FRA Has Plans for a Rail Tunnel Under Center City to the Airport


The Federal Railroad Administration, having come up with three plans for the future of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) came back to Philadelphia yesterday to gather public comment on each of the plans.

Most of those who commented had this message: If you really want to transform the NEC, you’d better cut out a lot of the gold-plating on that top-drawer plan.

The FRA’s three plans, and their price tags, are: Read more »

Amtrak Announces Pope Plan: Beefed-Up Service, Reservations Required

Amtrak | Shutterstock. Pope Francis | giulio napolitano /

Amtrak | Shutterstock. Pope Francis | giulio napolitano /

Amtrak is beefing up its service into Philadelphia for the pope’s visit, the agency said Friday, but there will also be temporary restrictions on travel, and the ripple effect is expected to be felt throughout the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington D.C..

Also, they’re closing the bathrooms at 30th Street Station that weekend. (Don’t worry: There’ll be some portable facilities positioned outside.)

According to Amtrak: Read more »

Report: SEPTA on Track With Safety Improvements

Septa regional rail train

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

By year’s end, SEPTA may well be running one of the safest passenger rail systems in the United States.

That’s because the transit agency is among the few on track to meet a federal mandate to install “positive train control” technology throughout its Regional Rail system by the federal deadline of Jan. 1. A new report from the Federal Railroad Administration shows SEPTA is just one of 11 railroads — out of 41 nationwide — expected to meet the deadline.

“It may be a photo finish,” SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams told PlanPhilly, which first reported on the FRA report.

Almost half of SEPTA’s 290 locomotives are equipped with the new safety technology. The agency has been taking cars out of service — making trains more crowded — in order to meet the deadline.
Read more »

Headlines: Big Plan to Cap the Railyards at 30th Street Station Needs You

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

30th Street Station. Photo | Jeff Fusco

After the planning process for the 175-acre area surrounding 30th Street Station officially kicked off in January, the Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan is starting to take shape.

A team lead by Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, PennDOT and SEPTA (plus additional public stakeholders) will release three conceptual diagrams at an open house scheduled for tonight from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 30th Street Station.

Each one is an ambitious view into what one of the busiest transportation hubs in the nation could look like in the not-too-distant future. Amtrak gave PlanPhilly’s Jim Saksa a sneak preview of the trio of concepts, which call for capping parts of the railyards or the highway in some fashion.

Read more »

BizFeed: Amtrak Passengers Stuck After Crew “Ran Out of Hours”


Still in Delaware? Yup. arvitalyaa/Shutterstock

1. Amtrak Passengers Stuck in Delaware After Crew “Ran Out of Hours”

The News: On it’s trip from New York to Washington D.C., an Amtrak train surprisingly screeched to a stop just before the Newark, Del. station. Then the waiting began. Turns out, Amtrak’s crew had “run out of hours” and needed another crew to relieve them. It took one hour and 12 minutes before the new crew arrived and the train got moving again. Read more »

Temple: 12 Amtrak Passengers Remain Hospitalized, 5 Critical

Emergency personnel work the scene of a deadly train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia.

Emergency personnel work the scene of a deadly train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia.

[Update 1:38 p.m.] CNN reports: “Twenty-five people were still being treated at five hospitals midday Friday, including eight in critical condition, according to hospital spokespeople.” The numbers below reflect just the people hospitalized at Temple.

[Original] Temple University Hospital released information on the passengers still in the hospital from Tuesday night’s crash of Amtrak 188.

The hospital now has 12 passengers from the crash, up from 11 the day before. One patient was transferred from another hospital overnight. Five patients are in critical condition. Read more »

The Politics of Amtrak Funding (Or: Why Conservatives Hate Trains So Much)

Amtrak train | Richard Thornton / Ayn Rand stamp | catwalker /

Amtrak train | Richard Thornton / Ayn Rand stamp | catwalker /

The House Appropriations committee made a curious move yesterday just hours after the deadly Amtrak derailment: It voted to cut $252 million in funding from Amtrak.

Just because there was a horrible train crash does not mean rail funding should be increased (or even kept the same). But, obviously, a lot of people were angry at the vote — especially after reports that a safety measure called positive train control would have prevented the train from traveling so fast around the curve. (Amtrak has begun installing PTC on the Northeast Corridor, but federal officials said it is not yet operational.) Let’s take one angry comment at random: Read more »

Eli Kulp Injured in Amtrak Derailment

Photo by Jim Graham

Photo by Jim Graham

The Philadelphia Business Journal is reporting that chef Eli Kulp of High Street Hospitality Group (Fork, High Street on Market, “sustained serious injuries” in yesterday’s derailment of Amtrak train 188. According to Fran Hilario of the PBJ, the severity of his injuries have not been disclosed.

Kulp, who moved to Philadelphia from New York in 2012 to take over Ellen Yin’s Fork, has won several accolades since; including Best New Chef by Food & Wine, while Bon Appetit named High Street on Market the second best new restaurant in America.

Kulp and Yin announced in March that they were opening a High Street on Market location in New York.

Award-winning Philadelphia chef injured in Amtrak derailment [Philadelphia Business Journal]

Derailment Update: Investigation Begins; East Coast Travel Affected

A crime scene investigator looks inside a train car after a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek)

A crime scene investigator looks inside a train car after a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek)

[Update 7 a.m.] A press conference was held just now at Temple University Hospital; Dr. Herbert Cushing says a sixth person in the accident has died. Eight are in critical condition. Most of the injured had arm, leg, and rib injuries.

[Original 6:29 a.m.] Good morning. Here are the latest things we know about Tuesday night’s deadly derailment of an Amtrak passenger train in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia:

The death toll remains at 5: Six other people were said to be in critical condition; more than 140 people were taken to the hospital.

Transit around Philadelphia, and in the Northeast Corridor, remains deeply affected. SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill West line is operating with delays; the Trenton line is suspended until further notice. Amtrak, meanwhile, says: “modified Amtrak service will be provided between Washington and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston. There will be no Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia, but New Jersey Transit will honor Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton.”

The investigation has just begun. “Neither Amtrak nor the Federal Railroad Administration has yet discussed potential causes,” Politico reports.

But one of America’s deadliest train crashes took place at almost the exact same spot in 1943. The Frankford Junction Crash killed 79 people and injured 117.

And political debates are already started: The derailment came on the eve of a Congressional hearing to cut Amtrak’s budget, and seems certain to renew the debate over infrastructure spending.

For now, stay away. USA Today reports: “Police in Philadelphia issued a statement asking members of the public not to go anywhere near the scene of the derailment to allow first responders to do their jobs.”
Read more »

At Least Five Deaths in Amtrak Derailment, Says Mayor

[UPDATE: 1:13 A.M.] Mayor Nutter has updated the injury toll: 65 people have been confirmed injured, 6 of whom are considered critical. The number of fatalities remains five. The mayor says that he cannot confirm that all passengers have been accounted for at this time.

[ORIGINAL: 11:50 P.M.] An Amtrak train bound from Washington, D.C., to New York City derailed in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia around 9:30 p.m. tonight. Numerous injuries were initially reported and, according to Mayor Michael Nutter, there have been at least five fatalities. A call to Amtrak has yet to be returned.

In a statement to the press given at around 11:45 p.m., Nutter said “the train’s seven cars, including the engine, are in various stages of disarray, turned over, upside down, on their side.” He added that while many individuals were able to walk off the train, “I’ve been down on the train, on the tracks with my staff. It is an absolute disastrous mess.”

Executive Fire Chief Clifford Gilliam told the media that injured passengers were taken to hospitals including Temple, Einstein, Torresdale, Hahnemann and Jefferson. Read more »

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