SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

Moderator: AlexC

SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby zebrasepta » Sun May 01, 2016 7:55 am

http://www.delcotimes.com/article/DC/20 ... /160439987
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), in the middle of laying out its five-year financial plan and 2017 budget, is planning to do a feasibility study about restoring rail service to West Chester.

“As far as I know, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is funding the study to review the capital cost … for restoring the rail service to West Chester,” said James Cullison, of SEPTA. “The study is definitely in the plans.”

The study, listed under SEPTA’s project descriptions, will work with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Advisory Committee to Reestablish Rail Service to West Chester.


The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) estimates the restored service would attract almost 2,000 passengers for weekday trips by 2035 and capital cost estimates by the borough believe it would range between $100.3 million to $111.9 million.

SEPTA held a public hearing in West Chester on Thursday at the borough’s municipal building, where a handful of residents came out to voice their approval of bringing rail service back to the area.
zebrasepta
 
Posts: 928
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:40 am

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sun May 01, 2016 9:33 pm

The solution is ready: ALP45s. No need for reelectrifcation or new equipment.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
User avatar
R36 Combine Coach
 
Posts: 4862
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:51 pm

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby MACTRAXX » Sun May 01, 2016 11:35 pm

R36 (and Everyone:)

Keep in mind ALP45DP's cost around $9 million dollars each - they are not cheap by any means...

The problem with using dual power locomotives along with the present push/pull fleet is that not only would the
restored West Chester service become dependent on this equipment you would have the added problem of slow
acceleration from station stops depending on how many stations between Wawa and West Chester are restored.
I can not see SEPTA using any of their new multilevel cars either in the future on the West Chester route...

This line may well be better off if it is re-electrified with overhead catenary bringing back the Silverliner MU's to
this route. Many of the existing catenary poles may be re-useable. It is 9.4 miles from West Chester to Wawa and
12.4 miles to Elwyn which is not a long distance to restore electrification to primarily a single track line.

From an 80s SEPTA timetable showing mileage of stations West Chester to Elwyn and Media:
(and Suburban Station)
West Chester 0.0
WC University 0.4
Westtown 3.5
Cheyney 5.2
Glen Mills 7.2
Wawa 9.4
Lenni 10.1
Glen Riddle 10.8
Williamson School 11.6
Elwyn 12.4
Media 13.4
(Suburban Station 27.4)

This was the only significant electrified route that was closed by SEPTA back during the 80s - the only other
being the cutback of the Ivy Ridge line to Cynwyd which was about 3 miles.

The West Chester Line never should have been closed - I believe this was the result of funding differences with
Chester County - even though the decision to increase service between Paoli and Downingtown (now Thorndale)
as an alternative turned out to be a good one. It may be an easy line to restore - I question the high price tag...

MACTRAXX
EXPRESS TRAIN TO NEW YORK PENN STATION-NO JAMAICA ON THIS TRAIN-PLEASE STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING TRAIN DOORS
MACTRAXX
 
Posts: 3447
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 11:55 am
Location: Islandia,Long Island,NY

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby CComMack » Mon May 02, 2016 12:53 pm

The current state of the West Chester line west of Wawa is, very approximately: two strips of rust, nine miles long, spiked into lumps of creosote. It will need almost complete rebuilding before it sees passenger service at reasonable speeds. There's really no reason not to just restring the catenary and run Silverliners, instead of creating a whole new infrastructure to support dual-mode locomotives. The initial capital cost should be very competitive, and the ongoing operations cost would be incomparably cheaper.
CComMack
 
Posts: 455
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 1:09 am
Location: Francisville, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby YamaOfParadise » Mon May 02, 2016 1:45 pm

Which also hits upon the two reasons, one spoken and one less-spoken, of why SEPTA discontinued service west of Wawa in the first place. One, that description of the line (most likely) is an apt one for the line when they discontinued service. But two, we all know SEPTA doesn't want to maintain two fleets of locomotives, which is why they've eliminated diesel lines to the fullest extent of their capabilities... if they are to ever restore it, they're going to re-electrify it.
Consider contributing detailed railway data to OpenStreetMap for use in OpenRailwayMap!
User avatar
YamaOfParadise
 
Posts: 372
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:36 pm
Location: Middlesex County, Connecticut

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby ExCon90 » Mon May 02, 2016 2:40 pm

I think that's a given, for all the reasons stated. However, there's no question that the line is circuitous, and that can't be helped; I think they're really going to have to consider having all WC trains run express from Media to University City, perhaps with no more than 2 intermediate stops (Swarthmore and Primos?), hourly from WC, and hourly locals in between from Elwyn or Media, making all local stops. If they don't plan to do that I don't see how they can justify spending that kind of money for one all-stops local per hour--22 stops between WC and UC will have a tough time competing with West Chester Pike outside the peak. They'll also need one passing siding (Wawa?) to be able to run any kind of schedule. So far: 12 miles of new track from the subbase up, welded rail, PTC, and interlocked switches at the siding--it all adds up.
ExCon90
 
Posts: 3459
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:22 pm

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby The EGE » Mon May 02, 2016 4:53 pm

Intermediates at Cheyney (if it gets off academic probabtion), Wawa, and one of Glen Riddle or Westtown/202 should be plenty. There's no need to bring back 8 intermediate stops that were created to serve 19th century population patterns; the value of the line today is primarily to serve a major city (West Chester), a university (Cheyney), park-and-rides for major roads (Wawa and Westtown/202), and a dense, walkable suburb (Lenni+Glen Riddle area).
User avatar
The EGE
 
Posts: 2460
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:16 pm
Location: Waiting for the N Judah

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby ferroequinologist » Mon May 02, 2016 5:13 pm

An idea, and not necessarily a good one: would it be possible to leave the line past Elwyn un-electrified, and run service pulled by diesel locomotives, terminating at the lower level of 30th Street Station? Reduces cost to electrify, no pricey dual-modes, connections to the other Center City stops would be a fairly easy connection at University City or 30th Street.

I'm not sure how good of an idea it is. I think it'd be better than dual-modes, which are very expensive, and either way you have the problem of one line with a unique locomotive (though without dual-modes you couldn't run the WC locomotives anywhere else, basically). Though dual-modes do have more possible applications (like an intercity train to Reading). Either way I imagine the cost to buy locomotives would be less than electrifying, or close enough to make it preferable to electrify and not deal with inoperable equipment.
ferroequinologist
 
Posts: 118
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2011 11:24 pm

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby eb684 » Mon May 02, 2016 9:28 pm

Trains can't run from the West Chester line to the lower level of 30th st. From that direction, only the Wilmington/Newark line can reach the lower level of 30th st.
eb684
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:05 am

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby The EGE » Mon May 02, 2016 10:00 pm

If that was determined to be the best choice, wouldn't it be possible to create a new interlocking to allow West Chester trains to access the NEC mainline?
User avatar
The EGE
 
Posts: 2460
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:16 pm
Location: Waiting for the N Judah

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby ChrisinAbington » Tue May 03, 2016 12:01 pm

Your cost savings would slowly get eaten up by trackage rights fees to Amtrak, and you would be mandating a multi-floor transfer at 30th for those wanting to reach Suburban. It wouldn't bother me, but convenience isn't a thing to downplay.. Unless there are new substations being needed, I'd think electrification would result in significant long run savings.
Chris.
ChrisinAbington
 
Posts: 351
Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2006 5:03 pm
Location: Abington, PA

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby khecht » Tue May 03, 2016 3:50 pm

MACTRAXX wrote:This line may well be better off if it is re-electrified with overhead catenary bringing back the Silverliner MU's to
this route. Many of the existing catenary poles may be re-useable. It is 9.4 miles from West Chester to Wawa and
12.4 miles to Elwyn which is not a long distance to restore electrification to primarily a single track line.

I think re-electrification is the only reasonable route from a long-term operating cost perspective unless SEPTA chooses to use dual-mode locomotives elsewhere in the system to get better scales of economy, such as for a US 422 corridor line, but none of that seems likely in the near to medium term.

The cat poles date to 1928 which makes them even older than the average remaining PRR cat poles along the NEC and Harrisburg lines, most of which date to the 30s except Philly to Paoli (1915) and Wilmington (1928). To avoid having to replace them anyway a few years later, they might as well replace them, and in some cases might have to anyway already. Besides, at SEPTA speed, it would well be after 2028 before Wawa-West Chester serve resumes, and it’d be a shame to make an infrastructure investment that relied on 100+ year old rusting steel poles.

MACTRAXX wrote:From an 80s SEPTA timetable showing mileage of stations West Chester to Elwyn and Media:
(and Suburban Station)
West Chester 0.0
WC University 0.4
Westtown 3.5
Cheyney 5.2
Glen Mills 7.2
Wawa 9.4
Lenni 10.1
Glen Riddle 10.8
Williamson School 11.6
Elwyn 12.4
Media 13.4
(Suburban Station 27.4)

I think there’s still a tiny station/shed at Locksley, but that might have been more of a WCRR creation than a PRR thing and I don’t know if SEPTA ever used it. I haven’t been out that way in a while though.

Suburban development makes the population profile quite different from when this line last had service. This would be the opportunity to better serve all those neighborhoods that are now there, even though many people who live in the area work at the numerous corporate campuses in the 202 corridor that have popped up between Chadds Ford and Great Valley rather than Center City. Probably the biggest problem at these stations will be the lack of parking (Glen Mills, for example, has zero spots and nowhere to even drop people off or pick up) and while some neighborhoods have walkability to the line, most potential riders would need to drive. There might be a nice opportunity for a park and ride near 202 (not exactly sure where though) and hopefully the Wawa extension really comes together with one just off US 1. PA 926 would be another route where one could be explored at Westtown, though again parking space will be an issue.

MACTRAXX wrote:The West Chester Line never should have been closed - I believe this was the result of funding differences with
Chester County - even though the decision to increase service between Paoli and Downingtown (now Thorndale)
as an alternative turned out to be a good one. It may be an easy line to restore - I question the high price tag...

The problem was the combination of budgets, low ridership and poor track conditions. Chester County I believe got SEPTA to expand service to Parkesburg in exchange for the ending of West Chester service, with the expectation that West Chester area patrons would go to Exton (not a bad drive actually on 202 and PA 100) if they still wanted to take the train. If you look at ridership at stations from Malvern on west this was likely the right decision if they could only afford one option at the time. Of course on the Harrisburg line, SEPTA now goes to Thorndale after once being cut back to Downingtown, Amtrak Keystones provide more service than they once did to Coatesville and Parkesburg, Malvern gets more trains with the move of the terminus of non-Thorndale trains from Paoli Yard to the Frazer shops, and Exton is soon getting reworked to add parking.

CComMack wrote:I think they're really going to have to consider having all WC trains run express from Media to University City, perhaps with no more than 2 intermediate stops (Swarthmore and Primos?), hourly from WC, and hourly locals in between from Elwyn or Media, making all local stops. If they don't plan to do that I don't see how they can justify spending that kind of money for one all-stops local per hour--22 stops between WC and UC will have a tough time competing with West Chester Pike outside the peak. They'll also need one passing siding (Wawa?) to be able to run any kind of schedule. So far: 12 miles of new track from the subbase up, welded rail, PTC, and interlocked switches at the siding--it all adds up.

From memory, there are or at least were a number of passing sidings near some stations west of Wawa. Whether they need them or if even most still exist at all I don’t know - aerial pictures seem to indicate they may not, but they probably were where the cat poles are of the PRR “bowtie” design rather than single pole.

Fully agree on West Chester-originating trains not making all local stops to Center City by default as trip time will be key to developing ridership.

I guess another question is should they squeeze in some passing sidings in the two track section east of Elwyn? It’s pretty busy during rush hour and I don’t believe there are many save at Media.

In any case, good to see this at least getting studied. And hopefully the incremental cost of this can be kept down by getting the Wawa extension done first. If that is done right and it gets good ridership, this could also enhance the business case for full restoration of the branch.
khecht
 
Posts: 696
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2006 2:27 pm
Location: Philly Area

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby catfish » Wed May 04, 2016 7:24 am

I think it would be cool if the MUs pulled their own power in the form of a battery car. It could use lithium batteries so it wouldn't be too heavy.
User avatar
catfish
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:09 am
Location: West Chester, PA

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Wed May 04, 2016 9:09 pm

khecht wrote:I think there’s still a tiny station/shed at Locksley, but that might have been more of a WCRR creation than a PRR thing and I don’t know if SEPTA ever used it. I haven’t been out that way in a while though.
Locksley station is apparently a PRR era passenger shed, probably a flag stop in its days of service.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
User avatar
R36 Combine Coach
 
Posts: 4862
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:51 pm

Re: SEPTA plans feasibility study on West Chester

Postby zebrasepta » Wed May 04, 2016 10:03 pm

This is a bit off topic but what ever happened to the thing of extending rail service beyond Lansdale?
zebrasepta
 
Posts: 928
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:40 am

Next

Return to SEPTA (and PATCO)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests