Fox Chase Line

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Fox Chase Line
Fox Chase station in December 2012
Service typeSEPTA Regional Rail commuter service
Current operator(s)SEPTA
Former operator(s)Reading Company
Ridership2,001 (FY 2022)[1]
TerminiFox Chase
30th Street Station
Line(s) used
Rolling stockElectric multiple units
ElectrificationOverhead line, 12 kV 25 Hz AC
Route map
11.1 mi
17.9 km
Pre-1983 service
to Newtown
11.1 mi
17.9 km
George School
County Line
Bryn Athyn
Huntingdon Valley
West Trenton Line
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
Tram interchange  Bsl   Mfl 
0.9 mi
1.4 km
30th Street
Tram interchange  Mfl  Atlantic City Line Amtrak

The Fox Chase Line is a SEPTA Regional Rail service connecting Center City Philadelphia with Fox Chase. It uses the Fox Chase Branch, which branches off 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.

Originally known as the Fox Chase/Newtown Branch, service was truncated in January 1983 from Newtown to its current terminus in Philadelphia at Fox Chase. Plans to restore service beyond Fox Chase remained on SEPTA's Capital Program until 2009.[2][3] The rail bed between Fox Chase and Southampton has been converted to rail trail usage.[4]


Most of what is now the Fox Chase Branch was built by the Philadelphia, Newtown and New York Railroad between 1876 and 1878. Initially, it was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system, but the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad leased it in 1879. Under the Reading it was known as the Newtown Branch. Following the Reading's final bankruptcy in 1976 the branch was conveyed to SEPTA; Conrail operated services under contract until 1983 when SEPTA took full control.[citation needed]


During the Reading Company era, an accident on the line in Bryn Athyn occurred where two steam trains collided head on with each other. [5] Almost a century later, a similar incident occurred involving a car, tank truck, and train. [6]

Conrail/SEPTA Era[edit]

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.[7] 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.[8] As of 2022, most Fox Chase Line trains continue through Center City to the Airport Line on weekdays and the Media/Wawa Line on weekends.[9]

Beyond Fox Chase[edit]

Passengers changing over to a Newtown-bound 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.[10] The Reading extended electrification to Fox Chase in 1966; limited diesel shuttles from Fox Chase to Newtown continued.[11] 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.[12] 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.[3] SEPTA suspended service again on January 18, 1983.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]

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.[16][page needed]

Beginning in 2009, portions on the line within Montgomery County have been converted into a rail trail.[3][4] By 2015, the Pennypack Trail extended 5.4 miles (8.7 km) along the former line between Rockledge and Byberry Road near Bryn Athyn.[17] Additional trackage was in Southampton was dismantled in October 2018,[18] though several townships along the line are still hoping for resumption of rail service to alleviate traffic congestion on local roads and highways. The right-of-way in Bucks County is currently being redeveloped as the Newtown Rail Trail.

As of 2024, the right-of-way between Lorimer Park and Fox Chase station is being converted to a rail trail. [19]


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.[20][21]

Olney station
Bryn Athyn in 2008
The original George School station
Zone Location Station Miles (km)
Center City
Connections / notes
C Temple University Temple University Disabled access 2.1 (3.4) SEPTA Regional Rail: all lines
SEPTA City Bus: Bus interchange 3, 23, 47
Tioga Closed 1989
Nicetown Closed November 14, 1988 due to fire damage[22]
1 Wayne Junction Disabled access 5.1 (8.2) SEPTA Regional Rail:      Chestnut Hill East Line,      Lansdale/​Doylestown Line,      Warminster Line,      West Trenton Line
SEPTA City Bus: Bus interchange 2, 23, 53
SEPTA Trackless Trolley: Trolleybus 75
Olney, Philadelphia Olney Disabled access 7.3 (11.7) SEPTA City Bus: Bus interchange 8
2 Lawncrest, Philadelphia Crescentville Closed March 26, 1978[23][24]
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: Bus interchange 70, 77
Fox Chase Disabled access 11.1 (17.9) SEPTA City Bus: Bus interchange 18, 24, 28
3 Huntingdon Valley Walnut Hill 12.8 (20.6) Closed January 18, 1983[25]
Huntingdon Valley 14.4 (23.2) Closed January 18, 1983[25]
Bryn Athyn Bryn Athyn 15.1 (24.3) Closed January 18, 1983[25]
4 Huntingdon Valley Woodmont 17.2 (27.7) Closed in 1965
Upper Southampton Township County Line 18.0 (29.0) Closed January 18, 1983[25]
Southampton 18.9 (30.4) Closed January 18, 1983[25]
Churchville 20.8 (33.5) Closed January 18, 1983[25]
Northampton Township Holland 22.4 (36.0) Closed January 18, 1983[25]
Newtown Township George School 25.0 (40.2) Closed January 18, 1983[25]
Newtown Newtown 26.3 (42.3) Closed January 18, 1983[25]


Yearly ridership on the Fox Chase Line between FY 2013–FY 2019 remained steady around 1.2-1.4 million before collapsing during the COVID-19 pandemic:[note 1]

FY 2013
FY 2014
FY 2015
FY 2016
FY 2017
FY 2018
FY 2019
FY 2020
FY 2021
FY 2022
FY 2023


  1. ^ Data for individual lines is not available for FY 2020.[1]


  1. ^ a b SEPTA Data Group. "Route Operating Statistics". Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  3. ^ a b c Nussbaum, Paul (October 9, 2009). "A Bucks-Montco debate Newtown Station: Reopen it or not?". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Nussbaum, Paul (March 23, 2014). "Montco plans to convert more of rail line for recreation". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  5. ^ Weckselblatt, Gary. "Bryn Athyn train crash a 'Titantic' disaster". Bucks County Courier Times. Retrieved 2022-06-22.
  6. ^ Staff, Fire Engineering (1982-05-01). "Volunteers Stop Major Gasoline Fire After Commuter Train Hits Tanker". Fire Engineering: Firefighter Training and Fire Service News, Rescue. Retrieved 2022-06-22.
  7. ^ Lustig, David (November 2010). "SEPTA makeover". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing: 26.
  8. ^ Vuchic & Kikuchi 1984, pp. 2–8
  9. ^ "Fox Chase Line schedule" (PDF). SEPTA. December 16, 2018. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Williams 1998, p. 97
  11. ^ Williams 1998, p. 98
  12. ^ Williams 1998, p. 49
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Schwieterman 2001, p. 266
  15. ^ Woodland 2003, p. 26
  16. ^ Woodland 1998
  17. ^ Pennypack Trail (Map). Montgomery County Division of Parks, Trails, & Historic Sites. Archived from the original on September 12, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  18. ^ Monaco, Vic (January 28, 2016). "Advocates push for bike trail on abandoned rails in Bucks". Philly Voice. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
  19. ^ "Streets Department Announces Construction to Begin on the Fox Chase Lorimer Trail Project | Department of Streets". City of Philadelphia. 2023-12-21. Retrieved 2024-01-10.
  20. ^ "TARIFF NO. 154 SUPPLEMENT NO. 39" (PDF). SEPTA Regional Rail Division. March 12, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  21. ^ "Fox Chase Line Timetable" (PDF). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. September 10, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  22. ^ Bowden, Mark (December 23, 1988). "A SEPTA Ride to a Sealed Station". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. 15. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via Open access icon
  23. ^ "Notice: Station Abandonment". The Philadelphia Inquirer. January 6, 1978. p. 17. Retrieved October 19, 2017 – via Open access icon
  24. ^ "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 icon
  25. ^ 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 icon


External links[edit]

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