Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties
On Wednesday, February 6th the skies were relatively clear after the previous night's snow squall but what was going on underground at our Fern Rock Transportation Center caused a problem for the morning commute. This morning, service on 3 Regional Rail Lines -Lansdale/Doylestown, Warminster, and West Trenton were temporarily suspended and service on the Broad Street Line operated with shuttle buses between Erie and Fern Rock Stations due to a gas leak discovered in a parking area of the complex.
At 7:10 a.m. our employees reported a strong smell of gas coming from the customer parking area and PGW was called to come out and investigate. When they arrived at 8:10 a.m. they requested that power be turned off in the station areas. In addition to SEPTA and PGW personnel, first responders from the City of Philadelphia Police, Fire, and Office of Emergency Management quickly arrived at the scene.
Based on a preliminary evaluation, at 8:51 a.m., PGW, the Philadelphia Fire Department, and SEPTA made a critical safety decision to temporarily suspend service to the effected Rail lines and suspend service on the Broad Street Line to/from Fern Rock Station. Neighbors, in homes adjacent to Fern Rock, and 157 of our Maintenance Facility employees were also evacuated. A Broad Street Line shuttle bus operation also began between Erie and Fern Rock to bridge the service suspension.
After further investigation of conditions, at 9:54 a.m. Regional Rail service was suspended beyond Market East/Temple Stations for all Lansdale/Doylestown, Warminster, and West Trenton trains leaving Center City as well as train service leaving after that time heading towards Center City. Because this happened at the tail end of the morning rush hour, there were 4 trains, already inbound, that were held at outlying stations. The longest of the delays was Train #423 on the Warminster Line, with approximately 125 people on board, which was held at Melrose Station for 1 1/2 hours. Train #523 on the Lansdale/Doylestown Line, with 110 people on board, was held at Jenkintown for 1 hour and 10 minutes and a West Trenton Line Train #3425, with 200 people, was also held at Jenkintown for 1 hour. A fourth train, #525 coming from Doylestown, with only 3 people on board was held at Glenside Station for 45 minutes. Shuttle buses were sent to pick up the customers from the trains held at Jenkintown Station. At 11:30 a.m. we received word from PGW that service could be restored to these Regional Rail Lines so the delayed trains waiting at Melrose and Glenside Stations were able to resume regular operations. Full service to all stops along the Broad Street Line and Broad Ridge Spur resumed at 12:46 p.m.
At this time, PGW is saying it will take PGW a few days to repair the damaged section of the gas line that serves our Maintenance Shop - no further delays are anticipated on Regional Rail or the Broad Street Line as a result of this work. In the mean time, SEPTA forces will continue to monitor the situation until all the work is finished.
For all of our customers who had to wait on the halted trains and to all of our riders not able to travel on the Lansdale/Doylestown, Warminster, and West Trenton Lines or had to transfer to the Broad Street Line shuttle we humbly apologize for this great inconvenience. At SEPTA safety is a major priority - for customers, employees, and our neighbors - and we just could not risk anyone's well being for the sake of a ride.