A westbound Paoli/Thorndale Line train departing from the Bryn Mawr station.
|System||SEPTA Regional Rail|
|Termini|| Temple University |
Malvern (temporary suspension)
|Daily ridership||20,962 (FY 2018)|
|Operator(s)||SEPTA Regional Rail|
|Rolling stock||Electric Multiple Units, push-pull trains|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Paoli/Thorndale Line, commonly known as the Main Line, is a SEPTA Regional Rail service running from Center City Philadelphia to Thorndale in Chester County. It operates on Amtrak's Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line, which in turn was once the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad and is now part of the Keystone Corridor, a federally-designated high-speed rail corridor.
This branch makes local stops between Thorndale and Center City, Philadelphia along Amtrak's Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line, an electrified 104-mile two to four-track high-speed route between Harrisburg Transportation Center in Harrisburg and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. The line was originally part of Pennsylvania's "Main Line of Public Works", a series of canals and railroads to connect Philadelphia with Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and points west built between 1826 and 1834 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The tracks subsequently became part of the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad before eventually becoming Amtrak's Keystone Corridor. The "Main Line" also refers to the affluent Philadelphia suburbs along the line of the same name.
Prior to the late-1980s, all commuter rail operations went from Suburban Station to Paoli, the westernmost census designated place along the Main Line. Because of this earlier operation, local residents called the R5 "the Paoli Local". Currently, all Paoli turn-around trains, which operate alternately on Saturdays and exclusively on Sundays, now use the nearby Malvern train station as its last stop (the Paoli train yard was closed down in the mid-1990s and is in the process of being converted into extra parking, and eventually, a new Paoli train station), and uses the Frazer train yard as a turn-around location. Prior to November 10, 1996 the service went as far west as Parkesburg,but service was truncated to Downingtown because Amtrak lacked facilities to turn SEPTA trains around, and trains were forced to deadhead out to Lancaster. Service was extended from Downingtown to a new station in Thorndale on November 22, 1999.
A recent proposal to extend the Paoli/Thorndale Line service further west from its terminus at Thorndale to Lancaster has been discussed by regional planning organizations, government officials, and members supporting the Capital Red Rose Corridor, which will provide commuter rail along the Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line between Lancaster and Harrisburg.Proponents of the Paoli/Thorndale Line extension to Lancaster, support that by allowing SEPTA and Capital Area Transit to operate commuter rail serving smaller stations along the Keystone Corridor, it will allow for fewer stops and increased speeds for Amtrak's Keystone and Pennsylvanian trains between Philadelphia's 30th Street Station and the Harrisburg Transportation Center in downtown Harrisburg. It is also suggested by community leaders and transportation officials that the addition of commuter rail serving portions of Lancaster and Dauphin counties will help to alleviate future traffic congestion stemming from increased development along the same corridor. The entire main line between Thorndale, Lancaster and Harrisburg is currently electrified.
SEPTA announced on March 7, 2019 that service would be extended back to Coatesville "in the near future." A new Coatesville station is planned to be constructed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) at 3rd Avenue and Fleetwood Street near the existing Amtrak station. The station is currently in the design phase and once construction begins, it will take three years to complete and bring SEPTA service to Coatesville.In announcing the return of service to Coatesville, Chester County commissioner Terrence Farrell announced $1 million in funding to kick-start a parking garage to coincide with SEPTA's return to the station via the Paoli/Thorndale Line.
The Paoli/Thorndale Line is the busiest regional rail line in the SEPTA system, carrying approximately 30,000 daily riders each way on weekdays.It is also among the longest in the system, stretching out into the far western suburbs of Philadelphia, and as such has express service to some of the outer stations. In general, trains operate one of the following three itineraries:
There is also a round trip Great Valley Flyer service which operates nonstop between 30th Street and Paoli, skipping all intermediate stops including Bryn Mawr, before continuing to Thorndale.
Since April 9, 2020, the line has been truncated to Malvern indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Electrified service between Philadelphia and Paoli was opened on September 11, 1915. As the first of the local commuter and long-distance line to be electrified, the line was used as an "experiment" for powering trains using AC overhead catenary wires. The previous commuter line to be electrified was the Long Island Rail Road in New York City, but this line used the DC third rail similar in nature to the New York City Subway system and most other heavy-rail interurbans. Between 1915 and the 1960s, the former Pennsylvania Railroad used the MP-54 electric multiple-unit (EMU) railcars, which were brick red ("Tuscan Red") in color (green in the Penn Central era) and had characteristic "owl eye" round windows at car ends.
The MP-54s were replaced in the 1960s and 1970s with the Silverliner EMU cars, which are still in use today. More recently, SEPTA acquired push-pull coaches from the Bombardier corporation, which were hauled by AEM-7 electric locomotives similar to those used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. The AEM-7 locomotives were replaced with ACS-64 electric locomotives in 2018.
Between 1984 and 2010 the route was designated R5 Paoli and R5 Thorndale as part of SEPTA's diametrical reorganization of its lines. Paoli trains operated through the city center to the Lansdale/Doylestown Line on the ex-Reading side of the system. As of 2019 [update] , most Paoli/Thorndale Line trains continue through Center City to points along the Lansdale/Doylestown Line on weekdays and points on the West Trenton Line on weekends.The R-number naming system was dropped on July 25, 2010.
As a part of the Keystone Corridor upgrade projects conducted by Amtrak and PennDOT, the line was upgraded in 2007 with new concrete ties, continuous welded rails, and overhead lines and substations. This upgrade allows SEPTA and Amtrak to operate multiple trains at the same time in the same manner as that found on the Northeast Corridor.
SEPTA activated positive train control on the Paoli/Thorndale Line on May 1, 2017.
The Paoli/Thorndale Line includes the following stations west of the Center City Commuter Connection; stations indicated with a gray background are closed.
|Zone||Location||Station|| Miles (km) |
from Center City
|Date opened||Connections / notes|
|C||Parkside, Philadelphia||52nd Street||4.0 (6.4)||Closed August 23, 1980|
|2||Overbrook, Philadelphia|| Overbrook ||5.4 (8.7)||SEPTA City Bus: 65 , G|
|Narberth||Narberth||6.8 (10.9)||SEPTA City Bus: 44|
|Wynnewood||Wynnewood||7.4 (11.9)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 105|
|Ardmore||Ardmore||8.5 (13.7)|| Amtrak: Keystone Service |
SEPTA City Bus: 44
SEPTA Suburban Bus: 103 , 105 , 106
|Haverford||Haverford||9.1 (14.6)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 105 , 106|
|3||Bryn Mawr||Bryn Mawr||10.1 (16.3)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 105 , 106|
|Rosemont||Rosemont||10.9 (17.5)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 105 , 106|
|Villanova||Villanova||12.0 (19.3)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 106|
|Radnor|| Radnor ||13.0 (20.9)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 106|
|Wayne||St. Davids||13.7 (22.0)|
| Wayne ||14.5 (23.3)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 106|
| Strafford ||15.4 (24.8)|
|Devon||Devon||16.4 (26.4)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 106|
|Berwyn|| Berwyn ||17.5 (28.2)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 106|
|Daylesford||18.6 (29.9)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 106|
|4||Paoli|| Paoli ||19.9 (32.0)||Amtrak: Keystone Service, Pennsylvanian |
SEPTA Suburban Bus: 92 , 106 , 204 , 205 , 206
|Malvern||Malvern||21.8 (35.1)||SEPTA Suburban Bus: 92|
|Exton|| Exton ||27.7 (44.6)||Amtrak: Keystone Service, Pennsylvanian|
SEPTA Suburban Bus: 92
Krapf Transit: "A"
|Downingtown||Downingtown||32.8 (52.8)||Amtrak: Keystone Service|
Krapf Transit: "A"
TMACC: Evening Link
|Thorndale|| Thorndale ||35.2 (56.6)||November 22, 1999||Krapf Transit: "A"|
TMACC: Evening Link
|Coatesville||Coatesville||SEPTA service ended November 10, 1996, still served by Amtrak's Keystone Service|
|Parkesburg||Parkesburg||SEPTA service ended November 10, 1996, , still served by Amtrak's Keystone Service|
The Paoli/Thorndale Line has the highest total ridership on the system. Between FY 2008–FY 2018 yearly ridership ranged from 6–6.5 million, save a drop to 5.5 million in FY 2017. In FY 2018 its 5,969,965 passengers exceeded the next highest, the Lansdale/Doylestown Line, by nearly 1.5 million.
Amtrak's 195-mile (314 km) Keystone Service provides frequent regional passenger train service between the Harrisburg Transportation Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, running along the Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line. Most trains continue along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) to Pennsylvania Station in New York.
The Keystone Corridor is a 349-mile (562 km) railroad corridor between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that consists of two rail lines: Amtrak's Philadelphia-to-Harrisburg main line, which also hosts SEPTA's Paoli/Thorndale Line commuter rail service; and the Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Line. The corridor was originally the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Overbrook station is a SEPTA Regional Rail station on the Paoli/Thorndale Line, located near 63rd Street and City Line Avenue in the Overbrook neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It serves many of the residents of Overbrook Farms and the suburban neighborhoods across City Avenue in neighboring Montgomery County, as well as Saint Joseph's University and Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia.
Merion station is a SEPTA Regional Rail station on the Paoli/Thorndale Line, located in Merion, Pennsylvania just outside of Philadelphia. The station building, constructed in 1914 by the Pennsylvania Railroad, is a designated historic building. SEPTA completed renovations of the station building's slate tile roof and the westbound canopy in late 2007.
Ardmore station is a train station in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, located on the Pennsylvania Main Line. The station serves several Amtrak Keystone Service trains daily, as well as most SEPTA Thorndale Line regional rail trains. The station is 8.5 miles (13.7 km) miles from Suburban Station in Center City Philadelphia, and travel time to Suburban Station is 13 minutes on SEPTA express trains.
Haverford station is a SEPTA Regional Rail station in Haverford, Pennsylvania. It is served by most Paoli/Thorndale Line trains with the exception of a few express runs, and is located on Haverford Station Road.
Strafford station is a commuter rail station located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia at Old Eagle School Road and Crestline Road, in Tredyffrin Township, and it is served by most Paoli/Thorndale Line trains.
Devon station is a commuter rail station located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia at 98 North Devon Boulevard and Lancaster Avenue in Devon, Pennsylvania, United States. It is served by most Paoli/Thorndale Line trains.
Berwyn station is a commuter rail station in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, served by SEPTA Regional Rail. Located at Cassatt Avenue and Lancaster Pike, it provides service to the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Most Paoli/Thorndale Line trains run through the station.
Daylesford station is a commuter rail station located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia at Glenn Avenue and Lancaster Avenue in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. It is served by most Paoli/Thorndale Line trains.
Paoli station is a passenger rail station located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia at 13 Lancaster Avenue, Paoli, Pennsylvania. It is served by Amtrak's Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian trains, and most SEPTA Paoli/Thorndale Line trains. The station has Amtrak and SEPTA ticket offices, a waiting room, vending machines, restrooms, and a coffee shop. The one-story tan brick building was constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1953 at a cost of $140,000; it replaced an earlier Victorian depot built in 1893.
Malvern station is a SEPTA Regional Rail and a former Amtrak station in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Located at West King Road and North Warren Avenue, it serves most Paoli/Thorndale Line trains. Until 1998, some Keystone Service trains stopped here as well.
Exton station is a train station in Exton, West Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania, in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. It is served by most Amtrak Keystone Service trains and one daily eastbound Pennsylvanian trip, as well as SEPTA's Paoli/Thorndale Line. The station is located close to the former Whiteland station served by the former Pennsylvania Railroad.
Whitford station is a commuter rail and former intercity passenger rail station located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia at South Whitford Road and Spackman Lane, Exton, Pennsylvania. It is served by most SEPTA Paoli/Thorndale Line trains and until 1998 some of Amtrak'sKeystone Service trains.
Downingtown station is a commuter and intercity passenger rail station located in the western suburbs of Philadelphia at West Lancaster Avenue & Stuart Avenue in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. It is served by most Amtrak Keystone Service and SEPTA Paoli/Thorndale Line trains, and until November 7, 2011, the eastbound Amtrak Pennsylvanian on Sundays only.
Thorndale station is a SEPTA Regional Rail station in Thorndale, Pennsylvania. Located on South Bailey Road and East Lincoln Highway, it serves the Paoli/Thorndale Line. While Thorndale station is the terminus of SEPTA's Paoli/Thorndale Line service, the tracks continue, to points west, including Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and beyond.
Coatesville is an Amtrak rail station located in the far western suburbs of Philadelphia at Third Avenue and Fleetwood Street in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. It is served by most Amtrak Keystone Service trains. An old railroad station building exists at the stop, but is not currently used. There is no ticket office at this station. Coatesville is one of the least-used stations on the Keystone Corridor east of Harrisburg. This may be due to a lack of parking as well as its proximity to Thorndale Station on the SEPTA Paoli/Thorndale Line. SEPTA once served this station from 1990 to 1996 when the agency was forced to close a $75 million gap and has since truncated its service.
The Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line is a rail line owned and operated by Amtrak in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. This is the only electrified Amtrak service in the United States outside of the main line of the Northeast Corridor. The line runs from Philadelphia, where it meets the Northeast Corridor at Zoo interlocking, west to Harrisburg, where electrification ends. It is part of the longer Keystone Corridor, which continues west to Pittsburgh along the Norfolk Southern Railway's Pittsburgh Line. This section is sometimes referred to as "Keystone East" and is part of Amtrak's Keystone Service.
The Media/Elwyn Line is a SEPTA Regional Rail line that runs from Center City Philadelphia west to Elwyn in Delaware County.
The Lansdale/Doylestown Line is a SEPTA Regional Rail line connecting Center City Philadelphia to Doylestown in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Until 1981, diesel-powered trains continued on the Bethlehem Branch from Lansdale to Quakertown, Bethlehem, and Allentown. Restored service has been proposed, but is not planned by SEPTA. The line is currently used by the East Penn Railroad, serving Quakertown's industrial complexes and distribution centers.