Chestnut Hill East Line

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Chestnut Hill East Line
Chestnut Hill East Station.jpg
The Chestnut Hill East station as seen in October 2012. The station depot, constructed by the Reading Company, is visible on the left.
Type Commuter rail line
System SEPTA Regional Rail
Status Operating
Termini Chestnut Hill
30th Street Station
Daily ridership 5,768[1]:94
Operator(s) SEPTA
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification Catenary
Route map
Chestnut Hill East
Mermaid closed 1930
Mount Airy
Gorgas closed
Washington Lane
Walnut Lane closed
Fare Zone 2
Fare Zone 1
Church closed
Wingohocking closed
Fishers closed 1992
Lansdale/Doylestown, Fox Chase,
Warminster & West Trenton Lines
Wayne Junction
Manayunk/Norristown Line
to Elm Street
Fare Zone 1
Central Fare Zone
Temple University
service ended 1984
Spring Garden Street
Reading Terminal
Jefferson Station
Suburban Station
30th Street Station Amtrak New Jersey Transit

The Chestnut Hill East Line is a route of the SEPTA Regional Rail (commuter rail) system. The route serves the northwestern section of Philadelphia with service to Germantown, Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill. It is one of two lines that serve Chestnut Hill, the other one being the Chestnut Hill West Line.


R7 CHE.gif

The Chestnut Hill East Line uses the Reading Company right-of-way, which was originally constructed by the Philadelphia, Germantown, and Norristown (PG&N) railroad before the American Civil War. The PG&N intended to build a railroad from Philadelphia to Norristown but stopped when construction reached Germantown due to the hilly nature of the terrain west of Germantown and along the Wissahickon Creek, which they would have had to cross to reach Norristown. The PG&N decided to change course and build another railroad line close to the Schuylkill River. This line would become SEPTA's Manayunk/Norristown Line. The original railroad line that ended in Germantown was then extended north with a sharp right hand turn and then northwest to its present terminus in Chestnut Hill (where the Chestnut Hill West Line also has a terminus only a few hundred yards away).

The Chestnut Hill Railroad Company was incorporated in Pennsylvania on July 11, 1851 to own the railroad planned for Chestnut Hill. An eastern and western route were surveyed to Chestnut Hill in 1848 by William E. Morris, and the eastern route was chosen for the line. The railroad was opened to traffic on December 1, 1854. It was operated by the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad Company (PG&N) from December 1, 1854 until November 30, 1870, under a lease dated March 17, 1852. By agreement dated November 10, 1870, the lease was assigned by the PG&N to The Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company. By indenture dated November 30, 1870, a new lease was made by the Chestnut Hill Railroad Company to The Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company for 999 years from December 1, 1870. The obligation of The Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company was assumed by the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company on December 1, 1896, and the lease was amended in certain respects by Agreement dated January 27, 1897.

The line was elevated in 1930. Electrified service to Chestnut Hill (and to Norristown) was opened on February 5, 1933. By order dated March 23, 1940, in Finance Docket No. 12749, the Interstate Commerce Commission authorized Reading Company to acquire control of the Chestnut Hill Railroad Company by purchase of additional shares of capital stock. On December 31, 1948, the Chestnut Hill Railroad Company was merged into Reading Company. The line continued to be operated as part of the Reading Company's passenger lines up until April 1, 1976, when the Reading's passenger lines were conveyed to SEPTA as part of the company's bankruptcy reorganization.[2]

Until 1984 Chestnut Hill East trains used the Reading Viaduct to reach Spring Garden Street and the Reading Terminal; this ended with the opening of the Center City Commuter Connection which routed the trains through the city center and on the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad part of the system.[3] From this point the route was designated R7 Chestnut Hill East as part of SEPTA's diametrical reorganization of its lines; trains continued on to the Trenton Line.[4] The R-number naming system was dropped on July 25, 2010.[5]

SEPTA activated positive train control on the Chestnut Hill East Line on July 25, 2016.[6]


The Reading Company opened Gravers in 1879
Mount Airy, like Gravers, was designed by Frank Furness

The Chestnut Hill East line makes the following station stops after leaving the Center City Commuter Connection; stations indicated with italics are closed. Weekday boardings are from FY 2013; data for Temple University and Wayne Junction include all lines serving those stations. All stations are located within Philadelphia.[1]:95–96

Zone Milepost Station Boardings Connections
C 2.1 Temple University 3,028 All SEPTA Regional Rail lines
1 4.0 Tioga
4.3 Nicetown
5.1 Wayne Junction 567
5.7 Fishers
6.1 Wister 55
6.5 Wingohocking
6.8 Germantown 102
2 7.7 Walnut Lane[note 1]
7.8 Washington Lane 163
8.6 Stenton 430
8.7 Gorgas[note 2] 0
8.9 Sedgwick 225
9.3 Mount Airy 193
9.8 Mermaid[note 3]
10.0 Wyndmoor 471
10.3 Gravers 124
10.8 Chestnut Hill East 229 Two blocks from Chestnut Hill West


Yearly ridership on the Chestnut Hill East Line between FY 2008–FY 2014 has remained steady around 1.5–1.6 million, save for a dip in FY 2011:[1]:94[8][9][10][11][12][13]

FY 2008
FY 2009
FY 2010
FY 2011
FY 2012
FY 2013
FY 2014


  1. ^ Station closed and replaced by Washington Lane[citation needed]
  2. ^ Station closed and replaced by Stenton before 1910[citation needed]
  3. ^ Also called Mermaid Avenue.[7] Built in 1877; Station closed for grade separation project on or about April 1, 1930; passengers to use rebuilt Wyndmoor station[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c "Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2015. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  2. ^ Historical data compiled from record papers of Reading Company preserved at Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware.
  3. ^ Williams, Gerry (1998). Trains, Trolleys & Transit: A Guide to Philadelphia Area Rail Transit. Piscataway, NJ: Railpace Company. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-9621541-7-1. OCLC 43543368. 
  4. ^ Vuchic, Vukan; Kikuchi, Shinya (1984). General Operations Plan for the SEPTA Regional High Speed System. Philadelphia: SEPTA. pp. 2–8. 
  5. ^ Lustig, David (November 2010). "SEPTA makeover". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing: 26. 
  6. ^ "Positive Train Control Update". SEPTA. May 1, 2017. Retrieved May 17, 2017. 
  7. ^ Old image of Mermaid Avenue Reading Station (Existing Railroad Stations in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania)
  8. ^ "Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. May 2014. p. 60. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. May 2013. p. 44. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. May 2012. p. 55. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. July 2011. p. 94. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2010. p. 70. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  13. ^ "FY 2010 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2009. p. 63. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 

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