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July 06, 2022

SEPTA to close trolley tunnel for annual maintenance, station improvements

There will be no service into Center City from July 8-25 during the transit agency's yearly construction 'blitz'

Transportation SEPTA
Trolley Tunnel Blitz Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

SEPTA will close down its trolley tunnel for 16 days beginning on July 8 through July 25 for its annual maintenance and station improvement 'blitz.' Passengers can board the Market-Frankford Line at 40th Street Station in order to travel into Center City for the duration of the project. Routes 10, 11, 13, 34, and 36 will be impacted.

Several trolley routes will be shut down for more than two weeks starting on Friday, as SEPTA begins its annual "Trolley Tunnel Blitz." 

Routes 10, 11, 13, 34, and 36 will not operate in the Center City trolley tunnel from 10 p.m. on Friday, July 8 through 5 a.m. on Monday, July 25. Trolley service will begin and end at 40th and Market streets for the duration of the maintenance project. 

Passengers heading into Center City during that period can board the Market Frankford Line at 40th Street Station for service to and from Center City. 

The blitz allows SEPTA to conduct annual maintenance and provide much-needed upgrades to the trolley lines in order to improve efficiency for the rest of the year. 

"The Trolley Tunnel is critical to our daily operations, providing thousands of passenger trips underneath heavily congested roadways connecting Center City and University City," said Leslie S. Richards, SEPTA general manager. "The blitz gives our crews the opportunity to tackle construction, maintenance, and safety improvement work in a concentrated period of time to reduce the number of outages throughout the year." 

For the 16-day period, SEPTA will conduct a thorough cleaning of Center City tunnels and provide station upgrades. The transit agency is currently wrapping up its spring subway station cleaning, though the stations are not shut down for that project. 

This is the tenth consecutive year of the blitz, which is typically scheduled during a time where trolley ridership is low in order to cause the least amount of disturbance to riders' daily commutes. 

SEPTA has a long list of maintenance work that needs to be completed over the two week period, including a complete demolition and rebuilding of the 22nd Street platform, rebuilding the entire track bed, and pouring new concrete decking.

The project also includes replacing worn track curved rail at various locations, cleaning out and flushing all pipes, drains, and vent wells, replacing four miles of overhead contact wire, performing work on the entire tunnel signal system, and completing maintenance on the Ludlow Switch station. 

In addition, workers will conduct heavy cleaning and maintenance at all stations, like painting, graffiti removal, and lighting replacement. 

Temporary tents will be put up at makeshift shelters for passengers transferring from trolleys to the Market-Frankford Line before heading into Center City. For late night travel, passengers can get on the Market Frankford Line Night Owl bus in lieu of the trolley lines. 

Signage will be posted throughout SEPTA stations in order to direct passengers to where they need to go. SEPTA requests that customers not go past any areas that are blocked off in order to be provided an overall safe travel experience. 

"On average, 700 vehicles operate through the five-mile Trolley Tunnel every day," SEPTA noted on its website. "As with previous Blitz campaigns starting in 2014, this work is scheduled during the summer when our ridership is traditionally lower in an effort to impact the fewest number of regular customers." 

Another big SEPTA maintenance and construction project is also happening in July. The Fox Chase Regional Rail Line will be shut down from Fox Chase to Wayne Junction until July 29 to replace railroad ties, install concrete poles, and clear out overgrown vegetation.

Shuttle buses will replace all trains between Fox Chase and Wayne Junction, though train service will be available into Center City. 

Additional updates will be available through the duration of the Trolley Tunnel blitz on SEPTA's social media accounts or its official website.