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  #21  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2019, 2:09 AM
SFBruin SFBruin is offline
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Originally Posted by Skintreesnail View Post
In regards to Philly, the SEPTA regional Rail is already built out like an s-bahn system with all lines through-running, but they don't use it that way. It could be vastly improved by just increasing frequency. The station spacing is close on many of the lines, especially within the city limits. If they added a couple more stations on the main 4-track trunk in north philly and west philly, that would probably also improve ridership; it runs through some pretty densely populated neighborhoods that aren't served by subway. They could run express trains from the suburbs on the inner tracks that bypass the local inter-city stations.
I feel like Philadelphia needs a new tunnel through downtown. I am not an expert on Philadelphia, so I don't know where to put it, but the existing, geographically-to-scale map of the commuter rail looks a little convoluted.
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  #22  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2019, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
EMU commuter trains or EMU light rail trains?
In many cases light rail would be both better and cheaper to operate.
They are two different technologies that should be used for two different purposes. There's a reason cities like Frankfurt and Cologne in Germany have both stadtbahn (light rail) and s-bahn(commuter rail).

Commuter rail has higher top speeds and is designed for longer distances with fewer stops per mile. IIRC for RTD the airport line from downtown light rail alternative was about 20 minutes slower over the course of it's 23 mile 7 stop journey.

Light rail has quicker acceleration and is more flexible in where it can go. The flexibility makes it cheaper to implement in urban areas with limited ROW, and the acceleration makes it better on lines with more stops per mile.

In general light rail is better as an urban transit solution. If the lines go beyond the inner suburbs and the average space between stations becomes greater it might be better to use commuter rail as a suburban to urban transit solution.

Last edited by bobg; Oct 12, 2019 at 12:36 PM.
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  #23  
Old Posted Oct 12, 2019, 3:23 PM
Skintreesnail Skintreesnail is offline
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Originally Posted by SFBruin View Post
I feel like Philadelphia needs a new tunnel through downtown. I am not an expert on Philadelphia, so I don't know where to put it, but the existing, geographically-to-scale map of the commuter rail looks a little convoluted.
Yeah, the commuter rail gets meandering after getting out of the city limits, but it does go through some densly-populated areas of North Philly that aren't served by subway. Problem is there are only a couple of stations since it focuses on serving the suburbs. It's a 4-track Trunk though, and tunnels through center City to university city, which would make it convenient for some service that is more subway-like or at least greater frequency.

There are already 4 actively used tunnels through center City, but another tunnel would be nice in South Philly. I think that's a weak point for the system as it only has the broad Street line and it's very populated. Also the navy yard is becoming a big office center and isn't served by anything. There's a 3-track elevated track that runs down 25th to the navy yard, but csx owns it. Then there are plans to do light rail down along the Delaware river, but it feels like that project is not going anywhere.

The broad-ridge spur tunnel (diagonal orange line on Google maps) was supposed to go all the way to northwest Philly but the great depression hit sit it just connects to broad. There's an unused 6-track tunnel that goes from broad, past the art museum that would be nice to put to some use. Septa owns it but just sits on it. Then there's the patco tunnel (red line on Google maps) that just ends at Rittenhouse square. It was supposed to loop around the city, but again the depression. I think there are a couple blocks of tunnel under arch from the loop plan but unused. There were a couple other lines I think that never happened and plans for something to northeast Philly down Rosselvelt Blvd.
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  #24  
Old Posted Yesterday, 6:47 AM
SFBruin SFBruin is offline
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It is clear that you have thought about this more than I.

I was thinking that the commuter rail alignment between Sedgley Ave and Glenwood Ave was a weird alignment, and should be replaced by a new alignment closer to the Market-Frankford line for cross-city trips.

I, again, know next to nothing about Philadelphia, so please take my critique with a grain of salt.
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  #25  
Old Posted Yesterday, 3:37 PM
Skintreesnail Skintreesnail is offline
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Originally Posted by SFBruin View Post
It is clear that you have thought about this more than I.

I was thinking that the commuter rail alignment between Sedgley Ave and Glenwood Ave was a weird alignment, and should be replaced by a new alignment closer to the Market-Frankford line for cross-city trips.

I, again, know next to nothing about Philadelphia, so please take my critique with a grain of salt.
What you're saying makes sense, but that's the northeast corridor you're referring to. It cuts across the city to 30th Street station then continues south to DC. Only 2 septa lines actually use that alignment. Amtrak owns it and I think there is some push to limit SEPTA's access so they can run more trains as part of the NEC master plan. The Roosevelt Blvd project I mentioned would run parallel to the NEC through NE Philly and then connect with the broad Street subway. I think that would accomplish some of what you suggested. Also, I've heard of a plan of connecting one of the 2 septa lines that use that alignment (Chestnut Hill West) to run along the broad Street subway as well, but not sure if that is just a rumour. The broad Street subway is 4 tracks and gets less usage than the market/Frankford El which is 2 tracks.

There is a pretty massive plan to develop around 30th Street station, so the current alignment would make more sense since that would be the destination for a lot of commuters. The east side of the city, along the Delaware, is more of a tourist destination with all the historical stuff. From broad Street to the Schuylkill river is the office center of the city.

Last edited by Skintreesnail; Yesterday at 3:51 PM.
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  #26  
Old Posted Today, 2:22 AM
volguus zildrohar's Avatar
volguus zildrohar volguus zildrohar is offline
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Originally Posted by Skintreesnail View Post
What you're saying makes sense, but that's the northeast corridor you're referring to. It cuts across the city to 30th Street station then continues south to DC. Only 2 septa lines actually use that alignment. Amtrak owns it and I think there is some push to limit SEPTA's access so they can run more trains as part of the NEC master plan. The Roosevelt Blvd project I mentioned would run parallel to the NEC through NE Philly and then connect with the broad Street subway. I think that would accomplish some of what you suggested. Also, I've heard of a plan of connecting one of the 2 septa lines that use that alignment (Chestnut Hill West) to run along the broad Street subway as well, but not sure if that is just a rumour. The broad Street subway is 4 tracks and gets less usage than the market/Frankford El which is 2 tracks.

There is a pretty massive plan to develop around 30th Street station, so the current alignment would make more sense since that would be the destination for a lot of commuters. The east side of the city, along the Delaware, is more of a tourist destination with all the historical stuff. From broad Street to the Schuylkill river is the office center of the city.
Regional Rail is a woefully underutilized asset. SEPTA management and the unions are what keeps it from realizing its full potential.

There's never been an official proposal to take one of the Chestnut Hill lines and convert it into a subway line though I made a fantasy routing doing just that and posted it here a while ago. Such a plan would be sensible in some ways.
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  #27  
Old Posted Today, 1:28 PM
Skintreesnail Skintreesnail is offline
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^^ I bet I'm remembering one of your posts then regarding chestnut hill west/BSL. I think it definitely makes sense given the bandwidth that BSL has. Would need to convert the catenary to third rail though, which I have no idea what that would take.

The under-utilization of SEPTA regional rail really frustrates me though. They've done all the hard work to make it a true s-bahn (electrifying the whole system, building the connector tunnel for through-running service that all the branches feed into, a 4-track trunk to allow local and express station calling). It just seems like after all that they just shrugged and called it a day.

I'm sure unions and mgmt are a big issue, but I don't think the funding is where it should be either. Also, I wonder if they could automate a large portion of the system. There are some grade crossings that would need to be fixed, but I think a lot of it is grade-separated. To SEPTA's credit, they're at least getting all the rates under septa key and adding raised platforms to improve loading times.
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  #28  
Old Posted Today, 2:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by volguus zildrohar View Post
Regional Rail is a woefully underutilized asset. SEPTA management and the unions are what keeps it from realizing its full potential.
An interesting long video about the history of SEPTA agrees with you.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkWxbAoOK2o

Additionally, that video mostly about passenger trains near Philadelphia, reflects what was basically going on nationally as private enterprise was pulling out of transit and government stepped in. Many errors were made.
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  #29  
Old Posted Today, 4:13 PM
Skintreesnail Skintreesnail is offline
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^^^ interesting video, they really hit on the frustration of it all. Didn't know about the swampoodle connector; that would be one (fairly low-cost) solution to the chestnut hill west line sharing the NEC issue. also like the mention of our "temporarily suspended" trolleys 56 and 23. at least they brought 15 back.
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