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Southwest Connection Improvement Program

Southwest Connection Improvement Program

Saturday, August 4 through Sunday, August 19, 2018

UPDATE: Southwest Connection Improvement Program Construction Update & Photos 8.15.18


The schedules for MOST Trains will return to the previous schedule in place prior to the start of construction. Please refer to the timetable and effective date information below:

Lines that return to the previous Train schedule:

  • Airport Line: Returns to previous schedule (effective date of April 29, 2018)
  • Manayunk/Norristown: Regular Weekend service resumes (effective date of January 14, 2018)
  • Wilmington/Newark Line: Returns to previous schedule (effective date of April 29, 2018)


The schedules for select Trains will change for the following Lines:

The Southwest Connection Improvement Program will rebuild the mainline infrastructure on the Media/Elwyn Line between 30th Street Station and Arsenal Interlocking, just below University City Station, portions of which date more than 80 years. This track area also supports Wilmington/Newark and Airport Line services making it a critical rail connection for Southwest Philadelphia, Center City, Delaware County, and the economic vitality of the region. Special construction Regional Rail timetables will be in effect for the Media/Elwyn and Wilmington/Newark Line Service. The Airport Line will operate as Shuttle Bus service with a special construction schedule.

Overall Program Scope

  • Reconfigure and replace the existing Arsenal Interlocking (area of switches)
  • Remove the existing Walnut Interlocking and realign rail
  • Create a new Interlocking and turn back track near University City Station
  • Replace the overhead contact system and the Overhead Catenary System structures
  • Repair/Upgrade retaining walls and structural elements inside Walnut St Tunnel
  • Repair drainage structures

Scheduled Work for 2018

At Arsenal Interlocking:

  • Replace 3 High Speed Track Turnouts and Adjust Track Alignment
  • Replace and realign Catenary Wire to match track adjustments
  • Communication & Signals Prep Work (for later phases of the project)

Along Airport Line:

  • Inspection and Heavy Maintenance along track area - debris removal, brush cutting, painting, and bridge inspection

Woodland Avenue Bridge Project

  • On-going construction work to replace bridge spanning Media/Elwyn Line tracks

Impact to Service

In order to support the work taking place and maintain service, special schedules will be in effect for the Media/Elwyn, Wilmington/Newark, and Airport Lines. Express service will be discontinued, service levels will be adjusted, and most trip travel times will increase. Click on the buttons below to view the summary of changes:

Service Changes at University City for All Lines

Media/Elwyn Line

Wilmington/Newark Line

Airport Line


Why We Are Doing this Important Infrastructure Project

While SEPTA has a rigorous inspection and maintenance program, the last significant capital investment in this area was made by Conrail and Amtrak in the mid-1980's, in advance of the opening of the Airport Line, and the infrastructure continues to age. Thanks to funding from Pennsylvania Act 89, SEPTA is able to continue to invest in state of good repair improvement projects to upgrade critical infrastructure. The Authority is advancing the Southwest Connection Improvement Program to:

  • Replace infrastructure, some of which dates to the 19th century
  • Ensure safe and reliable service for the Airport, Media/Elwyn, and Wilmington/Newark Regional Rail Lines
  • Make it possible to safely increase train speeds through the interlockings
  • Establish better maintenance windows for this busy section of critical Regional Rail infrastructure
  • Allow Operations to continue to serve University City Station in the event of an interruption on SEPTA or Amtrak

Where to Find Service Information

Please look for special printed construction timetables for Media/Elwyn, Wilmington/Newark, and Airport Lines (August 4-19, 2018 effective date), additional train service schedule to/from University City, and project information and schedule posters at stations. Directional signage to shuttle bus boarding locations will be posted at stations. SEPTA Ambassadors and Transportation Staff will be out to provide assistance and answer service and project questions.

PDF BROCHURE | Download the Southwest Connection Improvement Program brochure

Service Map & Work Area

Click on the map below to enlarge or download as a PDF

Southwest Connection Improvement Program Service Map

Work Area

Southwest Connection Improvement Program Area

Southwest Connection Improvement Work Area

Installing new high speed switches and returning the track to operation is a complex effort that cannot be completed over a weekend. This combined with the challenge of establishing a work window that would not impact the 21 hour service day for the 200 weekday and 150 weekend trains that operate along this busy corridor confirmed the need for a continuous outage. Giving our construction forces and contractors the opportunity to work during a concentrated period of time will reduce the number of intermediate projects and outages required to complete the project. In selecting the August time frame for the 2018, we are working to minimize the impact of this project for the greatest possible number of customers and residents. We thank you for your cooperation and greatly appreciate your patience while we continue our work to improve service, safety, and travel reliability for our Regional Rail riders.

Southwest Connection Improvement Program

Construction Update & Photos: August 15, 2018

With just 5 days remaining to the 2018 summer Southwest Connection Improvement Program outage, the project continues on schedule with about 2/3's of the work completed.

The weather has been a challenge, but our in-house construction crews, operations personnel, and support staff have continued to work day and night to safely keep the project moving forward.

Track work is substantially complete and the focus of our efforts has transitioned to select catenary wire replacement, alignment shifts, wire re-tensioning, and vegetation clearing to restore safe electrical clearances around high voltage power lines.

Once the catenary wire work is wrapped up, the last phase of the outage will be to restore our signal system and test the track circuits. On Saturday and Sunday, we will be running test trains and completing the final clean up and preparation in anticipation of normal Regional Rail service resuming on Monday morning for the Airport, Media/Elwyn, and Wilmington/Newark Lines and the return of rail service to University City.


Southwest Connection Improvement Program

Southwest Connection Improvement Program

Southwest Connection Improvement Program

Southwest Connection Improvement Program

Southwest Connection Improvement Program

Southwest Connection Improvement Program

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