Amtrak 30th St Station PHL Underground Concourse Link w/subways

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MARC Rider

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afigg

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The website for the coming up with a master plan for developing the site around 30th Street station by building over the railyard and expanding 30th St station can be found here: Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan. There are display boards and presentation material from a December 16, 2015 public meeting.

The early proposals are quite ambitious. They are considering adding a northern concourse for the Amtrak passengers and a new eastern concourse for the SEPTA tracks. I don't know, that even with a doubling of the daily Amtrak passenger volume, that the expense of a new northern concourse could be justified. The current main hall arrangement has a lot of capacity. The eastern concourse for the SEPTA trains, on the other hand, would address the space capacity of the current hallway and access to the SEPTA east-west tracks.

Restoring the passageway to the Market-Frankford and trolley station would be a good step. Instead of just a corridor, by expanding it into an open retail concourse, they not only restore the access route, they also add stores to generate revenue to maintain the concourse and station.

In the bigger picture, there are serious efforts underway to expand and improve the major stations in the Amtrak system. 30th Street is in the early stages, but we also have efforts underway Chicago Union Station, DC Union Station, NYP and Moynihan station, long range plans to add tracks and a new concourse over the tracks to Boston South Station. It is no concidence that these stations are also part of the few US cities with extensive rail transit systems. LA Union Station could be added to that list as there are plans to add track capacity to LAUS with the station serving as the key hub station of an expanding rail transit system for the LA metro region (and CA HSR). Quite a reversal from 30, 40, 50 years ago of downsizing station projects or just doing a restoration/refurb to keep the station operating.
 

fairviewroad

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Sounds like this is a good decade or more away from being a reality, but I guess you have to start somewhere. A restored connector is way past due. The reason the old one was closed was for security reasons, not due to lack of use or demand.

I agree that it's questionable whether Amtrak pax need another concourse. The crowding issues in the current main hall are mainly due to people lining up for a specific train. If you got rid of the arcane boarding procedures in Philly, you'd solve a huge chunk of the congestion issues right there. The bulk of the time, there's plenty of room for people to circulate and/or find a seat, IME.
 

neroden

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Glad to hear that they're considering reopening the connection to the trolleys and the Market-Frankford Line. That would be really valuable.
 
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So the re-opening of the link would mostly benefit Amtrak to local transit riders, I suppose....SEPTA regional passenger's would more likely transfer to the subways at Suburban Station or Jefferson Station?
 
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So the re-opening of the link would mostly benefit Amtrak to local transit riders, I suppose....SEPTA regional passenger's would more likely transfer to the subways at Suburban Station or Jefferson Station?
The Regional Rails which serve the Philly area suburbs (one line connects Philly and Trenton) do serve 30th St. Station. It's above the station and you take an escalator down. The Market-Frankford Line (MFL) does have a 30th Street stop. I forget because I haven't taken it in a while but I think you come out outside of the station?

Recently I've used Trenton for my Amtrak trips because it's slightly closer to me than 30th St.
 
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Mark P

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I had no idea there used to be an underground connection to the MFL and the trolleys. When was this? Why was it closed? Does anyone have any pictures of it?
 
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The linked article says they closed it in the 80's, due to its state of neglect, and high crime...like many other similar old transit passageways in various cities...
 

Mark P

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The linked article says they closed it in the 80's, due to its state of neglect, and high crime...like many other similar old transit passageways in various cities...
So it's the same tunnel, just remodeled and a skylight added?
 

PRR 60

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The linked article says they closed it in the 80's, due to its state of neglect, and high crime...like many other similar old transit passageways in various cities...
So it's the same tunnel, just remodeled and a skylight added?
No, the proposed connection is not a reopening of the old tunnel.

The old tunnel started with a stairway on the west side of 30th Street Station near where the Bridgewater Pub is located. It went down a long stairway and escalator, then ducked under the western-most lower level track. It then came back up another stairway and escalator to the mezzanine level of the subway station. It took a number of twists and turns in the process. Even forgetting how dirty it was and how intimidating at other than rush hours, it was a bit of a hike with all the climbs up and down. Unless the weather was really nasty, walking outside, across the street, and down the subway entrance was much easier.

The new connection will be built just outside the west side of the station where there is presently driveways and some parking. Since it will be west of the western-most lower-level track, it will just have be at the mezzanine level of the subway station. It will be fully enclosed, so that even though it is outside today's station, it will in essence extend the station a bit west. It will require one stairway, up or down, to get between the main station level and the subway mezzanine level. From the look of the rendering, it will be a much nicer connection than the old tunnel.
 

Mark P

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The linked article says they closed it in the 80's, due to its state of neglect, and high crime...like many other similar old transit passageways in various cities...
So it's the same tunnel, just remodeled and a skylight added?
No, the proposed connection is not a reopening of the old tunnel.

The old tunnel started with a stairway on the west side of 30th Street Station near where the Bridgewater Pub is located. It went down a long stairway and escalator, then ducked under the western-most lower level track. It then came back up another stairway and escalator to the mezzanine level of the subway station. It took a number of twists and turns in the process. Even forgetting how dirty it was and how intimidating at other than rush hours, it was a bit of a hike with all the climbs up and down. Unless the weather was really nasty, walking outside, across the street, and down the subway entrance was much easier.

The new connection will be built just outside the west side of the station where there is presently driveways and some parking. Since it will be west of the western-most lower-level track, it will just have be at the mezzanine level of the subway station. It will be fully enclosed, so that even though it is outside today's station, it will in essence extend the station a bit west. It will require one stairway, up or down, to get between the main station level and the subway mezzanine level. From the look of the rendering, it will be a much nicer connection than the old tunnel.
Great, thank you for the info, very informative! Is the old opening in the station to the old stairway still visible, or has it been covered up? Are there photos of the tunnel anywhere? I'm curious to see what it looked like...
 

PRR 60

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The linked article says they closed it in the 80's, due to its state of neglect, and high crime...like many other similar old transit passageways in various cities...
So it's the same tunnel, just remodeled and a skylight added?
No, the proposed connection is not a reopening of the old tunnel.

The old tunnel started with a stairway on the west side of 30th Street Station near where the Bridgewater Pub is located. It went down a long stairway and escalator, then ducked under the western-most lower level track. It then came back up another stairway and escalator to the mezzanine level of the subway station. It took a number of twists and turns in the process. Even forgetting how dirty it was and how intimidating at other than rush hours, it was a bit of a hike with all the climbs up and down. Unless the weather was really nasty, walking outside, across the street, and down the subway entrance was much easier.

The new connection will be built just outside the west side of the station where there is presently driveways and some parking. Since it will be west of the western-most lower-level track, it will just have be at the mezzanine level of the subway station. It will be fully enclosed, so that even though it is outside today's station, it will in essence extend the station a bit west. It will require one stairway, up or down, to get between the main station level and the subway mezzanine level. From the look of the rendering, it will be a much nicer connection than the old tunnel.
Great, thank you for the info, very informative! Is the old opening in the station to the old stairway still visible, or has it been covered up? Are there photos of the tunnel anywhere? I'm curious to see what it looked like...
The old entrance stairway was covered. I believe the Bridgewater Pub may be partly on top of where the old stairway was located. If you look closely, you can see a slight color difference in the marble flooring where the opening used to be.

I have not been able to find any photos of the connector. I'm sure someone, somewhere has some.
 

RPC

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The other end of the connector (in the subway/trolley station) is pretty obvious: a painted plywood wall at the mezzanine level. I didn't realize the routing was so circuitous.
 
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I'm not sure, but I believe a part of the problem of the old tunnel, may have been a reluctance by either Amtrak or SEPTA (or both?), to pay for the maintenance and security of it....

Kind of reminds me of the old tunnel that connected New York's Penn Station Seventh Avenue subway station, with the Herald Square subway/PATH station. IIRC, its path along 33rd Street was actually in the edge of the former Gimbel's Department Store basement. When nobody would pay to maintain it, it was more or less taken over by the homeless, until it was closed off....
 

fairviewroad

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...SEPTA regional passenger's would more likely transfer to the subways at Suburban Station or Jefferson Station?
Depends on where you're coming from/going to. If your destination is an Orange Line station, then you'd definitely want to transfer at Suburban Station. If your destination is a MFL or Green Line stop, then your transfer station depends somewhat on which side of Center City you're approaching from.

For instance, for much of the time I lived in Philly, I lived near the 34 trolley route. So when I needed to use Regional Rail, I'd invariably transfer at 30th Street, especially if I was headed out on the Paoli line or up to Trenton. That was a SEPTA-to-SEPTA transfer.
 
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I talked to my cousin who works at Drexel about the general plan - she's of the opinion that the entire Schuykill Yards project will be completed ahead of schedule.
 

afigg

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The 30th Street station district study and planning group have issued a final report laying out development plans for the station and vicinity for the next 30 to 40 years.

Amtrak news release: COMPLETION OF PHILADELPHIA 30TH STREET STATION DISTRICT PLAN HIGHLIGHTED BY ACTION ON NEAR TERM IMPROVEMENTS. Starting excerpt:

PHILADELPHIA – Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, PennDOT and SEPTA today unveiled the Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan and announced the initiation of several follow-on projects to improve the immediate station area and catalyze future development throughout the District.

The Plan is a collaborative two-year joint planning effort to produce a single, integrated long-term vision for growth and development in the area surrounding 30th Street Station.

Forty new acres of open space and 18 million square feet of new development are envisioned in the Plan, including an entirely new mixed-use neighborhood anchoring the District atop 88 acres of rail yards along the western bank of the Schuylkill River.
The 30th Street Station District plan website with links to the the final report (190 page 20 MB PDF), summary, and renderings.

As discussed several months ago, big plans proposing a major expansion of and changes to the 30th Street station facility. A restored east mezzinine for boarding the SEPTA Regional rail platforms (by 2018!) and in the longer term, a restored/new North station concourse for boarding the Amtrak trains between the SEPTA west and east mezzinines. Someone wanting to connect between Amtrak and SEPTA regional rail would have a more direct and shorter connection from the restored/new north concourse. The plan schedule calls for the restored and greatly improved underground connection to the SEPTA subway and trolley station to be completed by 2021. Of course, one should expect these dates to slip since station projects almost always have major schedule delays.

The most interesting parts to me are the floor plans for the station itself. On page 32 of the final report, there is a 1933 floor plan of the station, unfortunately fuzzy when zoomed in on. The report has the floor plan for the current station and several detailed floor plans for the proposed revised station layout. Unlike many big city train station projects of the 1960s and 1970s, these plans are about expanding the capacity of the station complex and taking advantage of the transit systems to build a major Transit Oriented Development project around the station. Over the next 20 years, WAS, PHL, NYP, and BOS, the major anchor stations of the NEC are going to see major changes.
 
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