Just one week to go until the OTOL Philadelphia Area RailFest 2004 event! It's time for another update. You can also watch the official homepage for updates at http://pages.prodigy...hlfest/home.htm
It looks as though we should be able to follow our primary itinerary as planned, as no announcements have thus far been made regarding any service disruptions.
Our Fests on both days will begin aboard a train, rather than a formal meeting spot in a train station as we have done in the past. This is due to the nature of Philadelphia's Center City Commuter Connection, which makes stops at three different major stations.
On Saturday, January 17th, we will be boarding an R2 Wilmington train. This train will be marked as R2 Wilmington, but we will be going only as far as Sharon Hill. The people who live or are staying in Center City can board this train at 9:29 AM at Market East, or 9:34 AM at Suburban Station. This train will also stop at 30th Street Station (upper level, center platform) at 9:38 AM.
When we get to Sharon Hill, we will have the first of two healthy walks between stations to occur that day. It is approximately a ten-block walk (5 long blocks, then 5 shorter blocks) to the Sharon Hill trolley station along Chester Pike.
We will take the 102 Sharon Hill trolley from there to 69th Street Terminal.
From 69th Street Terminal, we will ride end-to-end on the Market-Frankford Subway-Elevated (MFSE). At the other end of the line, we will briefly examine the new Frankford Transportation Center that opened this past summer. Then we will board another MFSE train back to Center City, bound for 11th & Market Streets.
Lunchtime will take about one hour. You will have the choice of two food courts in the Gallery at Market East, or if you can eat faster, the nearby Reading Terminal Market.
We will need to catch our next train at 1:15 PM, so keep that in mind as you use your "off" time wisely. There are rest rooms located in both food courts, as well as in the Market East station.
The next segment of our Saturday Fest will be a round trip to Chestnut Hill over two different routes. We will take an R8 Chestnut Hill West outbound to Chestnut Hill, and then we will return to the very same platform at Market East aboard an R7 Chestnut Hill East train, two hours 45 minutes later.
We will then board an R5 Thorndale-Paoli train (which should be marked as R5 Malvern), but we will only go as far as Overbrook. From the Overbrook rail station, we will have our second walk of the day, roughly six blocks down 63rd Street to the Malvern Loop at 63rd & Malvern.
From there, we will take a 10 trolley inbound back towards Center City. We will get off at 30th Street Station.
Anyone wishing to leave the group at this time to catch a train home from there can do so. For those continuing with us, dinner will be at the food court at 30th Street Station, just off the AMTRAK waiting room.
After dinner, you still have the option of leaving us. You also can participate in our final run of the day, a round trip to Philadelphia International Airport on the R1 Airport line. It should be dark by then, so don't expect to see much from this train.
Once we come back from the airport on the R1, you once again have the option of getting off at 30th Street Station to proceed home, or stay aboard if you live in Center City or are staying there overnight.
Sunday, January 18th promises to be just as exciting. We will confine our activities to three ex-Reading Railroad lines north of the city.
Our travels will begin on an R3 West Trenton train to West Trenton. This train can be boarded at the airport at 9:09 AM (or shortly thereafter), Eastwick at 9:17 AM, 30th Street Station (upper level, center platform) at 9:30 AM, Suburban Station at 9:35 AM, or Market East at 9:40 AM.
We will take an inbound R3 as far as Jenkintown-Wyncote, where we will detrain and then catch an R5 Lansdale-Doylestown train north to Doylestown.
Doylestown will be our lunch stop, as we will eat at the Boston Market restaurant across the street from the station.
We will take the R5 back towards the city, but will get off at Glenside, in order to catch an R2 Warminster train to Warminster.
Then our Fest will officially end with our return on the R2 train to Center City. Those who need to return to their Center City hotels to pick up their luggage can do so, while those who want to return home to out-of-town points can stay on the train to 30th Street Station. This same train becomes an R1 Airport train, so it will go directly to Eastwick and all airport stations.
A colorful online version of our itinerary can be found here: http://pages.prodigy...t/itinerary.htm
....is a concern. No matter what happens next weekend, our Fest is still ON. However, I reserve the right to either curtail some activities if we are running late due to weather-related delays, or if our health and/or safety are threatened. I realize that people are coming from as far away New England, the Midwest, and Idaho, so I remain committed to providing as much rail riding as possible over the two-day Fest period. If the majority of the group wishes to end things early, we will abide by their wishes.
A folder will be given to each participant. Inside will be guides to each route we will be taking, as well as a quiz about passenger railroading in the Philadelphia area.
I took two more preview trips for the Fest during the month of December. One was on the 12th, and the other was on the 31st. Together on those two days, I was able to collect plenty of information for the route guides, including the 10 and 102 trolleys, the entire Market-Frankford Subway-Elevated, and even the 34 trolley and the R6 Cynwyd lines, which will be visited at a future Fest in Philadelphia.
The route guides have all been completed, and are in the last stages of proofreading. A good percentage of them have already been printed. Alan Burden has been a huge help to me in doing the proofing and printing for me.
I have updated the restaurant listing on my website. Trenton was removed since we won't be visiting there during this Fest. In its place, Sharon Hill and the 69th Street Terminal area were added. We don't anticipate making meal stops at those locations, but they were added just in case anybody wishes to either join us or leave the group at those points. The restaurant listing is at http://pages.prodigy...hlfest/food.htm
If you are coming from out of town, and have not booked a room by now, good luck. It is still expected that there may be a football playoff game in town that weekend, so affordable accommodations may be hard to find. If you still need it, here is the hotel list that Alan compiled for us: http://pages.prodigy...fest/hotels.htm
Several of us are staying at the Hilton Garden Inn, at 11th & Arch Streets. Another several people plan to stay in various hotels near the airport. Still others will be at other Center City hotels.
I have provided a decent breakdown of what it might cost you to ride all those trains. What you pay will depend on how long you remain with the group. My costs pages are here: http://pages.prodigy...lfest/costs.htm
We have agreed that the most affordable fare is the SEPTA Weekly TransPass (cost: $18.75 per person), which has "anywhere" privileges on weekends. The pass that will be valid over the weekend of the 17th & 18th is on sale NOW. If you live in the Philadelphia area, you need to pick it up in person at a SEPTA sales location that offers this particular fare medium. A list of Center City locations is on my costs pages above.
Those coming from outside the Philadelphia area and who were already on the guest list were offered another option. Bill Magee is pre-purchasing SEPTA Weekly TransPasses for those who request them. Bill offers the option of paying him by PayPal, or else you can send a check to me and I will get it to Bill. The important thing is that if you have not already contacted Bill or me, and you wish to have a TransPass, please let me know by tomorrow (Sunday) evening. Bill needs a number by then, so that he can complete the TransPass purchase on Monday. Please also let me know whether you wish to pay Bill through PayPal, or send a check, and I will let you know how to go about that process.
As for children, the best option for them (since they pay a reduced fare) is to pay as they go. Since most of their fares will be 75 cents, bring plenty of quarters along.
Want To Join Us?
It is never too late to get your name on our guest list. Feel free to e-mail me, and let me know you would like to come. Just tell me if you will join us on Saturday, Sunday, or both days. Remember you get credit for participating even if you only take one trip segment with us. Feel free to sleep late and join us later, or leave the group early if you have other plans. You also are more than welcome to bring a spouse, kid, or other family members, or a friend with you.
As we have done at previous Fests, I will keep a listing of all participants and their cell phone numbers. These prove to be quite valuable in cases of missed trains and changed plans. Please e-mail me your cell phone number, if you have one. I've e-mailed to many of you my cell phone number and text messaging address in case I need to be reached over that weekend.
Further updates, if necessary, will be coming later in the week. I look forward to this Fest, and hope to see all of you in Philadelphia next week!
Edited by KevinKorell, 16 January 2004 - 04:04 PM.