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					PHOENIXVILLE
MAIN LINE
PASSENGER
RAIL
ASSESSMENT



Submitted to

MAIN STREET COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION




Submitted by
Gannett Fleming, Inc.
Philadelphia PA

April 2008
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT



TABLE OF CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION ...............................................1

BACKGROUND .................................................2
  Existing Land Use .......................................2
  Roadways ...................................................4
  NS Phoenixville Line ...................................4
    Service History ........................................5
    Current Status.........................................7
    Physical Condition ...................................8

ANALYSIS........................................................9
  Alternative Alignments ................................9
  Alternatives Evaluation ............................. 12
  Cost Estimation ........................................ 13
     Service Plans ........................................ 13
     Infrastructure........................................ 13
     Rolling Stock ........................................ 15
     Soft Costs ............................................. 18
     Cost Estimate........................................ 18
  Project Evaluation .................................... 19

CONCLUSION ................................................. 20
  Regional Implications ................................ 20
  Next Steps ............................................... 20
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                  Page 1



I N T R ODU C T I ON                                              The “grind” of a daily commute on overcrowded
                                                               roadways through the suburbs eventually takes its toll on
Virtually all passenger rail planning concepts for Eastern
                                                               every level of the workforce. This contributes to an
Chester County have been oriented along the alignment of
                                                               unstable workforce, resulting in constant turnover of
the Schuylkill River Valley, passing from Reading to
                                                               executive, professional and technical employees as well as
Center City Philadelphia via Norristown. The river has
                                                               those in the entry-level, service and administrative ranks as
defined the traditional path of travel and commerce
                                                               individuals seek less stressful commuting options and a
through Phoenixville and the other “canal boroughs” from
                                                               better quality of life.
Colonial days. This was sufficient through the end of
commuter rail service in 1981. It may well have continued          One local example of this phenomenon exists in the
merit for Center City-bound commuters who struggle daily       Great Valley area of Eastern Chester County. Superior
to find their way through the congested King of Prussia        highway access and the ready availability of developable
bottleneck, but not for all.                                   land have resulted in its emergence over the past
                                                               generation as a major regional concentration of office parks
    21st Century commuting patterns and work locations
                                                               and technology centers. It lies between Phoenixville and
are much more complicated and diverse. Bucolic fields
                                                               Paoli—the former a significant source of affordable
throughout the outlying suburbs have turned from
                                                               housing and home of a large potential workforce, the latter
agricultural to commercial uses, although the former farm
                                                               a transportation gateway with direct rail service to
roads leading to them are little changed. As a result, roads
                                                               Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley region as a whole.
that were never intended for heavy volumes of commuter
traffic are choked with congestion, adding time, cost and
frustration to Chester County residents.
    An additional consequence of the
suburbanization of regional workplaces
is the challenge employers face in
reliably filling basic entry-level, service
and administration positions. An
extensive potential employment base
resides in Philadelphia and suburban
urban areas such as Phoenixville, drawn
to affordable workforce housing options
developed around past concentrations of
industrial activity. But the regional
transit network—predominately a radial
network oriented around the needs of a
Center City commute—offers limited
opportunities for suburb-bound
commuters. A prolonged stop-and-go
commute by automobile is the
only viable mobility option for
suburban workforce.
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                    Page 2



                                                               Line of the Norfolk Southern Railway Corporation
   The employment centers of Great Valley enjoy superior
                                                               parallels PA Route 29 southward from downtown
highway access from the east and the west via US Route
                                                               Phoenixville to the north side of the Great Valley
202. But the capacity of PA Route 29—which provides
                                                               employment center—about half the distance a
primary access from the north and the south and delineates
                                                               Phoenixville-Main Line rail link would need to traverse.
the central axis of development—is frequently overtaxed
with traffic congestion. PA Route 29 and other parallel           The CDC has commissioned this initial assessment of
means of access north of Great Valley are all winding two-     the Phoenixville-Main Line Rail Link concept in order to
lane roadways.                                                 gain a better understanding of the possible costs and
                                                               benefits of such a service. It is particularly timely to assess
    Recognizing the need for viable commuting
                                                               the potential for passenger rail service on the NS
alternatives, the Great Valley developers teamed with the
                                                               Phoenixville Line as it is presently out of service. The
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
                                                               potential Phoenixville-Main Line Rail Link should be
(SEPTA) starting in the mid-1980s to operate a pioneering
                                                               considered now before this irreplaceable transportation
bus service—SEPTA Route 206—that functions as a
                                                               asset is abandoned or diverted to other purposes.
“rubber-tired” extension of SEPTA Regional Rail service
at Paoli. For over two decades, this integrated bus-rail
service has provided a seamless public transit link to Great
                                                               BACKGROUND
Valley jobs for commuters living in Philadelphia and           EXISTING LAND USE
Eastern Main Line communities. Other Great Valley
                                                               Study area limits for the assessment were developed to
employers operate dedicated private bus service for their
                                                               include those Eastern Chester County municipalities whose
own employees, also connecting with train service at Paoli.
                                                               residents or employers would likely be affected by the
The “Achilles heel” for these public and private bus
                                                               proposed Rail Link. An eight-municipality study area was
services, however, is their reliance on increasing congested
                                                               identified, inclusive of:
highways, which adds delay, unreliability and expense to
the operations with each passing year.                                     Charlestown Township
                                                                           East Pikeland Township
    The Main Street Community Development Corporation
(CDC)—grappling with the revitalization of the historic                    East Whiteland Township
commercial district that is the heart of Phoenixville                      Malvern Borough
Borough as well as looking to enhance the quality of life                  Phoenixville Borough
for borough residents—has sought to identify new means
                                                                           Schuylkill Township
of travel in keeping with its organizational goals and more
                                                                           Tredyffrin Township
in line with 21st Century travel needs. The CDC postulates
that a road-free connection linking Phoenixville with Great                Willistown Township.
Valley employment centers could provide commuters with             The full extent of the study area and these
a viable travel alternative that could potentially alleviate   municipalities is illustrated in the map at the bottom of the
traffic congestion on PA Route 29. Extending that              previous page. A map illustrating existing highway and
connection to Amtrak and SEPTA train services along the        railroad assets for the core study area appears on the next
Main Line would further reinforce the borough’s role as a      page.
regional transportation hub as well as yield other
transportation benefits. It also notes that the Phoenixville
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT   Page 3
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                                           Page 4



                                                   Change in        Residents per                               Change in           Employees per
                                 Population                                               Employment
                                                   Population        Square Mile                              Employment             Square Mile
                               2005      2035      2005-2035      2005        2035      2005      2035          2005-2035         2005        2035
Charlestown Township           5,824     8,944    3,120 54%        465         714     2,620      3,681       1,061 40%            209         294
East Pikeland Township         6,816     9,684    2,868 42%        766        1,088     1,640     2,445         805     49%        184         275
East Whiteland Township       10,302    13,173    2,871 28%        937        1,198    26,000    34,735        8,735 34%          2,364       3,158
Malvern Borough                3,099     3,603     504      16%   2,583       3,003     2,944     3,762         818     28%       2,453       3,135
Phoenixville Borough          15,415    17,810    2,395 16%       4,144       4,788    5,000      7,236       2,236 45%           1,344      1,945
Schuylkill Township            7,637    10,612    2,975 39%        868        1,206    2,620      2,912         292     11%        298         331
Tredyffrin Township           29,073    32,778    3,705 13%       1,465       1,651    37,576    43,728        6,152 16%          1,893       2,203
Willistown Township           10,739    12,149    1,410 13%        590         668     8,346     10,198       1,852 22%            459         560
                     TOTALS   88,905    108,753   19,848 22%      1,056       1,292    86,746    108,697      21,951 25%          1,030       1,291
                                                                                            Source: Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission


   Present and future population and employment by                           ROADWAYS
municipality for the study area is provided in the above                     PA Route 29 serves not only as the only gateway to
table. A 22 percent increase in population is forecast for                   residential areas to the north and the south, but also as the
the study area communities between now and 2035. The                         prominent arterial route through the employment centers.
greatest rates of population growth are forecasted for the                   The majority of commuters arriving or departing the area
townships at the north end of study area (Charlestown, East                  via US Routes 30 or 202 must connect to PA Route 29 to
Pikeland, and Schuylkill Townships).                                         access the employment centers. Traffic on PA Route 29
   A comparable 25 percent increase in employment is                         through the Great Valley area presently averages 31,100
forecast for the study area over the same period. In 2035 as                 vehicles on a typical weekday.
now, about 82 percent of the study area employment lies                         This level of traffic will significantly increase when the
south of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) in East                            Pennsylvania Turnpike opens a new interchange with PA
Whiteland, Tredyffrin and Willistown Townships. In                           Route 29 in Fall 2010. The new interchange ramps will
contrast, the greatest concentration of study area population                form a intersection with Flat Road. The Turnpike forecasts
can be found in Phoenixville Borough.                                        that the new interchange will increase average daily traffic
   This dichotomy between where people live and where                        on PA Route 29 by 16 percent north of Flat Road and by
people work is illustrated in the maps on the next two                       24 percent south of Flat Road.
pages showing land use, population density and major
                                                                             NS PHOENIXVILLE LINE
employment centers in the study area, as well as location of
the Penn State University (PSU) Great Valley Campus.                         The NS Phoenixville Line (NS Line Segment 2588) is an
There is approximately 10.8 million square feet of                           unsignaled, single-track industrial track through Eastern
commercial office, flex and industrial buildings the Great                   Chester County. It extends 10.8 miles from Perkiomen at
Valley area at present with another 7.7 million square feet                  Milepost HP 25 on the NS Harrisburg Line near Oaks in
under development. Major employment centers are                              Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County, to
sandwiched in a narrow zone between the Turnpike and                         terminate in an industrial park in Devault, East Whiteland
Lancaster Pike (US Route 30).                                                Township, Chester County. The line parallels PA Route
                                                                             29 for much of its length.
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                   Page 5



SERVICE HISTORY                                                      Swedesford Road (at Swedesford Road, also
The line was originally constructed as the Phoenixville &            known as “Planebrook”).
West Chester Railroad in 1883 but was known through                 Traffic and revenues for the Frazer Branch declined
most of its existence as the Frazer Branch of the               after the First World War due to increasing competition
Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). It diverged from the PRR           from automobiles and trucks. Passenger train service was
Schuylkill Valley Division main line between Philadelphia       discontinued in 1928 and replaced by PRR bus services
and Pottsville at Phoenixville, west of Gay Street (PA          that ran until the start of the Depression. Freight service
Route 113). It was built to service local agricultural          over the branch continued, however, even as parts of the
interests as well as the Great Valley extraction industries.    branch were abandoned in piece-meal fashion. Much of
    The line once continued another 3¼ miles beyond its         the East Whiteland Township portion of the branch
present terminus, extending roughly westward across             between Devault and Foote Mineral Company in
Sidley Road and Phoenixville Pike to Conestoga Road (PA         Planebrook was abandoned in the 1950s. The remaining
Route 401), then turning southward to US Route 30 where         stub between Planebrook and the Main Line connection at
it turned eastward to a connection with the PRR Main Line       Frazer was abandoned in the 1970s.
(now the Amtrak Harrisburg Line) in the vicinity of PA             Daily freight service between Phoenixville and Devault
Route 352 at Frazer.* There was a small spur that diverged      continued as the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail)
eastward from Frazer Branch immediately south of the            succeeded the PRR as owner/operator of the branch. As
Turnpike at the present location of the Commons at Great        part of their strategic consolidation of operations, Conrail
Valley, which crossed PA Route 29 to serve the Warner           combined the former PRR Frazer Branch and Schuylkill
Company quarry at the present location of Atwater.              Valley Division main line and reconfigured them to
    The PRR operated passenger service over the branch          connect with the former Reading Railroad Perkiomen
even though the area was sparsely populated at the time. In     Branch at Oaks, thereby providing a shorter connection to
addition to the PRR stations on other lines at Phoenixville     the Conrail (former Reading) main line at Perkiomen
and Frazer, stations along the Frazer Branch were located       Junction and allowing for the abandonment of most of the
at:                                                             former PRR Schuylkill Division main line between Oaks
                                                                and Philadelphia.
       Nutt Road (at PA Route 23, also known as
       “Ironsides”)                                                 Conrail undertook a significant upgrade of the line’s
       Harveyville (at Pothouse and Charlestown Roads,          infrastructure in the late 1980s with assistance from the
       also known as “Wilmer”)                                  Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
                                                                New ties were installed and track drainage was improved.
       Pickering (at PA Route 29 near Buckwalter Road)
                                                                Grade crossing protection was also improved with flashers
       Aldham (along Aldham Road)
                                                                and gates at most public highway crossings.
       Devault Beaver’s (at Charlestown Road)
       Sidley (at Sidley Road)
       Bacton (at PA Route 401)


*
    After construction of the PRR Trenton Cut-Off (today’s NS
    Morrisville Line), the Frazer Branch was cut short and
    reconfigured to connect with the new facility.
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT   Page 6
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT   Page 7
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                      Page 8



CURRENT STATUS                                                    obstructed and resulted in some minor washouts
Freight service continued through 2004 until the American         undercutting the track. Vegetation and brush have
Sweetener Corporation—last remaining shipper on the               overgrown much of the alignment.
line—ceased production at its Devault plant. No traffic has           Topography and railroad rivalry more than traffic
since moved over the line.                                        considerations led to more grade separations and other
   NS, as present owner/operator, applied to the federal          structures than would be otherwise typical for PRR branch
Surface Transportation Board to discontinue service over          line. The most significant structures of note are:
the Phoenixville Branch from a point near Oaks to Devault.             Schuylkill River Viaduct (Bridge 3.98), a 1,123
NS was careful to note that they have requested a service              foot concrete arch bridge over the Schuylkill
discontinuance, not an abandonment. This action leaves                 River between Mont Clare and Phoenixville.
open the prospect of reviving freight service sometime in              French Creek Viaduct (Bridges 4.85 & 4.95),
the future should a new customer present itself.                       consisting of 15 deck spans on the east approach,
    There has been interest of late from other parties to use          one deck span over French Creek, one deck span
the NS facilities. The CDC has proposed using the NS                   over the former Reading Pickering Valley
Phoenixville Line as part of new passenger rail service                Branch, and 15 deck spans on the west approach,
linking Phoenixville with the Great Valley employment                  totaling 32 spans or 1,087 feet. The present
centers and SEPTA/Amtrak on the Main Line. A group                     viaduct was originally constructed with iron
known as the Valley Forge Railroad has proposed using                  girders in 1891and renewed in 1898 and 1913
the line between Oaks and Devault for an excursion                     with steel.
railroad service. Bikeway interests have also expressed                Pickering Creek Viaduct (Bridge 7.50), also
interest in converting the rail line into a hiking/biking trail        known the Buckwalter Road Bridge, consisting of
for recreational purposes.                                             15 deck spans over PA Route 29 and Pickering
                                                                       Creek. It totals 625 feet in length. The present
    The proposals made by CDC and the Valley Forge
                                                                       viaduct was originally constructed with iron
Railroad would be compatible with NS’ expressed
                                                                       girders in 1891and renewed in 1896 and 1913
intention of reviving freight service in the future as the
                                                                       with steel.
need materializes. The recreational trail proposal would
not.                                                              The current condition of these and other minor undergrade
                                                                  structures and drains has not been assessed although they
PHYSICAL CONDITION
                                                                  were in continual service up until the suspension of freight
The 6.6 miles of the NS Phoenixville Line between                 service in 2004.
Phoenixville and the end of track in Devault was built and
                                                                      The NS Phoenixville Line is a “dark” railroad without
maintained to standards of a typical branch line.
                                                                  train control signals. There are six public highway
   Track is constructed with wooden ties and rails ranging        crossings at grade and two private crossings (one for a
from 125 to 130 pounds per year (with the exception of a          private residence, one for a quarry). Different grade
½-mile track segment roughly centered on Main Street in           crossing protections were provided at each crossing when
Phoenixville, which is constructed with 100-pound rail).          the line was in service, as listed on the following table. All
The track generally appears to have been well-maintained          active crossing protective devices were taken out of service
up to the time that service was suspended but starting to         when service was suspended.
show preliminary signs of neglect. Drainage has become
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                                    Page 9



                                                                                  Alignments were otherwise confined to follow existing
                                       CROSSINGS AT GRADE
                                                                                  public or utility rights-of-way (roads, power lines, or




                                                     Flashers
                                                                                  railroads) to simplify property acquisition and minimize




                                                                        Private
                                   Mileost




                                                                Gates
                                             Signs
    Crossing        Municipality                                                  the need to demolish existing buildings.
    Montgomery Av Phoenixville      5.5                                               Three alternatives were considered between the south
                    Phoenixville                                                  end of the NS Phoenixville Line and existing Amtrak and
    Pothouse Rd                     6.0
                    & Schuylkill                                                  SEPTA passenger rail services on the Amtrak Harrisburg
                                                                                  Line. Two of the alternative generally followed abandoned
    Charlestown Rd Schuylkill       6.0
                                                                                  railroad rights of way while the third considered a
                    Schuylkill &                                                  completely new alignment. These are illustrated on the
    Buckwalter Rd                   7.1
                    Charlestown                                                   map provided on the following page.
    Driveway        Charlestown     8.7                                                Frazer Branch Alignment (Red) generally
                                                                                       following the original alignment of the former
    Driveway        Charlestown     9.3                                                PRR Frazer Branch to a new passenger station on
                                                                                       the Amtrak Harrisburg Line on PA Route 352 at
    Charlestown Rd Charlestown      9.6                                                Frazer. The total line via this alignment would be
                                                                                       about 10.3 miles in length, 5.9 miles (57 percent)
    Warner Ln       Charlestown     9.9
                                                                                       of which would be on the existing NS
                                                                                       Phoenixville Line.
ANALYSIS                                                                               This alternative would diverge from the NS line near
                                                                                       the intersection of Lee Boulevard and Spring Mill
The methodology used to assess the CDC’s Phoenixville-
                                                                                       Road and proceed to follow the former Frazer
Main Line Rail Link concept consisted of four parts:
                                                                                       Branch alignment as closely as possible.
   1. Identify alternative alignments linking
                                                                                       Confined for the most part to present or former
      Phoenixville, Great Valley job sites and Main Line
                                                                                       railroad alignments, no extraordinary curvature or
      train service.
                                                                                       grades are anticipated. Trains would operate entirely
   2. Evaluate the relative benefits and disbenefits of                                on exclusive rights of way.
      alternate alignments.
                                                                                       Its benefits are:
   3. Estimate order-of-magnitude costs associated with                                - It makes maximum use of the existing NS line.
      the best of the alternative alignments.                                          - It does not confront any significant grades.
   4. Evaluate the cost estimate in comparison with other                              - It can accommodate a range of possible rail
      passenger rail projects under consideration in the                                    passenger equipment.
      Delaware Valley.                                                                 - Train would operate in exclusive rights of way.

ALTERNATIVE ALIGNMENTS                                                                 Its disbenefits are:
                                                                                       - It misses most of the Great Valley employment
It was assumed that all possible alignments for the                                         centers.
Phoenixville-Main Line Rail Link would use the existing
NS Phoenixville Line to the maximum possible extent.
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT   Page 10
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                 Page 11



   -   It requires an additional new rail station on the          -    It serves virtually all of the Great Valley
       Amtrak Harrisburg Line (plus Amtrak and                         employment centers.
       SEPTA agreement to stop trains there).                     -    It provides direct access to Amtrak and SEPTA
   -   It requires reassembling the former right of way                train service at the Paoli Transportation Center.
       through a predominately residential area and               -    It avoids assembly of new rights of way in
       across sports fields owned by the Great Valley                  predominately residential areas.
       School District.
                                                                  Its disbenefits are:
   -   It requires five new bridges (over US 202,
       Chester Valley Trail, US Route 30, the NS                  - It requires some assembly of new rights of way
       Morrisville Line and the Amtrak Harrisburg                      (albeit in predominately commercial areas).
       Line).                                                     - It requires specialized rail equipment capable of
   New Alignment (Yellow) following a new                              operating on significant grades (five percent
                                                                       maximum), through tight curves (130-foot
   alignment to connect with Amtrak and SEPTA                          radius) and in mixed traffic.
   train service at the present Paoli Transportation
                                                                  - It requires three new bridges (over US
   Center. The total line via this alignment would                     202/Matthews Road, the NS Morrisville Line
   be about 9.5 miles in length, 5.0 miles (52                         and Industrial Boulevard).
   percent) of which would be on the existing NS                  Cedar Hollow Branch Alignment (Blue)
   Phoenixville Line.                                             roughly following the alignment of the former
   This alternative would diverge from the NS                     Reading Cedar Hollow Branch* and a new
   alignment at the point where it passes beneath the             alignment to connect with Amtrak and SEPTA
   Turnpike and follow the public right of way                    train service at the present Paoli Transportation
   alongside of Warner Lane and PA Route 29 south to              Center. The total line via this alignment would be
   Valley Stream Parkway. At Valley Stream Parkway,               about 9.6 miles in length, 5.3 miles (55 percent)
   the alignment would turn east and occupy the inner             of which would be on the existing NS
   lanes of the Parkway, with trains operating in mixed           Phoenixville Line.
   traffic with automobiles for about ¾ of a mile                  This alternative would diverge from the NS
   between PA Route 29 and Swedesford Road. At                     alignment at southwest corner of the Commons at
   Swedesford Road, alignment would continue south                 Great Valley and follow alignment of the former
   via new but presently vacant rights of way, crossing            PRR Frazer Branch across PA Route 29, then follow
   over US Route 202/Matthews Road, the NS                         the alignment of the former Reading Cedar Hollow
   Morrisville Line and Industrial Boulevard to the                Branch, passing over US Route 202 on an existing
   existing rail underpass beneath Central Avenue and              bridge, to the alignment of the former
   terminate at the Paoli Transportation Center.                   Reading/Conrail Chester Valley Line, now part of
   The new portion of this alternative south of US                 the Chester Valley trail. The alignment continues
   Route 202 would entail grades up to five percent and            southward following existing power utility
   one curve with at least a 130-foot radius.
   Its benefits are:                                       *
                                                               Like the PRR Frazer Branch spur that crossed PA Route 29, the
   - It makes extensive use of the existing NS line.           Reading’s Cedar Hollow Branch provided access to the Warner
                                                               Company plant where Atwater is located today and connected to
   - It makes extensive use of existing highway rights         Reading Chester Valley Line, which ran parallel to US Route
        of way.                                                202 and is now the alignment of the Chester Valley Trail.
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                                                                                   Page 12



     easements though residential neighborhoods to                                                           Pickering Valley Alignment (Purple) would
     terminate at the Paoli Transportation Center.                                                           diverge from the NS Phoenixville Line where it
     Confined for the most part to present or former                                                         crosses the former Reading Pickering Valley
     railroad alignments, no extraordinary curvature is                                                      Branch, then follow that line through to Gay
     anticipated. The new alignment south of US Route                                                        Street (PA Route 113) behind the stores lining the
     202 would entail grades over seven percent. Trains                                                      north side of Bridge Street.
     would operate entirely on exclusive rights of way.                                                      Its benefits relative to the NS Phoenixville Line are:
     Its benefits are:                                                                                       - It provides better access to the Downtown
     - It makes extensive use of the existing NS line.                                                            Phoenixville commercial district.
     - It provides direct access to Amtrak and SEPTA                                                         - It reduces the overall length of any south-end
          train service at the Paoli Transportation Center.                                                       alternative by about a third of a mile.
     - It can accommodate a range of possible rail                                                           Its disbenefits are:
          passenger equipment with respect to curvature.                                                     - It is further removed from North Phoenixville.
     - Train would operate in exclusive rights of way.                                                       - In the event that plans are realized to extend
     Its disbenefits are:                                                                                         SEPTA Route R6 service west of Norristown
                                                                                                                  over the NS Harrisburg Line, it would be more
     - It misses most of the Great Valley employment                                                              difficult to connect the two rail services.
          centers.
     - It requires reassembling the former right of way                                          ALTERNATIVES EVALUATION
          use of power utility easements through
                                                                                                 All three alternatives were considered physically feasible
          predominately residential areas.
                                                                                                 from an operational and engineering perspective. The
     - It requires specialized rail equipment capable of
          operating on significant grades (over seven                                            most pertinent factors considered in their relative
          percent maximum).                                                                      evaluation are summarized in the table below.
     - It requires two new bridges (over Swedesford                                                  Of the three alternatives, only the New Alignment
          Road and the NS Morrisville Line).                                                     would provide service to most Great Valley area job sites
In addition to the three south-end alternatives, an                                              and avoids impacts to residential neighborhoods. It is also
alternative alignment at the north end through Downtown                                          the alternative with the shortest overall length. Like the
Phoenixville was identified during course of the analysis.                                       Cedar Hollow Branch Alignment alternative, it connects to
                                                                                                 Amtrak and SEPTA service at Paoli so no new main line
                                                                                                 railroad station is required and it would magnify the value
                                                       Amtrak & SEPTA?


                                                                         Residental Areas?




                                                                                                                                                                Severe Curvature
                                      GV Employment?




                                                                                                                                Existing Track




                                                                                                                                                                                    Severe Grades
                                                       Connection to




                                                                                             Mixed Traffic



                                                                                                                 Total Length




                                                                                                                                                 New Bridges
                                                                                             Operations?
                                                                         Impact on
                                      Service to




                                                                                                                                Length




                        Alternative
          Frazer Branch Alignment        Poor            Frazer               Yes                No           10.3 miles 5.9 miles                   5           None               None
                   New Alignment         Good             Paoli               No                 Yes          9.5 miles 5.0 miles                    3         130 foot             4.9%
    Cedar Hollow Branch Alignment        Poor             Paoli               Yes                No           9.6 miles 5.3 miles                    2          None                7.3%
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                 Page 13



of upcoming public investment in a new Transportation          Link during peak periods. Based on an assumed
Center at that location. It does, however, require a           commercial (“average” including stops) speed of 25 miles
specialized vehicle capable of negotiating five percent        per hour, it would typically take a train 23 minutes to travel
grades and 130-foot curves, as well as operating in mixed      9.5 miles between Phoenixville and Paoli.
traffic with automobiles. These disbenefits, while limiting,
                                                                  CDC requested that cost estimates be developed
do not offset its significant benefits.
                                                               assuming the Phoenixville-Main Line Rail Link was
   For these reasons, the New Alignment alternative was        constructed and service implemented in stages as follows:
selected as the basis for cost estimation and further               Stage 1: Phoenixville to Devault
evaluation. The selected alternative is illustrated in the
                                                                    Stage 2: Devault to Swedesford Road
map on the following page.
                                                                    Stage 3: Swedesford Road to Wyeth
   The Pickering Valley Alignment alternative serving
                                                                    Stage 4: Wyeth to the Paoli Transportation Center
Downtown Phoenixville was evaluated but its benefits
seemed insufficient in comparison to better serving North      Based on this staging plan, the heaviest passenger loads
Phoenixville neighborhoods and the opportunity to make a       would not be realized until Stage 4, when the Rail Link
positive connection to a future commuter rail service on the   connects to Amtrak and SEPTA train service at Paoli.
NS Harrisburg Line. The base alignment on the NS               Therefore it was assumed for costing purposes that train
Phoenixville line was selected for cost estimation.            consists (the number of cars in a train) would be minimal
                                                               in Stages 1 though 3.
COST ESTIMATION
                                                                  Actual service headways, running times and consists
Rudimentary order-of-magnitude capital cost estimates          are dependent on a number of factors, such as market
were developed for the New Alignment alternative using         demand, track geometry and vehicle size. These
cost factors drawn from recent engineering and                 assumptions should be scrutinized and revalidated in
construction projects. Costs were developed for each of        subsequent study efforts as more detailed information
the ten following categories recommended by the Federal        becomes available.
Transit Administration (FTA) for planning studies:
                                                               INFRASTRUCTURE
        10 Guideway, Track, Structures
        20 Stations, Stops, Terminals                          10 GUIDEWAY, TRACK, STRUCTURES
        30 Support Facilities
                                                               Track requirements were based on a single-track network
        40 Sitework/Special Conditions
                                                               with passing sidings at least a quarter-mile in length as
        50 Systems
                                                               needed. Based on the proposed service plan, three passing
        60 ROW, Land, Improvements
                                                               sidings would be needed for the ultimate service—one
        70 Vehicles                                            during Stage 1, another during Stage 2, and the final one
        80 Professional Services                               during Stage 3. The terminal track configurations at
        90 Unallocated Contingency                             Phoenixville and the Paoli Transportation Center were also
        100 Finance Charges                                    assumed to require access by two trains at one time.
SERVICE PLANS                                                     Stage 1 encompasses the existing NS Phoenixville Line.
                                                               As the line has been out of service, it was assumed that
For cost estimating purposes, a 15-minute minimum
                                                               inspection, vegetation control, spot tie replacement,
headway was assumed for the Phoenixville-Main Line Rail
                                                               drainage restoration, washout repairs and line and surfacing
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT   Page 14
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                 Page 15



                                                               40 SITEWORK/SPECIAL CONDITIONS
of the track will be needed. Additional super elevation
would be added to increase speeds through curves. All          A considerable amount of the infrastructure budget is
trackwork between Phoenixville and Devault will be             devoted to sitework given the topography traversed by the
compatible with NS standards in the event that freight         alignment. Sitework elements of particular note are a new
service is restored in the future.                             fill segments alongside PA Route 29 over Valley Creek
                                                               (Stage 2), between Matthews Road and Wyeth (Stage 3)
   Three new undergrade bridges were assumed totaling
                                                               and on rise over the NS Morrisville Line and up to Central
600 feet in length. One bridge (US 202/Matthews Road)
                                                               Avenue in Paoli (Stage 4).
would be needed in Stage 3. The two remaining bridges
(NS Morrisville Line and Industrial Boulevard) would be        50 SYSTEMS
needed in Stage 4.
                                                               A simple, check-in/check-out signal system—similar to
20 STATIONS, STOPS, TERMINALS                                  that currently employed on the SEPTA Media-Sharon Hill
                                                               Light Rail Transit System (Routes 101 and102)—was
A total of 13 simple passenger stops with low-level
                                                               assumed for the protection of single-track segments.
platforms and prefabricated passenger shelters were
                                                               Allowances were also made for non-vital signal appliances
assumed for the ultimate system. Allowances were made
                                                               integrated with traffic signals at intersections where trains
for basic amenities (benches, signage, lighting,
                                                               operate in the street in mixed traffic with automobiles.
landscaping) and accessibility in conformance with the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).                    Allowances were made in Stage 1 to restore and
                                                               upgrade crossing protection for all eight existing public and
    Five stops each were assumed for Stages 1 and 2, two
                                                               private crossings on the NS Phoenixville Line. These will
stops for Stage 3 and one stop for Stage 4. Parking
                                                               be compatible with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
construction was also assumed to be phased in stages,
                                                               requirements in the event that freight service is restored in
ultimately amounting to 1,500 new spaces. All passenger
                                                               the future. Allowances were also made in Stage 2 to signal
stoops will be compatible with NS clearance standards in
                                                               or eliminate eight additional crossings.
the event that freight service is restored in the future.
                                                               60 ROW, LAND, IMPROVEMENTS
   As the assumed number of stations is greater than the
assumed number of rail vehicles (see discussion of rolling     No costs were estimated at this point for property
stock below), all costs for fare collection equipment were     acquisition, or for acquisition of or access to the NS
assigned to the Vehicles category (Item 70).                   Phoenixville Line.

30 SUPPORT FACILITIES                                          ROLLING STOCK

An allowance was made for one maintenance facility,            The New Alignment alternative requires a vehicle capable
adequately scaled for a small fleet of self-propelled rail     of:
vehicles (see discussion of rolling stock below). The entire        Operating on grades up to five percent;
cost of the maintenance facility was assigned to Stage 1.
                                                                    Operating around curves with radii as tight as 130
Heavy repairs and component maintenance should be
                                                                    feet; and
handled off-site by contract vendors to keep the size of the
                                                                    Operating in the street in mixed traffic with
facility and staff to a minimum.
                                                                    automobiles.
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                               Page 16




                                                         There is only one vehicle currently available in the
                                                      North American market capable of meeting these
                                                      performance requirements: the Gelenktriebwagen (for
                                                      “articulated railcar,” abbreviated as “GTW”) 2/6*,
                                                      manufactured by Stadler Rail AG of Bussnang,
                                                      Switzerland. Stadler GTW 2/6s operate throughout
                                                      Europe, including Italy, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands
                                                      and Switzerland. In the United States, NJ Transit uses 20
                                                      GTW 2/6s for the River LINE between Trenton and
                                                      Camden. Capital Metro in Austin recently purchased six
Greek Stadler GTW 2/6 being tested in Switzerland.    vehicles for a new transit rail service.
                                                      The railcars are 102¾ feet long and operate up to 60 miles
                                                      per hour. They have a capacity for up to 200 passengers—
                                                      108 seated and 92 standing—and are fully ADA
                                                      compliant. GTW 2/6s in Switzerland routinely accelerate
                                                      from a standing stop on a six percent grade. The Capital
                                                      Metro railcars were recently certified to negotiate a 120-
                                                      foot radius curve. They are equipped with the extra
                                                      braking ability necessary to safely operate in a mixed
                                                      traffic environment.
Stadler GTW 2/6 in service in the Netherlands.
                                                          GTW 2/6s are an example of self-propelled diesel
                                                      railcars (also known as “diesel multiple-unit trains” or
                                                      "DMUs") closely related to the Rail Diesel Cars that were
                                                      the mainstay of the Reading/Conrail/SEPTA passenger
                                                      service that ran through Phoenixville from their
                                                      introduction in 1962 until the service was abandoned in
                                                      1981.
GTW 2/6 interior from the Netherlands.                    DMUs move without locomotives. Since each car is
                                                      capable of moving itself, tractive effort is distributed
                                                      throughout a trainset and is proportional to its consist size.
                                                      This is in contrast to a conventional locomotive-hauled
                                                      trainset where all tractive effort is concentrated in a large,
                                                      solitary prime mover. As a result, DMUs have superior
                                                      acceleration characteristics, especially in smaller consists,
                                                      and excellent fuel economy.



Austin’s GTW 2/6 under construction in Switzerland.
                                                      *
                                                          "2/6" means that two of six axles on the car are powered.
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                   Page 17



FRA REGULATORY IMPLICATIONS                                      70 VEHICLES

The Stadler GTW 2/6 or any other vehicle compatible with         It was assumed that three railcars would be needed initial
the New Alignment performance characteristics would not          to meet the requirements of Stage 1. Two railcars would
be compliant with FRA regulations governing joint use of         be used in used for daily revenue service, while a third car
track with freight trains. FRA regulations mandate US            is rotated through maintenance and otherwise held in
standards for structural strength and other factors              reserve. Stages 2 and 3 each would require one additional
pertaining to railcars so that they may safely commingle         car that would also be placed in daily revenue service.
with the trains NS operates on the General System of             Stage 4 would require two additional cars.
Railroads throughout the United States.
                                                                     The ultimate fleet size under this scenario is seven
    Several new rail systems have chosen to use non-             cars—six for peak revenue service and a seventh as a
compliant railcars from foreign manufacturers that               maintenance spare. This is consistent with FTA standards
conform to European safety standards—including Ottawa            for spare rolling stock (15 percent).
and Northern San Diego
County in addition to
Austin and the NJ Transit
River LINE. This
approach to rolling stock
can yield economies and
enhance operating
flexibility. But it would
require special operating
practices in the event NS
chooses the restore freight
service over the line.
    Most systems where
freight trains share tracks
with non-compliant rail
vehicles operate on the                                            Two-car GTW 2/6 train on NJ Transit’s River LINE.
basis of “temporal separation” wherein freight trains
movements are confined to late night hours after passenger
                                                                     Some new systems—such as the Portland Streetcar—
service has concluded for the day. In this manner, it is
                                                                 have found it easier to maintain and secure fare vending
ensured that passenger and freight trains never have the
                                                                 equipment by locating it on board rolling stock rather
opportunity to collide.
                                                                 placing it unattended and exposed to the elements at
    A non-compliant railcar should be a realistic option for     stations. Fewer railcars are proposed for the Rail Link than
the Phoenixville-Main Line Rail Link. The NS                     stations (7 vs. 13), therefore it was assumed that it would
Phoenixville Line was never more than an industrial track        be more cost-effective to place the fare vending machines
with a limited customer base. If freight service was             on board the trains. An allowance was made for fare
restored, adequate windows could be found to operate a           collection equipment in Item 70.
single daily freight train outside of passenger service hours.
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                                           Page 18



SOFT COSTS                                                                       for unknown factors and undiscovered situations that were
                                                                                 not accounted for at this level of analysis.
80 PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Standard factors were applied to rolling stock and                               100 FINANCE CHARGES
infrastructural costs to account for the anticipated "soft                       Finance charges were not considered at this level of
costs" associated with project development, including:                           analysis.
      Contractor mobilization
      (ten percent of Items 10 through 50)                                       COST ESTIMATE
      Design engineering                                                         An order-of-magnitude estimate for the Phoenixville-Main
      (ten percent of Items 10 through 70)
                                                                                 Line Rail Line capital costs was produced applying cost
      Environmental studies
                                                                                 factors drawn from Gannett Fleming’s library of other
      (two percent of Items 10 through 50)
                                                                                 recent rail construction projects, modified to reflect the
      Construction management
      (five percent of Items 10 through 50 and Item 70)                          Northeast US construction market.
                                                                                 The capital cost estimate for the Rail Link by proposed
90 UNALLOCATED CONTINGENCY
                                                                                 implementation stage is summarized in the table below.
A 25 percent contingency was added to the infrastructural
and rolling stock costs (Items 10 through 50 and Item 70)

                                                Stage 1            Stage 2              Stage 3                Stage 4
                                              Phoenixville         Devault           Swedesford Rd             Wyeth              TOTALS
                                                Devault         Swedesford Rd           Wyeth                   Paoli
       10 Guideway, Track, Structures     $       3,100,000 $         6,000,000 $           3,700,000 $          4,200,000 $       17,000,000
       20 Stations, Stops, Terminals      $       2,700,000 $         1,700,000 $           1,100,000 $          1,800,000 $        7,300,000
       30 Support Facilities              $       8,000,000 $                -      $              -     $                -   $     8,000,000
       40 Sitework/Special Conditions     $         400,000 $         6,900,000 $           7,500,000 $          2,600,000 $       17,400,000
       50 Systems                         $       3,900,000 $         3,200,000 $             300,000 $            600,000 $        8,000,000
       60 ROW, Land, Improvements                                                       Not Estimated
       70 Vehicles                        $      15,600,000 $         5,200,000 $           5,200,000 $        10,400,000 $        36,400,000
                               SUBTOTALS* $     33,700,000 $        23,000,000 $           17,800,000 $        19,600,000 $        94,100,000
       80 Professional Services           $       7,200,000 $         5,600,000 $           4,200,000 $          4,100,000 $       21,100,000
       90 Unallocated Contingency         $       8,400,000 $         5,800,000 $           4,400,000 $          4,900,000 $       23,500,000
       100 Finance Charges                                                              Not Estimated
                                  TOTALS $      49,300,000 $        34,400,000 $           26,400,000 $        28,600,000 $       138,700,000
                                         * Does not include right of way (Line 60) or "soft costs" (Lines 80, 90, 100).
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                           Page 19



PROJECT EVALUATION
                                                                             The selected projects are illustrated in the map below.
The capital cost estimate for the Phoenixville-Main Line                 All involved conversion of an existing freight railroad to
Rail Link was evaluated in comparison with similar                       passenger rail service, although they varied by their
passenger rail projects recently constructed or under                    approach to project development. The table below
consideration in the Delaware Valley. The purpose of this                summaries the length, cost and cost per mile for each of the
comparison was to determine if the prospective capital                   selected projects in comparison to the costs estimated in
costs associated with the Rail Link were in line with other              this report for the Phoenixville-Main Line Rail Link.
comparable regional projects that have been
deemed warranted to justify the expense of             Project                        Length        Cost       Cost per Mile   Source
planning, design or implementation.                    Phoenixville-Main Line        10 miles $ 139,000,000 $ 14,616,193 Concept Plan
                                                       NJT RiverLine                 34 miles $ 1,100,000,000 $ 32,352,941 Construction
   Four local projects were selected for
                                                       Schuylkill Valley Metro       62 miles $ 2,100,000,000 $ 33,870,968     AA/EIS
comparison:
                                                       Route R3 Wawa Extension 3 miles $ 95,000,000 $ 31,666,667                Bids
      NJ Transit River LINE, a 34-mile                 Quakertown Shuttle            21 miles $ 114,000,000 $       5,428,571    AA
      passenger line between Trenton and
      Camden, opened in 2004. Service is operated
                                                                             The conclusion of this assessment is that the cost and
      with Stadler GTW 2/6 railcars, sharing tracks
                                                                         scope of the CDC’s Phoenixville-Main Line Rail Link
      with freight trains under a temporal separation
                                                                         concept are in line with other passenger rail projects
      arrangement.
                                                                         recently under consideration or implemented in this region.
      Schuylkill Valley Metro
      proposes to convert 62 miles
      of existing railroad lines into
      a high-rail system between
      Philadelphia and Reading.
      Costs reflect the results of a
      2004 Alternatives Analysis/
      Environmental Impact Study.
      Route R3 Wawa Extension proposes a
      three-mile extension of regional rail service
      from Elwyn to Wawa over an existing
      railroad line. Costs were from bids
      received for construction in 2007.
      Quakertown Shuttle proposes a
      21-mile extension of regional rail
      service from Lansdale to the
      Quakertown area over an existing
      railroad line. Costs reflect the
      results of a 2008 Alternatives
      Analysis.
PHOENIXVILLE-MAIN LINE PASSENGER RAIL ASSESSMENT                                                                 Page 20



CONCLUSION                                                           Continuing southward from Great Valley to
                                                                     Frazer, Glen Loch and US Route 202 in West
The CDC’s Phoenixville-Main Line Rail Link concept was
                                                                     Chester via various former railroad rights of way.
evaluated in terms of its physical and practical feasibility,
the latter relative to other passenger rail projects recently   NEXT STEPS
under consideration or having been implemented in the
                                                                This assessment considered alternative alignments and
Delaware Valley region. It was determined that the cost to
                                                                technologies on a conceptual level. If further project
further study and, if warranted, ultimately implement the
                                                                development was deemed warranted, an action plan would
Rail Link concept would be in the order of magnitude of
                                                                include a market/travel demand analyses for a rail service
about $139 million, although start up can be implemented
incrementally in less costly stages.
   The conclusion of this assessment is that the
cost and scope of the CDC’s Phoenixville-Main
Line Rail Link concept are in line with other
passenger rail projects recently under
consideration or implemented in this region.

REGIONAL IMPLICATIONS
Although the NJ Transit River LINE has
successfully operated in the region for over four
years, other potential of using light diesel rail
transit on existing rail lines has not been widely
considered as a suburban mobility option. The
map on the right outlines possible further
applications of the concept for Chester County
and surrounding areas stemming from an initial
implementation of the Phoenixville-Main Line
Rail Link. Options include:
     Continuing eastward via the NS
                                                                on the line, more detailed analysis of alternatives
     Phoenixville Line to Oaks along US Route 422;
                                                                (including comparisons with “no build” or enhanced transit
     Continuing northward via the NS Phoenixville
                                                                options) and advanced conceptual engineering. Further
     Line and new right of way to the technology and
                                                                coordination should be undertaken with public and private
     biomedical centers in Arcola along US Route
                                                                sector interests to coordinate transportation planning and to
     422;
                                                                identify possible partnerships as a means of expediting
     Continuing westward through the Fairview                   implementation.
     Tunnel to Spring City and Pottstown via the
     former PRR Schuylkill Valley Division, now
     owned by PECO; or

				
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