RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.

 

Todd's Railfan Guide to
PHILADELPHIA PA
the Homepage
 

Introduction
Radio Frequencies
Security

 

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Introduction


This guide, as all of mine are, is map oriented.  Maps give you an idea where things are in relationship to each other.  They also allow you to plan where you want to go to in order maximize your time in case your time is limited.  My maps are highlighted with almost everything known to be of interest to the railfan, the transit fan, and signal fans, and then some....  making note of other things of interest, maybe not to everyone, but anyways....  You'll find other links in the link section.  If you prefer text versions of guides, they exist too, but they aren't much help if you get lost.


This set of Railfan Guides and maps covers the Philadelphia PA area.  The information covered in these guides includes stuff for Amtrak, SEPTA, CSX, Norfolk Southern, NJT, and PATCO.

Philadelphia is such an interesting and diverse town.  Philadelphia is rich in history during the years of forging our great nation.  You will find plenty to do if you get tired of chasing trains, plus, food around here is great!  (try a REAL Philly Cheesesteak while here!)

Freight action around town is now a combination of CSX and Norfolk Southern, which as you may or may not know, used to be The Pennsylvania Railroad and the Reading, then Penn Central and the Reading (1968), then Conrail (1976), and finally with the breakup of Conrail in 1999, CSX and NS.

CSX, which took over the B&O, used to end here in town.  Since the breakup of Conrail, their empire stretches way north, well into New England.  Current action is fairly well divided between CSX and Norfolk Southern, with CSX undoubtedly having the coolest shots available with the high line coming through town on an elevated structure, past the 30th Street Station!

If you're into transit and passenger stuff, Philadelphia is in a class shared by only Boston and San Francisco (and maybe Chicago) for variety and quantity.  You have:
   Amtrak
   SEPTA commuter trains
   New Jersey Transit commuter trains
   PATCO (a "subway" line that heads SE into New Jersey
   SEPTA streetcars, subways, trolley buses, and of course, regular busses.
SEPTA is one of the more diverse transit systems in the United States, their index page is here.
PATCO, although primarily a New Jersey transit system, has it's start in Philadelphia.  It's homepage is here.

Also, because of it's location on the Schuylkill River, Philadelphia offers the railfan numerous bridge locations. 

If you are into yards or historic depots, well, Philadelphia can accommodate you there too.

As far as signals go, you have a wide selection of Pennsy position light (PL's) signals, B&O color position light (CPL's) signals , Amtrak's modified version of position light signals - the PCL (position color light) signals, and color light signals.... Enjoy the CPL's and PL's while you can though, because both CSX and NS have been aggressive in replacing them.

In addition to all of the railfanning Philadelphia offers, Philadelphia is also home to much of our nations history surrounding the founding of our country, more on the info page.

In time, I expect this guide to be larger than the one I have done for Baltimore, for there is certainly more stuff to see and do here.  I have already done a number of maps for the SEPTA system, as well as things like ZOO interlocking, the 69th Street Transportation Center, and of course, 30th Street Station.  Check the map page!


Other guides and area photo sites:

http://www.visitphilly.com/philadelphia-neighborhoods/#sm.000adgc431blzdybxg52h9xozgrqb
A guide to some of Philadelphia's neighborhoods......

As always, if anyone has pictures they want to contribute, info, their favorite railfan spot, my contact is is here


Radio Freqs For Philadelphia

CSX
AAR 08 - 160.230 - Road (Philadelphia Subdivision)
AAR 20 - 160.410 - Eastside engine house
AAR 28 - 160.530 - Yard (Eastside and South Philadelphia)
AAR 42 - 160.740 - NI Dispatcher Selkirk (Trenton Subdivision)
AAR 58 - 160.980 - Road (Trenton Subdivision)
AAR 66 - 161.100 - BE Dispatcher Baltimore (Philadelphia Subdivision)

NS
AAR 46 - 160.800 - Mainline Dispatcher (Harrisburg Line)(This is an old PRR main line channel)
AAR 72 - 161.190 - NS (ex N&W) Channel 1 - Road

Conrail
AAR 50 - 160.860 - Pavonia Yard (Camden)
AAR 62 - 161.040 - Paulsboro Yard
AAR 64 - 161.070 - South Jersey Dispatcher

Freqs courtesy Nick Anshant

Radio Freqs For Outside The Philadelphia Area

161.475 - CP/D&H Road
160.425 - CP/D&H Dispatcher
160.530 - CP/ Conklin yard

161.460 - DL /Steamtown Road
160.425 - DL/ Office & ch. 2
160.320 - DL/Repeater

161.295 - NYS&W/road 1
160.620 - NYS&W/ ch 2 & repeater
 
160.800 - R&N/Lehigh Division
160.310 - R&N/ Pittston yard, Carbon & Schuylkill
160.770 - R&N/ Port Clinton dispatcher and ex RDG. & LV. coal branches

161.070 - Luzerne Susquehanna

164.175 - Steamtown Museum

160.800 - NS/ road Reading, Harrisburg
161.070 - NS/road Allentown, Jim Thorpe
160.860 - NS/road Buffalo line
160.980 - NS/road Harrisburg, Reading

160.445 - North Shore ch1
160.725 - North Shore Ch2
160.635 - Amtrak, Philadelphia, Harrisburg

160.235 - Strasburg RR.

161.115 - NS EOT's
475.9375 - CSX EOT's

These frequencies were submitted by Ed Kaspriske to one list I happened to come across.


Railpace Magazine Articles That Feature The Philadelphia Area

Oct 1983 -- The Philly Connection
Jul 1986 -- B&O's Philadelphia Subdivision part 1
Aug 1986 -- B&O's Philadelphia Subdivision part 2
Sep 1988 -- B&O's Philadelphia Subdivision update
Dec 1993 -- SEPTA's Trolleyfest
May 1994 -- Railfans Guide to Philadelphia
Nov 1998 -- Wilmington Amtrak shops
Dec 2002 -- Amtrak north Philly variety
Sep 2005 -- the High Line

Articles covering "stuff" in nearby towns.......
Mar 2001 -- Yorkrail roster
Oct 2004 -- Northern Central history unearthed


Security

A word of caution in this post 9/11 era.......

Most railroads, because of the Homeland Security crap and the FBI, are weary of anyone that asks questions about their operations or trains locations.  Unless you know someone that works for a particular railroad, do not expect much cooperation in most instances.

As for railroads around Philadelphia, the NS cops are probably the worst (although I have noticed a recent trend towards them being friendlier).  In places like Baltimore and Allentown, they have been known to ticket railfans for stepping on the property at a grade crossing! (CP Rail's cops are pretty nasty too).

I have only had one experience with the SEPTA cops for taking pictures - at 69th Street, but they just shot the breeze and took down my name and stuff -- it was a good encounter.   The SEPTA photo policy is on the SEPTA homepage, but it is fairly liberal.

So just be careful, and use common sense. Make a best effort by staying on public property. At least ask someone in an official capacity before deciding to go on railroad property. We want everyone to have a good time, cause I'm not available to get you out of jail!


NEW 11/01/2009
Last Modified 18-Aug-2016