OTOL Philadelphia Area All Request RailFest 2012 (PAARRF) can now be announced. It will take place over the weekend of January 28-29, 2012.
Based on the suggestions already received, an itinerary was put together that satisfies most of those suggestions while maximizing the number of activities we can do as well as the number of transit modes we can experience. That itinerary is here.
Here are my current listings of hotels and restaurants near rail stations. You would probably be interested in staying the evenings of Friday, 1/27/12 and Saturday, 1/28/12.
The itinerary includes a quick round trip to Paoli on Amtrak's Keystone service. If you book this ahead of time, keep in mind that that the Paoli ticket office is closed on weekends, along with the Quick-Trak machine. Therefore you may wish to reserve the PHL-PAO round trip on one reservation. Another option would be to book for a weekday around that time, since the tickets are unreserved on this segment of the Keystones. However, since the Keystone is the last activity of the day, some of you may wish to remain on board to continue to other locations. If you travel north/east of Philly, the Keystones do require reservations so you can't plan on picking the ticket up right before departure from Paoli. With AAA or NARP discount, Amtrak fare can be had for under 6 bucks each way between Philly and Paoli.
For SEPTA, I think the easiest fare instrument for us would be the $11 Independence Pass each day. While the cumulative SEPTA rail travel costs each day may not surpass $11, this would avoid the need to pay individual fares for each segment or fish around for change and small bills. This can be purchased at any of the downtown rail stations, or aboard an inbound train if you're heading to the Fest from someplace else. Those who originate in Trenton would pay $16. The Independence Pass, of course, does not cover the Amtrak round trip... but you could elect to pay for Amtrak one way and ride SEPTA in the other with the same pass.
More updates to follow. Please begin to e-mail me whether you can attend one or both days, and a guest list will be put together.