SEPTA Market-Frankford Elevated

From nycsubway.org


SEPTA M-4 car #1122 at Allegheny, Market-Frankford El. Photo by Richard Panse, March 2007.


The Market-Frankford Line consists of two main sections: the Market Street subway and the Frankford Elevated.

The Market Street line, known locally as "the el", dates back to 1903 when the PRT (Philadelphia Rapid Transit) bought out its competitors. Construction began on October 17, 1904, ten days before New York's IRT subway opened, with the building of the concrete elevated support foundations. The first columns went up at 45th street in August, 1906, in two sections: from 63rd St. to 45th St., and from 45th St. to the Schuylkill River Bridge. On 7/14/1906 the two sections met at 45th Street. The river bridge started construction in July, 1903, prior to the construction of the el, and was completed in August 1905. Underground construction started in April, 1909 at 23rd Street. Later construction extended subway service replacing part of the el, the remains of which can be seen from the 46th Street Station.

As in New York, Philadelphia had its share of construction accidents, such as an explosion on 10/5/1906 due to a gas main rupture at 6th and Market, but the line opened on December 18th, 1906. At first, a surface trolley car was rerouted to the new subway, and the first heavy rail subway train ran on 1/13/1907 (as a test train from 69th to 15th Street). Regular service began on 3/4/1907. On 8/3/1908 service was extended to 2nd and Market, and on 9/7/1908 the line was extended to Chestnut and Market. The Delaware Avenue El opened on 10/4/1908.

As built, stations were at: 69th, Millbourne, 63rd, 60th, 56th, 52nd, 46th, 40th, 36th, 32nd, 15th, 13th, 11th, 8th, 5th, 2nd, Market-Chestnut, and South Street. These last two stations were known as the Ferry Line. The Frankford elevated section was completed in 1922. At this time, the Ferry route alternated service with Frankford until 1937 when the Ferry branch was served daytimes only (Monday-Saturday). On 5/3/1939 the line was "temporarily closed' and replaced by a shuttle bus from 2nd and Market. The line was intended to close permanently in 1943 but World War II increased ridership and service was restored. The final end of the Ferry Branch came on 10/31/1953. The current A-B skip stop service pattern dates from 1/30/1956.

Later on, the city extended the subway from 22nd Street to 46th Street allowing demolition of this portion of the el. The section from 22nd to 32nd was completed first, but funds ran out and clearance problems arose so the tracks were unused. In 1947 construction of a four track subway commenced from 32nd St. to 26th St, with two tracks from 36th to 42nd Streets. Another section of two track line was built from 42nd to 43rd. In 1953 the connection was made to the tunnel at 23rd. This portion opened for service on 11/6/1955. The el was phased out and removed by 6/20/1956. New stations were located at 34th Street and 30th Street. A portion of this new subway is shared by the LRV Subway-Surface cars.

On the Frankford side, construction of Interstate 95 forced a reroute and closed the Fairmount Station which has been replaced by the current Spring Garden Station in the median of the I-95 highway.

Current plans call for the rebuilding of the Market El portion after having rebuilt the Frankford side of the line. There are plans for extensions and new lines, including an extension to the Northeast. Another idea calls for extending west of 69th Street to the Philadelphia suburb of Broomall.



Market-Frankford Track Map, (PDF) by Michael Brotzman.

Station by Station

Unless noted all stations have two side platforms and two tracks. All stations are served by both A and B trains unless noted. The elevated section has the tracks on concrete pads over concrete, not wood, similar to the Archer Extension in New York City. Our ride from Frankford to 69th St. will take us 39 minutes making all stops.

We will begin at Frankford and ride west to 69th Street. Frankford Transportation Center (Bridge-Pratt), is part of a massive transportation terminal that has been recently renovated. The station is located between Bridge and Pratt Streets, parallel to Frankford Avenue, and has one island platform and two tracks. This station has four different exits. The northernmost leads to the main terminal building and bus berths. This exit, along with the next, have an escalator, fully accessible elevator, and stairs. The next exit leads to the main terminal, bus berths, sales office, restrooms, and info desk. The next exit leads outside to bus berths and is an exit-only stair. The fourth and southernmost exit stair leads to Pratt Street. The island platform is concrete with yellow tactile strips. Lighting is mostly indirect. There is a huge pointed roof supported by columns wrapped in steel. A yard is to the north of the station. There is a double/scissors/diamond crossover just before this station. Arriving trains discharge and board on the same track, going over the crossover either when entering or leaving. When the next train arrives, your train leaves.

Our first stop is Margaret-Orthodox (Arrott Terminal). This station serves a bus terminal. This station has been renovated and has a high exit eastbound and platform level booth westbound. There are two free crossovers. Next up is Church, a "B" train stop. This station is being renovated and will be fully A.D.A. accessible. The renovation is almost complete. The walls are chain link. There are two crossovers between directions, one of which has elevators at both ends, and the booth is at platform level. Leaving this station there is a sharp curve to the right. Erie-Torresdale is next and has also been renovated (and is accessible). The walls are chain link. There is a crossover at both ends with the booth at the west end of the westbound platform. There is a new canopy over the platforms. Leaving this station the line rises to climb over the Amtrak Northeast Corridor.

We arrive at Tioga, an "A" train stop, which has been recently renovated (and is accessible). The booth is at the west end and the east exit (eastbound only) is a high exit. There are two crossovers.

Allegheny is next and has also been renovated. It resembles Erie-Torresdale. The booth is on the westbound platform. Two crossovers are present. The high exit on the eastbound side features a big open space with "K&A" (Kensington & Allegheny) on the walls, depicted here.

Somerset is next and resembles Tioga. It is served by B trains. Leaving this station the tracks separate into two structures and cross over an old rail yard which services very few trains before the tracks rejoin.

Huntingdon, an "A" stop, is next. This station is being renovated. It resembles Church. It will also soon be completed. We encounter a sharp curve to the left just before entering the next stop, York-Dauphin, which is served by B trains. It has been renovated and is accessible. It has two crossovers and has a high exit at the east end. It resembles Somerset and Tioga. The next stop has been renovated and is a complete opposite of what it used to be.

Berks (an "A" train stop) was formerly a complete disaster but with the total renovation, you would never know it. This station bears a strong resemblance to Huntingdon and Church.an "A" stop, is next. The platforms are in poor condition. The booth is at platform level with no crossover or crossunder. This station begs to be renovated.

We arrive at Girard, which has been recently renovated. There are two crossovers. The booth is on the westbound side and a there is a high exit on the eastbound side. The roof canopy is metal. The crossovers allow great train spotting even though they are fenced in. Leaving this station we begin running along the "median" of I-95 which is also elevated alongside us.

Spring Garden is next. The station has an island platform. This station replaced Fairmount Station which was a victim of the construction of I-95. The east exit is high and the west exit involves descending via escalator from the platform level booth. Construction here is full tie and ballast. The station has a concrete ceiling. West of this station is a center track used for storage.

We now descend into the subway and curve to Market Street. Our first stop under Market Street is 2nd Street which bears the secondary name of Penn's Landing/Old City. Lighting is fluorescent and there are vent chambers. Ceiling has transverse metal slats. The east end of the station has full tie and ballast construction. There is a crossover outside the glassed fare control. The I-beams are wrapped in stainless steel and feature a big blue "2" tile. There is a mosaic westbound outside the paid area but is visible from inside. Tile is vertical blue tile. The station is very nice.

We arrive at 5th Street and the tracks are trough construction. The station has the secondary name of Independence and features a historical theme on the metal wall panels. The I-beams are wrapped like at 2nd St. and feature a big "5". The ceiling is longitudinal metal slats which also exist over the track area. There is no free crossover. The floor has brown hexagonal paving stones.

8th Street is next with connections outside the fare control to the Gallery shopping center, the Broad/Ridge Spur of the SEPTA Broad Street Subway, the regional Rail Lines' Market East Station, and the PATCO High-Speed Line trains to New Jersey. The station has terrazzo floors and is several steps below the Gallery shopping center. There is a crossover and mercury lights are used. This station is soon to be renovated.

11th Street is next and also has connections to the SEPTA Regional Rail at Market East, as well as the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The tile floor is brown and has cream accents. The 11th Street exit is a high wheel. A free crossover is at the west end. Columns are wrapped with stainless steel and feature a number "11" tile. The lighting is fluorescent. The booth is near platform level (several steps difference).

13th Street is next and connects with the Juniper station of the SEPTA Subway-Surface Streetcar Lines line via the lower level which serves as a crossunder. The station has been totally renovated. The platform tile is gray and blue with yellow tactile edging. The walls separate the station from pedestrian concourses and are glass with a blue strip that says "13th Street" in white letters. The lower level is described on the SEPTA Subway-Surface Streetcar Lines page. Both levels have fluorescent lighting. Upper level ceiling is transverse slats over platforms and longitudinal slats over the tracks. The lower level Subway-Surface station is low platform construction as are all stations in the subway for the subway-surface cars.

15th Street is next and connects to the SEPTA Broad Street Subway's City Hall Station and Suburban Station of the Regional Rail Lines. The floor is terrazzo and the walls are white brick. There is a free crossover. Near the west end a view of the subway surface cars rising from the lower level can be had through the chain link fence. There is a closed crossunder and there are transverse metal slats as the ceiling.

We pass through 19th and 22nd Streets on the center "express" tracks, while the subway-surface cars serve these local stations on the outermost tracks. We cross under the Schuylkill River and arrive at 30th Street. 30th Street has an island platform serving the two heavy rail "express" tracks and two low level wall platforms for the subway-surface cars using the "local" tracks. The island platform has a brown tile floor. The sidewalls of the low platforms have green accents with blue/gray top and bottom, featuring an New York IND style tile stripe. The main wall color is cream. There is a full mezzanine which once had a direct entrance to the 30th St. Station (which serves Amtrak and the Regional Rail lines), but was closed due to crime concerns. Signs are blue and the I-beams are wrapped with stainless steel. This station was recently renovated with accessibility improvements. These include new signage, tactile warning strips, elevators, and entrance improvements. The existing entrances became sort-of kiosks and a new "master kiosk" entrance was created. It includes benches, skylights, an elevator and stairs. The stairs and elevator lead underground where there is still a big space, open to street level. It should be seen in person to really understand what I'm saying.

34th Street is next. The line reverts to two tracks and this station has an island platform. There is a mosaic outside the fare control on the north wall westbound. There are two exits at either end. From here to 69th Street all stations have wall platforms.

40th Street is next and is the last subway station before we again see daylight. The tiled wall is rose which is gradient tinted from white to deep rose at the ends of the platforms. In the center there are blue accents on the white wall. Vent chambers are found in the ceiling. There is no crossover or crossunder.

Next, we enter the Market Street Elevated portion of the line. There is a massive reconstruction project currently underway. All of the stations are going to be reconstructed (from 46th to Millbourne) and so will the guideway. Parts of the structure have already been replaced (around 60th Street). Also, 56th Street is being reconstructed and is scheduled to reopen in November 2005.

The next station is 46th Street, served by "B" trains. There are fluorescent lights and wood canopy. Chain link covers the upper wall. There are two exits, the west one being newer. The east exit is clad in stainless steel and leads to a mezzanine. A look east from the east end of the platform reveals the stub of the demolished Market El continuing west while the current line curves into the subway. Construction is full tie and ballast to 69th Street. Catwalks for SEPTA workers are elevated above and outside of the tracks.

52nd Street is next and resembles 46th St. There are old light poles on the platform and there is a crossunder. Both A and B trains stop at this station. 56th Street is currently skipped because it is closed for reconstruction. It will reopen in late November 2005, with completely replaced platforms and amenities at platform level and a brand new station building, which will house fare control, stairs, escalators, and an elevator to platform level and a crossover, and by the looks of it, there is room for more, perhaps retail space or other facilities. 60th Street is next and has a nice mezzanine with crossunder. The lower wall has a horizontal windscreen, and the roof canopy is metal. 60th Street is scheduled to be renovated next. 63rd Street, an "A" stop, is next and resembles 46th St.

Leaving this station the line becomes an embankment. We arrive at a "B" stop, Millbourne, which needs renovation attention. The platform, side wall rails and the crossover are all of wood construction and appear rickety. The only modern touch is vapor lights and an AFC booth at the west end of the eastbound platform. To the north are almost overgrown and mostly removed railroad tracks to an unknown destination.

We arrive at 69th Street which is served by three tracks. There is an island platform serving departing trains on the two southernmost tracks and a wall platform for arriving trains using the northernmost track. There is a crossover but no free transfer. Transfer can be made here to the SEPTA Rt. 101/102: Media-Sharon Hill Line and the SEPTA Rt. 100: Norristown Line. The wall and center tracks connect to the 69th Street yard, which is to the north of the station on the other side of the Norristown line platforms and tracks.


Current Roster

Numbers Type Manufacturer Year Built Status Notes
1000-1219 M-4 AdTranz 1997- In service Married Pairs

In January 1997, SEPTA began taking delivery of a fleet of 220 new cars for the Market-Frankford from AdTranz. The cars, designated M-4, are the first new cars for service on the MFL since 1960.

  • Base Price: $1.29 million per car
  • Features:
    • Seats 49, about 55 additional standees.
    • Two designated wheelchair areas per car.
    • Extra-wide doorways for easy boarding and departure.
    • Audio and text station stop announcements.
    • Illuminated front train type and destination signs.
  • Interior: Cushioned, blue-highlight fabric seat upholstery
  • Body: Stainless steel construction.
    Heating and Air Conditioning: Roof-mounted and thermostatically controlled.
  • Power Train and Axles: Three power trucks with AC power traction motor.
    Wheels/Brakes: Dynamic and friction braking.
    Passenger Communications: Interior and exterior station stop, train type and destination announcements. Door announcements.
    CCTV: Close Circuit Television door surveillance system for additional safety.
    Source: SEPTA
  • Roof height: 13 ft.
  • Floor height: 42.5 in
  • Length: 55 ft. 2 in.
  • Car Shell Construction: Stainless Steel
  • Wheel Diameter: 28 in.
  • Seating Capacity: 49
  • Standing Capacity: 54
  • Maximum Operating Speed: 55 mph
  • Maximum Acceleration: 3 mph/ps

Past Roster

Numbers Type Manufacturer Year Built Status Notes
1-135 M-1 1906-1911 Pressed Steel Co. Retired
136-215 M-1 1911-1913 J.G. Brill Co. Retired
501-600 M-2 1922 J.G. Brill Co. Retired
601-646 M-3 (A-49) 1960 Budd Co. Retired Single Units
701-924 M-3 (A-50/A-51) 1960 Budd Co. Retired Married Pairs

M-3 606 preserved at Pennsylvania Trolley Museum; M-3 618 preserved at Seashore Trolley Museum

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Image 16603

(79k, 640x480)
Photo by: Richard Brome
Location: Berks

Image 16633

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Photo by: Richard Brome
Location: 30th Street

Image 16640

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Photo by: Peggy Darlington
Location: 40th Street

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Photo by: Neeta Desai/Laura Black/Nancy Holst/Historic American Engineering Record
Location: 63rd Street

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Photo by: Neeta Desai/Laura Black/Nancy Holst/Historic American Engineering Record
Location: 63rd Street

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Photos By Location

Photo locations: Frankford Terminal (Bridge/Pratt), Frankford Yard, Margaret-Orthodox, Church, Erie-Torresdale, Tioga, Allegheny, Somerset, Huntingdon, York-Dauphin, Berks, Girard, Spring Garden, Frankford Portal, 2nd Street, 5th Street, 8th Street, 11th Street, 13th Street, 15th Street, 30th Street, 34th Street, 40th Street, 44th St. Portal, 46th Street, Between 46th & 52nd, 52nd Street, Allison Street Substation (between 55th & 56th Sts.), 56th Street, 60th Street, Between 60th & 63rd, 63rd Street, Millbourne, 69th Street, 69th Street Yard/Shops, (Misc/Unknown)

Related Documents

Frankford Elevated News (1915-1927). A collection of news articles about the Market-Frankford El. Electric Railway Journal, 1915-1931. Unballasted Track Gives 50 Per Cent Lower Maintenance Cost. New Cars for Frankford "L". Frankford "L" Opened. Signaling on the Frankford Elevated.

Page Credits

By Peggy Darlington, David Pirmann, and Gregory Jordan-Detamore. Track Map by Michael Brotzman.


SEPTA Broad Street SubwaySEPTA Market-Frankford ElevatedSEPTA Regional RailSEPTA Rt. 100: Norristown LineSEPTA Rt. 101/102: Media-Sharon Hill LineSEPTA Subway-Surface Streetcar LinesPATCO High-Speed Line

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