SEPTA upgrade project to disrupt travel on 3 Regional Rail lines

A train pulling into 30th Street Station. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A train pulling into 30th Street Station. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

This article originally appeared on PlanPhilly.

Some of the Regional Rail infrastructure on the Media/Elwyn line is over 80 years old. The section of the rail line between 30th Street Station and the Arsenal Interlocking, which is just below University City, is in need of serious repair.

So from Saturday, July 20, to Sunday, Aug. 4, SEPTA plans to make some major improvements in which things such as overhead wires, rails, and retaining walls will receive some upgrades.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said the work is necessary to prevent even worse travel complications.

“It’s a matter of keeping up with them, making sure they’re maintained number one for safety,” said Busch. “But also so we don’t have the situation where our infrastructure degrades to the point we can’t operate on it, then that causes a wider service disruption.”

The project is called the Southwest Connection Improvement Program, but some riders may call it a headache.

In addition to the Media/Elwyn line, the Wilmington/Newark and Airport lines, both of which pass through the area, will also be affected. In fact, there will be no train service on the Airport line, but shuttle buses will be available.

Shuttle bus service will operate between 49th Street and 30th Street Station on the Media/Elwyn line as well. The train will run from Elwyn to 49th Street on a special construction schedule.

Service will operate between Newark and 30th Street Station on the Wilmington/Newark line. There will be no service to or from University City, Suburban, Jefferson, or Temple University stations.

SEPTA encourages riders to use other services it offers.

Busch said SEPTA understands there will be pain to riders, but they can “look forward to hopefully a more efficient trip on the Regional Rail when service gets back going.”

“We know that it’s an inconvenience for our customers for the two weeks while this work’s going on,” said Busch. “So we would tell people look out for our ambassadors. They can help you with any questions. We have signage throughout the system now. And to please check our website for the special schedules that will be in effect during this period of time.”

The three-year, $71 million project began last summer and is expected to be completed in 2020, after a final phase of construction.

“We had a successful effort last summer,” said Busch. “We’re just looking to build on that now for this year and then moving in to next year.”

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal