RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
Todd's Railfan Guide to
SEPTA's SURFACE SUBWAY LINES
10, 11, 13, 34, 36
The Tunnel Portals
At the Depots
The CSX Grade Crossing
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The five (5) Surface Subway lines cover the west side of Philadelphia and the 30th Street Station, in what can be considered a more urban environment than the 100, 101, and 102 lines. The #10 line heads off in a slightly north-west direction, while the other lines head mainly south-west after coming out of the tunnel. The #10 line also has it's own exit a couple of stations earlier at 36th and Ludlow. The other 4 lines emerge two stations (36th and 37th Streets) later at the 40th St Portal, which is a most interesting "station" to photograph the trains.
The Kawasaki K-cars used on these lines were delivered in the 1981-1982 timeframe, and there are around 111 of them. They are considered LRV's, but remind you more of a trolley or even an updated PCC car when you ride them.
Underground, the cars share the same tunnel as the Market-Frankfort subway line, with the streetcars using the outside pair of the four tracks in the tunnel.
The #11 line has the unique distinction of having the only grade crossing in the United States between a streetcar line and a major rail line. It is in Darby along Main St at 6th St.
One other interesting note, is that on the Surface Subway lines and the #15 line, trolley poles are used in contrast to the 101 and 102 lines where pantographs are used.
When the tunnel is closed for maintenance (or any other reason), there is a connector track that runs up 40th Street that is not normally used except under these circumstances. During the summer of 2014, it was used extensively while SEPTA made repairs on the track in the underground portion, and did a signal upgrade.
Welcome to Philadelphia, enjoy your railfanning experience.
More info can be found at:
http://www.studio34yoga.com/trolley.php Nice history of the 34 line from a business located on the route
Being that the system coves a wide area geographically,
it's hard to say how to get here for the entire system...... Although for
ease, the Island Ave line is probably the easiest to reach, being right off
of I-95 exit 13. It's also good for a starting point if you want to
explore the whole system. The CSX grade crossing is also nearby if you
choose to start here. And alternatively, if you are visiting
Philadelphia by plane, you can make Island Ave your LAST stop before going
back to the airport because of its closeness to the airport, just a few
If you are driving to Philadelphia, and want to start in the downtown area, you can start by getting off I-76 at exit 345, and looking for a place to park. From there, you can either ride the trains or drive to another location for pictures. While you are downtown, you may also want to consider stopping at 30th Street station and ZOO interlocking.
A trio of PCC pictures from 1975 at the 40th Street Portal.
Ah, the good ole days :-) Photos courtesy Tim Vermande. Thanks Tim!
Running up Island Avenue - 2005
At 40th and Filbert over the summer of 2014 when SEPTA was working on the tunnel tracks
More at 40th and Filbert over the summer of 2014
Enroute pictures from inside the car - 2014
At Baltimore Ave and 42nd St - 2014
More at Baltimore Ave and 42nd St - 2014
Emergency track repair at Baltimore Ave and 42nd St while the trolleys are running - 2014
Pictures from the fan trip in 2005
At the Darby Loop - 2014
Along Island Avenue - 2014
Eastwick Loop, at the end of the #36 line on Island Avenue - 2014
Underground - 2014
The Tunnel Portals
The Subway Surface Lines have two portals to gain entrance to the underground portion of the lines. One is at 40th Street and Baltimore/Woodland and has a really nice loop and station, and the other is at 36th and Ludlow Streets.
At the 40th Street Portal
Coming out of the tunnel - 2005
Backside of the tunnel portal, and a couple shots of one of the station platforms - 2014
The 40th Street Portal, where lines 11, 13, 34, and 36 come out into the open. Notice the interesting track layout.
Earlier shot from Google - 2012
At the 36th Street Portal
This is the portal for the #10 line, at South 36th Street and Ludlow.
Above - earlier shot from Google Streetview - 2012
At the Depots
Inside the shops and over the
pit - 2005
the CSX Crossing
Approximate address: 604 Main St, Darby, PA
This unique grade crossing is the only one of its kind in the whole United States. It is located in Darby PA, at Main Street and 6th Ave. Back in 2006 or 2007, a bunch of us went on a fan trip, and PCC car #2333 was our fan trip car. We were able to get out for a few minutes to take pictures of the trolleys at the crossing. Next time, we have to go up and wait for a train to come :-)
A unique (for Philadelphia) pedestrian crossing gate - 2005
Upside, out in the open, the system uses precious few signals. SEPTA relies on the abilities of the operator to space the cars and not run into each other for the most part. However, once in the tunnels where visibility is restricted, they do use 3 color color-light signals.
Route indicator - 2005
A PHL employee bus running up Island Avenue - 2005
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while trying to help others. My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place. There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages. Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like. I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion). If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them. For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names. Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations. I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area. Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them. Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature. While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a
thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only
get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented. Take
along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still
better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts
out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their
state maps do not have the railroads on them. If you can find em,
I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and
concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where
tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.
Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.
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Last Updated: 06-Apr-2015