Rail service Philadelphia to Reading PA

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
1,122
Location
Lubec, ME
I think it would make the most sense for AMTRAK (with SEPTA’s blessing) to build a reverse Swampoodle Connection and run service via the NEC to the Chestnut Hill West Line And then switch over to the ex-Reading. The SEPTA Main Line is very congested with all stops trains and it will probably take 20+minutes to get from 30th Upper to 16th Street (where SEPTA will be as kind as AMTRAK is at ZOO and NORTH PHILADELPHIA) whereas PHL to PHN is scheduled for 8 minutes. In addition to likely being faster and avoiding pinch points in SEPTA territory, this routing could be entirely diesel. It could maybe happen that if SEPTA scheduled CHW trains right behind AMTRAK, timekeeping could improve. I don’t think running over the NS controlled ex-PRR to Norristown is wise because 1) it’s NS, 2) it (I think) would require reconfiguring ZOO, and 3) you forfeit (long term) stopping at Manayunk, Conshohocken, and Norristown TC, all of which could be potentially very busy. Any restoration of the Ivy Ridge Branch is a nonstarter from local opposition and cost standpoints.
Interesting. The original Swampoodle concept (as discussed here moved the Chestnut Hill West service from running via Amtrak NEC and PHN station, to the SEPTA trunk line via the tunnel and 16th St. Junction which would have various benefits to CHW service (faster and avoiding congestion at PHN). So perhaps putting both this and the reverse Swampoodle you suggest in would move all SEPTA trains to the ex RDG and leave the connection at PHN just for Amtrak service to Reading. Kill 2 birds with one stone (and one construction project). But it makes too much sense so it will probably never happen :(
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,935
Location
Virginia
Penn Central ) or its predecessor railroads had nothing to do with the Philadelphia - Pottsville service, as that was provided by the Reading Company. While I always thought that SEPTA had some hand in funding the service, my memory must be mistaken about the Reading/Pottsville trains, as they are, indeed, outside the SEPTA service area. It's possible that SEPTA at least partially funded the diesel service, as it did serve Norristown and Pottstown, which are both in the SEPTA service area. In any event, there must be some reason that the Reading didn't dump the service in 1971 when Amtrak was formed, and there must be some reason why Amtrak didn't take it over.
So, funny thing...the Reading Railroad didn't join Amtrak. Now, it later got absorbed into Conrail, which probably muddles things a bit, but Reading itself didn't join.

This is not unlike why Amtrak never got down the FEC - I'd have been stunned if Amtrak wouldn't have opted to run trains down that line given the choice back in the 70s and 80s (directly picking up a string of towns along the coast plus the better station locations), but they didn't have the inherent right to do so since FEC had dropped its last pax train a few years before Amtrak was formed. The same thing crops up with ex-Rock Island routes - if the Rock Island had joined Amtrak, does anybody seriously think Amtrak wouldn't have tried to flip the California Zephyr over to serve Davenport and Des Moines instead of Burlington and Osceola?
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,935
Location
Virginia
Interesting. The original Swampoodle concept (as discussed here moved the Chestnut Hill West service from running via Amtrak NEC and PHN station, to the SEPTA trunk line via the tunnel and 16th St. Junction which would have various benefits to CHW service (faster and avoiding congestion at PHN). So perhaps putting both this and the reverse Swampoodle you suggest in would move all SEPTA trains to the ex RDG and leave the connection at PHN just for Amtrak service to Reading. Kill 2 birds with one stone (and one construction project). But it makes too much sense so it will probably never happen :(
1671026721474.png
So, please correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like this connection already exists? You might need to rehab it, but the connection seems to be there, and based on this discussion even if it takes a few minutes to get the train around it, it still avoids some bad spots on SEPTA, doesn't it?
 

Septa9739

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 12, 2022
Messages
42
Location
Waiting for Amtrak to clear
The connection is there and is in ok shape. It would work fine for inbound service. I think problem is that it doesn’t tie into the ladder at NORTH PHILADELPHIA, requiring either reconstruction of the interlocking I think they just reconstructed or a significant (5ish minute) wrong way run, but I may be mistake.
 

Septa9739

Train Attendant
Joined
Dec 12, 2022
Messages
42
Location
Waiting for Amtrak to clear
So perhaps putting both this and the reverse Swampoodle you suggest in would move all SEPTA trains to the ex RDG and leave the connection at PHN just for Amtrak service to Reading. Kill 2 birds with one stone (and one construction project).
I have two real concerns with the original Swampoodle Connection. The first is that, while I don’t believe heritage should guide our planning decisions, certain aspects our our two heritage systems continue to be true. Lines were designed with a specific terminus and capture area in mind. E.g. As an anecdotal rule use of 30th Street is much higher on the ex-PRR lines and use of Market East (Jefferson) is much higher on ex-RDG lines. This is mostly due to geography. The travel time TRE-30th on SEPTA is competitive enough, TRE-Jefferson really isn’t. Manayunk to Jefferson is pretty good. Manyunk to 30th really isn’t. I’m not sure that running CHW over the ex-RDG isn’t going to wreck its advantage, which is the better (theoretical) travel time to 30th. The other is apparently management of peak electrical system loads, but I don’t know much about that.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
5,346
Location
Baltimore. MD
View attachment 30654
So, please correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like this connection already exists? You might need to rehab it, but the connection seems to be there, and based on this discussion even if it takes a few minutes to get the train around it, it still avoids some bad spots on SEPTA, doesn't it?
I noticed the same thing looking at the air photos. Looks like you can run a diesel train (or even a steam engine) right down to 30th St., avoiding the Center City Tunnel entirely. On the other hand, by the time this happens, Amtrak will probably have dual-mode ICT sets and they may also have some interest in directly serving Center City, assuming SEPTA is willing.
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,935
Location
Virginia
I noticed the same thing looking at the air photos. Looks like you can run a diesel train (or even a steam engine) right down to 30th St., avoiding the Center City Tunnel entirely. On the other hand, by the time this happens, Amtrak will probably have dual-mode ICT sets and they may also have some interest in directly serving Center City, assuming SEPTA is willing.
The dual-modes are an interesting point - and I'd also note that, in theory, transit agencies could probably piggyback on this order with similar locomotive orders but different car options in between (e.g. commuter bilevels).
 

railiner

Engineer
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
10,130
Location
X
So, funny thing...the Reading Railroad didn't join Amtrak. Now, it later got absorbed into Conrail, which probably muddles things a bit, but Reading itself didn't join.

This is not unlike why Amtrak never got down the FEC - I'd have been stunned if Amtrak wouldn't have opted to run trains down that line given the choice back in the 70s and 80s (directly picking up a string of towns along the coast plus the better station locations), but they didn't have the inherent right to do so since FEC had dropped its last pax train a few years before Amtrak was formed. The same thing crops up with ex-Rock Island routes - if the Rock Island had joined Amtrak, does anybody seriously think Amtrak wouldn't have tried to flip the California Zephyr over to serve Davenport and Des Moines instead of Burlington and Osceola?
Regarding The Rock...this might explain why...


The Rock Island was not in very good shape by 1971. The Burlington Northern was. And the "Way of the Zephyr's, was always the most popular route between Chicago and Denver. Dealing with one less railroad was also perhaps a reason. If Amtrak wanted to tap the most populous routes, they would have switched to the UP between Omaha and Denver via Grand Island and North Platte, which they didn't...
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,935
Location
Virginia
Regarding The Rock...this might explain why...


The Rock Island was not in very good shape by 1971. The Burlington Northern was. And the "Way of the Zephyr's, was always the most popular route between Chicago and Denver. Dealing with one less railroad was also perhaps a reason. If Amtrak wanted to tap the most populous routes, they would have switched to the UP between Omaha and Denver via Grand Island and North Platte, which they didn't...
In 1971, you're absolutely correct. 1971 isn't the question - 1991 is.

[There were odd-and-end plans to serve Des Moines around 2001 under Warrington, but Amtrak was having to negotiate their way in at that point IIRC.]
 

railiner

Engineer
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
10,130
Location
X
In 1971, you're absolutely correct. 1971 isn't the question - 1991 is.

[There were odd-and-end plans to serve Des Moines around 2001 under Warrington, but Amtrak was having to negotiate their way in at that point IIRC.]
Amtrak didn’t even deem it worth running a dedicated “Thruway” bus between Des Moines and the CZ. And using existing Jefferson Lines schedule's between the Amtrak station in Osceola and the bus depot was not always convenient…
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,935
Location
Virginia
Amtrak didn’t even deem it worth running a dedicated “Thruway” bus between Des Moines and the CZ. And using existing Jefferson Lines schedule's between the Amtrak station in Osceola and the bus depot was not always convenient…
Which I think was a mistake, though perhaps an understandable one given the other traffic on the train. Even a taxi contract would have been nice back when I was visiting relatives in Des Moines.
 
Top