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A Town On Track

Kristin Geiger
Press Officer

"And from a station, a community grew," said SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel the keynote speaker at Lansdale Borough's Founders Day Celebration.

The name Lansdale comes from Chief Pennsylvania Railroad Surveyor, Philip Lansdale Fox. Apparently, Fox thought the area was full of possibilities and figured it made an ideal location for a railroad station. Lansdale Station opened for service in October of 1856.

This year's theme, "A Town on Track" recognized the railroad's role in the Borough's inception while celebrating 140 years of its incorporation.

Lansdale's population steadily increased with the presence of the railroad. The Borough was incorporated on August 24, 1872.

"History is just a dusty book on a shelf if you don't take the lessons that you learn from the past and use them to create a vision for the future," Knueppel said. "SEPTA sees the same potential that Philip Lansdale Fox recognized in the borough."

To meet the needs of the growing ridership from Lansdale and its surrounding communities, the Authority has consistently worked to enhance both service and facilities at the Lansdale Station. Twelve years ago, SEPTA received a Land Development Award from Montgomery County Planning Commission for Lansdale Train Station improvements. Work included preservation of the station building, improved pedestrian and vehicular access, increased parking with 390 additional spaces, and platform reconstruction which included new surfaces, railings, benches and graphics. The entire station was also made accessible and compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Over the past few years, track and signal improvements along SEPTA's Lansdale/Doyelstown line were made which increased speed on the line and allowed for seven-car express train service to and from Lansdale Station. More recent improvements have included new fences, walkways and landscaping.

Knueppel, responsible for SEPTA Engineering, Construction and Operations, added that he takes great pride in the work performed at Lansdale Station but that he's even prouder of the partnership that was created between the Borough and the Authority.

"This doesn't just happen, "Borough Manager Timi Kirchner said. "Everybody comes together. And this year, it's all about the trains."

Longtime rail rider, State Rep. Bob Godshall R-53, recalled his early train rides from Lansdale to Souderton with his twin brother. He said that he was glad the Souderton connection was restored because it brought back memories of his many trips to see Phillies games at the old ball park.

Saluting Lansdale's past, present and future, SEPTA displayed the newest, cars in its Regional Rail Fleet, the state-of-the-art Silverliner V passenger cars and operated a historic excursion ride. Rail fans from all different towns and generations were able to explore the cars while they waited for trips back into history via a special New Hope Ivyland excursion ride.

As the vintage train approached Lansdale Station, the horn blared, conductors waved and a large crowd filled the entire platform. Led by SEPTA's Director of Railroad Service, Ibhor Andrijiwskyj, the special excursion ride from Lansdale to New Hope was a first for Founder's Day and provided an opportunity for rail fans to ride the rails aboard antique railroad cars and equipment.

This year's event also featured the Lansdale Farmers' Market, Festival of the Arts, Municipal Complex Open Houses, Lansdale Historical Society tours and the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to lifelong Lansdale resident and Fire Chief Jay Daveler. The day-long celebration concluded with a spectacular fireworks display.

Borough officials also applauded their partnership with SEPTA to make the annual event possible.

The following SEPTA employees are commended for their contributions to a successful Lansdale Founder's Day event; Stephen Biggerstaff, Gerald McGovern, Ibhor Andrijiwskyj, Robert Tangi, Raynard Hughes and Harry Garforth.

SEPTA Deputy General Manager, Jeffrey Knueppel, addresses the Lansdale Founders Day crowd.

Pictured from left to right, Lansdale Mayor Andy Szekely, SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel, Lansdale Councilwoman Mary Fuller, Lansdale Fire Chief and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Jay Daveler, Lansdale Borough Manager Timi Kirchner, State Rep. Bob Godshall and State Sen. Bob Mensch pose for a picture after the Founders Day opening ceremony.

The special New Hope Ivyland excursion train approaches Lansdale Station.

Conductors wave to the crowd from the antique train.

SEPTA's Silverliner V models present-day rail cars on left while the New Hope Ivyland excursion train showcases rail car history on right.