The award will be made through the US Dept. of Transportation’s TIGER V (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program, to help fund the SEPTA-CSX Separation Project. The project has a total estimated cost of approximately $38 million.
This effort, which is a partnership between SEPTA and CSX Transportation, will separate passenger and freight rail operations — both of which are experiencing sustained growth — along a six-mile portion of track owned by CSX between the Woodbourne and West Trenton Stations.
Currently, this shared segment of track carries 57 SEPTA trains each day, serving riders on the West Trenton Line. Ridership on the West Trenton Line has increased by more than 60% over the last decade — to approximately 12,500 passenger trips on an average weekday — making it one of the most heavily travelled routes in the transit system.
The shared track span also provides a key route to moving goods throughout the Greater Philadelphia region, with over 20 freight trains passing through daily. It provides access to the Port of Philadelphia, making it critical to the local economy, and also has an impact nationally in linking CSX’s north-south network.
The increased activity in both passenger and freight service, however, has created heavy traffic and delays, particularly during rush hour. By upgrading this six-mile stretch, including construction of a new four-mile track on the main portion for passenger trains, SEPTA and CSX will be able to relieve this congestion, and provide room for future growth. There will also be upgrades to existing track and other infrastructure, which will allow for more efficient operations.
“This project is not only critical to SEPTA and CSX, but to the region as a whole,” said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale “Pat” T. Deon, Sr. “This will significantly enhance a portion of the rail corridor that is vital to our economy — ensuring that commuters have reliable transportation to get to and from work, and that businesses can send and receive goods efficiently and effectively.”
“SEPTA would like to thank the Southeastern Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation, including Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, for their support in the effort to obtain federal funding for this initiative,” said SEPTA General Mgr. Joseph Casey. “We’re grateful to the Dept. of Transportation for this award, and we’re proud to be recognized as good stewards of the taxpayer money we receive.”
Members of the southeastern Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation noted the benefits of the project.
“This project will have a huge positive impact on the everyday lives of those commuting and traveling to Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania,” said Sen. Casey (D-Pa.). “By prioritizing transit vehicles and making improvements to railways, this program will make Southeastern Pennsylvania an even more attractive place to live, work and visit.”
“SEPTA and CSX have worked together to devise a cost-effective plan that will streamline passenger and freight operations in Bucks Co.,” said Sen. Toomey (R-Pa.). “I applaud the DoT’s decision to support this important rail-improvement project.”
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks), in whose district the project is located, noted the increasing importance of rail travel in the region, “both for local commuters who rely on SEPTA’s regional service, as well as for companies advancing area commerce.”
“A safe and efficient public transportation system is critical to my constituents,” said Congressman Robert A. Brady (D-Phila.). “Additionally, SEPTA is one of our region’s largest and most important employers. That is why I was proud to work with my regional colleagues to win this grant.”