West Chester Branch

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The West Chester Branch was a local passenger and freight railroad line owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and later Penn Central. The line connected with the Philadelphia-Washington Main Line (Northeast Corridor) at Arsenal Junction near the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia-Chicago Main Line near Frazer, Pennsylvania. A portion of this line is now called the Media/Elwyn Line and is owned by SEPTA.

Pennsylvania Railroad Former American Class I railroad

The Pennsylvania Railroad was an American Class I railroad that was established in 1846 and was headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was so named because it was established in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Northeast Corridor electrified railway line

The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is an electrified railroad line in the Northeast megalopolis of the United States. Owned primarily by Amtrak, it runs from Boston through Providence, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia through Wilmington, and Baltimore to Washington, D.C. The NEC closely parallels Interstate 95 for most of its length, and is the busiest passenger rail line in the United States by ridership and service frequency as of 2013. The NEC carries more than 2,200 trains daily. Branches to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Springfield, Massachusetts, and various points in Virginia are not considered part of the Northeast Corridor, despite frequent service from routes that run largely on the corridor.

University of Pennsylvania Private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence and the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.



Penn Central Silverliner at West Chester in 1970 Penn Central (PRR) Silverliner II 259 at West Chester, August 15, 1970.jpg
Penn Central Silverliner at West Chester in 1970

The branch was composed of rail lines built by two companies in the 19th century.

One portion, a 9-mile (14 km) line from West Chester to Malvern, was built after 1831 by the West Chester Railroad. [1] The PRR leased the line in 1859, [2] and moved the Malvern end to a junction at Frazer in 1880. The PRR acquired the West Chester Railroad in 1903.

West Chester, Pennsylvania Borough in Pennsylvania, United States

West Chester is a borough and the county seat of Chester County, Pennsylvania, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The population was 18,461 at the 2010 census.

Malvern, Pennsylvania Borough in Pennsylvania, United States of America

Malvern is a borough in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is twenty-five miles (40 km) west of Philadelphia. The population was 2,998 at the 2010 census. The town is bordered by Paoli Pike on the south, Sugartown Road on the west, the Willistown Township on the east, and the East Whiteland Township on the north. It is south of US 30 and easily accessible to Route 202. The main road through the Borough is King Street, intersected by Warren Avenue. The Malvern ZIP code covers the Malvern Borough, and all or parts of East Whiteland, Charlestown, Willistown, East Goshen, East Pikeland, and Tredyffrin Townships. Malvern Borough is between Paoli on the east, and Immaculata University and Exton on the west. It is also a train stop on the SEPTA Paoli/Thorndale Line. Also, Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Phil Gosselin was schooled in Malvern. Lastly, all of Great Valley School District’s 6 schools are located in Malvern.

Junction (rail)

A junction, in the context of rail transport, is a place at which two or more rail routes converge or diverge. This implies a physical connection between the tracks of the two routes, provided by points and signalling. Junctions are important for rail systems, their installation into a rail system can expand route capacity, and have a powerful impact upon on-time performance.

The other portion, a 26-mile (42 km) line from Philadelphia to West Chester, was built by the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad (WC&P) between 1852 and 1858. [2] :513 In 1880, the WC&P was purchased by the PRR-controlled Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad (PWB), which merged it the following year into the Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad. [3]

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has had the same geographic boundaries as Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad

The West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad (WC&P) operated in the greater Philadelphia area from 1848 to 1881. It became the West Chester Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). It has been operated as the Media/Elwyn Line on the SEPTA system since 1983.

Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad

The Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad (PW&B) was an American railroad company itself a result of merger of four small lines dating from the earliest days of American railroading in the late 1820s and early 1830s, that operated from 1836, until being bought by a larger regional line in 1881, with a merger into a longer Northeast Corridor railway in 1902. It built the first rail line south from Philadelphia into The South.

As the PRR's West Chester Branch, the line offered commuter rail service between Philadelphia, Media, and West Chester, the county seat of Chester County. In the 1920s, the PRR electrified the Paoli and Chestnut Hill lines, then its Philadelphia-Washington Main Line to Wilmington and the West Chester Branch out to West Chester. [4]

Commuter rail passenger rail transport service that primarily operates between a city center, and the middle to outer suburbs

Commuter rail, also called suburban rail, is a passenger rail transport service that primarily operates between a city centre and middle to outer suburbs beyond 15 km and commuter towns or other locations that draw large numbers of commuters—people who travel on a daily basis. Trains operate following a schedule at speeds varying from 50 to 225 km/h. Distance charges or zone pricing may be used.

Media, Pennsylvania Borough in Pennsylvania, United States

Media is a borough in and the county seat of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States, about 13 miles (21 km) west of Philadelphia. Media was incorporated in 1850 at the same time that it was named the county seat. The population was 5,327 at the 2010 census, down from 5,533 at the 2000 census. Its school district is the Rose Tree Media School District with Penncrest High School and Springton Lake Middle School. In June 2006, it became the first fair trade town in America.

Chester County, Pennsylvania County in Pennsylvania, United States

Chester County, colloquially known as Chesco, is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 498,886, increasing by 4.1% to a census-estimated 519,293 residents as of 2017. The county seat is West Chester. Chester County was one of the three original Pennsylvania counties created by William Penn in 1682. It was named for Chester, England.

The PRR ended passenger service from West Chester to Frazer in 1932 and removed those tracks in the early 1960s. [5] In 1971 and 1972, there were washouts on the nearby Chester Creek Branch and Octoraro Branch, due to heavy storms and Hurricane Agnes. Subsequently, the Penn Central (PC) ended service north of West Chester and parts of the nearby branches and removed some of the tracks.

The Chester Creek Branch was a 7.25-mile (11.67 km) railroad line that operated in southern Delaware County, Pennsylvania, from 1869 to 1972.

Hurricane Agnes Category 1 Atlantic hurricane in 1972

Hurricane Agnes was the second tropical cyclone and first named storm of the 1972 Atlantic hurricane season. Agnes developed on June 14 from the interaction of a polar front and an upper trough over the Yucatán Peninsula. Initially forming as a tropical depression, the storm headed slowly eastward and emerged into the western Caribbean Sea on June 15. Once in the Caribbean, the depression began to strengthen, and by the following day, it became Tropical Storm Agnes. Thereafter, Agnes slowly curved northward and passed just west of Cuba on June 17. Early on June 18, the storm intensified enough to be upgraded to Hurricane Agnes. Heading northward, the hurricane eventually made landfall near Panama City, Florida late on June 19. After moving inland, Agnes rapidly weakened and was only a tropical depression when it entered Georgia. The weakening trend halted as the storm crossed over Georgia and into South Carolina. While over eastern North Carolina, Agnes re-strengthened into a tropical storm on June 21, as a result of baroclinic activity. Early the following day, the storm emerged into the Atlantic Ocean before re-curving northwestward and making landfall near New York City as a strong tropical storm. Agnes quickly became an extratropical cyclone on June 23, and tracked to the northwest of Great Britain, before being absorbed by another extratropical cyclone on July 6.

Today, the right-of-way can still be seen in places.

Right-of-way (transportation) right to make a "way" (as in a type of easement) over a piece of land

A right-of-way (ROW) is a right to make a way over a piece of land, usually to and from another piece of land. A right of way is a type of easement granted or reserved over the land for transportation purposes, such as a highway, public footpath, rail transport, canal, as well as electrical transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines. A right-of-way can be used to build a bike trail. A right-of-way is reserved for the purposes of maintenance or expansion of existing services with the right-of-way. In the case of an easement, it may revert to its original owners if the facility is abandoned.

Later years

After the PC bankruptcy and the formation of Conrail in 1976, operations and ownership of the West Chester Branch was ceded to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in 1983. SEPTA operated the line as its R3-Media/West Chester service until 1986, when service was truncated to Elwyn.

As of early 2014, SEPTA operates commuter rail operations on the line between Philadelphia and Elwyn, while the West Chester Railroad operates a scenic excursion train on weekends between West Chester and Glen Mills. Occasional nocturnal freight service occurs via Amtrak to obtain track ballast from a quarry in Glen Mills.

Restoration of service

SEPTA plans to restore rail service west of Elwyn to a new Park and Ride station in Wawa in 2020. [6]

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to study how much it would cost to restore SEPTA regional rail service to West Chester. [7]

See also

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KML file (edithelp)
    KML is from Wikidata
    1. Jones, James A. "A Brief History of Transportation in West Chester". Accessed 2010-01-02.
    2. 1 2 Poor, Henry V. (1860). History of the Railroads and Canals of the United States of America. 1. New York: John H. Schultz & Co.
    3. ICC valuation report of the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad, filed June 30, 1918
    4. Transportation History Sources (railsandtrails.com). "Pennsylvania Railroad Electrification." Accessed 2010-12-31.
    5. Jones, James A. "Railroad and Stations in Chester County." Accessed 2011-01-02.
    6. "Elwyn to Wawa". septa.org. SEPTA. February 2016.
    7. Monhollan, Candice (April 30, 2016). "SEPTA plans for feasibility study to restore rail service to West Chester". Daily Local News.

    Further reading