RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.

 

Todd's Railfan Guide to
PHILADELPHIA PA
SEPTA's SURFACE SUBWAY LINES
10, 11, 13, 34, 36



In General
Getting Here
Map
Pictures
The Tunnel Portals
At the Depots
The CSX Grade Crossing
Signals
Floobydust

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In General

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEPTA_Subway%E2%80%93Surface_Trolley_Lines
http://www.septa.org/maps/trolley/city.html

http://www.studio34yoga.com/trolley.php Nice history of the 34 line from a business located on the route
http://www.phillytrolley.org/routes.html
http://www.railwaypreservation.com/vintagetrolley/philadelphia.htm
http://www.snipview.com/q/SEPTA%20Subway%E2%80%93Surface%20Trolley%20Line%20stations
http://www.thebergennetwork.com/na/pa/septa/subsur.php



Getting Here

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 minutes!

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.


Map

 


Pictures


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

            2005

          2005

           Coming out of the tunnel - 2005

          2005

       Backside of the tunnel portal, and a couple shots of one of the station platforms - 2014

  40th St
The 40th Street Portal, where lines 11, 13, 34, and 36 come out into the open.  Notice the interesting track layout.

  40th St

  Earlier shot from Google - 2012


At the 36th Street Portal

 
              2013

              2013

  36th St

This is the portal for the #10 line, at South 36th Street and Ludlow.

 36th St


Above - earlier shot from Google Streetview - 2012


At the Depots


Elmwood Depot

GPS Coordinates: 39.914634, -75.242926
ZIP: 19142
Approximate address: 2420 South 73rd Street

The Elmwood Depot is one of three for the Surface Subway lines and the Route 15 PCC car line:  Elmwood, Callowhill, and Woodland. 

SEPTA is fairly easy to get along with when fan trips are run.  As long as we weren't in front of an operating car, they are relaxed about what you do on the streets, like making a quick stop for pictures.  They also don't seem to have any problem with giving us free reign around the yard, as long as we weren't climbing all over everything :-).  The work car and 2728 went to the BSM in Baltimore in 2006, but a few years later, they sold "my" car (2728) to Lancaster for a proposed heritage line (which so far has not happened (as of 2015)).

                    2005

                   2005

           Inside the shops and over the pit - 2005






Callowhill Depot

GPS Coordinates: 39.966986, -75.236698
ZIP: 19139
Approximate address: 5 North 59th St, Philadelphia PA




Woodland Depot

GPS Coordinates: 39.941071, -75.213921
ZIP: 19143
Approximate address: 1300-1348 South 49th St, Philadelphia PA





the CSX Crossing


GPS Coordinates:
39.917771, -75.255659
ZIP: 19023
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 :-)

        2005

    A unique (for Philadelphia) pedestrian crossing gate - 2005

      2013





 


Signals


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.


       


Floobydust


  Route indicator - 2005

   A PHL employee bus running up Island Avenue - 2005


 Disclaimers:

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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NEW 02/27/2011
Last Updated: 06-Apr-2015