30th St Station Track Numbers

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30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby mcgrath618 » Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:07 am

Hello all,
As I sat waiting for my train to Overbrook, I wondered why the track order goes 1, 2, 5, 6, 3, 4. Did SEPTA do this or did the Pennsy when they built the station? Does it have to do with the track numbers at Suburban?
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby CNJGeep » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:04 pm

PRR

As far as I know it had nothing to do with Suburban, just the seemingly haphazard way the PRR numbered extra tracks over 4.
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby ExCon90 » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:48 pm

Not really -- it's based on PRR standard practice of numbering tracks in ascending order south to north (or east to west on north-south lines); 5 and 6 dip down at the (compass) west end of the platforms, leaving 1, 2, 3, and 4 to curve northward toward Overbrook and North Philadelphia.
You want haphazard -- in PRR days the tracks were numbered from south to north 1, 2, 1M, 4M, 3, 4, the M presumably standing for Maryland Division. I've heard that in everyday usage 1M and 4M were simply called Inbound and Outbound, resulting in 1, 2, inbound, outbound, 3, 4.

When Suburban Station opened with 7 tracks in 1930, in keeping with this practice, the tracks were numbered 6-12 because space available for future expansion was all south of the active tracks. The station never had a track 1 or 2 until the opening of the tunnel in 1984.
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby JeffK » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:17 am

ExCon90 wrote:When Suburban Station opened with 7 tracks in 1930, in keeping with this practice, the tracks were numbered 6-12 because space available for future expansion was all south of the active tracks. The station never had a track 1 or 2 until the opening of the tunnel in 1984.

Going slightly OT to Suburban - there's also a rarely-used Track 0. It shares a platform with Track 1 and reportedly was intended as the endpoint of a proposed Airport Shuttle service that was never implemented.

Those of us who've programmed in pointer-and-offset languages like C and Java have no problems counting from 0, haha!
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby mcgrath618 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:58 am

JeffK wrote:
ExCon90 wrote:When Suburban Station opened with 7 tracks in 1930, in keeping with this practice, the tracks were numbered 6-12 because space available for future expansion was all south of the active tracks. The station never had a track 1 or 2 until the opening of the tunnel in 1984.

Going slightly OT to Suburban - there's also a rarely-used Track 0. It shares a platform with Track 1 and reportedly was intended as the endpoint of a proposed Airport Shuttle service that was never implemented.

Those of us who've programmed in pointer-and-offset languages like C and Java have no problems counting from 0, haha!

I've always thought that Track 0 could be a good place for the ACL to go if they ever got dual-mode engines (which is unlikely).
Thank you for the copious answers everyone!
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby MACTRAXX » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:12 pm

Everyone:

3oth Street Station upper once had letter designations for the platforms:
Platform A-Tracks 1 and 2
Platform B-Tracks 5 and 6
Platform C-Tracks 3 and 4

For some reason SEPTA discontinued their use at some point during the 1980s after the CC Tunnel opened...
That reason may have been to place the A and B section boarding locations - which are not necessary at 30th Street upper...
All trains platform at what would be the A sections at all times.

The problem here is that since the tracks are not in numerical order this sometimes confuses riders...
Having the letter designations made it easier to find the correct 30th Street Station upper platform locations...
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:28 pm

JeffK wrote:Going slightly OT to Suburban - there's also a rarely-used Track 0. It shares a platform with Track 1 and reportedly was intended as the endpoint of a proposed Airport Shuttle service that was never implemented.

No, that was 4 and 3, added south of 5 when the Airport Line was in the planning stage and the future tunnel wasn't yet in the picture and it was expected that the Airport Line would be a self-contained shuttle using dedicated Tracks 3 and 4; 12 SIIIs were modified with 2-2 seating, providing widened aisles. The opening of the tunnel and associated through routing made it impossible to keep those cars captive to the Airport assignment. When the tunnel was being designed with 4 through tracks, the desired placement of Track 1 lined up with (then) Track 4, which became Track 1. The old 5 was removed to widen the platform, and the old 6 became the new 2. Old 7 became the new 3, old 8 was removed to widen the platform, and old 9 became the new 4. Old 10, 11, and 12 became the new 5, 6, and 7. Thus old 3, south of the new 1, had to become the new 0; in PRR days it would have been called "aught track" -- I don't know what they call it now. (Another example of less than optimal planning is the designation of the buttons in the elevator from the A end to the SE corner of 17th St.: S for Street, C for Concourse, and P for Platform. It doesn't mention that the only platform it goes to is the one serving Track 0, which has no scheduled departures. If you want a platform used by departing trains, you press C and walk over to the other platform elevators.)
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:33 pm

MACTRAXX wrote:The problem here is that since the tracks are not in numerical order this sometimes confuses riders...
Having the letter designations made it easier to find the correct 30th Street Station upper platform locations...
MACTRAXX

There are overhead signs as you approach the stairways for each platform; I've often thought that there should be a sign located at the stairways for Tracks 5 and 6 (there's room), saying TRACKS 3 AND 4 STRAIGHT AHEAD.
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby mcgrath618 » Mon Oct 22, 2018 6:56 pm

While we're on the topic of Suburban, what was it like before the CCCT? Were all the tracks fully utilized?
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:00 pm

From soon after its opening in 1930, there were 8 tracks, numbered from south to north 5-platform-6, 7-platform-8, 9-platform-10, 11-platform-12; this lasted until 3-platform-4 were added (in the 1970's?) in anticipation of a dedicated Airport Shuttle using those tracks. All were used, but outside of weekday rush hours more trains could be accommodated if needed. The usual am rush-hour operation would route 3 consecutive arrivals from any origins (all MP54's back in the day) to the same track; after all passengers had left, the 3 trainsets would close up to form one mammoth train (called a draft) which would then move out to Powelton Ave. coach yard. In the pm rush hour a super-long draft would move in to one of the 8 tracks and would then be split into 2 or 3 trains which were scheduled to leave one after the other for various destinations. There were automated display boards in the concourse, controlled from a central console; each had (if memory serves) 6 columns, each for a different destination (Wilmington, Media, Paoli, Norristown, Chestnut Hill, and Trenton, although I don't remember in what order). Each column showed the next 4 departures, with track number and location A or B. At the head of each stairway was a wooden display box into which were inserted metal signs showing the destination. There were always 2 openings, one above the other; the lower one was used for Chestnut Hill and Trenton trains having a connection at North Philadelphia with a train for the west and showed the name of the train it connected with. Off-peak there was a tendency to have certain tracks associated with particular destinations, so all tracks were used. I think Paoli usually got 11 and 12 -- at one time a number of destinations had 30-minute headways, and at one time Paoli and Bryn Mawr locals between them had a 15-minute headway off-peak.
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby JimBoylan » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:36 pm

I think that Suburban Station's Tracks 5 and 6 were added after Broad St. Station and the Chinese Wall were torn down about 1953.
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby Quinn » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:51 pm

ExCon90 wrote:...after all passengers had left, the 3 trainsets would close up to form one mammoth train (called a draft) which would then move out to Powelton Ave. coach yard.


This must have been quite a sight. Are there any photographs out there?
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Oct 24, 2018 3:02 pm

It might have been possible to get a good shot in the cut west of 20th St, but the move was so commonplace when MP54's were everywhere that maybe nobody thought it worthwhile.
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Re: 30th St Station Track Numbers

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:58 pm

JimBoylan wrote:I think that Suburban Station's Tracks 5 and 6 were added after Broad St. Station and the Chinese Wall were torn down about 1953.

I checked with the PRR Centennial History, published in 1949, which states "there are at present seven station tracks and four island platforms 1,134 feet long and 24 feet wide." Delaware Valley Rails (1979), by John Pawson, whom many on here will remember as delvyrails, states that Track 5 was added "sometime after Broad Street Station was demolished." So 1953 fits right in -- I thought it was earlier than that.
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