SEPTA Regional Rail delays systemwide after power line problems

Power problems in a SEPTA train tunnel Monday snarled the evening commute for Regional Rail riders.

SEPTA officials around 5:15 p.m. announced an outage of the overhead power lines in the Center City regional rail tunnel.

Though workers restored power about 30 minutes later, SEPTA said passengers across all Regional Rail lines could expect residual delays of up to 45 minutes. As of 8:15 p.m., long delays on numerous lines remained.

The transit agency was providing real-time train-by-train updates on its twitter account, @SEPTA. Some delays reported through tweets indicated up to 76-minute delays.

Meanwhile, SEPTA officials said workers are gearing up for the challenges the coming cold snap poses to the transit system's older vehicles and infrastructure.

Crews will starting around 10 p.m. Monday night begin to store Broad Street Line subway and Market-Frankford Line el cars in subway tunnels, rather than outside in rail yards, to keep the trains warmer. The cars will be kept underground from 12:30 a.m. Tuesday until service resumes at 5 a.m. to ensure smooth commutes for the combined 315,000 daily subway and el riders. Personnel will also keep a close eye on buses and trolleys that are in service and at storage facilities to catch and correct any weather-related problems.

The transit system will Tuesday morning beef up staff at the SEPTA headquarters command center and out in the field. Workers will monitor the condition of equipment and infrastructure like overhead power lines, signals and switches, particularly on the regional rail lines. SEPTA officials said the regional rail system is most vulnerable to the extreme weather due to its age and the fact that much of it is outside and exposed to the elements.

SEPTA will have extra staffers manning its website's system status feature, which gives riders real-time updates on disruptions and delays. The tool can also be accessed through SEPTA's recently-unveiled iPhone app. All service advisories will be tweeted and simultaneously sent to local news outlets. 

Though SEPTA plans to operate normal weekday schedules Tuesday across all travel modes, customers are advised to check out the status of the services they plan to use online, through local media or by calling SEPTA customer service at 215-580-7800.