive experience with complex mixed-use properties and adaptive reuse of historic buildings.

Officials are still talking about financial terms for the project, which is part of the 30th Street Station District Plan involving long-term redevelopment of 175 acres around the terminal.

Charges Against Amtrak Engineer Dismissed

July 24, 2019

Criminal charges against an Amtrak engineer in connection with 2015 crash that left eight people dead have been dropped.

The charges against Brian Bostian were dismissed after Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott ruled that his behavior before the derailment did not rise to the level of criminal recklessness.

It was the second time that criminal charges against Bostian have been dropped.

The derailment occurred on May 12, 2015, when Amtrak Train 188 entered a curve near Philadelphia traveling 106 mph, which was more than twice the posted speed limit.

The derailment also left 150 people injured.

In announcing her ruling, McDermott said, “The law recognizes there is the occasional case where a departure from the rule may be appropriate.”

A National Transportation Safety Board report concluded that Bostian had lost situational awareness just before the derailment.

He had faced 216 counts of reckless endangerment, one count of causing a catastrophe, and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Christopher Phillips, a deputy attorney general with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, said his office plans to appeal the dismissal of the charges against Bostian.

Bostian was initially charged in May 2017, but those charged were thrown out that September by Judge Thomas Gehert.

Judge Kathryn S. Lewi later reinstated the charges after ruling that Judge Gehert had erred and there was sufficient evidence to go to trial.

Sign Placed Renaming 30th Street Station

July 5, 2019

Signs are going up noting that Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station has been renamed for the late William H. Gray III.

Gray, was a member of Congress from Philadelphia between 1979 and 1991.

The first sign at the station honoring Gray was installed on June 27 and a second will soon be placed.

A 2014 act of Congress renamed the facility as the William H Gray III 30th Street Station.

Plans also include the installation of  a statue of Gray and a memorial plaque.

Officials have not determined yet where those will be placed.

Gray, who was the first African American to chair the House Budget Committee and serve as majority whip, the third-ranking position in the House, died six years ago at age 71.

He helped raise millions of dollars to renovate 30th Street Station in the 1980s.

NJT Restores Atlantic City Service From Philadelphia

May 18, 2019

Intercity rail service to Atlantic City, New Jersey, has resumed. New Jersey Transit operates the service between Philadelphia and Atlantic City.

At one time Amtrak operated trains on this route.

The service had been suspended last September for the installation of positive train control on the line.

Along with restoring the Atlantic City trains NJT also restored the Princeton Dinky, which links the campus of Princeton University and Princeton Junction on the Northeast Corridor.

Installation of PTC on the two routes was delayed for several months beyond the projected finish date of Jan. 1, 2019.

The return of Atlantic City service saw the frequency of morning service at Philadelphia increase from three roundtrips to five, but a schedule change has led to some grumbling.

On the positive side NJT established a new morning arrival in Philadelphia. But NJT also ended two post-midnight trains from Atlantic City to Philly that had been heavily used by casino workers.

The workers are also upset that a train that had left at 5:45 p.m. has been moved up to depart at 4:55 p.m., which means those working 9 to 5 won’t get off work in time to catch that train home.

They will now have to wait for a 6:45 p.m. train to return home.

The return of the Atlantic City service was welcomed, though, by some who feared the route would not be reinstated because it has been the least patronized NJT route.

NJT said it ended the post-midnight departures from Atlantic City because they averaged fewer than 40 passengers a day and that alternative bus service was available.

Philly 30th Street Interior Added to Historic Register

April 23, 2019

The Philadelphia Historical Commission has placed the interior of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station to its local historic register.

The station is just the fourth interior space to be named to the register in the city and the designation will protect it from modification.

The nomination of the station was recommended by a consultant to the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia in consultation with Amtrak.

The nomination cited the interior’s historical and architectural significance, and its status as one of Philadelphia’s “most iconic and trafficked public spaces.”

The station was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad between 1929 and 1933.

It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Amtrak is planning to update the station as well as develop the area around it.

Solari Board May Return to 30th Street Station

February 7, 2019

The plot surrounding the fabled Solari board at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station continues to twist and turn with the latest development being a report that Amtrak might return the board to the depot after all.

The Philadelphia news website Billy Penn reported this week that Amtrak is requiring that the Solari board be used in the station in some capacity.

That mandate is reportedly part of a request for proposals for a $37 million development project at the station, which is formally known as William H Gray III 30th Street Station.

The board was removed from the station in late January and news reports have said that it will be displayed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

Billy Penn reported that an Amtrak official told it that the developer must “utilize the Solari Board as part of the master development.”

The website also said that the Solari board that was removed last month was not the original one installed in the 1970s but a replacement board installed sometime between 1986 and 1990.

Removal of the Solari board prompted a public protest that was led by a Philadelphia congressman.

Many people waxed nostalgically about watching the flaps of the board turn over when train information was updated and how pleasing that clicking sound was.

The latest report indicated that Amtrak is unsure how it will use the Italian-made Solari board in the Neoclassical station, which was built in 1933.

The passenger carrier will apparently ask the developer for its opinion of how to best use the board, which after its removal was transported to the museum in Strasburg.

That board was the last of its kind used by Amtrak. It has been replaced with a temporary video display.

Amtrak plans to eventually employ a large “video wall” to display train information.

Workers are replacing wiring with fiber optics and once that is complete will install display screens.

After software testing and personnel training, Amtrak expected the display to be in operation by sometime in March.

Philly 30th Street Getting New Information Boards

December 7, 2018

The venerable Solari board at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia as it appeared in May 2016.

The old Solari Board at Amtrak’s William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in Philadelphia is headed for museum while a new display is set to debut.

In a news release, Amtrak said the Passenger Information Display System that is being installed in Philadelphia is part of a project underway to replace display panels at each gate, revamp the public address system and change platform to become ADA compliant.

Amtrak said the new PIDS board will display gate and track information and have ADA features.

After is become operational later this month, the passenger carrier will upgrade display boards in ClubAcela Lounge, the food court, on the platforms and in other areas of the station.

The Philadelphia station also is getting renovations to ClubAcela Lounge, a lactation suite to provide mothers with a clean, dignified and private space to pump and nurse, and the retrofitting of eight of the moveable wooden waiting benches on with power outlets for portable and mobile devices.

During fiscal year 2018, Amtrak handled 4.4 million passengers at Philadelphia, making it the third busiest station in the national Amtrak system.

Philly Solari Board May be Headed to Museum

December 5, 2018

The venerable Solari train status board that for years has given information about Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and SEPTA trains at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia appears to be headed for a museum.

The board is expected to be removed from the station in January 2019 and moved to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

It is Amtrak’s last active electro-mechanical train information board and is named after an Italian company that made the flap display signs.

An electromechanical display device whirs and shows alphanumeric text in a manner similar to that of some alarm clocks. Solari boards were also used at some airports.

The boards are noted for their clickty-clack sounds as they updated train or flight status information. Replacing the Solari board is a digital annunciator.

In Philadelphia, the Solari board was installed aboard the information counter of the waiting room in the 1970s.

It was updated in the 1980s and has been kept going by using replacement parts from retired boards.

Although no formal agreement has been signed to move the sign to the Pennsylvania museum, the facility’s director said Amtrak has made a verbal offer.