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R6 (SEPTA)

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The SEPTA R6 is a route of the SEPTA Regional Rail (commuter rail) system. One end of the route terminates in the western suburbs in the Bala Cynwyd section of Lower Merion Township, while the other end terminates at Elm Street in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Since the early 1990s, the line has operated with limited weekday service between Suburban Station to Bala Cynwyd, with regular 7-day service between 30th Street Station and Norristown. Recently, SEPTA and the Berks Area Rapid Transit Authority (BARTA) has entered an agreement to build the Schuylkill Valley Metro, a 62-mile two-track electrified commuter rail line system that will use both sides of the R6 system. Once in operation, it is believed the R6 designation will be retired.

R6 CynwydEdit

The R6 Cynwyd line is the shortest and has the lowest ridership of all of the SEPTA Regional Rail lines. It was truncated in 1986 to Cynwyd due to concerns about a concrete arch viaduct over the Schuylkill River in the Manayunk section of the city. This bridge was shedding pieces of concrete due to spalling. Further investigation by Urban Engineers determined that the bridge was safe and only needed surface work to stop the spalling. In 1999, construction finished on a project to stabilize and refurbish the bridge.

Electrified service was opened between Philadelphia and Norristown (Haws Avenue) on June 20, 1930. Plans for electrification beyond Norristown, to Phoenixville, were not carried out. Passenger service ended between Manayunk and Norristown on October 29, 1960 and the line beyond Manayunk was de-electrified, although the pylons remain (and maintained, as they provide power on both of Amtrak's Northeast and Keystone Corridors. Service was extended from Manayunk to Ivy Ridge, to serve a new park-and-ride lot, on October 2, 1980. The curtailment to Cynwyd took place on October 25, 1986. The line to Norristown and Pottsville, Pennsylvania as a long-distance line, was largely abandoned after the formation of Conrail in 1976 (the right-of-way has since been converted to a multi-purpose trail).

As of 2007, this route, similar to the Princeton Junction's "Dinky," is served by a single-car electric multiple unit train that departs from a terminal track in Suburban Station, stops at 30th Street Station, and continues along the R5 Paoli-Thorndale line as far as the 52nd Street Junction where it branches off on a single track line to Wynnefield Avenue in Philadelphia. It continues on to Bala station, on City Avenue (U.S. Route 1), and Cynwyd station, less than a mile northwest. Until 1986, the train would have continued north over the massive concrete Manayunk bridge and viaduct to Ivy Ridge, a park-and-ride station located northwest of Manayunk.

In the late 1990s and up to 2003, SEPTA has funded a study called the Schuylkill Valley Metro which included plans to extend both sides of the R6 line to Pottstown, Reading and Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. The project suffered a major setback when it was rejected by the FTA New Starts program, which cited doubts about the ridership projections and financing assumptions used by the study. [1]

List of stations:

Zone Milepost Station Boardings Township County Notes
1 4.0 52nd Street 0 Philadelphia Philadelphia station closed
4.9 Wynnefield Ave 109
2 5.7 Bala 39 Lower MerionMontgomery
6.1 Cynwyd 95 terminus since 1986
Barmouth 0 station closed
7.8 Manayunk 0 Philadelphia Philadelphia upper level; station closed
8.5 Ivy Ridge 0 upper level; station closed

Ridership on the Cynwyd line has increased 64% from 1995 to 2005. This is largest percentage increase of all the SEPTA Regional Rail lines, although there were only 248 passengers on a typical weekday in 1995, so the addition of about 250 daily passengers makes a large percentage change. From SEPTA Annual Service Plans:

Fiscal year Average weekday Annual passengers
FY 2005 506 129,090
FY 2004 465 118,575
FY 2003 480 112,200
FY 2001 n/a 125,000
FY 2000 n/a 114,000
FY 1999 n/a 117,000
FY 1997 n/a 87,116
FY 1996 n/a 78,674
FY 1995 248 78,800
FY 1994 274 n/a
Note: n/a = not available

R6 NorristownEdit

The R6 Norristown line is a regular-schedule portion of the R6 commuter rail segment. Prior to 1981, it served as the electrified commuter segment of the Reading Company's main line to Reading, Pennsylvania, with Reading-bound commuters transferring at Norristown. Since 1981, however, all service on this line has been reduced to the electrified segment. Electrified service to Norristown (and to Chestnut Hill, now Chestnut Hill East) was opened on February 5, 1933.

Like the R6 Cynwyd, R7 Chestnut Hill East, and R8 Chestnut Hill West lines, the R6 Norristown was a "competition" line, although the Norristown line was originally one of the oldest segments of the old Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad that was a predecessor to the Reading.

The two-track line originates from the Center City Rail tunnel and splits off from the "SEPTA Main Line" north of North Broad Station. It then goes through Philadelphia's Manayunk district and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania before reaching Norristown. At Norristown Transportation Center, commuters can transfer to regular SEPTA surface buses or the SEPTA Norristown High Speed Line to 69th Street Terminal. From Norristown Transportation Center, one can see the interlocking where the electrified R6 follows the single track Stony Creek branch to terminate at Elm Street, while the double tracked main line continues to Reading. The Reading main west of Norristown currently carries no passenger service, and is owned and operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway.

Like the R6 Cynwyd, the R6 Norristown is slated to become part of the new Schuylkill Valley Metro, but will serve the King of Prussia Mall Complex and the former Pennsylvania Railroad's Trenton Cut-Off line to Frazer, Pennsylvania. This will be known as the "Cross-County Segment".

As of 2005, most weekday trains terminate downtown. Some weekday and most weekend trains continue as R2 Wilmington or R2 Marcus Hook trains.

List of stations:

Zone Milepost Station Boardings Township County Notes
C Spring Garden Philadelphia Philadelphia station closed
2.1 Temple University moved to its present location in 1992
2.9 North Broad
1 4.0 Allegheny 74 formerly 22nd St
5.5 East Falls 527
2 6.4 Wissahickon 298 Aerial photo
7.6 Manayunk 323
8.4 Ivy Ridge 341 lower level; stairs added to connect from upper level Ivy Ridge station on other R6 line in 1986
9.4 Shawmont 0 station closed November 10, 1996
3 10.7 Miquon 316 Whitemarsh Montgomery
12.3 Spring Mill 302
13.5 Conshohocken 398 Conshohocken
Ivy Rock 0 Plymouth station closed prior to 1983
Mogees 0 station closed prior to 1983
17.2 Norristown Transportation Center 862 Norristown formerly DeKalb Street
17.7 Main Street 195
18.0 Elm Street 317

Ridership on the Norristown line has increased 63% from 1995 to 2005. This is the second largest percentage increase after the Cynwyd line, and represents an addition of almost 3,000 daily passengers. With the new residential construction near train stations at Norristown, Conshohocken, Ivy Ridge, Manayunk, and East Falls, ridership is projected to continue increasing in 2006 and 2007. From SEPTA Annual Service Plans:

Fiscal year Average weekday Annual passengers
FY 2005 7,454 2,147,596
FY 2004 7,402 2,077,720
FY 2003 7,539 1,964,100
FY 2001 n/a 1,982,000
FY 2000 n/a 1,790,000
FY 1999 n/a 1,401,000
FY 1997 n/a 1,439,611
FY 1996 n/a 1,412,494
FY 1995 4,656 1,321,785
FY 1994 4,321 865,618
FY 1993 2,731 427,407
Note: n/a = not available

Ridership in 1993 was affected by RailWorks, which shut down the line for several months that year. Most commuters found alternative means of transportation during and after the shutdown.

ReferencesEdit

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
City Transit Division Market-Frankford Line - Broad Street Line - Subway-Surface Lines - Girard Avenue Trolley (Route 15) - City surface routes
Suburban Division Norristown High Speed Line (Route 100) - Suburban Trolley Lines (Routes 101 & 102) - Suburban bus routes
Regional Rail R1 - R2 - R3 - R5 - R6 - R7 - R8
Major Stations Frankford Transportation Center - Market East Station - Suburban Station - 30th Street Station - 69th Street Terminal

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