Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

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/.

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Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby MedicSutton » Tue May 17, 2016 5:40 am

Good Morning everyone. Yesterday the topic came up of how the Atlantic city line is being underutilized as a Philadelphia transportation option. I wanted to copy my response to the septa/patco thread and get some feedback. I understand that a project of this magnitude would take massive joint private, multi state, and federal investment. That being said there is no reason why the Delval region with a population of nearly 6 million has a archaic and regressive rail transportation system. The focus of my thoughts today is mainly on south jersey but really is part of larger regional transportation like those of which are present in other world class cities.

"i think we need to come at this from a completely different angle and should consider it sooner then later. We have 3 incompatible modes of passenger rail transportation that feed into the Philadelphia Market from south jersey. Number 1 you have patco which is the most convenient route into center city but stops short at 16th street. Parking is limited during week and the peak trains are at capacity. Then you have the river line which feeds into Camden and connects with patco and AC trains but is not attractive due to the lack of matching timetables. Now let's get to the Atlantic city line. Absolutely underutilized but probably for good reason. The slow roundabout run that it takes from where it splits off in westmont. Runs up into cherry hill and pennsauken. Then runs at a snails pace across the delair bridge where it can be delayed for a bridge opening and then stopped short of the NEC where it needs clearance to cross over several active tracks on the busiest passenger rail line in the country. Then to run through north philly and back around zoo finally arriving at 30th. We have essentially piecemealed together 3 rail lines out of what is left from the prsl where things seemed to actually make more sense. Let's face it. Our highways are at capacity and Philadelphia is growing. South Jersey is growing just as rapidly and if we are not careful in how we plan our transportation grid for the future we will be faced with even crazier commutes.

My pipe dream solution.. Build a rail tunnel from Camden into and under center city Philadelphia where it could be connected and expanded at 8th and market to stop and continue through the cct to 30th st upper concourse. On the Jersey side all passenger rail should become standard which means what runs to Trenton runs to lindenwold runs to ac. 4 tracks from lindenwold straight into the city which means the AC trains express from lindenwold on the inner 2 tracks and the lindenwold trains take the outer tracks to make local stops. Some may say then what do we do with cherry hill and pennsauken. My thought is this. River line feeds directly into 4 track mainline before making main stop in Camden. The 42 corridor line which is desperately needed does the same. Then what also desperately needs to be done is a complete rebuilding of the Mt. Holly line through to route 206 following the original route through merchantville over 130 where it connects at pavonia where it would follow the river line down into Camden. We need a major investment in our transportation infrastructure now. I've been working in Camden and Philadelphia for over 20 years and I can say that I am fairly certain this whole area is about to explode with jobs and new development. We need to stop throwing good money after bad. It's time to go hard or go home."
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby MACTRAXX » Tue May 17, 2016 6:20 am

MedicSutton:

A better title for this topic is "Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ" because those in the Philadelphia area may confuse this proposal for
a rail tunnel under the Delaware River with the "Center City Commuter Connection" tunnel built in the first half of the 1980s for SEPTA Regional
Rail that included Market East (now Jefferson) Station unifying the former PRR/PC and RDG electrified commuter systems as one.

This would be a huge investment with a price tag in the billions - would the Philadelphia region and both states be up for the challenge?

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Re: Commuter Rail Tunnel

Postby MedicSutton » Tue May 17, 2016 6:59 am

Agreed that this would be a huge investment and a major undertaking. I'm curious to know if an idea like this was ever floated in the past. I love how cities like Denver have built out and become very public transportation friendly. I think that even if a Delaware River passenger rail tunnel isn't possible still we should start planning for the future. If we want to grow and become a world travel destination we need to at least have a discussion. This area has some of the greatest thinkers in the world right here. I would love to hear ideas even if they are just a pipe dream.
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby sammy2009 » Tue May 17, 2016 9:38 pm

I've always felt that Philly-New Jersey could have benefited from a tunnel underneath the river. Esp, giving the history of the area with a system that feeds into the core pretty much. New Jersey is smacked btw two major cities and with transit options into both NY & Philly transit build is connectively the same in ways in my eyes.
I think for this to happen it would really have to take a lot of consideration and dedication. I think some concerns and questions I would have is which line would run through the Del.River Tunnel ? PATCO / OR AC LINE ? ,and would that make sense to just run under the river and still come out at Frankford Junction ?
Currently, I do not see NJTRANSIT OR The state of NJ committing to building another tunnel right now.
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby JeffersonLeeEng » Wed May 18, 2016 6:55 am

If not a tunnel, how about building a rail bridge?
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby MedicSutton » Thu May 19, 2016 3:15 am

That's also a thought. We're obviously at this point either way talking about electric locomotive hauled passenger cars and/or MUs. Either solution you will have to climb. Tunnel build out will require a depth of about 60-70ft to clear the shipping channel and a bridge would require 135ft at the channel which is the distance from marker light to the surface of the water. Well use the Ben Franklin bridge for example. The run is about 9000ft end to end to reach a max shipping channel clearance of 135 ft. The grade of climb and descent is 3% on both sides. We all know Patco M/Us are capable of doing that however we are more likely dealing with much heavier electric locomotive hauled passenger trains and M/Us. A bridge would require lots of real estate on both sides of the river which realistiy speaking won't be available. A tunnel on the other hand would require closer to a 2% grade and 3000 ft to clear shipping channel with proper headspace. That's assuming we go to a depth of 70 ft. The grade would likely be less popping up on the pa side and running underground to 8th and market. As far as a drawbridge I think that would work against the idea of a rail rapid transit system. We'd be dealing with a lot of short headways where we'd be trying to plug nj trains between septa trains to run through the cct.
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby NorthPennLimited » Thu May 19, 2016 2:14 pm

Another consideration is this:

The Delair bridge was constructed in the 1890's and will be coming to the end of its life span in our lifetime.

The bridge is so old it can only carry one train at a time, despite being double tracked.

The bridge is used by NJT, Conrail, NS, and CSX as the only gateway into south jersey. Each user should split the cost in designing and building a new tunnel or bridge across the Delaware River.

Otherwise, they will be using car floats and tug boats again between Port Richmond and Coopers Landing when the Delair Bridge finally flunks its periodic FRA bridge inspection.
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby Mumphrey O. Yamm » Fri May 20, 2016 12:36 pm

This is a great idea, and it’s one that, for that very reason, I think SEPTA won’t ever think about. SEPTA seems to have something against good ideas, just on principle.

This might be better off in its won thread, but one of the big hangups we have along the east coast, as far as public transportation goes, is that we have one great, long built up string of cities, reaching from Maine all the way to the north eastern corner of North Carolina. But we have, what, 8 or 9 distinct transportation authorities? One in Boston. One in Eastern Connecticut, that runs the train from New Haven east to wherever it goes. I don’t know if Rhode Island has an authority, but if not, it should. There’s Metro North and the Long Island Railroad. I don’t know whether they’re two separate authorities, or one. New Jersey Transit. SEPTA. MARC. VRE. And I think there’s something in and around Hampton Roads. maybe Richmond, too. And MARC runs into West Virginia. So, we have Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and North Carolina all in this long swath of civilization. There are some comparatively empty stretches, between Washington and Richmond, and between Richmond and Norfolk, et al., but there’s no way they won’t get more built up.

We should look at this as one seamless stretch, as far as public transportation goes. If we saw all this as being one great city, it seems to me it would be less hard to get things like building tunnels done. Maybe I’m dead wrong here, but this seems like the most reasonable way to get the eastern U.S. up to standard when it comes to transportation.
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby jonnhrr » Fri May 20, 2016 2:35 pm

Having a regional transit organization (which is what your bascially suggesting) might help with projects that affect the whole corridor e.g. the Hudson tunnels as Amtrak runs the length of the region, but this tunnel is strictly PA-NJ and doesn't really have much impact outside of the Delaware Valley so might not be of much interest elsewhere.

BTW Rhode Island does have a transit authority but works closely with MBTA who actually runs the trains (well actually MBTA's contractor Keolis) in the RI area. Metro North and LIRR are both run by MTA but are separate organizations, as is the NYC subway.

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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby YamaOfParadise » Sat May 21, 2016 2:59 pm

The slew of transportation agencies is symptomatic of the nature of the funding given for these options; tax money is going to be spent in the places where it's collected, and it takes a lot of coordination and cooperation for any interstate entity to form. PANYNJ is a good example of that going wrong; and even with the example of Metro-North as a "better" more functional example, the relationships between NY and CT is hardly a frictionless relationship, and there's constant tension between their differing interests.

And that's something that's even further regionalized in SEPTA territory, due to the state not being the primary ones in control; Philly pulls one way, the counties pull the other way.
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby Wingnut » Sun May 22, 2016 6:39 pm

NorthPennLimited wrote:Another consideration is this:

The Delair bridge was constructed in the 1890's and will be coming to the end of its life span in our lifetime.

The bridge is so old it can only carry one train at a time, despite being double tracked.

The bridge is used by NJT, Conrail, NS, and CSX as the only gateway into south jersey. Each user should split the cost in designing and building a new tunnel or bridge across the Delaware River.

Otherwise, they will be using car floats and tug boats again between Port Richmond and Coopers Landing when the Delair Bridge finally flunks its periodic FRA bridge inspection.


This point cannot be stressed enough. If a replacement isn't funded and built soon, the ACRL and all freight rail activity in South Jersey will cease to exist. Atlantic City, which is already borderline, would not have enough riders to survive if they are forced to turn back at Pennsauken. As for freight...is feeding Pavonia Yard from Morrisville by looping through Trenton over now inactive trackage and running down the River Line at night even remotely plausible? I just can't see it. And would car floats be a financially viable alternative for the SJ freight market?
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby MedicSutton » Mon May 23, 2016 1:26 pm

Clearly the answer to bringing our region into the 21st century is right in front of us. Rts 30, 38, 42, 55, 70, 76, and 130 are all at capacity at peak times. Center City Parking is disappearing in favor of Commercial development. Camden City is about to receive Billions in new commercial development from the waterfront inland. Expansion of Campbells Soup, Cooper University Hospital, and the New Subaru North American headquarters to name a few. No doubt this project will require federal dollars to start. I am going to share this idea with some of our local, state, and federal representatives to see if we can get some feedback. I think at the very least its worth some engineering studies.
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby SilentCal » Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:00 am

A more useful, if no less expensive option would be extending the Broad Street line to the Navy Yard and then through a tunnel to a new terminal around exit 23 of 295 in South Jersey.

About here, basically: https://www.google.com/maps/@39.8615239 ... 203,16.25z
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby MACTRAXX » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:31 pm

SC: This is nothing new - a BSL extension via a Delaware River tunnel to a park/ride in National Park, NJ has been mentioned
for at least 20 years - maybe longer. MACTRAXX
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Re: Delaware River Commuter Rail Tunnel PA-NJ

Postby Bill R. » Sun Jul 17, 2016 5:14 am

Actually, the idea was considered by SEPTA in 1988: Septa's Vision: More Rail Links For Suburbs

And extending beyond I-295 to Woodbury would potentially create the opportunity for an intermodal transfer center linking the proposed Glassboro-Camden Line and regional NJ Transit buses while dramatically improving travel times (21 minutes) between Woodbury and Philadelphia: Broad Street Subway to NJ
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