Posts Tagged ‘SEPTA’

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.

Levin Wants Pennsylvania to Divorce Amtrak

December 22, 2019

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Transportation Committee held a hearing last week that drew one witness and he suggested the state take over from Amtrak operation of the passenger service in the Keystone Corridor.

Bennett Levin, who oversees the short line Juniata Terminal in Philadelphia and is the owner of private railroad cars, suggested the Philadelphia commuter operator SEPTA operate Amtrak’s Keystone Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

He contended that this would lower the state’s costs of providing the service, which is now 13 weekday Keystone Service trains and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

Some Keystone Service trains operate between New York and Harrisburg.

Levin also contended that state operation would lead to increased train service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

The 103-mile Harrisburg-Philadelphia line is owned by the federal government and it would have to agree to transfer ownership of it to the state.

“SEPTA is one of the best managed commuter rail operators in the nation and there is no reason why their franchise cannot be modified to allow them to run west of Thorndale to Harrisburg,” Levin said. “Therefore the initial step in crafting a solution in the Pittsburgh region is to divorce Amtrak by having the U.S. Department of Transportation gift the Harrisburg Line to Pennsylvania and let SEPTA provide the existing Keystone Service.

SEPTA has 81 weekday trains on the Harrisburg Line that carry 20,000 passengers.

Amtrak’s  26 weekday Keystone trains carry 4,130 people, and the Pennsylvanian carries more than 560 passengers a day.

Levin said his plan would remove Amtrak as a middleman. “We have already paid for the Harrisburg Line; we should own it,” he said.

Levin noted that the state and SEPTA collectively pay Amtrak $1 million a week to operate intercity and commuter rail service on the Harrisburg line.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and SEPTA have paid more than $250 million for infrastructure improvements to the route including new or renovated stations at Paoli, Exton, Downingtown, Mount Joy, Elizabethtown, and Middletown.

Levin acknowledged that under his plan passengers traveling from within Pennsylvania to New York would have to change trains in Philadelphia at 30th Street Station.

“Those folks going to New York, let them walk downstairs,” he said in reference to the upper level and lower level platforms.

Levin was critical of the schedule of the westbound Pennsylvanian, which he said is oriented to passengers connecting to Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited to Chicago in Pittsburgh.

But fewer than 10 percent of Pennsylvanian passengers are connecting to Amtrak train No. 29.

With an earlier schedule westbound, the equipment used on the Pennsylvanian could be turned at Pittsburgh to create a new Pittsburgh-Johnstown commuter train.

PennDOT, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern have discussed expanding service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh but thus far those talks have not produced any agreements.

Levin told Trains magazine that all of the parties seem to be talking past each others. “It’s my belief that Norfolk Southern is a perfectly rational partner, once you get Amtrak out of the picture,” Levin said.

Paoli Station Project Completed

September 24, 2019

The station overhaul project in Paoli, Pennsylvania, was celebrated on Sept. 23 with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The ceremony involving officials of the city, state, Amtrak and SEPTA, marked the completion of the $48 million Paoli Station Accessibility Improvement Project.

The project created a new center high-level platform, which required removing tracks 2 and 3 of the four-track former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line.

New elevators and a stair tower were built to connect a pedestrian overpass to the new platform.

The two-year project also included ADA improvements, upgrades to parking, and track changes to provide greater operational flexibility for SEPTA Amtrak’s Keystone service trains.

Amtrak owns the station, which is served by 25 Keystone Service trains and the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian.

SEPTA serves Paoli with 78 trains between and five bus routes.

Paoli Center Platform Has Reopened

September 14, 2019

The center platform of the Amtrak station in Paoli, Pennsylvania, has reopened and all passenger boardings will be conducted there.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said all Amtrak and SEPTA passengers will use the center platform that connects to the elevator and stairs, leading to the pedestrian overpass bridge, which accesses the north and south parking lots.

The temporary platforms on the north and south side will no longer be used, as well as the low-level boarding previously used by SEPTA passengers.

Passengers were advised to allow extra time to access the center platform for boarding.

SEPTA to Host Steam Excursions

April 7, 2019

SEPTA will host mainline steam excursions on May 18 featuring a 2-8-0 Consolidation locomotive owned by the New Hope Railroad.

The Baldwin-built No. 40 will operate on the Lansdale-to-Doylestown route and is part of a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the borough of North Wales, Pennsylvania

The locomotive was built in 1925 for the Lancaster & Chester Railroad of South Carolina.

Four excursions will operate, leaving the SEPTA station at New Wales at 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Each excursion will be 40 minutes in length and use the Bethlehem Branch main line operated by the SEPTA Regional Rail commuter system, formerly part of the Reading Railroad.

Further information and tickets are available at http://www.newhoperailroad.com.

 

Station Rehabilitation Begins in Paoli

March 2, 2017

A rehabilitation project at the Paoli, Pennsylvania, Amtrak station got underway this week that will bring the station into compliance with ADA standards.

Amtrak 4The $36 million initiative is also expected to improve safety and provide operational flexibility at the station as well as provide the first step into transforming it into an intermodal facility.

Amtrak has contracted with Neshaminy Constructors to do the work, which includes a new center island, high level platform, new elevators and ramps, a pedestrian overpass, parking lot improvements, ADA improvements to the existing station building and upgrades in rail infrastructure.

Train operations will not change during the work and the number of available parking spaces will not change.

Creation of the Paoli Intermodal Transportation Center will begin once the Amtrak station work has been completed.

The current station was built in 1953 by the Pennsylvania Railroad. In fiscal year 2016 Amtrak handled 201,572 passengers in Paoli while SEPTA had 740,000.

Paoli is served by Amtrak’s New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian and the Keystone Service trains.