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Friday, August 14, 2015

15-08-14 GUEST PHOTOS: West Chester Branch

Electrified by the PRR in 1930, the West Chester Branch was a part of the Philadelphia Commuter Rail network up until the 1980's when service past Elwyn was "temporarily" suspended by SEPTA due to low ridership and budget cuts. This fiction was made a little less fictional about a decade later when SEPTA pulled the wire down to prevent theft (and also to claim the scrap value for itself). While there is some truth in the fact that the line was in driving distance to better served R5 stations, it is hard to fathom a transit agency shuttering a good portion of an electrified rail line just because.

Today the outer portion of the WCB is operated by the West Chester Railroad tourist operation, and while there continue to be rumors of service being restored, the decade plus wait for a new station at Wawa indicates that full restoration might easily exceed our lifetimes.

Last August a friend of mine took a little trip along the WCB, documenting the disused stations and the general character of the route. I have since processed the photos and made them available on my web hosting for you all to enjoy.

We begin at Media with the SEPTA Silverliner V action as #722 pulls into the inbound platform.

This is followed by an outbound train of SL-IV's, #360 in the lead.

The same trainset returning to Center City as it crosses the Ridley Creek viaduct west of Media. This is the third vintage PRR viaduct on the branch.

The Elwyn station was chosen as the "temporary" terminal as it marks the end of double track operation. 

Previously featuring a spring switch, ELYWN interlocking has recently been upgraded. 

One might expect the old Williamson Station to factor into the Wawa expansion plans, but probably not.

The branch is still wired and signaled out past CP-SOUTH ELYWN. Equipment is stored in the Media yard and makes the short deadhead trip to Elwyn.

The Glen Riddle station as seen from above.

The Leni Substation supplies 12kv power to the outer end of the line and marks the end of both the overhead catenary and two 138kv transmission circuits. One travels the length of the WCB from Arsenal substation while the other heads cross country roughly parallel to the old PRR Chester Valley Branch to the Lamokin rotary converter plant on the NEC. With the Morton substation under renovation, the Leni substation is probably the last on the PRR network to retain all of its original equipment. 


Back in August I was in DC for three days for a work related conference. Never one to let a railfan opportunity to pass me by, I utilized the lunch breaks to walk over to Washington's Union Station to take some photos from the parking garage. With enough zoom, the garage provides a great vantage point of Amtrak, MARC and DC Metro operations at the station. Bright green overhead catenary and the historic K Tower complete the look. You can find all the photos here.

We start off passing the Ivy City VRE yard with MP36PH-3C #V54.

Rolling in towards the station on a parallel track through C interlocking is MARC MP36PH-3C #14

Under the parking garage where MARC MP36PH-3C #16 sits on one of the low number high level platforms.

MARC Bi-level K-car #7852 sits next to Amtrak ACS-86 #641.

Up on the roof we find more MARC action with MARC MP36PH-3C #10 and Bi-level K-car #7855.

View of K-tower showing an inbound MARC movement into the MARC storage yard, a pair of Amtrak switchers and a MARC HHP-8.

The switchers are SW1000R #793 and 2GS12B #599.

Amtrak ACS-86 #612 shoving back to Ivy City after depositing its passengers on a low level platform.

DC Metro Red Line train with #5090 passing by the non-electrified MARC storage yard with bi-level K-Cab Car #7847.

Inbound Brunswick line MARC trainset with new NJT style bi-levels passing by the storage yard and into one of the low numbered station tracks. Engine is MARC MP36PH-3C #29.

The new DC Streetcar was also in test mode with #202 caught laying over at the western terminal serving Union Station.