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Philly NRHS - Railfan Pictures of the Week


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The Philadelphia Chapter of the

National Railway Historical Society

Established in 1936


Railfan Pictures of the Week - 06/19/2005

SEPTA Norristown Line Conshohocken PA May 1993

SEPTA is doing work on the Norristown Line now, much as they were 12 years ago. Probably related to the ongoing work, SEPTA has purchased six second hand CRDX (Chicago Freight Car Leasing Co. ) ballast cars that were delivered by CSX this week to Lansdale PA and will be picked up by SEPTA on Monday (pictures to follow shortly).

Here in May of 1993, a SEPTA ballast train works between Conshohocken and Spring Mill stations. The train is on the former Reading Railroad tracks, but the track to the left is a siding used to serve a customer at Spring Mill and one of the few sections of the former Pennsylvania Railroad's Schuylkill Branch electrified trackage that remains on the east side of the Schuylkill River. Between these two stations the Reading and the Pennsylvania ran electric trains side by side until October 1960 when the Pennsylvania abandoned passenger service on the Schuylkill Branch north of Manayunk PA (SEPTA currently operates the line only up to Cynwyd).

Three of the cars, SPAX 3104, 3103 and 3102, appear to be built in the style of converted coal hoppers. Notice that each of the hoppers has a slightly different placement or format for the reporting marks. In the second picture you can see that these cars feature manual operation.
The other two cars, SPAX 001N and 002N, look like many of covered hoppers that railroads converted for this purpose. SEPTA ordered them with the window option in case they were pressed into passenger service. Seriously, the commodities that converted ballast cars were originally designed to haul, like coal, coke or powders, are usually less dense than stone. To insure that the cars would not be overloaded, these cars were modified to hold only a specific volume of ballast with the excess spilling out the sides as a safeguard. Some local talent from the area helped customize the paint scheme.


All pictures May 1993 Copyright © 2005 John P. Almeida

Photographs for personal use only. All rights reserved by original owner of image. Reproduction or redistribution in any form without express written permission is prohibited.

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Website created June 12, 2002

Last Updated June 19, 2005