News & Reviews News Wire SEPTA moves to increase rail service following I-95 bridge collapse (updated)

SEPTA moves to increase rail service following I-95 bridge collapse (updated)

By Trains Staff | June 11, 2023

| Last updated on February 4, 2024

Plans still being finalized for increased capacity, operations on three Regional Rail lines

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Five-car electric multiple-unit trainset
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority plans to add service on three Regional Rail lines following Sunday’s collapse of a bridge on Interstate 95. SEPTA

PHILADELPHIA — The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is moving to add service on three Regional Rail lines following the collapse of a bridge today (Sunday, June 11) on Interstate 95, a problem that could snarl commuting and impact other traffic on the East Coast’s primary north-south highway for months.

The bridge collapsed following a fire involving a gasoline tank truck.

SEPTA says in an updated bulletin on its website that it will add capacity  on the Trenton, West Trenton, and Fox Chase lines until further notice, and is added three trains during the morning rush hour and three during the evening rush. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the agency’s CEO, Leslie Richards, said SEPTA is “evaluating all options to enhance service for those who are impacted,” and that a service plan for the early part of the week is expected to be finalized Monday morning.

Smoke rises from collapsed freeway bridge
Interstate 95 could be closed for months after this bridge collapsed because of a fire involving a gasoline truck. City of Philadelphia

Trains on those three routes to the northeast of central Philadelphia will see more cars added to scheduled trains. Trains on the Cynwyd Line, a 6.1-mile, three-station route, will be temporarily replaced with bus service so personnel and equipment from that line can be reallocated to the expanded service elsewhere. Parking will be free at all Regional Rail lots, as well as a lots at the Frankford Transportation Center, Fern Rock, Fox Chase, and Torresdale.

Richards asked for commuters’ patience, the Inquirer said: “It is going to take longer than normal to get to work tomorrow.”

The collapse came after a fire reported about 6:20 a.m. involving a tank truck with a capacity of 8,500 gallons of gasoline at I-95’s Cottman Avenue exit. About 7 miles of I-95 are currently closed as a result. More than 130,000 vehicles use the highway daily, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it is sending a team of investigators to the accident scene.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro has said repairs are expected to take months; the Inquirer reports Shapiro will issue a disaster proclamation in response, which will allow the state to access federal funds for repairs.

The website Billy Penn notes that a similar collapse on I-85 in Atlanta following a 2017 fire was repaired in about six weeks — more than a month ahead of schedule — in part because of an incentive plan that paid bonuses to contractors if they finished early.

Trains News Wire has emailed Amtrak to ask if it plans any service changes in light of the incident and is awaiting a response.

— Updated at 6:20 p.m. CDT to add information on NTSB investigation, SEPTA map; updated at 8:45 p.m. with plans for additional rush-hour trains.

Map of the SEPTA Regional Rail system
The SEPTA rail network. The three lines to see added service are in the northeast. SEPTA

13 thoughts on “SEPTA moves to increase rail service following I-95 bridge collapse (updated)

  1. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, I am sure auto and truck traffic will be a you know what show. A similar thing happened in Oakland CA awhile back and it caused a mess with traffic but this one looks even worse.

  2. They might want to take a page from MBTA’s pricing structure while construction is going on for a few months in Boston as well.

    1. There’s more to it than lowering the fare.

      It remains to be seen how much patronage MBTA will pick up. I’ve never seen any tracking of highway patronage onto enhanced transit, during highway construction. From what I’ve seen, not much.

      In the 1990’s. there was a two-year resurfacing project on IH 94 in Milwaukee, leading to the west suburbs. On the basis more of wishful thinking than analysis, Hiawatha trains were extended west from Milwaukee to Wauwatosa, Elm Grove, Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown. Patronage was small the first year. The second year, the idea was quietly dropped. This is an area that some felt needed a commuter train anyway. But not even highway construction could generate patronage.

      My point is (as I posted earlier today in the MBTA article) let’s look at the data as it unfolds. Not quietly drop the issue if transit patronage turns out to be disappointing.

  3. this could be an opportunity for rail transportation to regain some riders. The entire organization will need to commit to support this effort.

    Additionallly, I have always been more concerned that fuel truck conflagrations are more at risk of severe consequences than rail, because these trucks are more pervasive, even into residential areas. We are fortunate that this event happened on a Interstate highway rather than a city street.

    1. I very much share your concern about more hazmat on the highways, after East Palestine.

      Ironically, Andrew, the closing of Interstate 95 in Pennsylvania will result in more hazmat on various streets and highways.

  4. I am glad to see SEPTA act so quickly. They usually take forever to make changes in service. If they do a good job they may win new riders for when the road is repaired since even when 95 is not impacted by accidents it can be a mess. Amtrak should also work to promote their service for people who usually drive between cities north of Philadelphia and to people who usually drive north to cities they serve north of Philadelphia.

  5. Now, if they can properly take advantage of it. We shall know by the end of the week. Tomorrow will be a circus up and down the line.

  6. I honestly thought that the bridge collapse would give SEPTA and Amtrak some kind of opportunity.

    1. If you look at a NJ map, you’ll see that motorists have other parallel options readily available in I-295 and the NJ Turnpike. Those whose destination is south of Wilmington or north of Trenton usually take one of them to avoid going through Philly. I can see SEPTA getting a noticeable increase but probably not much impact on Amtrak.

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