Fox Chase Line

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Fox Chase Line
Fox Chase SEPTA station.jpg
Fox Chase station in December 2012
TerminiFox Chase
30th Street Station
TypeCommuter rail
SystemSEPTA Regional Rail
Rolling stockElectric Multiple Units
Daily ridership4,955 (FY 2018)[1]
Closed1983 (north of Fox Chase)
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification12 kV / 25 Hz Catenary
Route map

11.1 mi
17.9 km
former line
to Newtown
11.1 mi
17.9 km
County Line
Bryn Athyn
Walnut Hill
11.1 mi
17.9 km
Fox Chase
10.1 mi
16.3 km
9.7 mi
15.6 km
9.0 mi
14.5 km
7.3 mi
11.7 km
5.1 mi
8.2 km
Wayne Junction
2.1 mi
3.4 km
Temple University
0.5 mi
0.8 km
0 mi
0 km
0.9 mi
1.4 km
30th Street
Tram interchange MFL Atlantic City Line Amtrak

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. The line is fully grade-separated, except for one grade crossing on Oxford Avenue. Under the Reading Company service continued north to Newtown, but this ended in January 1983. Various proposals to resume this service have failed, and the line within Montgomery County has been gradually converted into a rail trail from 2008 onward, ending any chance of resumed passenger service on the abandoned section of line for the foreseeable future.


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.

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]

R8 Fox Chase.gif

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.[2] 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.[3] As of 2021, most Fox Chase Line trains continue through Center City to the Airport Line on weekdays and the Media/Elwyn Line on weekends.[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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] SEPTA suspended service again on January 18, 1983.[10]

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.[11]

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 Rail-Leyland diesel railbuses 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 railbuses.[12]

In March 1987, SEPTA received several bids from private operators interested in running diesel-hauled trains to Newtown (as well as between Norristown and 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.[13][page needed]

Beginning in 2009, portions on the line within Montgomery County have been converted into a rail trail.[9][14] By 2015, the Pennypack Trail extended 5.4 miles (8.7 km) along the former line between Rockledge and Byberry Road near Bryn Athyn.[15] Additional trackage was in Southampton was dismantled in October 2018,[16] though several townships along the line are still hoping for resumption of rail service to alleviate traffic congestion on local roads and highways.


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 and has since converted most of the northern portion of the line to a rail trail, it continues to list those stations in its public tariff.[17]

Zone[18][17] Location Station Miles (km)
Center City
Connections / notes
C Temple University Temple University Disabled access 2.1 (3.4) SEPTA Regional Rail: all lines
Nicetown–Tioga, Philadelphia
Tioga Closed 1989
Nicetown Closed November 14, 1988 due to fire damage (average daily boarding of 1 at the time)[19]
1 Wayne Junction Disabled access 5.1 (8.2) SEPTA Regional Rail: Chestnut Hill East, Lansdale/Doylestown, Warminster, West Trenton lines
SEPTA City Bus: 2, 23, 53, 75
Olney, Philadelphia Olney Disabled access 7.3 (11.7) SEPTA City Bus: 8
2 Lawncrest, Philadelphia Crescentville Closed March 26, 1978[20] (average of six daily boardings at the time)[21]
Lawndale, Philadelphia Lawndale Disabled access 9.0 (14.5)
Cheltenham Cheltenham Disabled access 9.7 (15.6)
Fox Chase, Philadelphia Ryers Disabled access 10.1 (16.3) SEPTA City Bus: 70, 77
Fox Chase Disabled access 11.1 (17.9) SEPTA City Bus: 18, 24, 28
3 Huntingdon Valley Walnut Hill 12.8 (20.6) Closed January 18, 1983[22]
Huntingdon Valley 14.4 (23.2) Closed January 18, 1983[22]
Bryn Athyn Bryn Athyn 15.1 (24.3) Closed January 18, 1983[22]
4 Huntingdon Valley Woodmont 17.2 (27.7) Closed 1965
Upper Southampton Township County Line 18.0 (29.0) Closed January 18, 1983[22]
Southampton 18.9 (30.4) Closed January 18, 1983[22]
Churchville 20.8 (33.5) Closed January 18, 1983[22]
Northampton Township Holland 22.4 (36.0) Closed January 18, 1983[22]
Newtown Township George School 25.0 (40.2) Closed January 18, 1983[22]
Newtown Newtown 26.3 (42.3) Closed January 18, 1983[22]


Yearly ridership on the Fox Chase Line between FY 2008–FY 2018 has remained steady around 1.4 million:[note 1]

FY 2008
FY 2009
FY 2010
FY 2011
FY 2012
FY 2013
FY 2014
FY 2015
FY 2016
FY 2017
FY 2018


  1. ^ Annual ridership statistics compiled from SEPTA's Annual Service Plans.[1][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]


  1. ^ a b "Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2019. p. 42. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  2. ^ Lustig, David (November 2010). "SEPTA makeover". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing: 26.
  3. ^ Vuchic & Kikuchi 1984, pp. 2–8
  4. ^ "Fox Chase Line schedule" (PDF). SEPTA. December 16, 2018. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  5. ^ "Positive Train Control Update". SEPTA. May 18, 2016. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  6. ^ Williams 1998, p. 97
  7. ^ Williams 1998, p. 98
  8. ^ Williams 1998, p. 49
  9. ^ a b Nussbaum, Paul (October 9, 2009). "A Bucks-Montco debate Newtown Station: Reopen it or not?". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Schwieterman 2001, p. 266
  12. ^ Woodland 2003, p. 26
  13. ^ Woodland 1998
  14. ^ Nussbaum, Paul (March 23, 2014). "Montco plans to convert more of rail line for recreation". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  15. ^ Pennypack Trail (Map). Montgomery County Division of Parks, Trails, & Historic Sites. Archived from the original on September 12, 2016. 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. ^ Bowden, Mark (December 23, 1988). "A SEPTA Ride to a Sealed Station". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. 15. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via open access
  20. ^ "Notice: Station Abandonment". The Philadelphia Inquirer. January 6, 1978. p. 17. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via open access
  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 open access
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kennedy, Sara (October 21, 1983). "SEPTA to Boost Rail Service 13%". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. 1–2. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via open access
  23. ^ "Fiscal Year 2019 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2018. p. 74. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  24. ^ "Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2017. p. 44. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  25. ^ "Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. October 2016. p. 70. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  26. ^ "Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2015. p. 94. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  27. ^ "Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. May 2014. p. 60. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  28. ^ "Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. May 2013. p. 44. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  29. ^ "Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. May 2012. p. 55. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  30. ^ "Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. July 2011. p. 94. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  31. ^ "Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2010. p. 70. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  32. ^ "Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. June 2009. p. 63. Retrieved December 14, 2019.


External links[edit]