Fox Chase Line

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Fox Chase Line
Fox Chase SEPTA station.jpg
Fox Chase station in December 2012
Overview
Type Commuter rail
System SEPTA Regional Rail
Status Operating
Termini Fox Chase
30th Street Station
Daily ridership 5,474[1]
Website septa.org
Operation
Operator(s) SEPTA
Technical
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification 12 kV / 25 Hz Catenary
Route map
Newtown
George School
Village Shires
never
opened
Holland
Churchville
Southampton
County Line
Woodmont
Bryn Athyn
Huntingdon Valley
Walnut Hill
Fox Chase
Diesel service
Electric service
Ryers
Cheltenham
Lawndale
Olney
Warminster, West Trenton,
Lansdale/Doylestown Lines
Wayne Junction
Temple University
Reading Viaduct
service ended 1984
Spring Garden Street
Reading Terminal
Jefferson Station
Suburban Station
30th Street Station
Amtrak New Jersey Transit

The Fox Chase Line is a route of the SEPTA Regional Rail (commuter rail) system. The Fox Chase Line branches from the SEPTA Main Line at Newtown Junction, north of the Wayne Junction station. It runs entirely within the city of Philadelphia except for a section between Olney and Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, which runs along the city border. Under the Reading Company service continued north to Newtown, but this ended in January 1983. Various proposals to resume this service have failed. The line within Montgomery County was converted into a rail trail is 2008 and 2014, respectively, ending any chance of resumed passenger service for the foreseeable future.

History[edit]

R8 Fox Chase.gif

The Fox Chase Line branches from the SEPTA Main Line at Newtown Junction, north of the Wayne Junction station. It runs entirely within the city of Philadelphia except for a section between Olney and Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, which runs along the city border.[2]

The line beyond Newtown Junction was originally opened February 2, 1878, to Newtown as the Philadelphia, Newtown and New York Railroad. The line was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad to block the building of the parallel National Railway (later the Reading Company's main line to New York City). After that failed, it was taken over by the North Pennsylvania Railroad (which had built the National Railway) on November 22, 1879. By then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway, later the Reading Company, had leased the North Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1976 the Reading was merged into Conrail, and in 1983 SEPTA took over commuter rail operations.[citation needed]

Between 1984 and 2010 the route was designated R8 Fox Chase as part of SEPTA's diametrical reorganization of its lines. Fox Chase trains operated through the city center to the Chestnut Hill West Line.[3] Plans had called for the Fox Chase Line to be paired with a Bryn Mawr local and designated R4, but this depended on a never-built connection from the Chestnut Hill West Line to the ex-Reading near Wayne Junction.[4]

SEPTA activated positive train control on the Fox Chase Line on May 23, 2016.[5]

Beyond Fox Chase[edit]

Passengers changing over to a Newtown-bound diesel Budd Rail Diesel Car at Fox Chase on November 24, 1981
SEPTA performing a test run of the British BRE-Leyland Diesel railbuses at Huntingdon Valley Station, September 1985. Note brand new SEPTA "lollipop" station sign at right and "Station for Lease" sign on the now-demolished station shelter.

Under the Reading Company Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) operated through from the Reading Terminal in downtown Philadelphia to Newtown.[6] The Reading extended electrification to Fox Chase in 1966; limited diesel shuttles from Fox Chase to Newtown continued.[2] SEPTA suspended these shuttles on July 1, 1981, as part of a systemwide discontinuation of non-electrified service. The shuttles returned on October 5 as the Fox Chase Rapid Transit Line.[7] The operation of the line was troubled: the RDCs were in poor mechanical condition, SEPTA's decision to use transit division employees from the Broad Street Subway caused labor issues, and ridership was low.[8] SEPTA suspended service again on January 18, 1983.[9]

Since 1983, there has been interest from Bucks County passengers in resuming service to Newtown. In anticipation of a possible resumption, SEPTA performed extensive track upgrades in 1984. Street crossings in Newtown and Southampton received brand new welded rail, which were secured using sturdy Pandrol clips vs. traditional rail spikes. Though not promoted, this work was done in order to comply with a federal grant.[10]

By March 1985, SEPTA gave into political pressure and made a concerted effort to integrate the non-electrified Fox Chase-Newtown line into the rest of its all-electrified commuter system. A $10 million plan to restore service to Newtown and Pottstown using British BRE-Leyland Diesel railbusses was considered, with a test run reaching Newtown on September 3. Though the trial runs were relatively successful, ride quality was lackluster. Burdened with ongoing budgetary problems, SEPTA decided against the purchase of the railbusses.[11]

In March 1987, SEPTA received several bids from private operators interested in running diesel-hauled trains to Newtown (as well as between Norristown-Pottstown. The operators suggested using non-union workers, which SEPTA was against. In addition, funding for these operations was allegedly questionable, and the SEPTA board rejected all offers.[12][page needed]

Beginning in 2009, portions on the line within Montgomery County have been converted into a rail trail.[8][13] By 2015, the Pennypack Trail extended 5.4 miles (8.7 km) along the former line between Rockledge and Byberry Road near Bryn Athyn. Future plans call for the Pennypack Trail to be extended north to County Line Road.[14][15] In Bucks County, there is a small group of rail trail lobbyists trying to turn the former railroad line into a rail trail called the Newtown Rail Trail,[16] though several townships along the line are still hoping for resumption of rail service to alleviate crippling traffic congestion on local roads and highways.

Stations[edit]

Olney station
Bryn Athyn in 2008
The original George School station

Fox Chase trains make the following station stops after leaving the Center City Commuter Connection. Stations indicated in gray background are closed. Although SEPTA suspended service to all stations north of Fox Chase in 1983, it continues to list those stations in its public tariff.[17]


Zone
[18][17]
Station Miles (km)
from Center City
Date
opened
Date
closed
Connections / notes
C Temple University Handicapped/disabled access 2.1 miles (3.4 km)     SEPTA: All Regional Rail lines
Tioga    
Nicetown   November 14, 1988[19] SEPTA closed the Nicetown station on November 14, 1988 after a fire damaged the station. At the time of closure, the station had one single passenger on average.[19]
1 Wayne Junction Handicapped/disabled access 5.1 miles (8.2 km)     SEPTA: Chestnut Hill East Line, Lansdale/Doylestown Line, Warminster Line, West Trenton Line, Bus transport 2, 23, 53, 75
Olney Handicapped/disabled access 7.3 miles (11.7 km)     SEPTA: Bus transport 8
Philadelphia city line
2 Crescentville   March 26, 1978[20] By the time of its closure, the station was down to six passengers on average daily.[21]
Lawndale Handicapped/disabled access 9.0 miles (14.5 km)    
Cheltenham Handicapped/disabled access 9.7 miles (15.6 km)    
Ryers Handicapped/disabled access 10.1 miles (16.3 km)     SEPTA: Bus transport 70, 77
Fox Chase Handicapped/disabled access 11.1 miles (17.9 km)     SEPTA: Bus transport 18, 24, 28
Service beyond Fox Chase to Newtown suspended in January 18, 1983[22]
3 Walnut Hill 12.8 miles (20.6 km)   January 18, 1983[22]
Huntingdon Valley 14.4 miles (23.2 km)   January 18, 1983[22]
Bryn Athyn 15.1 miles (24.3 km)   January 18, 1983[22]
4 Woodmont 17.2 miles (27.7 km)    
County Line 18.0 miles (29.0 km)   January 18, 1983[22]
Southampton 18.9 miles (30.4 km)   January 18, 1983[22]
Churchville 20.8 miles (33.5 km)   January 18, 1983[22]
Holland 22.4 miles (36.0 km)   January 18, 1983[22]
George School 25.0 miles (40.2 km)   January 18, 1983[22]
Newtown 26.3 miles (42.3 km)   January 18, 1983[22]

Ridership[edit]

Yearly ridership on the Fox Chase Line between FY 2008–FY 2014 has remained steady around 1.4 million:[1]:94[23][24][25][26][27][28]

250,000
500,000
750,000
1,000,000
1,250,000
1,500,000
FY 2008
FY 2009
FY 2010
FY 2011
FY 2012
FY 2013
FY 2014

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2015. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Williams 1998, p. 98
  3. ^ Lustig, David (November 2010). "SEPTA makeover". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing: 26. 
  4. ^ Vuchic & Kikuchi 1984, pp. 2–8
  5. ^ "Positive Train Control Update". SEPTA. May 18, 2016. Retrieved May 22, 2016. 
  6. ^ Williams 1998, p. 97
  7. ^ Williams 1998, p. 49
  8. ^ a b Nussbaum, Paul (October 9, 2009). "A Bucks-Montco debate Newtown Station: Reopen it or not?". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 8, 2011. 
  9. ^ King, Larry (May 17, 2006). "New vision for abandoned rail line Speedy bus line could revive the Newtown-Fox Chase route. Old rail line may be revived for bus system". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  10. ^ Schwieterman 2001, p. 266
  11. ^ Woodland 2003, p. 26
  12. ^ Woodland 1998
  13. ^ Nussbaum, Paul (March 23, 2014). "Montco plans to convert more of rail line for recreation". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved April 21, 2014. 
  14. ^ Sokil, Dan (September 18, 2015). "Montgomery County commissioners cut ribbon for Pennypack Trail extension". The Reporter. Lansdale, PA. Retrieved September 21, 2016. 
  15. ^ Pennypack Trail (Map). Montgomery County Division of Parks, Trails, & Historic Sites. Retrieved September 21, 2016. 
  16. ^ Monaco, Vic (January 28, 2016). "Advocates push for bike trail on abandoned rails in Bucks". Philly Voice. Retrieved September 21, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b "TARIFF NO. 154 SUPPLEMENT NO. 39" (PDF). SEPTA Regional Rail Division. March 12, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Fox Chase Line Timetable" (PDF). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. September 10, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017. 
  19. ^ a b Bowden, Mark (December 23, 1988). "A SEPTA Ride to a Sealed Station". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. 15. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  20. ^ "Notice: Station Abandonment". The Philadelphia Inquirer. January 6, 1978. p. 17. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  21. ^ "City: A Hearing Will Be Held on the Closing of a Railroad Station". The Philadelphia Inquirer. January 23, 1978. p. 10. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Kennedy, Sara (October 21, 1983). "SEPTA to Boost Rail Service 13%". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. 1–2. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  23. ^ "Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. May 2014. p. 60. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. May 2013. p. 44. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. May 2012. p. 55. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. July 2011. p. 94. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2010. p. 70. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 
  28. ^ "FY 2010 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2009. p. 63. Retrieved August 13, 2016. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]