PlanPhilly

Rain washed out SEPTA regional rail tracks, caused system wide delays

Yesterday’s early morning rainstorm wiped out large chunks of the ground beneath SEPTA’s Manayunk/Norristown Line regional rail tracks and caused morning rush hour delays throughout the system. 

Most of the delays were on SEPTA’s regional rail trains, some of which were delayed for as long as an hour, but regional rail was not alone in this situation. The Market Frankford and Broad Street Lines, along with trolleys and buses experienced disruptions, too. 

On regional rail, Amtrak signal and overhead power problems caused temporary service suspension on the Trenton, Wilmington/Newark, Paoli/Thorndale and Media Elwyn lines, SEPTA said in a message to customers shared Tuesday evening. High water on the Chestnut Hill West Line affected service and area road closures delayed SEPTA’s response teams. 

The most visual result of the rainstorm was the damage to tracks near Spring Mill Station on the Manayunk/Norristown Line. There ground beneath a portion of tracks and along a creekside banking washed away. While most of SEPTA’s service was back to normal by 10 a.m., service was not restored on the Manayunk/Norristown Line until approximately 3 p.m., after crews had repaired the washed out track sections. 

    • Track damage near Spring Mill Station on the Manayunk/Norristown Line, Photo Credit SEPTA
      Track damage near Spring Mill Station on the Manayunk/Norristown Line, Photo Credit SEPTA
    • Track damage near Spring Mill Station on the Manayunk/Norristown Line, Photo Credit SEPTA
      Track damage near Spring Mill Station on the Manayunk/Norristown Line, Photo Credit SEPTA
    • Track damage near Spring Mill Station on the Manayunk/Norristown Line, Photo Credit SEPTA
      Track damage near Spring Mill Station on the Manayunk/Norristown Line, Photo Credit SEPTA
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The rain caused flooding at 15th Street Station when water from nearby streets and the surrounding Dilworth Plaza construction site flowed into the station, and Mezzanine areas of the Broad Street Line’s North Philadelphia and Spring Garden stations flooded. 

SEPTA released a summary of the delays in the evening following the rainstorm, but throughout the day, @SEPTA_Social, the authority’s Twitter account, shared photos of track damage and repair work progress updates.

“While there is never a good time for service delays,” SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey said in the letter to customers, “foul weather conditions just compound the grump factor when all you want to do is get to your destination, so we appreciate your patience.”

Perhaps in an effort to minimize the “grump factor,” Casey urged SEPTA customers to check the authority’s website Alert Box and Twitter and Facebook accounts for the latest service news.

About the author

Christine Fisher, Transportation reporter

From 2012-2014 Christine covered transportation, writing about everything from pedestrian concerns to bicycle infrastructure, bridges, trail networks, public transit and more. Her favorite assignments sent her bushwhacking through Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-cleared bike trails, catching a glimpse of SEPTA’s inner workings or pounding the pavement to find out what pedestrians really think. Christine also covered community news for Eyes on the Street, where her work ranged from food sovereignty to public art and urban greening. She first joined PlanPhilly in fall 2011 as an intern through a partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods website. 



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