Expect a more slimmed down Santa Express train from SEPTA this year

A Christmas tree is visible in front of Philadelphia City Hall.

File photo: Philadelphia’s 2020 City Hall Christmas Tree. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

SEPTA’s Santa Express will be rolling once again to help ring in the holiday season this Black Friday. But unlike previous years, the specially decorated train will only run on the Broad Street Line.

In its heyday, SEPTA had a pair of Market-Frankford trains, as well as regional rail lines featuring Santa, Mrs. Claus, and even reindeer-costumed elves to kick off the holiday season at the then-Gallery shopping mall at the Market East Station.This year, just a single train will originate at the stadium complex at NRG Station at Broad and Pattison and go to City Hall, where the ice skating rink is set up to receive the jolly old elf.

SEPTA’s Andrew Busch said there will be a party in South Philadelphia targeted at young children before the train takes off.

“Starting at 10 a.m. at NRG Station, we’re going to have live music, balloon animals. We’re going to have some mascots there. We’ll have the SEPTA Paws mascot, and rumor is, that we’re going to have a special visit from a certain Phillies mascot,” Busch said.

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At 10:45 a.m. the special train with Santa on board will run from the sports complex station to City Hall station.

“Santa will go to the Dilworth Park festivities that continue until noon,” Busch said. “So SEPTA is the vehicle to get Santa and all of those helpers and everyone who wants to come out and celebrate get them down to City Hall.”

The ride on the 10:45 a.m. train will be free to those headed to the festivities. There is parking available at the stadium complex for those who want to drive to South Philadelphia and ride the train into Center City.

Busch said the decision to go with the single train came after the event was skipped during the pandemic, and in an effort to help concentrate all its resources on a single point for everyone to rally around.

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