SEPTA announces new Regional Rail schedules

Philadelphia's main transit agency is expecting a better week ahead for travelers on its Regional Rail lines.

Sunday afternoon, SEPTA put out a statement saying, "SEPTA continues to work with Amtrak, the federal government and members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation on the final details for the lease of rail equipment from Amtrak. This equipment, along with that from NJ Transit and MARC, would provide service enhancements for Regional Rail customers starting Monday morning."

SEPTA hadn't seen a quick fix for its regional rail issues, projecting that a majority of the fleet it has sidelined because of structural issues will remain down until at least Labor Day.

But the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority expected to add 1,700 seats Monday as transit officials close deals to lease three train sets from New Jersey and Maryland transit services and Amtrak.

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"It's not looking good for a quick repair or return to service," SEPTA's general manager, Jeff Knueppel, said Friday.

Knueppel did say officials hope the limited addition of seats will relieve some of the pressures the service saw in its first week since cracks were discovered in suspension systems in all but five of its 120 Silverline V rail cars. That's most of its Regional Rail system.

Click here for the latest on schedules, alternatives to Regional Rail stations and additional parking, much of it free.

The rail system linking Philadelphia and its suburbs typically transports about 65,000 riders each way per day. With 13,000 fewer seats, the trains have been carrying about 35,000 to 40,000 people per day.

The shortfall has resulted in many delays, standing-room-only cars and morning trains having to skip stops nearest to downtown Philadelphia after reaching maximum capacity.

The service experienced delayed and packed trains, which had to skip stops after reaching maximum rider capacities.

Click here for the system status on all SEPTA routes.

Weekend and holiday schedules will not change, because there are enough Regional Rail cars to service them.

Still, officials do not expect the problems to have a major impact on the Democratic National Convention which starts in two weeks.

Knueppel said the transit service should be able to handle the extra traffic during the July 25-28 convention because riders are expected to largely use the rail system during off-peak hours.

To get back and forth between downtown Philadelphia and the convention site, the Wells Fargo Center, delegates and others will be able to use the city's subway system, rather than Regional Rail.

Convention committee spokesman Lee Whack said the committee has worked closely with SEPTA to secure additional travel opportunities along the Broad Street line, which runs from downtown Philadelphia to the Wells Fargo Center.

"They have committed to running an increased level of service and additional trains," Whack said.

Philadelphia also has expanded other travel options for convention-goers by settling a dispute with the Uber ride-hailing company and permitting it to operate legally in the city through the rest of the summer.

SEPTA has not pinpointed the cause of cracks found in beams used to distribute the weight of the new rail cars to their axles.

Knueppel said the defect is costing SEPTA millions of dollars in leasing, employee overtime costs, weekly travel credits and refunds to monthly regional rail pass customers.

The agency's legal team is reviewing its contract and warranty agreements with South Korea's Hyundai-Rotem, the Silverliner V's manufacturer.