New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

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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New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby JeffK » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:36 am

SEPTA has announced the latest round of public hearings on the proposed NHSL / P&W extension to King of Prussia. The hearings are in conjunction with release of the Draft Environmental Impact Study, available in all its detail here.

The DEIS has more pages than the 7th Harry Potter book but I managed to skim the first several sections. Most is what we're already familiar with, but there are a few minor route modifications:
- The trestle will cross the Turnpike near the rest stop in order to reduce effects on nearby residences, principally the Valley Forge Homes neighborhood.*
- There's also a little "bump" to increase the ROW's distance from the 9/11 Memorial next to the firehouse on Allendale Road.

and two surprises:
- They're proposing the purchase of six additional cars to supplement the existing N-5 fleet. **
- An additional track and loading platform will be added at 69th Street, tentatively where there's an existing pocket track on the north side.

* Rant - I still can't understand why early on someone didn't see that running a 17-foot trestle right behind residents' back yards would generate volcanic opposition. It seems to me SEPTA could have scored all sorts of points by making the Turnpike flyover part of the initial routing, along with reaching out to that area to show how they'd proactively considered negative impacts.

** That surprises me for two reasons - all along they've been saying the existing fleet is more than adequate to meet expected demand, so does it mean projected demand will be higher than originally anticipated (a good thing!), do they expect some of the N-5s to be out of service by 2023 (age 30), or both? Also the per-cost of such a small order would generally be higher than for a larger purchase, so I wonder whether they'll do an add-on to the N-5s or look at a joint purchase, either with some other operator or as part of replacing the 101/102 K-cars (age 40+ by 2023). Hmm....
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby 60 Car » Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:42 am

JeffK wrote:do they expect some of the N-5s to be out of service by 2023 (age 30), or both?


It is still unknown if the cars involved in the collision at 69th St are repairable.
Both have some serious frame damage.
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby 34thStreet » Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:10 pm

I was also very surprised about the additional track and extra cars although I'd wondered all along how they'd manage additional service with the existing fleet when ridership seems to be demanding mostly two-car trains during peak travel times already.

Re: the two cars involved, which two was it again? I think 155 was one of them? Just curious as I usually keep track of which cars I'm on when I ride.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves though, lets not get too hopeful about this. The Township BOS, which had seemed open to the idea, is now starting to cave to pressures on voting no on this. I have no idea when such a vote would even happen but just today I saw where they are coming out against it. Could be a political move to ensure re-election but if a loud group of citizens don't want it and the township is cooling to the idea, we can probably shelve it yet again. Allegedly the state was supposed to provide some of the funding (I saw $300m) which is now gone.
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby JeffK » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:27 pm

I hadn’t heard that anyone on the BOS was backing off their support. If you can post a citation I’ll try to talk to a couple of the supers I’m acquainted with. In any case the business community seems fully on board so I expect they’d make their (considerably more clout-laden) voices heard by anyone who's wavering.

So far as I’ve seen, most opposition seems to be coming from two sources - the Valley Forge Homes residents, who IMHO had an absolutely legitimate beef with SEPTA's ham-fisted handling of the earlier routing, and a much looser group of NIMBYs. The latter made a big stink about 18 months ago with a website and FB page, but it turned out something like 2/3 of the posters weren’t even residents or commuters; a lot of the posts were filled with standard fear-mongering abetted by some thinly-veiled racism. Once some lights were focused on their efforts a lot of the more odious material suddenly vanished.

That said, I sadly have to agree that funding may be an almost insurmountable obstacle. Without going into the associated politics, the current dysfunction in both HBG and DC doesn’t bode well for infrastructure support, especially passenger rail.
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby HGN2001 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:29 pm

As someone who grew up near the P&W line, I've always had a fascination for it, particularly the long-gone bullet cars. Later I lived in King Of Prussia, so this idea interests me. Is there a map of what's proposed anywhere online?
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby JeffK » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:09 pm

HGN2001 wrote:Is there a map of what's proposed anywhere online?

Yes, and volumes of additional info: http://www.kingofprussiarail.com/
If you go to the "Contact Us" option there's a place at the bottom of the screen where you can sign up to receive their e-newsletters.
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby JeffersonLeeEng » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:38 pm

Anybody go to the meetings at the Doubletree in kop today?
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby JeffK » Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:37 pm

JeffersonLeeEng wrote:Anybody go to the meetings at the Doubletree in kop today?

I attended the afternoon hearings - generally respectful and well-presented (with one exception of course). Clearly the business community is fully engaged because they see the effect traffic is having on their ability to attract and keep employees. Another good sign is that two representatives of the Valley Forge Homes neighborhood said they were (at least moderately) supportive of the plan assuming SEPTA holds to its modified routing* that places the guideway on the opposite side of the turnpike instead of in the berm between their yards and the highway.

There was some fussing from local residents who (a) "won't use it myself so no one needs it" or (b) "remember when K of P was mostly farmlands" and somehow expect those days to come back. Unfortunately there was one BANANA** who insisted that the "Expressway and current buses are just fine" and why is the money being wasted, but he didn't get any press or other support.


* I still have no clue why the planners didn't see why putting the guideway on the residential side of the tpk was a non-starter ...

** "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone"
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby BuddCar711 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:38 am

BANANAs are worse than NIMBYs. At least a NIMBY wouldn't care where you would build it (as long as it is not near them). BANANAs don't want you to build it at all.
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby silverliner266 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:00 am

BuddCar711 wrote:BANANAs are worse than NIMBYs. At least a NIMBY wouldn't care where you would build it (as long as it is not near them). BANANAs don't want you to build it at all.


BANANAs are usually the first to raise the "crime" argument when it comes to public transportation which is ultimately a pretty gross euphemism for "black people will be near my house".
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SEPTA Board Approves Final Routing for King of Prussia Rail

Postby JeffersonLeeEng » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:40 am

Headline: SEPTA approves route for proposed KOP rail line from Center City

http://www.fox29.com/news/septa-approve ... enter-city

Note: This is just on the SEPTA end of things. There still need to be more hearings for this year on this project and the Final EIS has to be submitted for Federal approval. FWIW, I hear the NIMBYs are calling this is a "small victory" because this routing has been diverted to the other side of the PA Turnpike and away from their homes, but they still don't quite approve of the overall project. So, they sorta got it out of the backyards, but they rather have it scrapped and "out of sight, out of mind" altogether.
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby NorthPennLimited » Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:54 pm

Are the N-5 cars still in production, or would SEPTA just purchase from the lowest bidder who can build additional vehicles to run on the existing track and power supply?
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby ExCon90 » Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:12 pm

I thought there were enough cars in the original order to cover the expansion. Let's hope the expansion opens before the expiration of their service life.
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby JeffK » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:14 pm

NorthPennLimited wrote:Are the N-5 cars still in production, or would SEPTA just purchase from the lowest bidder who can build additional vehicles to run on the existing track and power supply?

The N-5s were built in the early 90s and AFAIK were a one-off order specifically designed for the NHSL rather than a modified version of an off-the-shelf vehicle. In addition there were all sorts of special arrangements to make the shells overseas but assemble them here to meet US content rules. Whether any current manufacturer could either build new N-5s or modify their production vehicles to be compatible, while using modern technology AND do it for such a limited order is of course anyone’s guess.
ExCon90 wrote:I thought there were enough cars in the original order to cover the expansion. Let's hope the expansion opens before the expiration of their service life.

I was surprised by the proposal for a handful of additional cars too. Supposedly 15 cars are currently needed for daily service; even assuming the two damaged ones are permanently OOS that still leaves 9 cars for KoP / repairs / etc. I don’t know what the N-5s' remaining service life might be, but they’ll be at least 30 years old (and likely more) before the expansion opens. That age makes me question the wisdom of an add-on purchase versus biting the bullet of full fleet replacement.
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Re: New NHSL hearings and Draft EIS

Postby Tadman » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:39 pm

30 seems to be the magic number when it comes to non-rebuilt fleet longevity. Hopefully SEPTA will hire someone like LTK who will make a detailed assessment.

Besidses, the N5 fleet was indeed very custom built in order to keep schedules that ordinary subway cars couldn't. Given 30 years of inverter and motor technology, it's a safe bet that the ABB guts are hard to find for repair/replace procedures and a modern AC-driven MU design could handle the schedule.

Perhaps a tack-on order to the Chicago 7000-series or a shortened LIRR M9?
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