Train watching in Philadelphia
October 25, 2009 7:28 AM   Subscribe

It's a lovely Fall day. Where's a good place to take some young 'uns train watching in Philadelphia? The priority is on lots of trains, up close. I don't mind paying to get on a platform. Proximity to West Philly a bonus. Thank you!
posted by carter to Grab Bag (6 answers total)

Depends on what kind of trains you want to see. If commuter trains are good enough, either 30th Street or 69 Street Terminal, which has the benefit of being in West Philly, are your best bets. If you want to see Amtrak trains up close, that's not going to happen at 30th Street unless your budget's pretty generous.
posted by scalefree at 8:04 AM on October 25, 2009

You will need valid tickets to get on the Amtrak platforms at 30th St. Station. However the SEPTA regional rail platforms in the station are accessible to the public without tickets. If you want to watch trains from a slight distance, there are bridges with pedestrian walkways over the tracks near the Philadelphia Zoo - I'd have to ask my driving friends for the addresses for these bridges.

If you want to make it a rail vehicle-filled day, take a trolley or the Market Frankfort El to 30th St station.

For an Amtrak station where you can watch trains without tickets, I know that Trenton's station, which services Amtrak, the Riverline, SEPTA and NJ Transit, is easily accessible and has pretty good train traffic. A bit less so on the weekends, but during the week there's something every 10-15 minutes, including a few Acelas if that's what your kids are into.

You can always walk along the Schulkyl river from the Walnut St Bridge to ... well as far as you want. This parallels freight train tracks and for a while the freight train people were annoyed with the people walking along the river and they'd park trains full of garbage there. I think they've resolved this though.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:09 AM on October 25, 2009

Best answer: If what you're after is full-blown Amtrak trains with the huge locomotives, probably your best bet will be Ardmore.
posted by scalefree at 8:12 AM on October 25, 2009

Also, this thread has some good suggestions but is aimed more at hard core train watchers than you may want.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:22 AM on October 25, 2009

Response by poster: Great, thanks everyone! The schedule has been slightly, uhm derailed, but Ardmore sounds fun. We can get out into the burbs for a bit.
posted by carter at 10:39 AM on October 25, 2009

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