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Trip Report

Philadelphia Area RailFest 2004

January 17-18, 2004
Section 2 of 3


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Chapter 3.5: Lunchtime in Center City

We went our separate ways around lunchtime, with some going to the Reading Terminal Market, and others going to either of the two food courts in the Gallery at Market East. It was a nice break for everyone, getting us out of the cold and off the rails for a short time. We got to energize ourselves for a long afternoon of activities, including our walks in Chestnut Hill and Overbrook.

We reconvened at the Market East station, in time for our 1:15 PM departure on the R8 Chestnut Hill West Line to its namesake terminus.

Chapter 3.6: Part A5, SEPTA R8 Chestnut Hill West Line, Train #1833, Market East to Chestnut Hill West

This portion of our Saturday Fest started out with fourteen people. Our R8 train was a few minutes late coming in from Fox Chase. We were further delayed a few minutes on the Northeast Corridor, waiting for clearance from AMTRAK to crossover to the southbound local track to access the branch line at North Philadelphia.

Luckily we had plenty of time scheduled in Chestnut Hill, so our delays did not hurt us. After an otherwise uneventful trip, we arrived in Chestnut Hill West on the right side track, which gave us direct access to the stairways and ramps leading up to Germantown Pike.

While we were waiting to cross the street, some members of our group took overhead shots of the train on which we had just arrived.

Surprisingly, nobody partook of the rest rooms available inside the Borders Books on the corner across from the Chestnut Hill West station. So we then began our second healthy walk of the day, a mere four blocks downhill along Bethlehem Pike to the Chestnut Hill East station. We encountered a little bit of snow and ice on the sidewalk, but we all made it without slipping.

Chapter 3.7: Part A6, SEPTA R7 Chestnut Hill East Line, Train #1719, Chestnut Hill East to Market East

When we got to the Chestnut Hill East station, we still had plenty of time before our scheduled 2:32 PM departure. Many of our participants were impressed with the station building's architecture, so they shot photos of it. We also had time to pose for group photos, although since the photographers went two at a time, there were never more than twelve people in any shot.

Group photo at Chestnut Hill East Chestnut Hill East station Group photo at Chestnut Hill East
Group photo at Chestnut Hill East Piotr Dzwonek photo Chestnut Hill East station Charlie O'Hay photo Group photo at Chestnut Hill East John Corbett photo

Our train arrived from Center City on the far track, meaning we had to walk around the bumping posts to the opposite platform. As soon as the brake tests were completed, we were allowed to board. Some commented on the fact that this train was four cars long, and I reminded them that this is the other end of the R7 Trenton Line, which needs the extra capacity.

Our train departed from Chestnut Hill East on time. Our inbound trip went exactly as scheduled. At the Wyndmoor station, we were surprised when a fifteenth member, Ted Patchell, joined us. Ted is a friend of John Corbett's; both had once appeared on the hit television show, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?".

Not much else happened on this trip. We arrived back at Market East, on the same platform from which we had departed 1-3/4 hours later, at 3 PM.

We only had about a ten-minute layover here before our next departure, so I ran upstairs to purchase some more 75-cent tickets for Michael. My luck I happened to get a clerk who was overly talkative to the person before me, and then when he returned my change he had to stretch and then smoothe out each bill. By the time I got down to the platform, our train was already in the station, and almost everyone had boarded. It turns out that this train was one that originates at Market East, so it came into the station a few minutes early.

Chapter 3.8: Part A7, SEPTA R5 Paoli-Thorndale Line, Train #8541, Market East to Overbrook

The same fifteen people that arrived had arrived from Chestnut Hill East now were aboard a train headed for Malvern. We would however be detraining at this line's first stop beyond 30th Street Station, Overbrook.

Group leaves the SEPTA Overbrook rail station Bull statue at Overbrook station
Group leaves the SEPTA Overbrook rail station Charlie O'Hay photo Bull statue at Overbrook station Charlie O'Hay photo

Our group filed off this train at Overbrook, and went through the underpass to the south side of the tracks. We saw a sign that says that one parking spot is reserved for AMTRAK personnel. Apparently there is a tower right next to the station that is still manned.

We then took our final healthy walk of the day, approximately six blocks through Overbrook along 63rd Street to the trolley loop at 63rd & Malvern.

Chapter 3.9: Part A8, SEPTA 10 Trolley Line, Malvern Loop to 30th Street Station

The Malvern Loop has something that some us later wished we could have taken along with us for the Sunday portion of our Fest, namely portable toilets. One person did use the john quickly, and that was a good thing because we did not have to wait long before a trolley moved forward from the loop's unload area and began boarding passengers for the inbound trip.

#10 trolley in unloading area at Malvern Loop Group boards #10 trolley at Malvern Loop
#10 trolley in unloading area at Malvern Loop Todd Woollam photo Group boards #10 trolley at Malvern Loop Nick Gibbon photo

It was a good trip inbound to Center City on the trolley, as we passed through various neighborhoods of Philadelphia.

When we got to the subway station at 30th Street, our group had its biggest fragmentation of the weekend. Our official itinerary called for us to get off at 30th Street, walk to the rail station, have dinner there, and then take a round trip to the airport after dark. Only eight of us got off the trolley, while seven remained on board. Those detraining were: Alan, Piotr, Mike, Charlie, Jishnu, John Wireman, Michael, and me. This group's experiences continue below in Chapter 3.10.

Remaining on the trolley were Todd, David Korkhouse, Don, Rich, John Corbett, Ted, and Nick. Of this group, the Philadelphia-area guys went home. John went to check into his hotel, and Rich, Don, and David went seeking out authentic Philly cheese steak sandwiches for dinner.

Chapter 3.10: Dinnertime at 30th Street Station

Eight of us walked into 30th Street Station from its namesake street, after negotiating our way on foot around some construction for the building of a new subway kiosk along Market Street. When we got into the building, Jishnu headed for home via SEPTA and NJ TRANSIT through Trenton, and Charlie also caught a SEPTA train home.

The rest of us went to various food places and then relaxed while eating dinner together in the food court. For the six of us still involved in the Fest, our day was not over yet.

Chapter 3.11: Part A9, SEPTA R1 Airport Line, Train #4149, 30th Street Station to Airport Terminal E

Now down to our smallest involved group, the six of us headed for the suburban level of 30th Street Station to catch our train to the airport. Mike, Piotr, John Wireman, Alan, Michael, and I experienced our latest train of the day. For a while, our R1 train was shown on the monitor as being 18 minutes late. When it finally came, it was about 15 minutes off the advertised.

We had a good, quick trip to the airport. When we got to the airport terminal stations, there were a lot of people awaiting the inbound train. Our equipment represented that inbound train. Since R1 trains are scheduled to layover 13 minutes at the Terminal E station, we were arriving at some platforms at the time our train should have been headed inbound.

At each station, the doors opened on both sides, with the airline arrivals part of the airport on our left and the departures on our right. When we got to Terminal E, we detrained on the arrivals side. I correctly figured that our layover time at Terminal E would be considerably shorter than 13 minutes. As soon as our crew changed ends and did their brake test, we were allowed to board once more.

Chapter 3.12: Part A10, SEPTA R1 Airport Line, Train #1150, Airport Terminal E to Center City

My original intention of scheduling this after-dark airport trip was to let the guys staying near the airport ride with us one way and then leave us to catch their hotel shuttles. However, David Korkhouse, Rich Ivins, and Don Sillence had decided not to join us because they had already ridden this line and would be riding it plenty more times on Sunday and Monday. (They were enjoying their authentic cheese steaks on South Street at the time of this trip!) Mike Hammond elected to ride back to Center City with us, and then catch another train back to the airport on his own.

So the same group of six rode together to Center City. We were running about ten minutes late, with some time made up with the shorter dwell at the Terminal E station.

Piotr detrained at 30th Street Station to catch an R7 Trenton Line train to its namesake destination, where he would switch to NJ TRANSIT's Northeast Corridor Line back to Metropark. When we got to Market East, John Wireman left the group to head home. Mike Hammond went to the opposite platform to catch another R1 Airport Line train. Alan, Michael, and I then headed for our hotel half a block away.

The longer day of our two-day Fest was officially over.

Continued in next section

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