Route and operations
The Manayunk/Norristown Line is a regular-schedule portion of the former R6 commuter rail segment. Prior to 1981, it served as the electrified commuter segment of the Reading Company's main line to Reading, Pennsylvania. Service from Philadelphia to Reading and Pottsville on this line was handled by RDC diesel trains in addition to electrified service to Norristown. Since July 27, 1981, however, all service on this line has been truncated to the electrified segment. Electrified service to Norristown (and Chestnut Hill East) was opened on February 5, 1933.
Like the Cynwyd, Chestnut Hill East, and Chestnut Hill West lines, the Manayunk/Norristown route was a "competition" line, although the Norristown line was originally one of the oldest segments of the old Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad that was a predecessor to the Reading Company.
The route originates from the Center City Rail tunnel, and the two-track line splits off from the "SEPTA Main Line" north of North Broad Station. It then goes through Philadelphia's East Falls and Manayunk neighborhoods and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania before reaching Norristown. At Norristown Transportation Center, commuters can transfer to regular SEPTA surface buses or the SEPTA Norristown High Speed Line to 69th Street Terminal. From Norristown Transportation Center, the electrified line follows the single track Stony Creek branch to terminate at Elm Street, while the double tracked main line continues to Reading. The Reading main west of Norristown currently carries no passenger service, and is owned and operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway.
Like the Cynwyd Line, the Manayunk/Norristown Line was slated to become part of the planned new Schuylkill Valley Metro, but was to serve the King of Prussia Mall complex and the former Pennsylvania Railroad's Trenton Cut-Off line to Frazer, Pennsylvania. This was referred to by planners as the "Cross-County Segment." An extension of the Manayunk/Norristown Line, called the Norristown Extension, to Wyomissing is currently proposed, with funding to come through new tolls on U.S. Route 422. This extension will restore service to Reading that SEPTA canceled in 1981.
Most weekday trains terminate downtown (30th Street Station). Some weekday and most weekend trains continue to or from the Wilmington/Newark Line (origin/destination Marcus Hook, Wilmington, or Newark).
Early in 2013, SEPTA began to undertake major operational improvements and physical rehabilitation on the Manayunk/Norristown Line. Central to this project is the replacement of the 80-year-old wayside automatic block signal system with one that displays only in the operating cab, and operates in both directions on both tracks, thereby allowing greater operational flexibility. Two new remotely controlled interlockings are being constructed to facilitate bidirectional operation, one at Miquon, the other in Norristown between the main station and the Ford Street crossing. An electrified storage track is also being constructed at Miquon to allow for temporary turnback of trains at that station, as the line is periodically subjected to flooding from the Schuylkill River around Spring Mill and Conshohocken. Ongoing replacement of the line's overhead catenary, most of which is 80 years old, will continue along with the signal replacement. Also occurring in conjunction with these projects are the replacement of crossties, renewal of grade crossing surfaces, and trimming of brush and trees alongside the right-of-way. The entire program is scheduled for completion in fall 2015, tying in with the FRA-mandated nationwide implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on American railroads by the end of 2015.
On July 25, 2010 SEPTA renamed the service from the R6 Norristown to simply the Manayunk/Norristown Line as part of system-wide service change that drops the R-number naming and makes the Center City stations the terminus for all lines.
All stations have low level platforms unless otherwise noted. Boldface indicates a major station.
|C||Spring Garden||0||Philadelphia||station closed 1984|
|2.1||Temple University||3,028||moved to its present location in 1992|
|1||4.0||Allegheny||76||formerly 22nd Street|
|8.4||Ivy Ridge||602||lower level; stairs added to connect from upper level Ivy Ridge station on closed section of Cynwyd Line|
|9.4||Shawmont||0||station closed November 10, 1996 (This is the oldest extant U.S. purpose-built railroad station. Built in 1834, it was possibly designed by William Strickland.)|
|15.3||Ivy Rock||0||Plymouth||station closed prior to 1983|
|15.8||Mogees||0||station closed October 4, 1992|
|17.2||Norristown Transportation Center||848||Norristown||formerly DeKalb Street|
|17.9||Marshall Street||0||station closed|
Former diesel service
Prior to July 29, 1981, RDC diesel trains operated north of Norristown to Reading and Pottsville. Until 2011, SEPTA had considering restoring service as far as Reading as part of the Schuylkill Valley Metro project. These plans are currently on hold.
The following is a list of stations formerly served by SEPTA. Boardings are based on the average daily ridership from Spring 1981 (except Leesport, which is Fall 1979).
|4||21.5||Valley Forge Park||16||Off Route 23; west of the Betzwood/U.S. 422 bridge||Montgomery|
|5||27.7||Phoenixville||82||Bridge and Hall Streets||Chester||Station currently serves as a catering hall|
|32.0||Royersford||76||Main Street between First and Second Avenues||Montgomery|
|6||39.1||Pottstown||143||High and Hanover Streets|
|7||49.5||Birdsboro||2||South Center Road (PA 345)||Berks|
|8||58.1||Reading (Franklin Street)||205||Franklin and Chestnut Streets|
|66.3||Leesport||1||Main Street||station closed by Fall 1979|
|75.3||Hamburg||14||Hill Drive||Station actually located in West Hamburg|
|9||83.5||Auburn||3||Front and Market Streets||Schuylkill|
|10||89.1||Schuylkill Haven||10||Main Street|
|93.6||Pottsville||107||East Union Street||Station site demolished, track removed|
|Fiscal year||Average weekday||Annual passengers|
|Note: n/a = not available|
Ridership in 1993 was affected by RailWorks, which shut down the line for several months that year. Most commuters found alternative means of transportation during and after the shutdown.
- Hambright, Brett (December 12, 2010). "Decision near on Route 422 tolls". Reading Eagle. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- Hambright, Brett (August 10, 2010). "Technology is making tolls (almost) painless". Reading Eagle. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- "Manayunk/Norristown Line Shuttle Busing: An Explanation". SEPTA. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
- "SEPTA's Capital Program:Regional Rail Signal System Modernization Program" (PDF). Fiscal Year 2014 Capital Budget Proposal. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- "List of new SEPTA schedules".
- "Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Service Plan" (PDF). SEPTA. May 2014.
- "SEPTA Board Cuts Service; But Opposition is Spirited". The Philadelphia Daily News. October 25, 1996. p. 12. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- SEPTA Regional Rail Line - Historical Comparison. Average Weekday Inbound Boardings (1978–2009)