NHSL Construction

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NHSL Construction

Postby Roman » Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:29 pm

Does anyone know when the projected completion date is for all of the track work on the NHSL? And when it does end, will trains run at full speed (70 mph) again? The top speed has been restricted to 55 mph for some time now, at least along the stretch I travel. While this speed restriction doesn't have a meaningful impact on the schedule, it makes an oddity like the NHSL slightly less interesting.
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Re: NHSL Construction

Postby JeffersonLeeEng » Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:29 am

Probably at least through mid-November (possible December). There's actually going to some weekend bus substitution going on through the weekend of Veterans Day...

http://www.septa.org/alert/pdf/2018-09- ... metble.pdf
http://www.septa.org/alert/pdf/2018-09- ... metble.pdf

And there's this construction alert page for Stadium station...

http://septa.org/alert/construction/stadium.html
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Re: NHSL Construction

Postby JeffK » Thu Oct 04, 2018 1:51 pm

Roman wrote:And when it does end, will trains run at full speed (70 mph) again?

AFAIK that's unlikely. In any case I don't remember that the N-5s often touched 70 even before the new restrictions; they'd usually get an overspeed warning at 60 or 65. The 55 mph max was applied after a couple of recent, uh, "incidents" that resulted in damage and injuries. The NHSL doesn't have full Positive Train Control (it's a closed line outside of FRA requirements) so apparently SEPTA decided that cutting the max speed was its best option.

Also there's now a permanent slow order on the line's longest straight stretch, north of Hughes Park, where the N-5s routinely used to hit 60 and the Bullets made 70 or above. No one's given me a definitive "why" but rumor has it that there are concerns about the limestone substrates that honeycomb that area. [historical note: the average end-to-end time is now in the 25-30 minute range. I have a 1973 schedule showing Bullet-powered limiteds making the same trip in roughly 20.]

JeffersonLeeEng wrote:Probably at least through mid-November (possible December). There's actually going to some weekend bus substitution going on through the weekend of Veterans Day...

http://www.septa.org/alert/pdf/2018-09- ... metble.pdf
http://www.septa.org/alert/pdf/2018-09- ... metble.pdf

Yow. ~25 minutes from 69th St. to Bryn Mawr. That's almost as long as a rail-only run to NTC. Need to keep it in mind ...

And there's this construction alert page for Stadium station...

http://septa.org/alert/construction/stadium.html

FWIW, the Stadium station reconstruction seems to be related to Villanova's construction of new dorms and parking facilities. That at least says someone thought things through and decided to coordinate the two projects. In any case it's doubtful the Stadium station would have been accessible given all of the disruption caused by VU's work.
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Re: NHSL Construction

Postby Roman » Thu Oct 04, 2018 5:46 pm

Thanks JeffK. I assume you're referring to the 2017 collision at 69th? We'll see what the full NTSB report says about that (which I imagine will be released soon). Regardless of what actually happened there, reducing the speed along the entire line seems excessive considering that was a relatively low-speed collision at a terminus. I believe that collision was also the source of the mind-numbing speed restriction between Parkview and 69th - another solution looking for a problem. Please correct me if I'm wrong, though.

Again, I realize a ~10 mph speed reduction is nothing to get too hot and bothered about, but it's frustrating not knowing if there is a good reason behind it while knowing that the infrastructure is capable of more (at least when in good repair).

The new station at Stadium is a welcome project. The rickety old station probably needed a ground-up rebuild anyway, and I'm sure it didn't look stately enough for Villanova's grand vision for the project. Hopefully they pitched a few dollars toward it.
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Re: NHSL Construction

Postby mrobinson » Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:36 pm

Been a lurker for years, rarely post but this caught my eye.
Sounds like a lot has changed on the NHSL in 25 years.
Here's a shot from 1993 and work at Bryn Mawr during the rebuild of the Pocket Track. Funny thing was that there was still 1908 rail in place at that time.
And yes, if you look closely, you can see the headlight of a CTA car running outbound on the inbound track.
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Re: NHSL Construction

Postby JeffK » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:57 am

mrobinson wrote:Sounds like a lot has changed on the NHSL in 25 years.

Yes, no, and "sort of". The greatest positive change is of course the N-5 fleet, which are sometimes referred to as "baby Silverliners". They're big-time more comfortable than their predecessors ... although one of the mixed blessings of the old cars was that in spring and fall their open windows could be very pleasant, esp. in some of the ROW with lots of good vegetation. Riding a Bullet through the woods was kind of like time travel back to the 1940s. :-D Another improvement for riders (but not one that SEPTA intended or planned) is that fares dropped because a big oversight ("oops!") in the Key farecard's design forced them to eliminate zones and surcharges. There's also an ongoing program to replace the old concrete-block station shelters with more-modern glass designs, put in better lighting, etc. Some of them are outfitted with electronic displays but AFAIK those haven't been switched on (and may never be, at the current rate). Such is SEPTA.

The negatives include gradual, salami-tactic style reductions in speed and service frequency. The old Bullets regularly topped 70 mph in places; Limiteds could run end to end in 20 minutes or so. The top speed for the N-5s has been cut, first to 60 and recently to 55, partly out of safety concerns (ATC instead of PTC) and partly for reasons known only to 1234. Beyond that there are no more Limiteds and enough stops have been added to Expresse runs that they barely merit the name anymore. Most times are now in the 28-32 minute range which equates to a blazing average of 26 mph. And most annoying, former 15- or 20-minute headways have mostly been cut to 30 minutes. Unless there's a justification such as ensuring unfouled stretches for repair work, from an admittedly naïve perspective it makes no sense to run 2-car trains with two drivers every half hour versus a single car every 15 minutes.

Here's a shot from 1993 and work at Bryn Mawr during the rebuild of the Pocket Track. Funny thing was that there was still 1908 rail in place at that time.

Very true. I walked part of the upper end (built 1912) and it also still had original rail, dated and marked with its origins in Steelton. The situation in the mid-90s was so bad that a local politician made some waves by (OK, dangerously) going onto the tracks at Villanova and pulling up handfuls of rotten wood from decaying ties. Since then there's been an ongoing track-renewal program with new ties, heavier welded rail, new switches, etc. However given demands from a multi-billion-buck backlog of other SOGR projects all over the network and the fact that SEPTA still can be pretty clunky about such things, the process is painfully slow.
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