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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 - 04/16/2006

SEPTA West Chester and Cynwyd Lines March and April 2006
SEPTA has discovered an interesting fact about its catenary: if you stop running juice through it, someone will steal it. The price of copper is at record highs and thieves will get it anywhere they can, and they have found a "gold mine" on the West Chester Branch. Since SEPTA does not operate passenger service west of Elwyn and the West Chester Railroad only runs between Glen Mills and West Chester, the trackage in between is rarely used and susceptible to pilferage. SEPTA sent the wire train out to work between Lenni and Glen Mills in late March in an effort to take down what had not already been stolen. RL1A 60 was the power this day.
Removing wire at Darlington Station.
Landing pad for ancient alien spaceships? No, just the old Wawa turntable pit just off Route 1, which can barely be seen through the trees in the background.

This week the wire train visited the Cynwyd (pronounced KIN-wood) line to remove the wire that remained west of the end of the current service area. This is what remains of the electrified portion of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Schuylkill Division. The line once crossed the Schuylkill River at Ivy Ridge, from where it basically paralleled the Reading Railroad's Norristown Branch up to Norristown. The PRR discontinued service past Manayunk (pronounced MAN-nee-unk) in 1960 and SEPTA to Ivy Ridge in 1986, and it now has only three stops: Wynnefield Avenue, Bala and Cynwyd. While the wires are coming down on Track 1, the rails are coming up on Track 2, reportedly to make way for a trail, possibly to connect to Manayunk over the bridge that still spans the river there. Another interesting thing that SEPTA learned about its bridges: Sometimes it is cheaper to repair a crumbling bridge than tear it down, even if you aren't even using it. After service over the bridge was suspended, SEPTA considered demolishing the bridge which was dropping large chunks of concrete onto Manayunk and the Schuylkill Expressway below. But it found that the cost of repairs was a fraction of the cost of removal, so it remains, and could one day fine itself part of the Schuylkill Valley Metro, but that is another story.

This day the power was provided by RL1A 61. Regarding the rails on Track 2, the three photo sequence could be titled "Going, going, gone".


All pictures March and April 2006 Copyright © 2006 Harold Castleman

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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Last Updated April 16, 2006

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