Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
Norristown Division 209

Trolley Display Building, 2005 (John Smatlak photo) In service, at 69th Street Terminal (Greg Mielke collection)


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

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.  So committed to this principle were they 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 to a minimum the wind resistance - thereby reducing operating costs.

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.

Click on the thumbnails below for larger photos (will open in new window):

209 approaching 69th Street Terminal in 1970s paint.
(Greg Mielke collection)
End of 209, showing the aerodynamic shape of this pioneering effort.
(John Smatlak photo)
Present interior on 209
(Timothy Jones photo)
Original fare register still in place in 209.
(John Smatlak photo)

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Last updated January 14, 2009
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