Issues on the NHSL

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Issues on the NHSL

Postby 34thStreet » Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:02 pm

This week has not been a good week for Septa on the NHSL. Seems like every day there has been issues and big delays because of equipment issues. The car Im on now (131) is stuck between Radnor and County Line, driver can't get it to move. I'm assuming there is something wrong with the car where the brakes won't release? It accelerated away from radnor as usual and then the emergency brakes I assume kicked in as it forecfully came to a stop. Question is, is it just age catching up to the N5s or is it just poor maintenance that is causing so many problems? I get alerts constantly about equipment issues on this line.
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby kiha40 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 5:36 pm

Happened again this morning. I think I saw the first notification around 7:20. It must have been a disabled train between Bryn Mawr and County Line. There was a residual delay notification around 9.

I was on a local that skipped a few stops, presumably due to overcrowding. On this particular train there seemed to be a few different problems with how the passenger load was handled. For one thing, it was nowhere near capacity. People weren't moving back and there was never a direction to do so. All the crowding was at the front, either just because the habit is to do so, or because... Exiting by the front door became very difficult. I thought the operator might allow passengers out the back, but that didn't happen while I was riding. It never occurred to me before, but the N5s are what I imagine limited express rolling stock to be like--doors only at the ends which open into a vestibule area, no doors mid-car. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad if the operator wasn't responsible for fare collection, but they are.
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby jackintosh11 » Tue Sep 27, 2016 8:03 am

Just turn it into POP when Key is fully implemented. Put readers at all doors or at all stations. The operator can still sell cash fares, just have them issue cards like the quick trips to get through the turnstiles at 69th/NTC (they're available now at the dilworth entrance to City Hall station, they're magstripe cards that will activate the turnstiles if you pay a cash fare at the machine). A machine for issuing them wouldn't be required on the vehicles, they could just be preprinted and not have a time limit. They could also do something like the Staten Island Railway where you only have to pay if you're beginning/ending at either 69th street or NTC.
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby JeffK » Tue Sep 27, 2016 2:18 pm

That's an intriguing idea, but POP on any SEPTA route is extremely unlikely. Management is viscerally opposed to anything that might weaken control over individual fare payments. That's a major reason for their plans to put turnstiles at Center City RRD stations and require an annoying tap on / tap off (The Tapper?) procedure, and is at the core of implementing the Key as a digital replica of their current crazy quilt rules on the transit side.

FWIW, changing outbound collection to PAYE has anecdotally improved dwell times, but at the cost of making riders wait on exposed platforms at 69th St. regardless of the weather. Presumably that will go away once the readers are activated, though.

Another service question: does anyone know why there's a permanent slow order on the stretch between King Manor and Hughes Park?
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby Wingnut » Thu Oct 06, 2016 8:24 am

JeffK wrote:Another service question: does anyone know why there's a permanent slow order on the stretch between King Manor and Hughes Park?


It's particularly aggravating because this should be the FASTEST stretch on the NHSL. Those stops are about 1.3 miles apart with one curve, roughly two degrees, which should be adequate for 70 mph. But this section has had a 30 mph speed limit since at least the 1990s. I haven't been able to uncover any better explanation so my guess is that the area suffers from limestone subsidence and it's too hard to keep the rails aligned properly for higher speeds.
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby JeffersonLeeEng » Thu Oct 06, 2016 8:28 am

Wingnut wrote:
JeffK wrote:Another service question: does anyone know why there's a permanent slow order on the stretch between King Manor and Hughes Park?


It's particularly aggravating because this should be the FASTEST stretch on the NHSL. Those stops are about 1.3 miles apart with one curve, roughly two degrees, which should be adequate for 70 mph. But this section has had a 30 mph speed limit since at least the 1990s. I haven't been able to uncover any better explanation so my guess is that the area suffers from limestone subsidence and it's too hard to keep the rails aligned properly for higher speeds.


Isn't there a crossover interlocking somewhere around here as well?
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby Wingnut » Thu Oct 06, 2016 9:13 am

JeffersonLeeEng wrote:Isn't there a crossover interlocking somewhere around here as well?


There is a pair of crossovers at the north end of Hughes Park station which is used to turn the Hughes Park locals. But the vast majority of this trackage is free of switches.
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby JeffK » Thu Oct 06, 2016 10:23 am

Wingnut wrote:It's particularly aggravating because this should be the FASTEST stretch on the NHSL. ... Those stops are about 1.3 miles apart with one curve, roughly two degrees, which should be adequate for 70 mph.

The Bullets regularly hit 65-70 on that stretch. However I think the slow order came on later than the 1990s. I remember some of the operators complaining that they couldn't open up the N-5s because they threw an overspeed warning at 60.
I haven't been able to uncover any better explanation so my guess is that the area suffers from limestone subsidence and it's too hard to keep the rails aligned properly for higher speeds.

Yeah, that area's honeycombed with caverns and sinkholes. The "jog" in 202 North near the quarry is because a huge one opened up back in the 70s. I was in grad school at the time, and some people from the geo department were asked to investigate. They dumped a 55-gallon drum of marker dye into the hole but it never showed up in any water source in the region. Next they dropped a sounding rope (this was before compact video cameras); it went down 100m and never hit bottom ....
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby kiha40 » Thu Oct 06, 2016 10:18 pm

JeffK wrote:Yeah, that area's honeycombed with caverns and sinkholes. The "jog" in 202 North near the quarry is because a huge one opened up back in the 70s. I was in grad school at the time, and some people from the geo department were asked to investigate. They dumped a 55-gallon drum of marker dye into the hole but it never showed up in any water source in the region. Next they dropped a sounding rope (this was before compact video cameras); it went down 100m and never hit bottom ....


Well that's... upsetting.

Some NHSL operators have a habit of accelerating until the warning sounds, slowing down to satisfy it, then wash-rinse-repeat almost all the way from King Manor to Hughes Park. I often wonder how much electricity and brake lining are wasted doing this :wink:
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby JeffK » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:12 am

kiha40 wrote:Well that's... upsetting.

That's one way of putting it! The area's geology is, uh "interesting" in the extreme. Given that sinkholes open up every so often in the Hughes Park / Bridgeport area I'm surprised that the P&W (OK, OK ... NHSL) has operated through that section for so long without even more-serious problems.

Limestone's been a challenge all over the region. I've read that building the Court side of the K of P Mall took a lot more time and money because they had to drop pilings 250-300 ft down before hitting bedrock. There are sections of both I-76 and 202 that had to be specially constructed to span weak areas. It makes me wonder if those complications could be contributing to the cost of the NHSL extension.

OTOH maybe it's a good place to look for Jimmy Hoffa -- ???
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby 34thStreet » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:22 pm

Yes that section is aggravatingly slow. I have experienced some of the operators that like to accelerate over the 30mph limit and then slow back down every time the overspeed alert comes on. On the other hand, it gives me plenty of time to get to the front of the car to get off unlike some people who go running up when the nearly miss their stop. :-D I seem to remember asking one operator once and he said they had planned to do track work through that section but that was two years ago and obviously nothing has been done.

Speaking of track work, there seems to be some issues on a couple of sections lately, including sections that were worked on fairly recently I think; going towards Norristown between Matsonford and Gulph Mills is getting very wobbly, there is a speed restriction there now. I swear they were working there maybe a year, year and a half ago but that must be a problem spot.

So too is the outbound right before Beechwood-Brookline, the car really rocks back and forth there, quite unnerving. Its not so bad if they don't slow down to stop but when they are you almost feel as if we might topple over. Wasn't this section also worked on recently?
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby Wingnut » Sun Oct 30, 2016 6:56 pm

I wish I knew why this line seems to have ongoing issues maintaining track quality. Maybe it's my imagination but the ride seems more turbulent going through curves on an elevated fill than elsewhere. Beechwood Brookline comes to mind as does the curve over US 30 near Radnor. Maybe their construction is subpar in some way? The other thing is that they are doing frequent single tracking and maintenance during weekdays, more often than virtually any other SEPTA line. Despite that, the trains don't ride as well as they should.
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby JeffK » Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:56 pm

Wingnut wrote:I wish I knew why this line seems to have ongoing issues maintaining track quality. Maybe it's my imagination but the ride seems more turbulent going through curves on an elevated fill than elsewhere. Beechwood Brookline comes to mind as does the curve over US 30 near Radnor. Maybe their construction is subpar in some way? The other thing is that they are doing frequent single tracking and maintenance during weekdays, more often than virtually any other SEPTA line. Despite that, the trains don't ride as well as they should.

There's also some kind of problem on the northbound track at Bryn Mawr near the pocket-track switch. The cars sway from side to side over a stretch of about 50-75 feet and operators have been taking it at little more than a fast walk.

On the other hand they've replaced a lot of old stick rail with welded which has made a big difference on those sections, but overall It really does seem like the ratio (apparent results) / (work done) has been on the low side.
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby 34thStreet » Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:20 pm

Wingnut wrote:I wish I knew why this line seems to have ongoing issues maintaining track quality. Maybe it's my imagination but the ride seems more turbulent going through curves on an elevated fill than elsewhere. Beechwood Brookline comes to mind as does the curve over US 30 near Radnor. Maybe their construction is subpar in some way? The other thing is that they are doing frequent single tracking and maintenance during weekdays, more often than virtually any other SEPTA line. Despite that, the trains don't ride as well as they should.


Agreed. They've been doing quite a bit of work over the last couple years but it seems like as soon as they work on something not long after it seems as if nothing had happened. Some of the cars I notice ride better than others, I'm assuming due to varying maintenance thats been done. Some of them really jostle at the littlest track imperfection, and some almost sound like they are ready to just fall apart.
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Re: Issues on the NHSL

Postby 34thStreet » Thu Nov 10, 2016 4:48 pm

I've been getting alot of alerts this afternoon about police activity aka a fatality somewhere between Bryn Mawr and Norristown... any idea what happened and where? Didn't someone get hit a bryn mawr a week or so ago?
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