East Penn Railroad
|Headquarters||Kennett Square, Pennsylvania|
|Dates of operation||2007–|
|Predecessor||East Penn Railways|
Penn Eastern Rail Lines
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||114 mi (183.5 km)|
The East Penn Railroad (reporting mark ESPN) is a short-line railroad that operates a number of mostly-unconnected lines in the U.S. states of 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.
ESPN was formed in 2007 through the 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.
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. A yard was also constructed in Pocopson, Pennsylvania along the Wilmington & Northern (W&N). ESPN has acquired additional locomotives and replaced older locomotives to handle increased traffic, including the acquisition of two rebuilt EMD GP38-2's from GATX to be used along the W&N and Octoraro lines.
ESPN attempted to abandon the Colebrookdale line between Pottstown and Boyertown in 2008; it was eventually purchased by Berks County. In 2010, the Chester Valley line between King of Prussia and Bridgeport was abandoned and subsequently sold to Montgomery County so that it can become a part of the Chester Valley Rail Trail.
On August 1, 2011, the East Penn Railroad began operations on the York Industrial Track between York and Stony Brook, taking over operations from Norfolk Southern. In December 2012, the former Raritan River 40' boxcar #100, stored on East Penn tracks at its Quakertown depot, was restored, one of the few surviving pieces of equipment from the former Raritan River Railroad.
ESPN operates 114 miles of track in eastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware with a roster of 16 locomotives. The railroad operates multiple disconnected segments with locomotives assigned to each segment. Usually, two or three lines have service on a single day.
The East Penn Railroad operates the following railroad lines:
- Bristol – industrial park trackage in the Bristol, Pennsylvania area, interchanging with Conrail Shared Assets Operations (CSAO).
- Lancaster Northern – owns and operates from Ephrata, Pennsylvania northeast to interchange with Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) in Reading, Pennsylvania, using trackage rights on NS between Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania and Reading.
- Manheim – owns trackage in Manheim, Pennsylvania area, interchanging with NS.
- North East Philadelphia – trackage in Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, interchanging with CSAO in Bustleton.
- Octoraro – owns and operates trackage (the former Octoraro Branch) from end-of-track in Sylmar, Pennsylvania east to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania where it connects to the Wilmington & Northern line. SEPTA still owns the passenger rights on the Octoraro Line.
- Perkiomen – owns and operates from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania north to interchange with NS in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.
- Quakertown – operates on the SEPTA-owned Bethlehem Line from Quakertown, Pennsylvania south to interchange with Pennsylvania Northeastern Railroad in Telford, Pennsylvania.
- Wilmington & Northern – owns and operates from interchange with CSX Transportation in Elsmere Junction, Delaware north to interchange with NS in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Also the Octoraro Line connects with the Wilmington & Northern line in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
- York Industrial Track – operates trackage from interchange with NS in York, Pennsylvania to Stony Brook, Pennsylvania.
- Colebrookdale – operated from Boyertown, Pennsylvania south to interchange with NS in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. ESPN attempted to abandon the line in 2008. The Berks County Redevelopment Authority purchased the railroad that same year, and appointed the Eastern Berks Gateway Railroad to operate freight service. The Eastern Berks Gateway Railroad has left the line in late 2013 due to no or very little freight on the line. The Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust was also created in 2011 for tourist railroad purposes. Tourist rail service began in October 2014 as the Colebrookdale Railroad.
- Chester Valley – owned and operated from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania north to interchange with NS in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania. The line was abandoned by ESPN in 2010; tracks were dismantled in May 2011. The line will be converted into a portion of the Chester Valley Rail Trail by Montgomery County.
- Kutztown – operated on trackage owned by the Kutztown Transportation Authority from Kutztown, Pennsylvania southeast to interchange with NS in Topton, Pennsylvania. This line is now operated by the Allentown & Auburn Railroad, which hauls passengers in historic equipment, as well as freight for local businesses.
- Venice Island Industrial Spur - Owned and operated from Norfolk Southern East Falls Yard to the end of Venice Island in Manayunk, PA and abandoned April 4th, 2017.
- "About Regional Rail". Regional Rail, LLC. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- "The East Penn Railroad" (PDF). iNShort. March 19, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "East Penn Railroad, LLC-Abandonment Exemption-in Berks and Montgomery Counties, PA". Surface Transportation Board. September 30, 2008. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- "Regional Rail begins operations on York Industrial Track". Regional Rail, LLC. August 2, 2011. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "East Penn Railroad, LLC". Regional Rail, LLC. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- East Penn Railroad Map (PDF) (Map). DeskMap Systems. 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
- East Penn Railroad Map (Map). DeskMap Systems. 2007.
- Young, Mary E. (2008-05-03). "Losing rail spur will hurt, Boyertown company says". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- Duran, Carole (2010-06-23). "Board continues Boyertown rail freight facility plan". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
- Young, Mary E. (2010-09-03). "County OKs lease with railroad to reopen Boyertown-Pottstown line". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 2010-09-07.
- "colebrookdalerailroad.com". Archived from the original on 2013-12-31. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
- Newberry, Laura (January 20, 2014). "Caboose ride between Boyertown and Pottstown brings hopes of local railroad tourism". Reading Eagle. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
- Pancavage, Gary (2017-04-10). "East Penn makes final run on Philadelphia's Venice Island Branch". Trains Magizene. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
- Media related to East Penn Railroad at Wikimedia Commons