But Not THAT Purple One …

… but THIS purple one that runs from our old friend the 69th Street Transportation Center.
We have already explored “trolley” (i.e. tram, remember!) 101 and 102 (GREEN), buses 103 and 104 (RED) which replaced withdrawn trolleys, once branded Red Arrow. Yesterday we met the the Market Frankford “metro” line (BLUE) which links the Transportation Centre with the central city area of Philadelphia.
The first thing we b#notice about the “purple” platforms …

… os that they are at “real” train height, not tram height, despite the fact that, for a while, this route was simply known as “trolley 100. 

But we rush ahead of ourselves.

In 1907, the Pennsylvania and Western Railroad opened a high-spec steam hauled line to Strafford.  The high quality of the line led to speculation that the company was aiming to run a transcontinental service; bur knowledgeable experts do not believe this was ever the directors’ intention.

Some indication of the line’s intention can be gleaned from the fact that the first station at Strafford was “a converted farmhouse”. 
Its replacement wasn’t much grander!

The line was not a great money spinner, so a branch was opened to Norristown. In the 1930s, part of the Strafford line was converted to single track. Here a “train” takes the Norristown branch as was (c 1940) waving goodby to the Strafford line.

Observant readers may note the trolley pole and wonder where the wires were. These vehicles used overhead power in the depot for safety reasons, but the line was electrified using a third rail!

Also in the 1930s Norristown got a much grander station …

… on stilts because the “purple” tracks have to cross over the other Norristown lines. To get to the terminus trains also had a splendid river viaduct to cross.

Norristown became the main line – and the profitable line! – and the Strafford branch eventually closed.
Some snazzy rolling stock appeared …

… capable of 70mph. That is where the name “Norristown High Speed Line” comes from. Compared with other SEPTA lines, the trains whizz quite a bit faster between stops. 

It certainly wasn’t similar to the UK’s high speed line to the Channel Tunnel!
The posh cars were known as, and advertised as, the Brill Bullets …

… and they felt posh inside as well.

Today’s stock is more utilitarian …

… running mostly as single car units although, as above, doublets sometimes appear. Several stations are very small …

… so not served by double unit trains, presumably.

But despite the tram-like rolling stock, they are still called trains!
And fbb almost forgot, they run on standard gauge track, 4 feet 8 1/2 inches; quite different from the trams and “metro” lines!
And when we look at an old full line diagram, what do we see?

Blue dots, red dots and white dots. Explained by a “code” panel.

Yes, there were “skip stop” trains, Monday to Friday. But, as with the Market Frankford line, they skip no longer.

The service is now every 15 minutes all-stops Monday to Friday (click on the timetable fot an enlargement) …

… every 20 minutes on Saturday and every 30 on Sunday.

Standard journey time end to end is 30 minutes – so “High Speed” is the right descriptor for an urban (and rural) train route that is a tram!
So it has proper platforms
It is third rail electrified
It looks like a tram
It is called a train
It runs every 15 minutes
Fares are collected on the tram train
Tomorrow we explore the RED line, which, by comparison, is almost “normal” – that is, of course, normal for Philadelphia!
In the meantime …
Preparing Peterville’s Plastic Planters
Sometimes a little modelling project become a big modelling project despite its size! The pedestrianised walkway that is part of the backscene needed something to make it look “different”. 
fbb had recently taken delivery of some really awful Chinese model trees to bulk up the background in the Peterville Castle area. Amongst them were some very small (and thus near useless) examples.
Planters in the precinct would be nice. So, take a milk bottle top and chop a bit off …

… take a worm of No More Nails (PVA glue) …

… mix it into a sludge with some track ballast and fill the half moons.

Poke the tree trunk in the goo; take it out and add …

… a good dribble of superglue. Re-install tree, leave to set and …

… hey presto, four tidy and solid little planters for painting and further enhancement; followed by installation.

An excellent low cost bodge with very acceptable results.
 Next Philly train blog : Thursday 15th June 
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