Norristown High Speed Line
Norristown High Speed Line
SEPTA N-5 car #144 of the Norristown High Speed Line, Route 100, as it enters the Gulph Mills Station in Upper Merion, Pennsylvania.
|Type||Interurban / Commuter Rail|
|System||SEPTA Suburban Division|
|Locale||Delaware and Montgomery Counties, Pennsylvania|
|Termini||69th Street Terminal (south)
Norristown Transportation Center (north)
|Daily ridership||8,530 (average weekday FY 2010)|
|Character||Surface (grade separated)|
|Rolling stock||Asea-Amtrak (Asea Brown Boveri) Type N-5 MU (25)|
|Line length||13.4 miles (21.6 km)|
|No. of tracks||1–3|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Route number||100 (former)|
The Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) is an interurban line operated between Upper Darby and Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA by SEPTA. The rail line runs entirely on its own right-of-way, inherited from the original Philadelphia and Western Railroad line (still referred to by locals as the "old P&W" and Route 100).
The Norristown High Speed Line is unique in its combination of transportation technologies. Originally chartered as a Class I (steam) railroad, the line is fully grade separated, collects power from a third rail, and has high-level platforms common to rapid transit systems or commuter rail systems such as the Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North Railroad, but has onboard fare collection, mostly single-car operation, and frequent stops more common to light rail systems. Previously, the Norristown High Speed Line was considered to be a light rail line, according to a 2008 SEPTA budget report; however, the line is currently considered a heavy rail interurban line, according to a 2009 SEPTA business plan.
The purple color-coded line was formerly known simply as Route 100, but was officially changed to its current name in September 2009 as part of a customer service initiative by SEPTA.
The Norristown High Speed Line began service in 1907 as the Philadelphia and Western Railroad (P&W), which ran from the present 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania to a converted farmhouse station in Strafford, Pennsylvania. In 1911, the line was extended 0.47 mile west to a new Strafford P&W station adjacent to the Pennsylvania Railroad's Strafford station, allowing easy interchange between the two lines. In 1912, a 6.2-mile branch was constructed from Villanova Junction, 0.33 mile west of the existing Villanova station, to Norristown. When the newly-built branch quickly attracted more ridership than the Strafford main line, the Norristown section became the main line and the Strafford stretch was demoted to branch status; in the mid-1930s, the Strafford spur was narrowed to a single track for its last 1.74 miles between the Wayne-St. Davids and Strafford stations, while the Norristown line received a sleek new art deco terminus at Main and Swede Streets.
Lehigh Valley connection 
From Norristown, the P&W RR connected its tracks with the Lehigh Valley Transit Liberty Bell Route to provide direct electric train service from 69th St. Terminal to Allentown, Pennsylvania. However, in 1951, the Lehigh Valley Transit Company ended its service on the Liberty Bell Route, and in 1953 the company ended all its remaining rail service. Two years later, the P&W RR was taken over by the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (PSTC), which was more popularly known as the Red Arrow Lines. In 1956, the PSTC abandoned the original branch between Villanova and Strafford, leaving only electric MU train service between 69th Street and Norristown, as it is today. The PSTC was absorbed into SEPTA in 1969, eliminating the original railroad charter and immediately becoming the "Norristown High-Speed Line Trolley", officially known as Route 100.
Ridership on the Norristown Line peaked in 1973 at 2,860,000 annual linked trips, and again in 1980 with 2,579,000 annual linked trips. Ridership statistics for fiscal years 2000 and later are from SEPTA annual service plans. Data for years 1972 to 1997 are from the SEPTA 1997 ridership census. There may be some discrepancy in how the ridership is reported since the annual service plans report total unlinked trips, while the ridership census uses linked trips, which may exclude passengers transferring from other lines.
Station names 
Effective June 14, 2010, SEPTA changed the names of four stations to reflect the streets on which they were located. Township Line Road (formerly West Overbrook Station), Roberts Road (formerly Rosemont Station), Stadium – Ithan Avenue (formerly Stadium Station) and DeKalb Street (formerly King Manor Station).
Proposed closure of Schuylkill River bridge 
SEPTA is planning on indefinitely closing the bridge carrying the Norristown High Speed Line over the Schuylkill River in the summer 2013. The bridge, which was built in 1911, is deteriorating and needs to be rebuilt which would cost an upwards of $30 million. SEPTA does not have the funding to replace the bridge. As a result of closing the bridge, buses will be used to transport passengers between the Bridgeport station and the Norristown Transportation Center.
The SEPTA web site informs that the deterioration was erosion in the supports beneath the Schuylkill River. Repairs required constructing a temporary causeway in the river for construction vehicles to use. Divers did most of the repair work, which was completed in less than one month. It was done by the Loftus Construction Company of King of Prussia at a cost of $139,000 to SEPTA.
Station list 
|0.0||69th Street Terminal||1||Upper Darby||Delaware|
|1.4||Township Line Road||Haverford|
|3.4||Ardmore Junction||1 and 2|
|6.8||Stadium – Ithan Avenue|
|8.6||County Line||Lower Merion||Montgomery|
|10.3||Gulph Mills||Upper Merion|
|13.4||Norristown Transportation Center||Norristown|
Most stations (except terminals) are request stops. Passengers wishing to board must push a button at the station, which activates a light visible to the engineer. If the train is scheduled to stop at the station (see below), it will stop. Detraining passengers must press a button on board to request the train to stop.
The fare as of 2010[update] is $2.00 cash on board, or $1.55 using pre-purchased tokens, with an additional $0.50 zone charge when traveling in more than one zone. The service runs seven days a week, from about 5:00 am to 1:00 am at night. Traveling the entire length of the railline requires a two-zone fare which a SEPTA Zone 2 Trailpass would be required for the entire route, or a Zone 1 Trailpass for a limited number of stations.
Local trains from 69th Street to Norristown stop at all 22 stations, and the trip lasts approximately 32 minutes. Occasionally, local trains may run only between 69th Street and Bryn Mawr, stopping at ten stations.
During weekday peak periods (6:00–9:00 AM, 2:15–6:45 PM), the Norristown High Speed Line features express and limited services, which stop only at select stations, therefore decreasing travel time between 69th Street and Norristown. Norristown Express service, which is noted by red destination signs, travels between 69th Street and Norristown in approximately 26 minutes, and stops at 17 stations. Hughes Park Express service, which is noted by green destination signs, travels between 69th Street and Hughes Park in approximately 22 minutes, stopping at 16 stations. Norristown Limited service, which is noted by blue destination signs, travels between 69th Street and Norristown in approximately 22 minutes, stopping at only eight stations. There is also one southbound Limited trip on Saturdays. All trains share the same two tracks, so a limited leaving Norristown, for example, will be immediately followed by a local, which stops at more stations, and therefore is spaced farther from the previous train. The next limited will catch up with it. Similarly, a local may leave Bryn Mawr right after an express stops there, and gets to 69th St. just before the next express or limited catches up with it.
|Local||Norristown Express||Hughes Park Express||Norristown Limited|
|69th Street Terminal||69th Street Terminal||69th Street Terminal||69th Street Terminal|
|Township Line Rd.||—||—||—|
|Wynnewood Road||—||Wynnewood Road||—|
|Ardmore Junction||Ardmore Junction||Ardmore Junction||Ardmore Junction|
|Ardmore Avenue||—||Ardmore Avenue||—|
|Bryn Mawr||Bryn Mawr||Bryn Mawr||—|
|Roberts Road||Roberts Road||Roberts Road||—|
|Garrett Hill||Garrett Hill||Garrett Hill||—|
|Ithan Av.||Ithan Av.||Ithan Av.||—|
|County Line||County Line||County Line||—|
|Gulph Mills||Gulph Mills||Gulph Mills||Gulph Mills|
|Hughes Park||Hughes Park||Hughes Park||Hughes Park|
|DeKalb St.||DeKalb St.||—||DeKalb St.|
Proposed extension to King of Prussia 
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011)|
There is a proposal[update] to extend the Norristown High Speed Line to serve the King of Prussia Mall and Valley Forge office parks. The 4.9-mile (7.9 km) extension would branch from the existing line just north of the Hughes Park station, continue westward along the Norfolk Southern Morrisville Line right-of-way, and then northward through King of Prussia to Valley Forge. This extension would include 2.2 miles (3.5 km) of elevated track.
It is projected that this extension would attract an additional 3,800 daily riders. SEPTA already has enough N-5 rail vehicles to cover this extended service.
|Fiscal year||Average weekday||Annual passengers|
|Fiscal year||Annual linked trips||Fiscal year||Annual linked trips|
See also 
- SEPTA 2012 Annual Service Plan
- "Fiscal 2008 Operating Budget" (PDF). SEPTA. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
- "SEPTA Five-Year Strategic Business Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. p. 4. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
- Nussbaum, Paul (July 22, 2009). "SEPTA seeks input on Regional Rail name changes". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 10, 2010.[dead link]
- DeGraw, Ronald (2007). Pig & Whistle: The Story of the Philadelphia & Western Railway. Chicago: Central Electric Railfans' Association. ISBN 978-0-915348-40-4
- Bell, Jon (2006-03-22). "Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Norristown High Speed Line". Presbyterian College. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
- SEPTA History[dead link]
- Nussbaum, Paul (December 14, 2012). "SEPTA to close Norristown line’s rail bridge over Schuylkill". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- PDF (164 KB)
- PDF[dead link]
- US DOT Planning Report
- McGraw Publishing Co.: Norristown Extension of Philadelphia & Western Railway. Electric Railway Journal, Vol. XL, No. 16, October 26, 1912, p. 906.
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