Monday, February 15, 2016

More Philadelphia Suburban Rail Car Photos

Several years ago I posted regarding 1930s-vintage rolling stock used on suburban Philadelphia railcar lines. Since then, I scanned slides I took in April 1969 of some of those cars. They aren't very good portraits of the equipment, but perhaps they might nevertheless be of interest to some readers.

Most of the photos are of the Philadelphia & Western suburban line that ran from Norristown to Philadelphia's 69th Street Station where riders heading for the city center would have to change to a different transportation mode. I caught a car at Haverford and rode it to 69th on my photography expedition.


P&W car near Haverford Station (cropped)

P&W car entering Haverford Station (cropped)

P&W car at Haverford Station

P&W car near Haverford Station (cropped)

P&W car at 69th Street Station

P&W car at 69th Street Station (cropped)

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company cars at 69th Street Station (cropped)

Red Arrow Liberty Liner at 69th Street Station (cropped)


Hels said...

Does the Philadelphia & Western suburban line still run and are the railway stations still filled with passengers? If not, what happened to the public transport system?

Donald Pittenger said...

Hels -- I lived in Philadelphia while a grad student at Penn in the late 60s and went there a lot from upstate New York in the early 70s while working on my dissertation. But I've been back in the Seattle starting in '75 and seldom get to Philly, so I'm out of touch on a personal level. According to Wikipedia, all those lines were gobbled up by SEPTA, a regional transportation entity, and now use more modern equipment.

George Rice said...

Hels - The photo labeled "P&W car at 69th Street Station" is not a P&W car, but is a trolley car on the Media/Sharon Hill trolley line, located in another area, at the same terminal. The photo shown is a trolley manufactured by the St. Louis Car Company, which operated on the line from 1949 until replaced by Kawasaki trolley cars in 1980. This line still operates today with the 1980 cars.

Whistling Pig said...

The P&W line is still in daily and very popular operation, although SEPTA has done its (un-)best to erase its original identity by relabeling the line first as Route 100 and now as the Norristown High Speed Line. Its 26 light-rail cars were acquired in the late 90s and keep the rails polished every day from 4 am to 1 the next morning. Development along the line and in King of Prussia has generated a lot of reverse commuting (i.e. outbound from Upper Darby) and most rush-hour trips are now served by MU'ed pairs. Planning is underway to add a spur that will serve the King of Prussia area (see; unfortunately it's not expected to open until the middle of the next decade due to a combination of funding problems and opposition from a small number of anti-rail protestors.

Sadly the same can't be said for the rest of SEPTA's operations. The system is far-better run than it was a couple of decades ago but it remains hobbled by lack of support from the state and a "bus only" mentality that still persists from the bad old days of NCL management in the 1950s. While many other cities are adding or expanding rail lines, SEPTA has no plans to move beyond the status quo with either of its two subway / elevated lines or eight trolley lines. In fact, they fought against trolley service on the Girard Avenue line and relented only when pressured by the city. Worse yet, their commuter rail system is currently limping along with severe equipment shortages because 120 cars recently delivered by Rotem were found to have defective truck beams (PLENTY of material online...)

The Wikipedia article is somewhat misleading. SEPTA isn't simply "a" regional authority, it's pretty much the only transit operator in the area except for a few tendrils poking in from New Jersey Transit and PATCO. Nor did they exactly "gobble up" existing systems; SEPTA was created by the state and local governments with the mandate to take over the existing private systems that were on the brink of failure (the PTC and Red Arrow} or were being shed by their owners (PRR and RDG commuter rail lines). Since the start they've been plagued by limited funding and overt hostility from the state. As a result they were reluctant to assume some of those responsibilities at the time but were given no choice by the legislatures.