Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

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/.

Moderator: AlexC

Bill R.
Posts: 462
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 7:04 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by Bill R. » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:33 am

Wow, never post when you're half asleep.

Let me find the right thread and I'll repost my content there.

As far as this thread goes, I think that extending the Fox Chase line to an intersection with the West Trenton line and terminating at Bethayers is the only service expansion that might make sense.

Advocating to rebuild the Newtown corridor above Huntington Valley, with all of the physical, political and institutional hurdles that exist, weighed aginst other compelling needs in the region, is like a self-inflicted bastinado punishment. Knock yourself out, but you're not going to get very far.

delvyrails
Posts: 564
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:47 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by delvyrails » Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:59 am

I agree with Bill's implicit principle that "all the way to Newtown or nothing" may not be valid. However, based on observation, the first three miles north of Fox Chase would be the hardest part to restore in physical and political terms. Once the crossing at Ayres is reached, the restoration would be easier and cheaper.

In those first three miles, a quarter mile of right of way at the Rockledge creek is missing and would have to be restored, including constructing a new bridge. The entire trail on the railroad grade from the north side of that gap to Valley Falls would have to be converted back to a railroad. The trail would have to be shifted to a parallel location, most of which fortunately already exists a a trail of sorts.

On the other hand, most of the track north of Ayres is still in place, weed-grown, but other wise undisturbed. Restoring these next four or so rail miles to the Southampton area would allow commuters to bypass a congested section of parallel Huntingdon Pike, including several major intersections. It is also significant that the rail route out from center city to Southampton is actually shorter and faster than the route to Warminster station, where the parking lot is overcrowded.

So once the Fox Chase-Ayres segment is restored, the rest of the line can be extended incrementally as funds become available and the population expands outward.

The south-to-east track connection at Ayres in addition to the restoration north of Ayres to Southampton may have additional importance and prove an additional benefit for doing the project.
Last edited by delvyrails on Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
John Pawson

scotty269
Posts: 2732
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 9:47 am
Location: Manayunk, Philadelphia, PA

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by scotty269 » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:08 am

delvyrails wrote:I agree with Bill's implicit principle that "all the way to Newtown or nothing" may not be valid. However, based on observation, the first three miles north of Fox Chase would be the hardest part to restore in physical and political terms. Once the crossing at Ayres is reached, the restoration would be easier and cheaper.

In those first three miles, a quarter mile of right of way at the Rockledge creek is missing and would have to be restored, including constructing a new bridge. The entire trail on the railroad grade from the north side of that gap to Valley Falls would have to be converted back to a railroad. The trail would have to be shifted to a parallel location, most of which fortunately already exists a a trail of sorts.

On the other hand, most of the track north of Ayres is still in place, weed-grown, but other wise undisturbed. Restoring these next four or so rail miles to the Southampton area would allow commuters to bypass a congested section of parallel Huntingdon Pike. The rail route out from center city to Southampton is actually shorter and faster than the route to Warminster station, where the parking lot is overcrowded.

So once the Fox Chase-Ayres segment is restored, the rest of the line can be extended incrementally as funds become available and the polulation expands outward.
As a Bethayres-area resident, I'll chime in. What do you propose we do about parking? Bethayres is already at capacity in the main lots + the church overflow lot.

delvyrails
Posts: 564
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:47 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by delvyrails » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:11 am

Parking space for about 1000 cars has been identified around the Southampton station site.
John Pawson

John Scott, PA-TEC
Posts: 130
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:59 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by John Scott, PA-TEC » Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:28 pm

Scotty269 - we've identified possibly the two most productive miles of expansion rail in the northern suburbs, and one of them directly addresses your Beth Ayres question.

The first expansion would be a mile-long spur from the Newtown/West Trenton X junction in Beth Ayres, to Welsh Rd, served by the West Trenton route. It would basically be a "Huntingdon Valley to Center City via Jenkintown" route. Without adding any grade crossings or altering any right-of-ways, this extension would allow for a second station in the area, the former "Huntingdon Valley" station from the Fox Chase-Newtown line. The station would go on Welsh Rd and would provide an additional several hundred parking spots, plus a place to stage trains before each rush hour. Additionally, it is within walking distance of two large apartment complexes. Despite being only a mile or so away from the existing Beth Ayres station, we think this would serve riders very well for very little cost. It neither prevents nor furthers eventual Newtown restoration, but it alleviates immediate problems.

The second expansion would be an extension of the Warminster line to either of the two abandoned Navy Base parking lots on the NE side of Street Road, or possibly to Ivyland boro. This section has wire towers in place and would allow backup parking for Warminster passengers. Again, this does not take the train back to New Hope, but it does improve the short term situation.

Importantly, getting tracks to the other side of busy highways, such as Huntindon Pike or Street Rd, will itself alleviate some congestion at bottleneck intersections, in addition to bringing the train to more parking.

Finally, while surface parking may not be the most desirable option, it is still far cheaper than trying to add parking (surface or stacked) at existing stations that have been completely maxed out. In these cases, even paying market value+ for the land allows probably 300-500 spots for $2 million in land and a few million for a mile of track and wire.

limejuice
Posts: 614
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 8:51 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by limejuice » Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:19 pm

I've never been a fan of any proposal to make the Newtown line a spur off the Neshaminy at Ayres. Unnecessarily adding traffic to the nearly saturated Jenkin-Wayne corridor has the potential to really foul up the entire RRD during rush, should major troubles arise. It also limits the potential for expanding service on the existing lines through Jenkintown while severely limiting the number of trains that are going to be available for service on the Newtown line. From the standpoint of operating cost/efficiency, it just seems completely insensible to run two trains where only one is needed. Why subsidize two weaker lines instead of one stronger one? (I'm pretty sure Mr. Mitchell has presented that argument so many times he ought to have a macro for it.) If you're going to put a connecting track in at Ayres, if anything build it in the southeast quadrant so you can run expresses or detours off the Neshaminy line via Fox Chase.

John Scott, PA-TEC
Posts: 130
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:59 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by John Scott, PA-TEC » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:26 pm

Have we actually established that Jenkintown and the downstream track are at capacity? That seems possible, but it also contradicts some of SEPTA's actions upstream. I'm pretty sure we've heard that Jenkintown, while busy, still has plenty of room. (Remember, we're studying Quakertown, expanding parking at Willow Grove, etc., all of which would have to go through Jenkintown as well.)

dreese_us
Posts: 252
Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 6:17 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by dreese_us » Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:49 pm

Thinking a little outside the box, restore the line up to Southampton. Perfect place for a layover yard, siding already in place. Put a new connection in at Ayers, sending some trains from West Trenton down through Fox Chase. Can the lower end of the trunk handle more traffic south of Fern Rock? Would there be enough room to swing left after going under Huntingdon Pike?

nickrapak
Posts: 224
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 2:46 am

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by nickrapak » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:48 pm

The line from Fox Chase-AYRES serves very little purpose on its own. Once leaving Rockledge, it skirts sparsely-populated (for the Phila suburbs) area and a park; hardly the place to justify spending millions of dollars to restore. I think that if SEPTA decided to do something small with that line, their best bet is to build an interlocking at AYRES that allows trains to go south via the current West Trenton route. If they decided to spend a lot of money, I completely advocate rebuilding down to Fox Chase.

limejuice
Posts: 614
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 8:51 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by limejuice » Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:20 am

Fron what I've been able to observe, Jenkin-Wayne can support a train roughly every five mintues on one track in one direction without slowing down following moves IF the autorouter were programmed precisely and the communications issues with the CTC were resolved. Haven't studied the schedule with regard to that in order to understand where capacity is at, but it still makes no sense to run two trains where one will do, regardless of the number of riders between fox chase and bethayres.

Bill R.
Posts: 462
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 7:04 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by Bill R. » Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:05 am

John Scott, PA-TEC wrote:The first expansion would be a mile-long spur from the Newtown/West Trenton X junction in Beth Ayres, to Welsh Rd, served by the West Trenton route. It would basically be a "Huntingdon Valley to Center City via Jenkintown" route. Without adding any grade crossings or altering any right-of-ways, this extension would allow for a second station in the area, the former "Huntingdon Valley" station from the Fox Chase-Newtown line. The station would go on Welsh Rd and would provide an additional several hundred parking spots, plus a place to stage trains before each rush hour. Additionally, it is within walking distance of two large apartment complexes. Despite being only a mile or so away from the existing Beth Ayres station, we think this would serve riders very well for very little cost. It neither prevents nor furthers eventual Newtown restoration, but it alleviates immediate problems.
I know the area well, and I have two questions:

1) Where would you site the parking?

2) How would this be integrated into the existing West Trenton Schedule?
The second expansion would be an extension of the Warminster line to either of the two abandoned Navy Base parking lots on the NE side of Street Road, or possibly to Ivyland boro. This section has wire towers in place and would allow backup parking for Warminster passengers. Again, this does not take the train back to New Hope, but it does improve the short term situation.
In general, proposal #2 makes sense.

While the construction of connecting track that allows movements between Fox Chase and Bethayers is what i suggested, through routing of West Trenton-originating trains was not what I implied. West Trenton via New York Short Line makes far more sense in terms offering service improvements. If I recall correctly, John Pawnson also supports this perspective. John, please correct me if I am wrong.

I personally support capturing possession of the NYSL from CSX throughthe use of eminent domain by either SEPTA or the Commonwealth.

scotty269
Posts: 2732
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 9:47 am
Location: Manayunk, Philadelphia, PA

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by scotty269 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:29 am

You want to forcibly take over the CSX Mainline coming out of Philadelphia?!

Hah!

delvyrails
Posts: 564
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:47 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by delvyrails » Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:24 am

I (and others) used to think the the New York Short Line would be a great addition to the commuter network; but now we see that there are other uses for it which are more important, namely restoring and increasing long-distance freight service up and down the CSX "I-95 corridor" and also getting Amtrak Superliners and Auto Train on to that route directly into the the New York City area. It's true that the CSX Trenton Line and SEPTA's West Trenton line share a right of way beyond Neshaminy Falls; but most of it is four tracks wide, except for the Delaware River bridge area.

It's a little known fact that Olney to Fox Chase generates almost no reverse commuter trafffic. That fact suggests that, if extended to Ayres at least, the Fox Chase line could be operated as a one-way peak relief track to the main line through Fern Rock, Melrose and Elkins Park, and Jenkintown. Those stops are necessary, but they reduce that line's peak capacity. There are now no station stops between Wayne Junction and Newtown Junction to throttle capacity there.

Fox Chase locals could continue northward to become Bethayres via Fox Chase locals. No reverse traffic is necessary. They could return via Jenkintown. Since that's only two outbound trains per hour on the Fox Chase track, other one-way useage of the Newtown Junction-Ayres line is possible in addition. Southampton or Newtown trains could precede and follow. Thirdly, trains could turn the corner south to east at Ayres to go all the way to West Trenton. All this is a possible afternoon mode of operation; in the morning, the operation would go in reverse.
John Pawson

Bill R.
Posts: 462
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 7:04 pm

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by Bill R. » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:00 am

scotty269 wrote:You want to forcibly take over the CSX Mainline coming out of Philadelphia?!

Hah!
No offense Scotty, but I think you've misinterpreted what I wrote.

I said I would support it, not that I wanted it to happen. There's a difference.

What I would like to see (and the likelyhood of this happening is between slim & none and slim just rode out of town - as the cliche' goes) is:

1) a study to determine if a major capital investment to provide passenger rail service along the NYSL is justified, and if it is, then

2) a political consensus develop in support of such a project, and then

3) for CSX to identify the advantages that such a project would have for itself while acting as a good corporate citizen to cooperate in the implmentation of resulting improvements.

I'm not impressed by the history of corporate cooperation with passenger rail services operating within CSX territory. We've seen the result of interaction between CSX and SEPTA with respect to Fox Chase line service. And the result was not in the best interest of the passengers, IMHO. Therefore, if SEPTA didn't act in the best interest of the riding public, why would CSX (whose major motivation is maximizing shareholder profits) care? So, in the extremely unlikely event that conditions #1 & #2 above ever become true, and CSX fails on condition #3, I support the use of eminent domain.

I'm also not saying that CSX operations should be eliminated from the NYSL. Rather, such a project should generate improvements that allow for the reliable operation of freight and passenger rail operations, much like the BNSF Railway Line in Metra trritory. I believe it is doable, and for a lot less money than the shimmering vision of the Boulevard Subway, which people have been waiting for over a half-century to happen.

Matthew Mitchell
Posts: 5168
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:48 pm
Location: Glenside PA

Re: Newtown line leased to Montco for recreational trail

Post by Matthew Mitchell » Sun Sep 25, 2011 8:20 pm

Bill R. wrote:I'm also not saying that CSX operations should be eliminated from the NYSL. Rather, such a project should generate improvements that allow for the reliable operation of freight and passenger rail operations, much like the BNSF Railway Line in Metra trritory. I believe it is doable, and for a lot less money than the shimmering vision of the Boulevard Subway, which people have been waiting for over a half-century to happen.
Bring money. Bring a lot of money.

Return to “SEPTA (and PATCO)”