PATCO Speedline

PATCO Speedline
Overview
Type Rapid transit
Locale Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden County, New Jersey
Termini 15–16th & Locust (westbound)
Lindenwold (eastbound)
Stations 13
Daily ridership 38,000
Operation
Opened June 7, 1936 (Bridge Line); February 15, 1969 (PATCO Speedline)
Owner Delaware River Port Authority
Operator(s) Port Authority Transit Corporation
Character Underground and surface (grade separated)
Technical
Line length 14.2 mi (22.9 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 750 volts DC
Route map
Legend
Unknown BSicon "utACCa" + Hub
Unknown BSicon "BLlg"
15th–16th & Locust
Unknown BSicon "utUKRZu"
Unknown BSicon "utHACC" + Hub
Broad Street Line
Urban tunnel station on track + Hub
Unknown BSicon "BLrf"
12–13th & Locust
Urban tunnel station on track
9–10th & Locust
Urban tunnel straight track
Unknown BSicon "utHACC" + Hub
Broad–Ridge Spur
Unknown BSicon "utACCe" + Hub
Unknown BSicon "BLrf" + Unknown BSicon "BLlg"
8th & Market
Urban tunnel straight track
Unknown BSicon "utHACC" + Hub
Market–Frankford
Unknown BSicon "uetBHF"
Franklin Square (closed)
Exit urban tunnel
Urban bridge over water
Ben Franklin Bridge, Delaware River
Enter urban tunnel
Urban tunnel station on track
City Hall
Unknown BSicon "utACCe" + Hub
Unknown BSicon "BLlg"
Broadway (Walter Rand Trans Ctr)
Unknown BSicon "utKRZ"
Unknown BSicon "uHACC" + Hub
River Line
Exit urban tunnel
Urban station on track
Ferry Avenue
Urban station on track
Collingswood
Urban station on track
Westmont
Urban straight track Continuation backward
Atlantic City Line north
Urban station on track Straight track
Haddonfield
Unknown BSicon "uACC" Straight track
Woodcrest
Urban station on track Straight track
Ashland
Unknown BSicon "uACC" + Hub
Unknown BSicon "ACC" + Hub
Lindenwold
Unknown BSicon "uKDSe" Straight track
Lindenwold Shops
Continuation forward
Atlantic City Line south

The PATCO Speedline, also known colloquially as the High Speed Line,[1][2][3] is a rapid transit system operated by the Port Authority Transit Corporation, which runs between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Camden County, New Jersey. The Speedline runs underground in Philadelphia, crosses the Delaware River on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, runs underground in Camden, then runs above ground in New Jersey until the east end of the line. The Port Authority Transit Corporation and the Speedline are owned and controlled by the Delaware River Port Authority. Speedline operation began on February 15, 1969, with the first trip from Lindenwold, New Jersey, to Center City, Philadelphia. The line transports over 33,000 people daily,[4] and operates 24 hours a day, one of only four U.S. rapid transit systems to do so.

Contents

History

The modern-day PATCO Speedline follows the route of several mainline railroad lines, some dating back to the 19th century. These railroads all terminated in Camden, where passengers could catch ferries to Philadelphia. Early in the 20th century, the idea of a fixed Delaware River crossing connecting Camden and Philadelphia gained traction, and in 1919, the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey formed the Delaware River Bridge Joint Commission to build a bridge between the two cities.[5] The Delaware River Bridge (now Ben Franklin Bridge) was designed to accommodate rail as well as road traffic; when it opened on July 1, 1926, it had two outboard structures beside the main roadway for rail and space for two streetcar tracks (never installed) on the main road deck. Construction of the rail line did not actually begin until 1932, and the Bridge Line opened on June 7, 1936. Relatively short, it only had four stations: 8th Street and Franklin Square in Philadelphia (the latter currently closed) and City Hall and Broadway in Camden (connecting to the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines at Broadway).

In Philadelphia, the line used a tunnel built in 1931 to serve both Ben Franklin Bridge trains and a Broad Street Subway spur designed to serve 8th and Market and the southern part of the city center via Locust Street. The tunnel, which replaced an earlier proposal for a downtown subway loop, extended under 8th to Locust, then under Locust to 16th, but as tracks were not laid beyond 8th and Market, the first Bridge Line trains did not run beyond 8th Street into the Locust Street Subway until February 10, 1952. This section is owned by the City of Philadelphia and leased by PATCO.[6]

No sooner had the Bridge Line entered service than neighboring communities in Southern New Jersey began agitating for rapid transit extensions to serve them. To facilitate their construction, the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania expanded the powers of the Delaware River Joint Commission, which owned the Ben Franklin Bridge and the New Jersey portion of the Bridge Line, rechristening it as the Delaware River Port Authority in 1951. The agency commissioned Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Hall and MacDonald (now Parsons Brinckerhoff) to study possible rapid transit services for South Jersey; Parsons, Brinckerhoff's final report recommended building a new tunnel under the Delaware and three lines in New Jersey. Route A would run to Moorestown, Route B to Kirkwood (now Lindenwold), and Route C to Woodbury Heights. A later study by Louis T. Klauder & Associates recommended using the Bridge Line instead to reach Philadelphia and suggested building Route B first, as it had the highest potential ridership.[7]

The last Bridge Line and Broad-Ridge Spur trains ran through the subway on August 23, 1968, when work began to convert the Locust Street and Camden subways for use by the new PATCO Speedline, which would use the Bridge Line subway to enter Philadelphia.[8] The new Speedline from Camden to Lindenwold opened on February 15, 1969 along former Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines trackage. Woodcrest Station was added later, in 1980, between the existing Haddonfield and Ashland stations.

In 2005, PATCO officials began planning a new route in the corridor of the originally proposed Route C that would serve Gloucester County and end in Glassboro on the grounds of Rowan University (formerly Glassboro State College).[9] On May 12, 2009, Jon Corzine, the Governor of New Jersey, formally endorsed a diesel light rail along an existing Conrail right-of-way, which was selected because of its lower capital cost and operating cost. The proposed light rail would require riders to transfer to the Speedline at the Walter Rand Transportation Center for trips to Philadelphia.[10] The PATCO study also recommended a multimodal, regional initiative to introduce bus rapid transit to Routes 42 and 55, and upgrading New Jersey Transit's Atlantic City Line to improve its usability.[11]

Reopening of Franklin Square PATCO station

On May 20, 2009, Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) Chairman John Estey announced that the DRPA would renovate and modernize the PATCO subway station under Franklin Square. The Franklin Square station has been closed since 1979, but is now slated to be upgraded and made compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. No opening date has been set.[12]

Trains and cars

Rolling stock

A Philadelphia-bound PATCO train arrives at Woodcrest Station.

PATCO operates 121 67-foot cars which were acquired in two separate orders, labeled PATCO I and PATCO II. The original PATCO I cars were designed and manufactured by Budd of Philadelphia, PA in 1968. Cars numbered 101-125 are single units, and cars numbered 201-250 are in permanently coupled married pairs. The PATCO II cars were delivered in 1980 (in parallel with the opening of the Woodcrest Park and Ride facility) and consisted of married pairs numbered 251-296. The PATCO II cars were manufactured by Vickers Canada under a license from Budd, but are nearly indistinguishable from the PATCO I's, the only differences being that the PATCO II cars have a fixed partition behind the operator's booth and lack a stainless steel shroud below the door line to ease access to traction components.[13]

The single units differ from the married pairs by having an extra single leaf door located behind each operators booth. This was installed before the fare collection system was finalized and there was a possibility of operators collecting fares on board during the late night hours.

The PATCO I cars were originally fitted with Budd standard "pin and cup" MU couplers. Due to reliability issues these were replaced by "hook" type couplers manufactured by Ohio Brass. Also, the original electrical system in the PATCO I cars was found to have certain reliability issues and was completely rebuilt after the PATCO II cars arrived to the PATCO II standard.

PATCO cars use camshaft resistance type motor controllers common to DC powered rapid transit vehicles up through the 1980s. The unique whine of the motors and gear assemblies can lead many to mistake the cars for using thyristor drive or even a variable-frequency drive, but this is not the case. Bogies are of the Budd designed Pioneer III variety and while lightweight, provide for a very bouncy ride. The married pair cars share a single motor control unit and automatic operation box. Many PATCO Car design features later appeared in the M1/M3 class of MU railcars for the Long Island Rail Road which provides for a similar riding experience.

Operation

PATCO 15-16th & Locust Station exit onto street in Philadelphia.

PATCO was one of the first transit systems to incorporate Automatic Train Operation for regular service. The PATCO ATO is an analogue system that makes use of pulse code cab signaling supplied by Union Switch and Signal. The cab signals supply one of 5 different speeds (20 mph, 30 mph, 40 mph, 65 mph and 0 mph) and the on-board ATO gear will supply maximum acceleration or maximum braking force to reach that target speed. The frequent use of such high acceleration and deceleration rates makes for a quick ride, yet one that is also perilous for non-seated passengers. Automatic station stops are handled by track mounted transponders and can be overridden by the operator for non-stopping trains.

The system suffers from problems handling slippery track conditions and human operators are required to take control in any sort of precipitation. Because of the ATO limitations, drivers must make one trip per day under manual operation to stay in practice and are not penalized for running their trains manually at any time of their choosing. In practice, most operators prefer automatic operation as not only is it less effort, but it also tends to result in faster trips.

The system was designed for one person train operation by exclusively utilizing island platforms and right-handed operation with operators sitting on the left side of the vehicle where they can open their window and monitor the boarding process. Where trains have to use the "wrong" side, mirrors are provided to give the operator a proper view. The operator's booth is not isolated from the passenger cabin, instead being surrounded by a low partition. Operators wishing privacy can pull a curtain closed during operation, but are still on call to answer inquiries from passengers. When not in use, a lockable cover sits over the console controls. Operators are responsible for making station announcements, opening and closing the doors, sounding the horn, starting the train from station stops and full manual operation of the train (when necessary).

Trains operate at a maximum of 65 mph on the surface portion of the system and 40 mph in the subway portion and over the bridge. Trains used to have a top speed of 75 mph on the surface portion, but this caused excessive wear on the traction motors and was cut back to 65 mph in the 1970s.

PATCO runs the majority of its trains in 2, 4 or 6 car configurations. Single unit trains are occasionally seen late at night while 3 or 5 car trains are encountered only when not enough cars available to meet the load line. All stations are capable of handling 7 or 8 car trains, but these lengths have never been run except for brief testing and for the annual holiday "Santa Train" special for children. In an effort to contain costs, PATCO actively manages its consist length as opposed to running trains in fixed sets. Train length is matched to the demand level for that particular time of day. In peak periods trains are 6 cars long, on "shoulder" periods they are 4 cars long, off peak they are 2 cars long and overnight sometimes single units are run alone. Due to recent capital improvements weekend and mid-day headways have grown prompting to run 4-car trains all day, albeit less frequently than the 2-car trains.

Cabin

Original 1968 PATCO car interior.

The interior of a PATCO car can best be described as retro, not due to any intentional choice by PATCO, but simply due to the fact that the interior styling has not been updated since its introduction in 1968. The color combination is a base of cream with a Moss green fill. Seating is a 2+2 arrangement, with half of the seats in each car facing the direction of travel, and half facing backward. Seats run the full length of the car with the front seats next to the operator's booth having the benefit of a large picture window.

Each PATCO car has a pair of doors on each side with a foyer area inside the doors for standing passengers. There are also hand-holds on the seat backs for passengers to stand all the way down the aisles. A few PATCO cars have been modified in accordance with the ADA to have a standard 2 person seat replaced with a single side mounted seat to create a space for a wheelchair passenger.

Car end-doors are unlocked, but inter-car movement is discouraged due to the extreme motions between cars. Train end-doors are also left unlocked, but are also secured with additional non-locking latches.

Refurbishment

PATCO has announced plans for the complete refurbishment of the entire fleet, with work expected to begin in 2009.[14] The contract for rebuilding the rolling stock was awarded to Alstom, at a cost of $194.2 million, beating Bombardier's bid by $35 million, though Bombardier claimed the contract was incorrectly awarded.[15] PATCO began to ship the railcars with their wheel assemblies removed via flatbed truck to the Alstom facility in Hornell, NY in March 2011.

The refurbishment will consist of a completely new interior with more modern colors, wheelchair access and more reliable HVAC systems. Also to be replaced are the propulsion and automatic operation systems which currently use technology last updated in the early 1980's. The camshaft resistance type motor controller will be replaced by a new solid state unit using IGBTs and the relay based ATO unit will be replaced by a computerized system. The DC type motors, Pioneer III trucks and gearboxes will not be replaced so that the PATCO cars will retain their distinctive sound.

Route identification

One of the six possible routes is displayed on a fluorescent lit piece of glass in the car. There are six routes, cut through a dark tinted piece of glass. The light behind the correct one identifies the train route. There are also rolling signs on the car ends and sides displaying this same route. The routes are as follows:

  • Lindenwold Local
  • Lindenwold Express
  • Philadelphia Local
  • Philadelphia Express
  • Woodcrest Local
  • Ferry Avenue Local

An additional sign is displayed (Special) when the train is accepting no passengers. Currently, the only three service designations used are Lindenwold Local, Philadelphia Local, and Philadelphia Express. The only currently operating express service is westbound from Lindenwold towards Philadelphia, which operates six times daily between 7:30 am – 8:45 am, skipping only Haddonfield, Westmont, and Collingswood stations. There is currently no eastbound express service, and all eastbound trains terminate at Lindenwold, as opposed to terminating early at Ferry Avenue or Woodcrest.

Signaling

PATCO trains are governed by a Pulse code cab signaling system which transmits signal codes to the trains via the running rails. Wayside signals are located only at interlockings and consist of two lamps on a single signal head, one lunar white, the other red. There are three typical signal indications, Red for "Stop", Lunar White for "proceed under cab signals on main route" and flashing lunar white for "proceed under cab signals on diverging route".

There are 5 cab signals, each corresponding to a speed. The cab signals are displayed to the operator via a series of 5 lamps above the speedometer, red for Stop, yellow/red for 20 mph, yellow for 30 mph, yellow/green for 40 mph and green for 65 mph. These lamps correspond to the same cab signals in use by various northeastern railroads. Even when the Automatic Tran Operation System is not in use, the cab signal speed control function is still enabled and if an operator goes above the permitted speed, the power is cut and the brakes are applied until the speed is back within the limit.

The entire PATCO system is run from Center Tower, centrally located above a substation near the Broadway station in Camden, NJ. Center Tower contains a relay based CTC machine dating from 1968. The CTC machine at Center Tower is staffed by two operators at peak periods and a single operator otherwise. Wayside signals are marked with their corresponding lever in the old US&S fashion with R signals indicating a "right" lever motion and L signals indicating "left". Signals and switches are numbered in ascending order from west to east with 15th/16th Locust using levers 1-4 and Lindenwold using levers 73-76. The interlocking at Woodcrest, which was added in 1980, uses levers 87-98.

The following fixed signs are also present on PATCO:

  • H - Sound Horn
  • T - Station stop outer transponder, trains not stopping must cancel automatic stop.
  • AB - Absolute block, trains operating without cab signals prepare to stop.
  • Speed X mph - Speed limit sign in tunnel section for sharp curves.
  • Clear # - Train of # car lengths has cleared sharp curve.

In case of a cab signal failure or the need to disregard them, the cab signal may be cut out by the operator with permission from Center Tower.

Power

All PATCO trains are electrically powered. Power comes from a top contact covered third rail at 750 volts DC. There are two feeds from the commercial power grid, one located in Philadelphia from Exelon for the old Bridge Line tunnel segments and the other in New Jersey from PSE&G for the new mainline segments. In New Jersey power is distributed via wayside AC transmission lines in the 50kV range and a series of 7 substations, located every 2 miles (3.2 km) or so, transform and rectify the current to the 750V DC used in the third rail.

Fare collection

Magnetic system

From its beginning in 1969, PATCO used a magnetic ticket as the sole means of collecting fares. The plastic tickets may still be bought for single rides through vending machines in the stations. These machines once required coins, so bill changers were placed in stations. Each vending machine was capable of selling two types of tickets, which the rider chose by pushing a button after inserting the correct fare. Several machines were needed in each station, since different types of one-way and two-way tickets needed to be sold. After the ticket was purchased, it was inserted through a turnstile gate. To exit the station, it was inserted again, and if it had rides remaining, returned to the rider. A ticket with no rides was re encoded by the system and returned to use in the vending machine. Tickets could also be purchased in ten-trip passes, but these were obtained through mail or in office.

At its inception, this system was state-of-the-art, but has become more problematic. Tickets are vulnerable to damage from magnetic sources such as cell phones and PDAs that did not exist when the system was put in place.

Freedom system

In July 2006, PATCO announced that it would start the transition from a magnetic ticket fare system to an electronic smart card system. Magnetic tickets are still sold, for the occasional riders, however they are now in a paper form and can only be purchased with cash. The new computer vending machines allow more advanced purchasing options for Freedom Cards (the term used for the smart cards). Payment can now be in the form of coins, bills, credit cards, or debit cards, however, credit and debit cards can only be used to load fare onto a Freedom Card or purchase a new card. PATCO also says that they are designing a system which will allow balances to be reloaded on the Internet.

Each fare machine in the unpaid areas (i.e. outside the gates) performs all transactions (except for SEPTA transfers in PA stations, as the transfers are only sold on the unpaid side of NJ stations). Also, to augment the call-for-aid phones, there are now exit fare machines located inside of the fare gates, so that if a rider has purchased the wrong fare, they may pay the remaining fare to exit.

The system has been in use by the general public at all PATCO stations since its launch in 2007.

The system was put into effect in an attempt to gain ridership, which had fallen sharply since its peak in 1990.[14] The system was designed, built and integrated by Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc.[4]

Because of the system's flexibility, it could one day operate seamlessly with SEPTA and RiverLine rail networks, allowing an integration of the systems.[14]

Because the smart cards store value (instead of "rides") and the paper tickets expire after three days, it is no longer possible to hoard "rides" in advance of a fare increase. Also, the combination of the contactless card payment and the new swinging fare gates have decreased turnstile throughput, resulting in long exit queues after a train discharges a load of passengers at a station.

Connections to other transit systems

New Jersey Transit connections

New Jersey Transit buses connect to most PATCO stations in New Jersey. The New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line also stops at Lindenwold Station, and the River Line connects at Broadway Station (Walter Rand Transportation Center).

SEPTA connections

The SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) Market-Frankford Line connects to PATCO at the 8th & Market Station, which is five blocks away from SEPTA Market East Station, where all of SEPTA's regional trains stop.

SEPTA's Broad Street Line connects to PATCO at the Walnut-Locust station via a short underground walkway to PATCO's 12th-13th & Locust, and 15-16th & Locust stations. The Broad-Ridge Spur connects to PATCO at the 8th & Market Station via a pedestrian walkway.

A special "SEPTA Transfer" ticket may be purchased from the unpaid side of any NJ station. These tickets are sold for $2.60 ($1.30 per ride, a savings compared to $2 cash fare or a token for $1.55) and dispense two paper receipts, one good for a ride within one hour of the time of purchase and another good for a ride within 24 hours of the time of purchase. Originally, both transfers were going to be valid for 24 hours, however, PATCO changed the time limit to prevent the unauthorized sale of PATCO transfers at PA stations (similar to "selling swipes" on the NYC Subway).

Amtrak connections

The stations of the PATCO Speedline are a few miles from making connections with inter-city Amtrak trains at 30th Street Station. To make the connection to 30th Street Station, one must either transfer at the 8th Street and Market Station to the SEPTA Market-Frankford Line, and then travel four stations west to 30th Street Station or walk through the Gallery Mall to the Market East Regional Rail station and then catch any Regional Rail train to 30th St Station. While the MFL option involves less walking, the Regional Rail option is free for anyone holding Amtrak tickets (even though tickets are not normally lifted between the 3 Center City Regional Rail stations anyway). Alternatively, one can ride to 30th Street via the New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line from the Lindenwold Station.

Union representation

PATCO train operators are represented by Teamsters Local 676.

Station list

Map of the PATCO Speedline system


State Municipality Station Notes Service
PA Philadelphia 15-16th & Locust End of the line and short walk to SEPTA Broad Street Line All trains
12-13th & Locust short walk to SEPTA Broad Street Line All trains
9-10th & Locust All trains, except when closed between 12:30 am – 5:00 am
8th & Market transfer to SEPTA Market-Frankford Line and Broad-Ridge Spur All trains
Franklin Square closed since 1979. Planned to be reopened, no date set. N/A
NJ Camden City Hall All trains
Broadway (Walter Rand Transportation Center) transfer to New Jersey Transit River Line All trains
Ferry Avenue All trains
Collingswood Collingswood Local trains only
Haddon Township Westmont Local trains only
Haddonfield Haddonfield The only station east of Camden to be located below street level (in an open cut). Local trains only
Cherry Hill Township Woodcrest parking lot very close to interchange (Exit 31) with I-295 All trains
Voorhees Township Ashland Original terminal All trains
Lindenwold Lindenwold transfer to New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line All trains

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Graham, Troy (January 07, 2011). "Man attacked, robbed in Mellon Center concourse". Philadelphia Inquirer. http://articles.philly.com/2011-01-07/news/27015058_1_concourse-hair-appointment-federal-workers. Retrieved January 27, 2011.  The concourse connects to the Market-Frankford Line, the Ridge Avenue spur line, and the PATCO High Speed Line.
  2. ^ Stillwell, Eileen (January 20, 2011). "Google Transit features PATCO schedule". Courier-Post. http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20110120/NEWS01/110120043/Google-Transit-features-PATCO-schedule. Retrieved January 27, 2011.  "If you're not a regular user of the PATCO Hi-Speedline"
  3. ^ Barna, John (January 06, 2011). "DRPA to look at sale of PATCO". Gloucester County Times. http://www.nj.com/gloucester/index.ssf?/base/news-6/1294302327240670.xml&coll=8. Retrieved January 27, 2011.  "Exploring the sale or privatization of the PATCO High Speed Line"
  4. ^ a b "Card makes change for PATCO riders" by Eileen Stilwell, Courier-Post, July 11, 2006. Retrieved July 11, 2006.
  5. ^ DRPA History Timeline
  6. ^ DRPA.org
  7. ^ PATCO: A History of Commitment
  8. ^ SEPTA Broad Street Subway. Retrieved July 9, 2006.
  9. ^ DRPA.org
  10. ^ PATCO Expansion Alternatives Analysis
  11. ^ Light Rail Extension Moves Forward, DRPA, May 12, 2009.
  12. ^ Franklin Square PATCO stop to be reopened, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 21, 2009
  13. ^ DRPA.org
  14. ^ a b c SJ Magazine Articles your South Jersey source
  15. ^ "Bombardier objects to Alstom-PATCO contract". Trains Magazine. 23 November 2010. http://trn.trains.com/Railroad%20News/News%20Wire/2010/11/Bombardier%20objects%20to%20Alstom-PATCO%20contract.aspx. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 

External links


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