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Center City Commuter Connection

The Center City Commuter Connection, commonly referred to as "the commuter tunnel", is a passenger railroad tunnel in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, built to connect the stub ends of the two separate regional commuter rail systems, originally operated by two rival railroad companies: the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Reading Company. All of the SEPTA Regional Rail lines except for the Cynwyd Line pass completely through the four-track tunnel, which contains two underground stations, Suburban Station and Jefferson Station, and the above-ground upper-level concourse for the east-west commuter lines serving 30th Street Station.

Center City Commuter Connection
Train emerging from the Center City Commuter Connection at the Market East Station, Philadelphia PA.jpg
Train emerging from the Center City Commuter Connection at the Jefferson (formerly Market East) Station
LocationPhiladelphia, United States
SystemSEPTA Regional Rail
StartSuburban Station, Walnut-Locust Station
EndPortal near 8th and Spring Garden Streets
No. of stations2
Work begunJune 22, 1978
OpenedNovember 12, 1984 (1984-11-12)
Length1.8 mi (2.9 km)
No. of tracks4
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrified12 kV 25 Hz
SEPTA's traction power system
Operating speed80 mph (130 km/h)
Route map
former Reading Company lines
Temple University
Callowhill Junction (City Branch)
Jefferson Station
(Market East)
Suburban Station
The ASCE plaque in Jefferson Station
City plaque in Jefferson Station

Planning and developmentEdit

Suburban Station, located at 16th Street and JFK Boulevard, was the underground terminus of the commuter rail lines of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). The Reading Company (RDG) ran trains on an elevated approach above city streets into the Reading Terminal, located at 12th and Market Streets (one block west of where Jefferson Station was built). The connection, the first of its kind in the United States,[1] was built to allow trains to run through Philadelphia's downtown central business district, by uniting the commuter lines of the two rail systems.

R. Damon Childs was a junior land planner with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission when he proposed the Connection to permit through-routing of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Reading Railroad suburban lines. There already was a 0.8-mile (1.3 km) subway from 16th Street to 20th Street, a portion of the trackage connecting Suburban Station with 30th Street Station to the west. The tunnel project extended four of Suburban Station's eight tracks 1.7 miles (2.7 km) eastward. The proposed tunnel addition would pass just north of City Hall and then pass over the Broad Street Subway. The tracks would run under Filbert Street, would then curve to the north after 11th Street, pass under the Ridge Avenue Subway spur line, and run northward under 9th Street, ascending to join the Reading embankment near Spring Garden Street. Underground replacement for Reading Terminal—originally to be called 11th Street Station—was part of the Market East redevelopment project. At first the idea seemed preposterous because it required excavation under Philadelphia City Hall, one of the most massive buildings in the world, but it was nevertheless incorporated by Edmund N. Bacon into the city's 1960 Comprehensive Plan.

Groundbreaking for the tunnel project was on June 22, 1978. It took six years to complete at a cost of $330 million (equivalent to $1.3 billion in 2019). Federal funds paid for 80 percent of the project, state funds accounted for 16.66 percent, and city funds covered the remaining 3.33 percent. On April 28, 1984, a free shuttle service began operating between Suburban Station and Market East Station. Trains on the former PRR lines began providing service through the connection to and from Market East on September 3, 1984. The last train from Reading Terminal departed on November 6, 1984. After allowing for final track connections to be made, trains from the former Reading Railroad began using the tunnel on November 10, 1984. The Center City Commuter Connection, the four-track (two tracks in both directions) standard-gauge rail link between Suburban Station and the new Market East Station, formally opened for business on November 12, 1984. The old approach to Reading Terminal was then abandoned. It is still mostly present, and is now known as the Reading Viaduct. The new 11th St has two platforms which are 850 feet long and 35 feet wide[2].

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Center City Commuter Connection (Commuter Tunnel)
  2. ^ "Center City Commuter Rail Connection, Philadelphia: Environmental Impact Statement". 1975.

External linksEdit