History of the Broad Street Line

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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby chuchubob » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:38 pm

The highest I've observed the speedometer on BSS express trains is 67 mph, several times.
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby world traveler » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:06 pm

Definitely have seen 65 mph going northbound. Southbound not so much.

For comparison, fast does the El go?
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby NortheastTrainMan » Thu Jul 27, 2017 3:23 pm

I was wondering, how do crew changes work on BSL?

Today (7/27/2017) I noticed when my 3:11PM northbound express was pulling into Olney at 3:24PM there was a 5 car southbound train sitting on the southbound express track.
There were a few odd things I noticed:

1) The headlights and route lights (white, green, blue, orange) were off.
2) The trailing lights were on, facing in the southbound direction on the track it was on. I didn't get a chance to see the northern end of the train.
3) The interior lights were on and the doors were open, so I was scratching my head wondering if it was out of service, or wrong railed but neither makes sense.
Like a 5 car northbound train sitting on the southbound express track at Olney doesn't make sense. Pedestrians were boarding the train, which made it appear to be in service.
4) The route signs on the side appeared blank.

I know at Walnut-Locust and sometimes at 8th & Market a 2nd operator boards the trailing end for a quick turn. And at Fern Rock operators may leave for break or whatever.
But a crew change at an intermediate station for an express train or any through train seems weird.

Any insight on this (weird train mainly) and/or crew change procedure would be appreciated.
I like trains and operations mainly on the east coast but also all over the U.S. and the world!

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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby NortheastTrainMan » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:15 am

I had some questions about the North Philadelphia Station (Broad & Lehigh).

- There are two island platforms yet it's only served by Local & Spur trains, as express trains bypass it.
Was it ever served by express trains?

- I notice what appears to be at least one removed crossover that lies north of the station, between the express tracks.
Why was it removed?

- This might be the answer to the previous questions. Is the downsizing of the station (removing of crossover(s) and entrances) due to the deterioration of the neighborhood & decreased rail service to the surrounding North Broad (RDG) & North Philadelphia (PRR) stations?

- A few years ago I noticed an odd occurrence at this station between trains. I stepped off a Ridge train southbound and waited for a southbound local, before the Ridge train pulled off the operator hit some sort of button mounted on the wall of the station near a signal, then left. As I waited for the local, I heard the express approaching. However it slowed down, stopped & opened its doors, then pulled off.
Any idea what that might have been? I doubt a training run because there appeared to be passengers on there, super weird.

I imagine that the Broad & Lehigh BSL station was very busy at one point in time, likely during the PRR era. But to remove entrances and a crossover must have been warranted by an extreme decline of service. It just seems that removing a crossover is timely and costly, from the outside looking in at least. For instance Spring Garden has 2 crossovers north of the station (express to local tracks) that are rarely used, but I guess ridership justifies the maintenance of them.
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby NortheastTrainMan » Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:18 am

Any insight on my questions about the North Philadelphia (Broad & Lehigh) station?

Also, pardon me if I go slightly off topic here. I had some questions about DRPA's/Bridge Line (Pre-PATCO) to my understanding operations along the spur to Girard.

Lately I had to take PATCO to Jersey and I'm aware of the severed connection between the 2 lines near 8th & Market.

To My Understanding
So I know for a time, prior to the Broad Ridge Spur getting its own 8th & Market station, it shared the station with DRPA.
Select trains from Jersey would cross the Ben Franklin, stop at 8th & Market, reverse, and then head up the Spur to Girard.
This was done because the Locust Street Subway was structurally complete far as the tunnels go (to approx 17th street, those things are short) but there were no tracks yet.
As the Locust Street Subway was complete DRPA/PATCO service along the Spur diminished and later ended altogether.

So here are my questions

- Did the DRPA trains make all stops along the Spur or go non-stop to Girard?
- Also did the DRPA trains turn at Girard or continue to Fern Rock to turn? I can imagine them turning on the express double crossover immediately north of Girard, but it would have to be done quickly, especially during peak-time. Aside from that there's a single crossover east of Fairmount on the Spur, but it seems impractical to turn a train down there.
- Aside from DRPA turning operation to PATCO and its implementation of ATO, are there any other reasons for the connection being severed? I know the signals or something are incompatible w/the Broad Street Line.
- If DRPA operated some trains to Fern Rock, were they ever revenue? If not why so?
- Does anyone have schedules of this operation?

Pardon me if I misused the DRPA and PATCO terms incorrectly. Any clarity would be appreciated.
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby ExCon90 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:45 pm

The Girard-8th St. segment was always operated by Philadelphia Transportation Co. (PTC), and its predecessor, if it goes back that far, mostly as an extension of the operation to Camden Broadway (now Walter Rand). I'm hazy on the dates here, but I believe that when the 8th-Market to 16th-Locust portion was completed it was added to the PTC Camden service and the Girard-8th St. portion became a branch of the Broad St. service. Sometime around then the long-planned express tracks were added and express service introduced. When PATCO was built, essentially as an extension of the Delaware River Bridge (as it was then called) service, 16th-Locust was selected as the Philadelphia terminal. I guess the short answer here is that PATCO never operated to Girard.
The above is subject to correction by anyone who has a more exact timeline.
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby JimBoylan » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:51 pm

Locust St. Subway didn't operate as many hours or days as Camden and Ridge Ave.
At least in the 1960s, Camden trains ran to 16th-Locust when Locust St. was running, and changed ends at 8-Market to run up Ridge Ave. (and return) when Locust St. was not running.
Signs in the Bridge cars read Girard via 8-Mkt. and Camden via 8-Mkt.for the change ends service, just Camden and 16-Locust for Locust St. Subway trains. Trains going beyond Girard just had Erie, Olney or Fern Rock signs. When Locust St. was running, Broad St. cars were used on Ridge Ave., and their signs did not have via 8-Mkt.
Here's a summer 1977 version of the schedule:

http://digital.library.temple.edu/cdm/s ... 32/rec/648
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby NortheastTrainMan » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:35 pm

@JimBoylan & @ExCon90

Thanks for the insight guys.

Hey Jim, that image at Girard is amazing. It looks so different from today.
Pretty interesting how the "Spur" was originally DRPA's line albeit operated by PTC. Then it became a branch line of Philadelphia's BSS as the 16th & Locust tunnel was completed.
So I guess for trains operating to Girard, there were crew changes between DRPA & PTC. I always thought DRPA operated the trains entirely.
Also pardon if I misunderstood. These were the DRPA/Bridge Train routes, I'm not sure if they operated to Lindenwold during this time.

- Girard via 8th & Market
- Camden via 8th & Market
- Camden to 16th & Locust

If a DRPA/Bridge revenue train operated to Erie, Olney, or Fern Rock; it would just have those signs correct?
Or was that strictly for BSS trains?

Upon looking at the image I notice that 8th & Market trains operated on local tracks during certain times of day.
Plus the express tracks in the Erie-Olney stretch weren't laid yet.

So it makes me wonder
- Did Spur trains operate local?
- Did Spur trains operate to Olney/Fern Rock, or did they turn at Erie?
- If Spur trains turned at Erie how did they turn? Did they use the 4 train main, or the flying junction?
- Is there a crossover in the flying junction at Erie? I can't tell from a passing BSS train.
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby JimBoylan » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:11 am

PRT & PTC operated the Bridge line for the Commission, using their own employees. Ridge Ave. trains ran local when they ran North of Girard. At Erie Ave., they used the overhead turn back tracks. Only Bridge cars had Girard via 8-Mkt and Camden via 8-Mkt signs. They also had plain Camden signs. All other signs were the same in all cars.
When Camden trains ran to 16th-Locust, Broad St. cars were used on Ridge Ave.
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby JimBoylan » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:19 am

The last train of the evening from Camden ran through to Fern Rock. via 8-Market. Probably the last 2 trains to Erie, after returning to 8-Market or Camden, then went to Fern Rock (or Olney before 1957). I remember instructions that there was a sign box crank stored at the upper level Erie Ave. for those trains to use to prepare for their last trip. I don't know where Girard Ave. or Camden trains got their cranks.
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby Bill R. » Sat Sep 23, 2017 8:24 pm

In seeking more info for NorthEastTrainman, I took a look at the two pamphlets from the BSL railfan trips in 1988 and 1991. Included in the documentation is a copy of a PTC flyer announcing "Ridge - 8th Subway service extended to Erie station - Broad & Erie" dated November 17, 1943. It ran local because there were no express track in place above Girard. It operated only in the evening (approximately 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm) due to capacity constraints of having only two tracks north of Girard.

In "The Lindenwold Hi-Speed Line" authored by Bill Vigrass, it is written that Bridge Line service started on June 7, 1936, and was extended to 15/16 & Locust on February 15, 1953. A flyer reprint indicates that the initial service only operated between Broadway & 8th & Market, and that passengers were required to transfer (at no charge) to the Ridge Avenue service. The Camden / Ridge through service was operated during off-peak periods when no Locust Street service was operated. Before discontinuation of PTC service to facilitate the transfer to PATCO, Locust Street service operated only between 6am to 10 am and 2pm to 6 pm.

Broad Street Line express service between Girard and Erie started on September 28, 1959. A flyer reprint alerting riders to the change in service patterns only mentions transfers to the Bridge Line. The new BSL express service stopped at North Philadelphia.

The final segment of express tracks between Erie and Olney entered service in 1992 to support passenger diversions from Region Rail due to the RailWorks right-of-way reconstruction project on the former Reading Railroad trunk.

Although the information provided doesn't specifically rule out the possibility of a Camden/Erie or Camden/Olney revenue train in lieu of of deadheading to Fern Rock, I can't find any evidence to support that through revenue service ever existed. If it did, it probably would have been confined to trains entering or leaving service enroute to/from to Fern Rock.



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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby NortheastTrainMan » Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:34 pm

Thanks for the insight Bill.

4 Track Configuration

I always thought the BSS was initially built w/4 tracks from Walnut-Locust to Erie with 4 tracks, and then 2 tracks to Fern Rock.
I can see how the Ridge trains would operate. They would take the ramps near Fairmount, diverge onto the local instead, and at Erie they would take the ramps and change ends above the main.
That operation was done seemingly due to capacity constraints.

- This makes me wonder, if the Walnut-Locust to Olney/Fern Rock corridor was built for 4 tracks, why did it take over 50 years for the express tracks to be laid entirely? Lack of demand, or funding?
I rode the BSS during rush hour numerous times on that stretch, it's hard to imagine how it would be with only 2 tracks as there's more service on the northern half (local, express & spur).

- Like how did meets between Spur/Express & Locals work? Did Spur/Expresses get ROW? I've been on expresses riding the yellows behind Spur trains, it would be hell riding yellows behind a local. Yikes!

- What exactly warranted the express tracks being built between Girard-Erie? Expansion of Spur and Express service?

It seems the Erie-Olney/Fern Rock stretch received express tracks because of RailWorks.
- Which makes me wonder, if SEPTA Regional Rail still used Reading Terminal, is it possible that Erie-Olney would still only have 2 tracks?

I'm trying to wrap my head around why a tunnel was built for 4 tracks, but operated with only 2 tracks for decades.
I'm imagining North Philadelphia station without express tracks, just big open spaces.

North Philadelphia

Also thanks for answering my previous question about North Philadelphia. I always thought it was weird how there's an local/express set up w/2 island platforms, but expresses passed there 99% of the time. I guess during the PRR/Reading heyday, that station was quite busy. However as intercity & commuter rail in that area dwindled, along with increasing crime, it became seldom used. I'm just surprised that it warranted the removal of crossover switches, like the service declined so much that a measure as such had to be taken. There's a giant gap in the concrete beams between the express tracks immediately north of the station, I figured that's where one of the switches used to be.
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:28 pm

If Reading Terminal were still in use, RailWorks would still have been necessary because of the condition of the bridges on the 9th St. Branch.
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby JimBoylan » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:00 pm

On the current schedule, Ridge Ave. express trains stop at N. Phila., Broad St. express trains don't. After about 7 p.m. weekdays, Ridge Ave. trains use Fern Rock instead of Olney as their terminal.
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Re: History of the Broad Street Line

Postby JimBoylan » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:06 pm

Parts of the Locust St. Subway took 35 years to get any track; the Arch St. Subway is 100 years old and still doesn't have any tracks in it! So, 64 years to finish North Broad St. express tracks is better than average for this City.
30th St. subway station took more than 30 years to get tracks.
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