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East Penn Railroad

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East Penn Railroad
An EMD GP18 commercial train on the East Penn Railroad in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania in April 2014
HeadquartersKennett Square, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Reporting markESPN
Dates of operation2007–
PredecessorEast Penn Railways
Penn Eastern Rail Lines
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length114 mi (183.5 km)

East Penn Railroad (reporting mark ESPN) is a short-line railroad that operates a number of mostly-unconnected lines in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Except for two industrial park switching operations, all are former Pennsylvania Railroad or Reading Company lines, abandoned or sold by Conrail or its predecessors.

East Penn Railroad was formed in 2007 through a merger of East Penn Railways (reporting mark EPRY) and Penn Eastern Rail Lines (reporting mark PRL), each of which began operating in the 1990s. The railroad is owned by Regional Rail, LLC, which also owns the Middletown and New Jersey Railroad, Tyburn Railroad, Carolina Coastal Railway, Florida Central Railroad, Florida Northern Railroad, and Florida Midland Railroad.[1]


East Penn Railroad (ESPN) was formed in 2007 by the merger of East Penn Railway and Penn Eastern Rail Lines. Since the merger, the railroad has improved service and infrastructure on lines with customer growth potential; weaker lines were abandoned or sold off. 4.5 miles (7.2 km) of track was returned to service.[citation needed] A yard was also constructed in Pocopson, Pennsylvania along the Wilmington and Northern Branch (W&N). ESPN has acquired additional locomotives and replaced older locomotives to handle increased traffic, including two rebuilt EMD GP38-2's from GATX used along the W&N and Octoraro lines.[2]

ESPN attempted to abandon the Colebrookdale line between Pottstown and Boyertown in 2008; it was eventually purchased by Berks County.[3] In 2010, the Chester Valley line between King of Prussia and Bridgeport was abandoned and subsequently sold to Montgomery County and became part of the Chester Valley Rail Trail.

On August 1, 2011, East Penn Railroad took over operations from Norfolk Southern on the York Industrial Track between York and Stonybook.[4] In December 2012, the former Raritan River 40' boxcar #100, stored on East Penn tracks at its Quakertown depot, was restored, representing one of the few surviving pieces of equipment from the former Raritan River Railroad.

Since 2011, a total of eight derailments have happened along the East Penn Railroad in various locations, including northern Delaware, Chester County, and Bucks County. In August 2022, six cars derailed in Chester County, narrowly missing a home.[5]


East Penn Railroad's ALCO RS-1 57 and GE B23-7 3153 in Quakertown

ESPN operates 114 miles of track in eastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware and 16 commercial locomotives.[6] The railroad operates multiple disconnected segments with locomotives assigned to each segment. Two or three lines have service daily.[2]

They include the following lines:


This line consists of industrial park trackage in the Bristol, Pennsylvania area, interchanging with Conrail Shared Assets Operations (CSAO).[7]

ESPN Bristol Subdivision

Lancaster Northern[edit]

This line, which is owned and operated by ESPN, runs from Ephrata, Pennsylvania northeast, interchanging with Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) in Reading, Pennsylvania, using trackage rights on NS between Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania and Reading.[7]

ESPN Lancaster Northern Subdivision
Reading, Pennsylvania
Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
Denver, Pennsylvania
Ephrata, Pennsylvania


This line consists of owned trackage in the Manheim, Pennsylvania area, interchanging with NS.[7]

ESPN Manheim Subdivision

North East Philadelphia[edit]

The North East Philadelphia line consists of owned trackage in Northeast Philadelphia, interchanging with CSAO in the Bustleton area of Philadelphia.[7]

ESPN North East Philadelphia Subdivision
Bustleton, Philadelphia


The Octoraro line, which is owned and operated by ESPN, consists of trackage, the former Octoraro Branch, from end-of-track in Sylmar east to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where it connects to the Wilmington and Northern Branch. SEPTA owns the passenger rights on the Octoraro Line.[7]

ESPN Octoraro Subdivision
Nottingham, Pennsylvania
Oxford, Pennsylvania
West Grove, Pennsylvania
Avondale, Pennsylvania
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Chadds Ford
ESPN Wilmington & Northern Subdivision


The Perkiomen line, which is owned and operated by ESPN, runs from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania north, where it interchanges with NS in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.[7]

ESPN Perkiomen Subdivision
East Greenville, Pennsylvania
Pennsburg, Pennsylvania


The Quakertown Line operates on the SEPTA-owned Bethlehem Line from Quakertown, Pennsylvania south, and interchanges with the Pennsylvania Northeastern Railroad in Telford.[7]

ESPN Quakertown Subdivision
Telford, Pennsylvania
Quakertown, Pennsylvania

Wilmington and Northern Branch[edit]

The Wilmington and Northern Branch line, which is owned and operated by ESPN, runs from interchange with CSX Transportation in Elsmere, Delaware north, interchanging with NS in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. The Octoraro Line connects with the Wilmington and Northern line in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.[7]

York Industrial Track[edit]

The line operated by ESPN consists of trackage from interchange with NS in York, Pennsylvania to Stonybrook, Pennsylvania.[7]

ESPN York Industrial Track



  1. ^ "About Regional Rail". Regional Rail, LLC. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "The East Penn Railroad" (PDF). iNShort. March 19, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "East Penn Railroad, LLC-Abandonment Exemption-in Berks and Montgomery Counties, PA". Surface Transportation Board. September 30, 2008. Archived from the original on June 1, 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2010.
  4. ^ "Regional Rail begins operations on York Industrial Track". Regional Rail, LLC. August 2, 2011. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  5. ^ Hughes, Ryan (August 30, 2022). "East Penn Railroad train derailment in Chester County part of "very scary" trend". Philadelphia, PA: KYW-TV. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  6. ^ "East Penn Railroad, LLC". Regional Rail, LLC. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i East Penn Railroad Map (PDF) (Map). DeskMap Systems. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  8. ^ a b East Penn Railroad Map (Map). DeskMap Systems. 2007.
  9. ^ Young, Mary E. (May 3, 2008). "Losing rail spur will hurt, Boyertown company says". Reading Eagle. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  10. ^ Duran, Carole (June 23, 2010). "Board continues Boyertown rail freight facility plan". Reading Eagle. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  11. ^ Young, Mary E. (September 3, 2010). "County OKs lease with railroad to reopen Boyertown-Pottstown line". Reading Eagle. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
  12. ^ "colebrookdalerailroad.com". Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  13. ^ Newberry, Laura (January 20, 2014). "Caboose ride between Boyertown and Pottstown brings hopes of local railroad tourism". Reading Eagle. Archived from the original on January 22, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  14. ^ Pancavage, Gary (April 10, 2017). "East Penn makes final run on Philadelphia's Venice Island Branch". Trains Magizene. Retrieved November 24, 2022.

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