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We rode SEPTA’s Fox Chase, Chestnut Hill West, Chestnut Hill East, and Media/Elwyn Lines on 9 March 2013. We began our journey at Fox Chase, arriving at the station just a few minutes after a train had left. We had a little trouble finding the entrance to the station parking lot, having to circle the block once before finding the entrance. After realizing there was still a fee for parking on weekends, we decided to opt for the plentiful free street parking instead. Having nearly an hour to wait before our train left we walked to the nearby Wawa for a snack. As a side note, I give the folks at Wawa a lot of credit for the surprisingly clean restroom. After purchasing our snacks we headed back over to the station and found our train had just arrived.
For our first ride of the day we took the train from Fox Chase through Center City to Chestnut Hill West. We boarded the shiny new Silverliner V and heading toward the rear of the train. Unfortunately the last row of seats was closed, but the second to last row was open so we had an excellent view out the rear of the train. Soon after the train departed we purchased our Independence Passes from the conductor, and appreciated him pointing out that less expensive option than what we had originally planned. Riding from Fox Chase to Market East was all new territory for us, and we enjoyed our trip. As we emerged from the tunnel and made our way toward North Philadelphia we were on familiar rails again, but having the view out the back of the train allowed us to see it from a whole new perspective. Soon we left the Northeast Corridor though to begin traveling the PRR’s route to Chestnut Hill. When we arrived at the Chestnut Hill West station, we walked around for a bit to see some of the town, then headed out for the next leg of our journey.
Our next ride was from Chestnut Hill East to Elwyn. We began by taking the short picturesque walk from the old PRR station to the old Reading station in Chestnut Hill. People we saw along the way seemed very pleasant, with a couple offering a friendly greeting. Once we arrived at Chestnut Hill East we had to wait first for our train to arrive and then for them to allow us to board. Unfortunately this time the rear car was closed so we headed instead for the front. The head car was open but with the first two rows blocked off. We took the third row and still had a nice view out the front, but it was a little far back for decent photography, and since we were on the head end I didn’t feel comfortable walking up to the door to take pictures. A friendly older couple sat a couple of rows behind us and discussed some of the nicer stations on the line and trips they had taken and would like to take. We enjoyed speaking with them but unfortunately the gentleman was a little hard of hearing, so I felt a little uncomfortable raising my voice as the train started to fill. At Suburban Station we stopped for awhile as we changed crews. Just before we departed the engineer noticed a couple of passengers he apparently knew, and opened the second row (in front of us) and invited them to sit there. This actually worked out to our advantage though because after a few stops they got off the train and the engineer left the row open so we were able to move up. For almost the whole rest of the ride we were heading into the sun so my photos still weren’t very good, but at least we were a little closer to the window. The rest of the ride was generally uneventful, although at one of the stations some people who had gotten off the train thought it was a good idea to cross in front of us as we began to depart the station. I’ll never understand people who play 'chicken' with a train.
After having ridden two trains on four lines we began our journey back home. As our train pulled back into the Elwyn station, this time neither the head nor rear car were open so we had to settle for a normal seat. We took the train from Elwyn back through Center City to the Temple University station. We watched as a couple of other trains passed as we waited for our train back to Fox Chase. The train to Fox Chase was a bit crowded when we boarded, but we were able to find an empty row and settled in for the trip back. After arriving back in Fox Chase and running into a panhandler begging for money for train fare, we got back in the car, headed out for some dinner, and headed back home.
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Copyright 2013 by Robert Mortell