Remembering "Railworks" 1992-93 20 years later...

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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MACTRAXX
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Re: Remembering "Railworks" 1992-93 20 years later...

Post by MACTRAXX » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:31 pm

glennk419 wrote:
MACTRAXX wrote:
Yes-RL1 locomotives 60 and 61 were assigned to one of the through runs-they ran as a pair remembering
that they were 1000 hp units and their glorified bus diesel engine sound stands out in my mind...

The experimental Fox Chase runs used the small switchers - 51 and 52 were used there I believe...
I only rode that service once during what I remember to be a six week period...SEPTA put out a
special timetable folder for these trains that is probably one of the most obscure timetables that
they have issued in their history...

MACTRAXX
The RL-1's were used due to the fact that they have HEP. The SW's do not have HEP and could not have been used to power the Bombers.

Pretty sure that SEPTA actually leased three NJT U34CH's with two being used for passenger service and the third for work train service, I believe on the Norristown Branch which received concurrent work while shut down to regular service.
Glenn: This post and subject got me to think of this question: Where to find pictures and information of the SEPTA RRD
alternate train service offered during both Railworks shutdowns?

For pictures: John Almeida,Larry Eastwood,Dale Woodland,Bob Vogel and probably the late Gerry Williams collection...

For information: Philadelphia Chapter NRHS "Cinders" from both shutdown time periods - I am especially interested
in August-September-October 1992 for information on the experimental Fox Chase trains...
Railpace Newsmagazine should be another source from the Railworks shutdown months...

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MACTRAXX
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Re: Remembering "Railworks" 1992-93 20 years later...

Post by MACTRAXX » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:44 am

Everyone: I found this information in the September and October 1992 editions of "Cinders" in Frank Tattnall's "Philadelphia Express" column:

In a surprise move SEPTA began "Fox Chase Special" service between Fox Chase and 30th Street Station on August 31st operating via Conrail
between "Newtown Junction" and "Zoo". The diesel-powered push-pull trains will run weekdays only until October 2nd when regular service to
Center City will resume following completion of this year's phase of the Railworks project. Two trains are run southbound each morning returning
to Fox Chase in the afternoon and a special R8 timetable has been issued detailing the service. All Fox Chase Line stations are served. Motive
power is SEPTA's pair of new RL1 locomotives #60 and 61 although originally it was intended to use an Amtrak F40PH on one of the trains in
exchange for SEPTA loaning Amtrak an AEM7 electric locomotive. But-on a test run F40 #413 shorted the overhead catenary so that idea was
scrapped. At first the trains consisted of four Bombardier cars each but were later cut to two cars each to match ridership.

The Fox Chase shuttles ran reasonably well through September using Conrail track between "Newtown Junction" and "Zoo". SEPTA RL1 diesels
60 and 61 powered the pair of two car trains,but ridership was light because many former R8 riders did not know about the service,announced
in late August. These weekday-only trains were numbered 6892-6893-6894-6895 and an official R8 "Diesel Shuttle" timetable was issued. The
interim service was a result of strong lobbying by the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers,which for months had been advocating
alternate diesel service around the Railworks area.

This is good information about this special obscure service and knowing now that the two RL1 locomotives were assigned I now wonder if the
one run that I rode that used one of the SW1 switchers for power was indeed a rare last minute substitution remembering how tempermental
those RL1s could be...That is one of those times I wished I was carrying a camera...

Also found in the October 1992 issue of "Cinders"-again from "Philadelphia Express":

SEPTA will resume more-or-less normal service to Center City on the "Reading Side" when Phase 1 of Railworks ends on October 4th.
Twelve old bridges have been replaced on the Mainline through North Philadelphia and three rebuilt. Much new track has been installed,
along with a new interlocking at "16th Street Junction" and new signal cables. Still to be done during the 1993 shutdown is the replacement
of ten more bridges,construction of new stations at Temple University and North Broad Street,and completion of catenary and other electrical
work. An inspection train for the press was scheduled over the line on Friday October 2nd and a modest newspaper and radio ad campaign is
planned to help woo back the 27 percent of riders who have deserted the system since April 1992. But-Leroy Howell,SEPTA's Manager of
Communications for Railworks,cautioned that the Authority does not want to spend a lot of money on this effort only to have riders again
displaced by by the second shutdown beginning in May 1993.

Another source of information on Railworks may be DVARP's "Delaware Valley Rail Passenger" newsletter from the Railworks time period
to take more note of their covering the Railworks construction effort and alternate services like the obscure Fox Chase through diesel trains...

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Re: Remembering "Railworks" 1992-93 20 years later...

Post by MACTRAXX » Wed Sep 11, 2013 3:49 pm

glennk419 wrote:
MACTRAXX wrote:
Yes-RL1 locomotives 60 and 61 were assigned to one of the through runs-they ran as a pair remembering
that they were 1000 hp units and their glorified bus diesel engine sound stands out in my mind...

The experimental Fox Chase runs used the small switchers - 51 and 52 were used there I believe...
I only rode that service once during what I remember to be a six week period...SEPTA put out a
special timetable folder for these trains that is probably one of the most obscure timetables that
they have issued in their history...

MACTRAXX
Pretty sure that SEPTA actually leased three NJT U34CH's with two being used for passenger service and the third for work train service, I believe on the Norristown Branch which received concurrent work while shut down to regular service.
Glenn: I found this information in the June 1993 "Cinders" again from Frank Tattnall's "Philadelphia Express":
A third U34CH arrived May 11th from NJ Transit. The 4152 - still in the old NJDOT blue paint - has been assigned to ballast train work on the Norristown Line
and operates twice weekly out of Wissahickon. It was moved light from Wayne Junction to Wissahickon on May 12 via Lansdale and the Stony Creek Branch...

During the four months of the second Railworks shutdown period the "Philadelphia Express" column kept a running play-by-play of how the alternate diesel
trains fared over the course of time and I will post some of that information at a later date...

MACTRAXX
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jb9152
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Re: Remembering "Railworks" 1992-93 20 years later...

Post by jb9152 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:25 pm

Another memory is of a freak storm that blew up on Fern Rock mid-day. The summer temperature dropped about 20 degrees in a matter of minutes, and combined with the wind, it actually got cold. Cold enough, in fact, for large hailstones to start falling. The winds seemed like they were in the 50 to 60 mph range. We hunkered down in the office and watched the mayhem - timetables blowing away, trash bags coming out of trash cans and spewing their contents all over the concourse. It was crazy...

Of course, once the thing passed over, we began to hear the inevitable reports of power out, signals down, etc. We did a quick inspection of the station and found nothing concerning, until we got to the inbound platform.

There we saw that a tree had fallen across both mains just north of the station. After reporting it to the RROC, we got permission to enter the track area and went to have a look. From a little pushing and shoving, we figured that the tree wasn't all that heavy, and that we could probably move it off to the side with 3 or 4 of us.

There was a SEPTA Transit cop there whose regular beat was FRTC. He assisted by attempting to lift the tree directly into the catenary. Luckily, one of the guys noticed and screamed a warning. We all dropped that tree like it was on fire. Then we caaaaaarefully pulled it (no lifting!!) off to the side.

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Re: Remembering "Railworks" 1992-93 20 years later...

Post by bikentransit » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:06 pm

Too bad when they ran diesels on Fox Chase they didn't keep going north.

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Re: Remembering "Railworks" 1992-93 20 years later...

Post by MACTRAXX » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:02 am

Everyone: As mentioned Frank Tattnall's "Philadelphia Express" showed how the
1993 "Railworks" alternate diesel service fared during the four month May-August shutdown period. This is what was noted:

A new addition this year is direct diesel service on weekdays between Doylestown
and West Trenton to 30th Street Station operating over seven miles of Conrail
track between "Newtown Junction" and "Zoo". Train #6511 leaves Doylestown at
6:34am and makes regular express stops to Fern Rock arriving 30th Street (upper
level) at 8:06am. Returning, train #6552 leaves 30th Street at 4:40pm arriving in
Lansdale at 5:47pm. This equipment then returns S to Fern Rock in revenue service
as train #9559. This train overnights in Roberts Yard and deadheads to Doylestown
in the early morning hours.

Train#6305 leaves West Trenton at 6:35am making express stops to Fern Rock
arriving 30th Street (lower level) at 7:49am. In the afternoon train #6334 leaves
30th Street at 5:20pm arriving West Trenton at 6:38pm. On the first day of this service both trains carried more then 100 passengers each to 30th Street which
is significant for this new service.

The Railworks alternate diesel service is up and running to and from 30th Street
Station - but not without problems. Trains 6305-6334 on the West Trenton Line
has been assigned leased NJ Transit U34CH 4154 repainted into SEPTA blue and
the two RL1 locomotives 60 and 61 were holding down the Doylestown-Lansdale
Line runs. The U34's performance has been excellent in spite of its age and the
West Trenton runs have a good on-time record. The RL1's on the other hand were
out of service May 10 to 12th and during the week of May 24th for a variety of
ailments. The 4154 made several trips to Lansdale on trains 6511-6552 and in
late May NJT U34CH 4158 - in NJT colors - was handling the Lansdale runs. Then-
4158 had a brake problem on May 26th and did not run the next day,causing the
cancellation of train #6511 on May 27th. SEPTA has assigned four Bombardier
coaches each (total of 8) to these two through train runs.

SEPTA's Railworks alternate diesel service between 30th Street and Lansdale has
been transformed from a "Maybe it will run and maybe it will not" service into a
reasonably reliable rush-hour operation. During June this service limped along after
4158 had to be returned to NJT for traction motor replacement and SEPTA's RL1s
60 and 61 had problems of their own. On certain days trains 6511 and 6552 ran with
RL1 61 only and for nearly a full week these runs were annulled altogether. When
NJT U34CH 4158 returned to SEPTA on July 12th it made one northbound run but
was then shopped for HEP failure. The RL1s filled in until July 17th when the 4158
returned to service and has run reliably close to schedule on most days since.
Meanwhile,4154 has been performing consistently on 30th Street-West Trenton
trains 6305-6334.

The final month of SEPTA's Railworks diesel service was a mixed bag. West Trenton-
30th Street trains 6305-6334 ran reliably until the final day of September 3rd with
NJT 4158 the last three weeks after 4154 suffered a massive engine breakdown
on August 9th. Two of the U34CH locomotives: 4154,and 4152-which was used for
track work on the Norristown Line-were returned to NJT during the last week of
August. Doylestown-Lansdale diesel train riders were not so lucky. For a time RL1
60 was hauling trains 6511-6552 alone with few problems but a August 18th failure
caused these trains to be annulled for two days because no U34CH was available.
SEPTA then made a decision to terminate this service and RL1s 60-61 made a final
round trip on Friday August 20th,1993.

Summer 1993 was a busy time for SEPTA Regional Rail during Railworks and the alternate service to Lansdale-Doylestown and West Trenton was arguably the
most interesting service option that was offered that year.

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Re: Remembering "Railworks" 1992-93 20 years later...

Post by MACTRAXX » Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:13 am

Excerpts from Frank Tattnall's "Philadelphia Express" in September 1993:

SEPTA's massive Railworks project was completed on schedule September 4th
with normal service on the "Reading" side of the system resuming the next day.
On Tuesday September 7th - the day after Labor Day - many formerly displaced
passengers enjoyed their one-seat ride to Center City for the first time since
April 30th along with a two to four minute speedup over the four miles of re-
built Mainline in North Philadelphia. The new $7 million Temple University
Station at 10th and Berks Streets opened at the same time along with the
smaller North Broad Street station.

SEPTA understandably is happy over the fact that Railworks - which was originally
projected to cost $354 million - came in about $90 million below budget. SEPTA
credits this to tight management,good weather and "hungry" contractors willing
to cut their bids to get the work.

I decided to post this report on the end of Railworks because as mentioned this
project was finished on time and a $90 million dollar savings is quite significant
because it seems that these large public works projects sometimes tend to have
cost overruns and go way above their budgets.

MACTRAXX
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Bill R.
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Re: Remembering "Railworks" 1992-93 20 years later...

Post by Bill R. » Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:39 am

Imagine attempting to plan for Railworks in the current public funding environment....

B.T.W. Matt and Bob, I guess that, given that Railworks happened 20 years ago, this means were are officially old! And it's the 40th anniversary of DVARP, IIRC.

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Re: Remembering "Railworks" 1992-93 20 years later...

Post by MACTRAXX » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:32 pm

Bill R: Yes-this 20 year period has passed somewhat quickly...

JB: I would be interested to read some of your Fern Rock memories remembering
that SEPTA RRD had sort of a "family" relationship between the employees there
during the Railworks shutdown periods...

For some reason one of my most vivid memories of Fern Rock during that period
was that there was no fare collected transferring to and from the BSL and with
that thought some folks from the neighborhoods N and E of Fern Rock TC station
caught on to this and would cross the tracks to access the platforms and how the
SEPTA PD would watch and wait for them and then be able to cite offenders for two
violations: "Trespassing" and "Fare Evasion"...

I will mention-because no one else has done so including me-that the Broad Street
Subway turned into a good Railworks alternative service and ran well during both
Railworks shutdowns...The biggest BSL improvement of that time was completed
before the 1992 shutdown which was the addition of the express tracks between
Olney and Erie Avenues which definitely helped with the added BSL trains...

MACTRAXX
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