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Norristown High Speed Line

SEPTA N-5 car #144 enters the Gulph Mills Station in Upper Merion, PA.
Type Interurban
System SEPTA Suburban Division
Status Operational
Locale Delaware and Montgomery Counties, Pennsylvania
Termini 69th Street Terminal (south)
Norristown Transportation Center (north)
Stations 22
  • Local
  • Norristown Express
  • Hughes Park Express
  • Norristown Limited
Opened 1907
Operator(s) SEPTA
Character Surface (grade separated)
Line length 13.4 miles (21.6 km)
No. of tracks 1–3
Track gauge 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification Third rail
Route number 100 (former)
Route map
Transverse track
Unknown route-map component "HACC" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "uACCa-ELEV" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "BLrf"
Norristown Trans Ctr
Transverse water Unknown route-map component "uWBRÜCKE-ELEVe" Transverse water
Schuylkill River
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
King Manor
Unknown route-map component "uAKRZu"
I-276.svg I-276 (PA Turnpike)
Urban station on track
Hughes Park
Unknown route-map component "uACC"
Gulph Mills
Unknown route-map component "uAKRZu"
I-76.svg I-76 (Schuylkill Expwy)
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
County Line
Waterway under railway bridge
SEPTA R5 / Amtrak
Urban station on track
Unknown route-map component "uAKRZu"
I-476.svg I-476
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
Garrett Hill
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
Bryn Mawr
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
Ardmore Avenue
Urban station on track
Ardmore Junction
Unknown route-map component "uACC"
Wynnewood Road
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
West Overbrook
Urban station on track
Unknown route-map component "uACCa" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "uACCe" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "uACCa" + Hub
69th Street Terminal
Waterway turning to right Urban straight track
Routes 101/102
Waterway turning to left
Market–Frankford Line

The Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) is an interurban line system operating between Upper Darby and Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA. The system is operated by SEPTA, and runs entirely on its own right-of-way, inherited from the original Philadelphia and Western Railroad line. Some people still refer to the line as the P&W in reference to that carrier. The line is unique in its combination of transportation technologies. Originally a Class I railroad, the line is fully grade separated, collects power from a third rail, and has high-level platforms common to rapid transit systems, but has onboard fare collection, mostly single-car operation, and frequent stops more common to light rail systems. Previously, the Norristown High Speed Line was considered to be a light rail line, according to a 2008 SEPTA budget report;[1] however, the line is currently considered as heavy rail interurban line, according to a 2009 SEPTA business plan.[2] The line was formerly known simply as Route 100, but was officially changed to its current name in September 2009 as part of a customer service initiative by SEPTA.[3]



The Norristown High Speed Line began service in 1907 as the Philadelphia and Western Railroad (P&W), which ran from the present 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania to Strafford, Pennsylvania. In 1912, a branch was constructed from a point 1/4 mile west of the existing Villanova station to Norristown.[4] The newly built branch experienced more ridership than the main line to Strafford, therefore the Norristown line became the main line and the Strafford line became a branch. In 1911 the Strafford line was extended 1/2 mile to the PRR Strafford station.

From Norristown, the P&W RR connected its tracks with Lehigh Valley Transit Liberty Bell Route to provide direct electric train service from 69th St. Terminal to Allentown, Pennsylvania. However, in 1951, Lehigh Valley Transit ended its service on the Liberty Bell Route, and in 1953 the company ended all its remaining rail service altogether. Two years later, the P&W RR was later taken over by the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (PSTC) in 1953, which was more popularly known as the Red Arrow Lines. In 1956, the PSTC abandoned the original branch between Villanova to Strafford, only providing electric MU trains between 69th Street and Norristown, as it is today.[4] The PSTC absorbed into the SEPTA in 1969,[5] eliminating the original railroad charter and immediately becoming the "Norristown High-Speed Line Trolley," but was officially known as Route 100.

Ridership on the Norristown line peaked in 1973 with 2,860,000 annual linked trips, and again in 1980 with 2,579,000 annual linked trips. Ridership statistics for fiscal years 2000 and later are from SEPTA Annual Service Plans. Data for years 1972 to 1997 are from the SEPTA 1997 Ridership Census. There may be some discrepancy in how the ridership is reported since the Annual Service Plans report total unlinked trips, while the ridership census uses linked trips, which may exclude passengers transferring from other lines.

Station list

Mileage Station Zone Township County
0.0 69th Street Terminal Handicapped/disabled access 1 Upper Darby Delaware
0.7 Parkview
1.4 West Overbrook Haverford
1.9 Penfield Car parking
2.5 Beechwood–Brookline
3.1 Wynnewood Road Handicapped/disabled access Car parking
3.4 Ardmore Junction Car parking 1 and 2
3.9 Ardmore Avenue Car parking
4.5 Haverford Car parking
5.4 Bryn Mawr Car parking Radnor
5.9 Rosemont 2
6.4 Garrett Hill
6.8 Stadium
7.0 Villanova Car parking
7.9 Radnor Car parking
8.6 County Line Lower Merion Montgomery
9.4 Matsonford Car parking
10.3 Gulph Mills Car parking Upper Merion
11.0 Hughes Park
12.3 King Manor Car parking Bridgeport
12.8 Bridgeport
13.4 Norristown Transportation Center Handicapped/disabled access Car parking Norristown


Route 100 map from 1974

The fare as of as of 2007 is $2.00 cash on board, or $1.45 using pre-purchased tokens, with an additional $0.50 zone charge when traveling in more than one zone. The service runs seven days a week, from about 5:00 AM in the morning to 1:00 AM at night.

Local trains from 69th Street to Norristown stop at all 22 stations, and the trip lasts approximately 32 minutes. Occasionally, locals trains may run only between 69th Street and Bryn Mawr, stopping at ten stations.

During weekday peak periods (6:00-9:00 AM, 2:15-6:45 PM), the Norristown High Speed Line features express and limited services, which stop only at select stations, therefore decreasing travel time between 69th Street and Norristown. Norristown Express service, which is noted by red destination signs, travels between 69th Street and Norristown in approximately 26 minutes, and stops at 17 stations. Hughes Park Express service, which is noted by green destination signs, travels between 69th Street and Hughes Park in approximately 22 minutes, stopping at 16 stations. Norristown Limited service, which is noted by blue destination signs, travels between 69th Street and Norristown in approximately 22 minutes, stopping at only eight stations. All trains share the same two tracks, so a limited leaving Norristown, for example, will be immediately followed by an express, which stops at more stations, and therefore is spaced farther from the previous train. The next limited will catch up with it. Similarly, a local may leave Bryn Mawr right after an express stops there, and gets to 69th St. just before the next express or limited catches up with it.

Local Norristown Express Hughes Park Express Norristown Limited
69th Street Terminal 69th Street Terminal 69th Street Terminal 69th Street Terminal
West Overbrook
Penfield Penfield
Beechwood–Brookline Beechwood–Brookline
Wynnewood Road Wynnewood Road
Ardmore Junction Ardmore Junction Ardmore Junction Ardmore Junction
Ardmore Avenue Ardmore Avenue Ardmore Avenue
Haverford Haverford
Bryn Mawr Bryn Mawr Bryn Mawr
Rosemont Rosemont Rosemont
Garrett Hill Garrett Hill Garrett Hill
Stadium Stadium Stadium
Villanova Villanova Villanova
Radnor Radnor Radnor Radnor
County Line County Line County Line
Matsonford Matsonford Matsonford
Gulph Mills Gulph Mills Gulph Mills Gulph Mills
Hughes Park Hughes Park Hughes Park Hughes Park
King Manor King Manor King Manor
Bridgeport Bridgeport Bridgeport
Norristown Norristown Norristown

Extension to King of Prussia

Map of the Red Arrow Lines showing the current Norristown High Speed Line (blue); the former branch to Strafford is dashed, as well as former trolley Routes 101-104 (red, still in use, and orange, disbanded)

There is a proposal to extend the Norristown High Speed Line to serve the King of Prussia Mall and Valley Forge office parks. The 4.9-mile (7.9 km) extension would branch from the existing line just north of the Hughes Park station, continue westward along the Norfolk Southern Morrisville Line right-of-way, and then northward through King of Prussia to Valley Forge. This extension would include 2.2 miles (3.5 km) of elevated track.

It is projected that this extension would add an additional 3,800 daily riders. SEPTA already has enough N-5 rail vehicles to cover this extended service. It would also complement the planned Schuylkill Valley Metro line that will have a "Cross-County" segment that will also use the Norfolk Southern freight line from King of Prussia to Glenloch near Exton.

Fiscal year Average weekday Annual passengers
FY 2005 8,801 2,512,690
FY 2004 8,428 2,463,500
FY 2003 7,925 2,491,074
FY 2000 9,250 3,046,927
Fiscal year Annual linked trips Fiscal year Annual linked trips
1997 1,754,000   1984 2,338,000
1996 1,696,000 1983 2,484,000
1995 1,926,000 1982 2,089,000
1994 2,079,000 1981 1,899,000
1993 2,251,000 1980 2,579,000
1992 2,222,000 1979 2,133,000
1991 2,234,000 1978 1,992,000
1990 2,162,000 1977 1,832,000
1989 2,295,000 1976 2,218,000
1988 2,185,000 1975 2,162,000
1987 1,888,000 1974 2,425,000
1986 1,915,000 1973 2,860,000
1985 2,255,000 1972 2,496,000

See also


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