SEPTA Norristown Division 209

Trolley Display Building, 2005 (John Smatlak photo)

Trolley Display Building, 2005 (John Smatlak photo)

When new management came to the Philadelphia & Western Railway early in the Great Depression, it was convinced that high-speed service would bring back the riders. They were so committed to this principle were that wind tunnel testing was employed in the design of these “bullet”-shaped cars, both to bring about the highest practical speed for the cars and also to reduce wind resistance to a minimum – thereby reducing operating costs.
In service, at 69th Street Terminal (Greg Mielke collection)

In service, at 69th Street Terminal (Greg Mielke collection)

The Philadelphia & Western was an example of high-platform, rapid transit type service, where everyday speeds exceeded 75 miles per hour. Cars like 209 proved to be a huge success in this setting, hauling millions of passengers back and forth between Norristown and 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby (and intermediate stations) for nearly sixty years. The line was purchased by the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (Red Arrow Lines), and continues today under SEPTA ownership and with modern cars.

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Car Number 209 Car Builder J.G. Brill Company
Year Built 1931 Type DE Interurban
Length 55’2″ Width 9’2″
Height 10’6″ Weight 52,300 lbs. (26 tons)
Seats 56 Motors GE 706 (4@)
Year Acquired 1993 Status Trolley Display Building Exhibit