SEPTA to close lines for major construction work

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PHILADELPHIA – Nearly 27,000 daily riders on three regional rail lines operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will face longer commutes for the next two weeks as major work on the Arsenal Interlocking, south of Philadelphia, takes place.

Beginning July 20, the Airport Line will be closed in its entirety, and the Media/Elwyn Line will be closed from 30th Street Station to 49th Street. Bus shuttles will be provided.

Trains will operate between 30th Street and Newark, Delaware on a special construction timetable and there will be no service to the Suburban, Jefferson or Temple University stations.

The work is part of the ongoing $71 million Southwest Connection Improvement Program to repair and upgrade mainline infrastructure.

The decision to close lines and compress major work into a two-week window was made to avoid longer disruptions, explains SEPTA general manager Jeffrey Knueppel. “When we do things like this, we pack a lot of work, projects that would normally disrupt things all year long, and we can condense them in one time period.”

The midsummer timing is deliberate as well. “We try to do it when our ridership is the lowest,” Knueppel says.

Arsenal Interlocking controls movements to Media/Elwyn, Wilmington/Newark, and the Airport Line. Prior work in 2018 replaced three high-speed turnouts and installed a new crossover near the University City station.

Ongoing work will replace a switch and install the new Civic Interlocking. A new turnback will add capacity for future higher-frequency service to University City, an area that Knueppel says is growing rapidly.

Additional heavy maintenance work is planned along the Airport Line. SEPTA is also doing construction to replace a bridge at Woodland Avenue that carries two trolley lines and road traffic over the Media/Elwyn Line.

All affected service is scheduled to be back to normal Aug. 5.
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