Modernizing the Trolley Network

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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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby ChrisinAbington » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:52 pm

ekt8750 wrote:They've long since talked about creating a line that would originate in that area and run along the old City Branch corridor and connect with the Subway Surface tunnel.

Or have it routed at street level and continue after City Branch on to Penns Landing via Market or Arch. I know that line was a DRPA study not too long ago that not surprisingly went nowhere.. The reminder that City Branch will likely soon be a park also does not bode well for a return of rail transport..
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby Myrtone » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:51 am

Will some surface lines be reinstated as the trolley network is modernised? Does anyone here familiar with the network have any idea on what make and model of low floor streetcar Philadelphia should get?
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby JeffK » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:13 pm

Myrtone wrote:Will some surface lines be reinstated as the trolley network is modernised?

My 2¢ is that there's little chance any "temporarily" suspended lines will be restored, either in the short- or medium term. I'm basing that opinion on SEPTA's historic resistance to wider trolley service and the practical difficulty of putting fixed-rail vehicles back on narrow streets that were long ago ceded to rubber tires.

That said, there does seem to be some gradual lessening of SEPTA's allergy to expanding the trolley network which could someday bring about one or more extensions to existing lines. There's been occasional talk about limited service on the upper end of the 23 where Germantown Ave. is four lanes, and a few proposals have been floated about running the 10 to Overbrook and/or sending the 36 nearer (or actually to) the airport. So far though, it's been only that - occasional talk. The sad facts are that unless and until there's a major change in attitudes, funding, and management there's essentially no chance of seeing 56 cars on Torresdale Ave. or a 42 going down Chestnut St. again.
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby Myrtone » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:50 pm

How about Spring Garden street, which is wider and once had a trolley line?
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby pjabowling » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:44 am

Septa will have enough trouble getting the existing 6 trolley lines (10,11,13,15,34,36) converted to the new light rail cars which will be at least 80 ft long. This is going to require a lot of street lane redesign, moving of traditional stops and changes to parking on the streets affected.

Also the new cars are going to affect ridership. Many people avoid the trolleys because of the steep stairs and narrow doors, opting to catch alternate bus service.If these vehicles can truly cut the ride time by 10 minutes many more people will choose to use the service.

Only after these cars are in use can Septa look at expanding service to other routes. Bringing any of those routes back has a cost and we don't have funding for these light rail vehicles yet and the quantity purchased will be a deciding factor.
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby Myrtone » Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:25 pm

If the new vehicles increase ridership, then revenue will surely increase. Could they borrow money, buy new vehicles and then pay back the loan with the extra revenue? If they can self fund, they'll be able to purchase a good European design. Any hopes that the new vehicles will still have pivoting bogies? Fixed bogie models may require even more street redesign to ease curves, perhaps even demolishing buildings to accomodate the wider curves. The problem with fixed bogie multi-articulated vehicles is not track clearences, it's the end sections, with their overhang, making a wide sweep on curves. Just remember this.
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby jonnhrr » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:27 pm

Has there been any talk about replacing the Red Arrow cars, since they are about the same age as the city cars? Of course they need to be double ended so the design would have to be somewhat different.

It's too bad SEPTA and MBTA couldn't do a combined order since Boston is buying the Type 9's for the current Green Line extension.

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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby JeffK » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:31 pm

According to the DVRPC, the suburban cars will be replaced too but not necessarily at the same time.

Given economies of scale, I can't see why they'd place two different orders unless there's some operational reason whatever design is chosen can't be adapted for the 101 and 102. The K-cars were a single order with two different but related designs..
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby Myrtone » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:11 am

jonnhrr wrote:It's too bad SEPTA and MBTA couldn't do a combined order since Boston is buying the Type 9's for the current Green Line extension.


Is it true that gauge differences preclude joint venture orders anyway? By the way, is it true that converting either of the Philadelphia network to standard gauge would be more complicated than it's worth even though their track gauge differs enough from standard gauge to physically allow dual gauge track? Too much disruption?
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby JeffK » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:13 am

Myrtone wrote:Is it true that gauge differences preclude joint venture orders anyway?

As far as the vehicles are concerned, no - it's just a matter of using different trucks (bogies). That was done when the broad-gauge M4 cars were retrofitted for use on the NHSL during the car shortate 30+ years ago. The real issue is things like station clearances, curve radii, etc. That depends on how different the two systems' configurations are, and whether there's enough commonality for a base design to have system-specific modifications.

... is it true that converting either of the Philadelphia network to standard gauge would be more complicated than it's worth

Almost certainly yes, because all of the buried street track would have to be dug up rather than simply having rails shifted as with surface-mounted rails, and in the meantime nothing could run. I can't speak for what if any modifications would be needed to the tunnel infrastructure, though.

...even though their track gauge differs enough from standard gauge to physically allow dual gauge track? Too much disruption?

Probably. First, the tunnels would have to be converted because they're shared with all five lines. Then, unless there were a practical way to segregate operation of the standard-gauge and broad-gauge cars by route number while each was converted, the entire subway-surface network would have to be shut down until the last piece of rail was laid. Not to mention political fallout - there'd be volcanic complaints about cost, etc. PA's Act 89 has given SEPTA a badly-needed infusion of cash but it only begins to address a 5B USD backlog of SOGR work, let alone expansion projects that've been postponed for decades.

Bottom line, we've suffered for well over a century with the effects of having the Pennsylvania Gauge imposed on street railroads. In all that time no one's been able to figure out how to accomplish regauging at an acceptable cost in effort or dollars. Sadly we're probably stuck with that incompatibility.
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby Myrtone » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:32 pm

JeffK wrote:As far as the vehicles are concerned, no - it's just a matter of using different trucks (bogies). That was done when the broad-gauge M4 cars were retrofitted for use on the NHSL during the car shortate 30+ years ago. The real issue is things like station clearances, curve radii, etc. That depends on how different the two systems' configurations are, and whether there's enough commonality for a base design to have system-specific modifications.

Your comments are valid for high floor vehicles, but with low floor, having an aisle between the wheels and motors on the outside is sure to make things more complicated. Gauge would make differences more intrusive to design.

JeffK wrote:Bottom line, we've suffered for well over a century with the effects of having the Pennsylvania Gauge imposed on street railroads. In all that time no one's been able to figure out how to accomplish regauging at an acceptable cost in effort or dollars. Sadly we're probably stuck with that incompatibility.

I wonder if this was less of a problem when there were more systems with this gauge. If it were a popular gauge, then you wouldn't bother telling me that you are stuck with the "incompatibility".
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby drinkatoast » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:41 pm

Wait, maybe I'm missing something but aren't the 101 & 102 also "PA broad gauge" just like the city trolleys and MFSE? I know the NHSL is standard gauge though, which is why it can't run-through on the MFSE.
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby JeffK » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:59 am

drinkatoast wrote:Wait, maybe I'm missing something but aren't the 101 & 102 also "PA broad gauge" just like the city trolleys and MFSE? I know the NHSL is standard gauge though, which is why it can't run through [run-through] on the MFSE.

Yes, the former P&WCT / Red Arrow and PRT / PTC trolley systems are both PA broad gauge. The P&WCT had serious plans to offer direct trolley service into Center City. When the Market Street Elevated* was proposed, the P&WCT convinced the El's builders to use broad gauge as well. The P&WCT's owners were so confident of connecting the two systems that they not only had drawn up detailed plans for joint service, they went so far as to buy 16 cars that were compatible with both operations. But shortly after the El opened its management backed out of any and all plans for shared service. Merritt Taylor persisted in his efforts for a few more years but by 1914 officially abandoned his plans as well. (source - Ron DeGraw, Red Arrow: The First Hundred Years, 1848-1948)

For whatever reason, neither the two private companies nor their successors reconsidered coordination beyond sharing 69th Street Terminal. Maybe Walt can provide more details from his encyclopedic knowledge of local transit history (that far exceeds mine :wink:) In any case, even though the old PRT cars and P&WCT interurbans were somewhat more alike than the vehicles that followed, you have to ask about the practicality of interleaving six- or eight-car subway trains with shorter trolley consists. Imagining how the lines might later have evolved with shared running could make for some interesting speculative fiction.

* Initial service was only along Market Street; the Frankford leg didn't open until 1922.
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby Gorindya » Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:10 pm

Getting back to the topic at hand I guess there should be a new thread called converting legacy trolley networks to modern streetcar systems. Route 10 is going to be the most difficult, Lansdowne Av is way too narrow to move the tracks to curbside, I guess 63rd street is wide enough? I also don’t see how Callowhill depot can handle any new equipment? I guess Elmwood will have to handle everything or maybe Septa will build a new depot at 49th and Woodland? There are a few questions I have: No more polls all pantographs? Are the new cars going to have any off-wire technology? battery super capacitor back up? like the Q Line in Detroit or Seattle streetcar? The route 11 diamond will no longer need wires over the railroad tracks if that’s the case. I know there are extremely close clearances in the tunnels but is their room in septa subway tunnels for 100% low floor streetcars that have to have motors, gearboxes and breaking components on the outside of the wheels and hvac units on the roof? How many of the Subway stations in Philadelphia subway surface trolley tunnel are handicapped accessible? The steps in university city are so narrow and steep for nonhandicapped people? My guess is that there are a lot of bugs to work out so it could take even longer and cost more than anticipated
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Re: Modernizing the Trolley Network

Postby mcgrath618 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:35 pm

With the ADA having been torn apart, how do you guys think the design of these things will change?
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