SEPTA adds more cars to ease regional rail congestion

SEPTA's Jeff Kneuppel gives an update on their regional rail service (Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

SEPTA's Jeff Kneuppel gives an update on their regional rail service (Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

In the second week of running a rail system vastly abbreviated by sidelining 120 damaged cars, SEPTA officials say they are beginning to get a handle on the “new normal” after reworking train schedules and borrowing coaches from other transit agencies. 

SEPTA general manager Jeff Kneuppel said ridership was up Monday on the regional rails, as expected because of people returning from vacation. More commuters meant more filled trains passing by stations closest to the city.

“Friday I talked about only one pass up, this morning there were nine, most of them fairly in close, Elkins Park and down,” Knueppel said during a news conference. “However, with our new interim schedule, we created a train that could handle that, so there were not long waits if there was a bypass.”

SEPTA is still working to improve the situation by adding more cars to make up for the 120 that are out of service.

“We’re still seeing delays on the railroad,” Knueppel acknowledged. “It’s the kind of situation that’s going to continue on and [there will be] crowding but we continue to work towards making things better.”

SEPTA is also considering adding buses to supplement its fleet of trains, but Kneuppel stressed there is no quick fix to the problem. 

For the rentals, SEPTA is paying MARC in Maryland $19,462 a week to rent five coaches; New Jersey Transit $15,570 per week for one locomotive and eight coaches; and Amtrak $16,375 per week for two locomotives and five coaches. This brings the total to more than $51,000 per week for what cold be two months or more. 

SEPTA is expected to be compensated under a warranty agreement with Hyundai-Rotem. SEPTA sidelined 120 Silverliner V cars on July 1 after defects were found in the suspension systems.

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