train2 wrote:Looking for some historical prospective on Readings lines upriver from Philadelphia
Happy to help.
train2 wrote:Which side of the river was the mainline so to speak?
At Norristown, the Reading Main Line is on the southern
bank of the Schuylkill River and passes through Bridgeport.
On the northern
bank of the river is the Norristown Branch of the former "Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad", which was leased in its entirety by the Phila. and Reading RR in 1870. This is the current SEPTA electrified railroad line to Norristown.
In 1903, the double-tracked bridge (still standing but now freight-only) of the "Norristown Connecting Railroad" was built across the river at Norristown. This allowed trains running via Manayunk to join the Main Line almost immediately after making the passenger stop at Norristown.
Prior to that time, through passenger traffic between Philadelphia, Reading and points beyond stayed on the Main Line until much closer to Reading Terminal, Phila. (see below). The ever-increasing number of freight trains on the Main Line made that impractical, hence a permanent diversion of the traffic.
train2 wrote:Was one side of the river freight and the other passenger?
Generally speaking, yes. Both routes merged at Norristown Junction interlocking, 1.1 miles east of Abrams yard.
train2 wrote:I would think the northside of the river lead to the Reading terminal.
You are correct.
train2 wrote:But where did the southside go to? A station? a yard?
East of Bridgeport, the Main Line led to what were, strategically speaking, some things which were important to the Reading as a whole. These include, but are not limited to, the following locations in Philadelphia:
- West Falls - wye connection to Wayne Junction and Port Richmond
connection leading towards PRR's "Zoo" interlocking
the Columbia Bridge across the Schuylkill - RDG Main Line now crosses to east bank of the river
Park Junction - connection with the B&O's Philadelphia Division
City Branch - and via that, the "backdoor" to Reading Terminal
train2 wrote:Was the Phonexiville tunnel double track?
Once upon a time, yes. Just like at Flat Rock Tunnel farther east in Gladwyne, it was single-tracked in order to provide better clearances for higher freight cars after World War II. Both tunnels have since been improved in the late Conrail era even more for passage of double-stacked containerized freight.
train2 wrote:Then at Reading who's route was what NS calls the Turkey Path?
That is the southeasternmost extent of the Reading Belt Line, which generally skirts the city of Reading's west side. The Belt Line served primarily as a convenient by-pass which avoided what were once frequent grade-crossings, as well as congestion in and out of the main freight yard in the city. The part of the Belt Line that's nicknamed the "Turkey Path" is the segment between Birdsboro and Cumru.
The Belt Line's opposite extent lies to the north of the city, where it connects with Norfolk Southern's [also ex-RDG] Reading Line to Allentown. At that same location, the RDG Main Line once connected here on its way south from Pottsville, too.
Franklin Gowen • • • • READING COMPANY forum moderator
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In 2020, the late, great RDG overlaps with SEPTA, NS, CSX, RBM&N, and several shortlines - that's life . . .