The R3 is a route of the SEPTA Regional Rail commuter rail system. The former Pennsylvania Railroad end of the route serves the western suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with service to Media, terminating in Elwyn in Middletown Township, Pennsylvania, and the former Reading Company end serves the northern suburbs with service via Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, terminating at West Trenton in Ewing, New Jersey. Service once extended further on both ends - west beyond Elwyn to West Chester and northeast beyond West Trenton to Jersey City, New Jersey.

R3 Media/Elwyn

The Media/Elwyn Line connects Center City Philadelphia with Elwyn, branching from the Northeast Corridor at Arsenal Interlocking, just south of 30th Street Station. The line, known officially as the "SEPTA West Chester Line," is a two-track line and was electrified in the 1920s, at the same time the present day Northeast Corridor was electrified between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware. Electrified service to Media and West Chester was opened on December 2, 1928.

between Media and Elwyn. The present crossings were built by the PRR in the early 1920s during the electrification project.

The line was originally built by the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad. The first section opened November 15, 1853, from Philadelphia to Burmont. On October 19, 1854 an extension to Media opened, and further extensions were built, culminating with the completion to West Chester on November 11, 1858. In the early 1880s the Pennsylvania Railroad gained control, merging into Penn Central in 1968 and Conrail in 1976. SEPTA took over operations in 1983.

As of 2005, most R3 weekday Media/Elwyn trains continue through downtown as R3 West Trenton trains. All weekend trains terminate downtown.

The R3 Elwyn makes the following station stops, proceeding west from 30th Street Station:

R3 West Trenton

The West Trenton Line connects Center City Philadelphia with the West Trenton section of Ewing, New Jersey, where a branch formerly ran to downtown Trenton. Like all of the Reading Company's commuter lines, the West Trenton Line was electrified in the early 1930s and has a mix of at-grade and grade separated crossings. Electrified service to West Trenton (and to Hatboro, Lansdale and Doylestown) was opened on July 26, 1931. The line splits from the SEPTA Main Line at Jenkintown, running northeast. At Bethayres, it crosses over the remnants of the former Philadelphia, Newtown and New York Railroad, which once connected with the R8 Fox Chase line. At Oakford, the former New York Short Line Railroad, once part of the Reading's main line to West Trenton and Jersey City, merges. The West Trenton Railroad Bridge, a concrete arch bridge, crosses the Delaware River to the final stop at West Trenton.

Prior to 1983, the line continued north to Newark (Jersey City prior to the Aldene Plan of the 1960's), using Budd Company-built diesel-powered multiple-unit cars, but was dropped when SEPTA eliminated funding for Conrail operations north of the electrified lines. Currently, New Jersey Transit is looking at starting a commuter service between West Trenton and Newark, allowing an alternative to the SEPTA/NJ Transit service on the nearby Northeast Corridor line, as well as expanding rail service to currently unserved areas of Central New Jersey.

The line north of the split at Jenkintown was originally built as the National Railway project, opened on May 1, 1876 to provide an alternate to the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Companies' monopoly over Philadelphia-New York City travel. From Jenkintown to the Delaware River it was built by the North Pennsylvania Railroad as a branch, while the New Jersey section was built by the Delaware and Bound Brook Railroad, merging with the Central Railroad of New Jersey at Bound Brook. In addition to the Philadelphia and Reading Railway (later the Reading Company), which leased the North Pennsylvania Railroad on May 14, 1879, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad also used the line for passenger and freight service to New York City. In the mid-1900s, the New York Short Line Railroad opened, providing a cutoff from the Philadelphia, Newtown and New York Railroad (now the R8 Fox Chase line) to the main New York line at Oakford. That cutoff is no longer used, and the R3 West Trenton uses the original route via Jenkintown. In 1976 the Reading merged into Conrail, and in 1983 SEPTA took over operations.

North of Neshaminy, track operations are controlled using CSX radio frequencies.

Currently, most weekday R3 trains continue through downtown to Media/Elwyn, while almost all weekend trains are paired with R1 Airport service.

The R3 West Trenton makes the following station stops, proceeding east from Market East Station:

List of stations:

Ridership on the West Trenton line has grown 30% between 1995 and 2005. Data from SEPTA Annual Service Plans:

External links

* [http://www.septa.org/service/sched/pdfs/R3WT.pdf SEPTA - R3 West Trenton] schedule (PDF)
* [http://www.septa.org/service/sched/pdfs/R3ME.pdf SEPTA - R3 Media/Elwyn] schedule (PDF)


* [http://www.earlpleasants.com/search_1.asp Railroad History Database]
* [http://www.prrths.com/PRR_hagley_intro.htm PRR Chronology] (Christopher T. Baer)
* [http://www.dvrpc.org/transportation/capital/tip/tip-search/Detailpa05.asp?projid=60636&searchtype=MPMS DVRPC Project Page]

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