SEPTA Opens Regional Rail Extension To Wawa In Middletown Township

Wawa Station. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.Wawa Station. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Exciting things have arrived in Middletown Township in Delaware County, PA, within the greater Philadelphia metropolitan region, where SEPTA has officially began train service to the Wawa Station. Located along the Media/Wawa Line (formerly called the Media/Elwyn Line), Wawa sits at a roughly three mile distance from Elwyn, the regional rail line’s former terminus. The project to restore former train service in the farther reaches of DELCO was originally given a price tag of $57 million, before it was inflated to a final number of $197 million. The extension is fully electrified, as is the rest of the Regional Rail network.

The route of the new extension (in yellow). Credit: Google. Edited by Colin LeStourgeon.

The route of the new extension (in yellow). Credit: Google. Edited by Colin LeStourgeon.

The station itself features a high level platform with wheelchair ramps, making it ADA accessible. The island platform sits between two tracks, with one terminating at the end of the platform, and another continuing along an overpass above Route 1. A station building located adjacent to the platform most notably features indoor seating space and bathrooms, amenities that not all regional rail stations share. A bus circle/drop off zone fronts the station’s entrance, with a 600-space parking garage on the far side of this area.

Refreshingly, the station features solid wayfinding, something that has proved to be a challenge for the transit organization. Signs in the garage correctly point in the right direction to the platform, station building, and bus loop, while maps on the platform are up to date, showing Wawa Station. Signs in the surrounding area provide direction as to where to locate the new transit hub. Schedules located on platform correctly include the new name of the rail line. Unfortunately, these updated maps and signs will likely be slower to arrive at other locations throughout the city and region, which could prove to be an issue moving forward. Hopefully, SEPTA will ensure the installation of proper wayfinding installation moving forward.

“Signs in the surrounding provide direction as to where to locate the new transit hub.” Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

“Signs in the surrounding provide direction as to where to locate the new transit hub.” Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Wawa Station is included within maps on the station platform. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Wawa Station is included within maps on the station platform. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Wawa Station is included within maps on the station platform. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Wawa Station is included within maps on the station platform. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

“Schedules located on the platform correctly include the new name of the rail line.” Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

“Schedules located on the platform correctly include the new name of the rail line.” Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Looking into the station’s design itself, the indoor facility is decked out with a simple all-brick design. Few extra details are added, although large windows allow natural light to reach interiors, which are clean, fresh, and thoroughly decorated with Wawa memorabilia. Waiting canopies on the train platform and at the drop-off loop feature red metal roof awnings, while fogged glass provides added shelter for riders.

Looking at the station from across the drop off loop. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Looking at the station from across the drop off loop. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The drop off loop shelter. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The drop off loop shelter. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The drop off loop. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The drop off loop. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The parking garage also features a similar design, with tan faux stone and concrete materials covering its full exterior. The underside of the garage is roomy and well lit, featuring nice views down Chester Creek looking toward the platform.

A train sits at the platform with the garage in the background. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

A train sits at the platform with the garage in the background. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The view of the train platform from the garage. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The view of the train platform from the garage. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The interior of the parking garage. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The interior of the parking garage. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The station sign along the garage’s facade. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The station sign along the garage’s facade. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The entrance plaza situated adjacent to the station building and drop-off loop, however, is where the more interesting details are revealed. The shelter canopy above the plaza features an attractive wood-paneled underside, covering the entrance to the tunnel that leads to the island platform. The plaza includes multiple touch screen panels where users are able to view information on features such as such as train and bus shelters, as well as bike racks. Advertisements and Wawa signage cover what would be an otherwise blank wall.

The entrance plaza. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The entrance plaza. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The entrance plaza. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The entrance plaza. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Underneath the entrance canopy from the tunnel. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Underneath the entrance canopy from the tunnel. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

“Advertisements and Wawa signage cover what would otherwise be a blank wall.” Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

“Advertisements and Wawa signage cover what would otherwise be a blank wall.” Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Passing through the entrance plaza, riders are taken into the tunnel that provides access to stairs and a ramp leading up to the platform. This area is decked out with Wawa-themed artwork, including images of the logo’s evolution, hoagies, and ample geese silhouettes. This area, like the garage, is well lit, while tall ceilings give it an open feeling. The space is very clean and will hopefully remain well-kept, rather than becoming a dingy space that many other transit corridors are.

Wawa-themed artwork. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Wawa-themed artwork. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Inside the tunnel. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Inside the tunnel. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Inside the tunnel. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Inside the tunnel. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The ramp leading to the platform that, while not seen in the picture, is lined with geese. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The ramp leading to the platform that, while not seen in the picture, is lined with geese. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The platform, as with all other areas of the facility, has lots of seating options that will keep riders comfortable. An abundance of station signage is located along its length. Screens and scrolling text boxes inform riders of train status and display ads. Waiting at this station may be fairly pleasant, as views of the surroundings wooded areas and Chester Creek bring a sense of tranquility to the space. The platform itself actually crosses above the creek, a unique feature that makes the new terminus all the more interesting. The opposite ends of the platform also provide glimpses of the Lenni Yard, as well as farther down the existing right of way. Furthermore, remnants of the station’s past are visible, such as the Octarora branch right of way of a long-shuttered rail line.

The station platform. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The station platform. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The platform screens. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The platform screens. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Nature views seen from the platform. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Nature views seen from the platform. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The path where a future extension would run. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The path where a future extension would run. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The location’s past life is slowly disappearing as a new life is opened. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

The location’s past life is slowly disappearing as a new life is opened. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

As for the facility’s name, it is in fact located within an area long referred to as Wawa. However, SEPTA did sell the station’s naming rights to Wawa, a local favorite convenience store. The company’s headquarters and milk-bottling center are located within the vicinity of the station, and is one of the largest employment centers in the surrounding area. The company paid paid $5.4 for the naming rights, though while the station is named for the company, the line is not, rather referring specifically to the area the station serves.

Although service has began to the station, construction work is still not entirely complete. The upper deck of the parking garage remains under construction, with railings needing to be installed on stairways, as well as other minor finishes. Despite this, the station is essentially finished, with existing conditions providing a near-full glimpse at the finished product of this years-long development.

Equipment on site such as this hard hat serve as reminders to the ongoing construction work. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Equipment on site such as this hard hat serve as reminders to the ongoing construction work. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Overall, the new station is an incredible addition to the transit system and is a step in the right direction for the entire region. SEPTA’s expansion of its rail service throughout the region is much needed, and this is the first example of this process in a long time. Although the station is largely auto-centric, primarily targeting the park-and-ride market, it still provides reliable transit service to thousands of area residents and workers, encouraging economic growth for the full area.

A train departs from Wawa, heading toward Philadelphia. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

A train departs from Wawa, heading toward Philadelphia. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Furthermore, the station acts as the first step in a potential full restoration of service to West Chester. Trains to West Chester were discontinued in 1986 as SEPTA’s footprint shrunk and many other like services were discontinued. More recently, the West Chester railroad has operated a heritage line primarily between the town itself and Glen Mills, though there was a notable expedition in 2011, where a train ride was offered all the way to Center City, the last time a passenger rail operation has covered the full length of the rail line. Unfortunately since then, the Glen Mills to Wawa segment of the line has largely decayed, limiting the potential for another future excursion.

A train lays over at the platform. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

A train lays over at the platform. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

However, renewed interest and understanding of the corridor’s value has opened up potential for service. West Chester is looking to restart transit service along the corridor, ideally through direct Regional Rail while the Glen Mills quarry plans to improve the missing segment between Glen Mills and Wawa for freight operation. Returning rail service to West Chester is strongly needed and would tap thousands of new riders into the system. Wawa alone is expected to have nearly one thousand daily riders itself.

Wawa Station ramp. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Wawa Station ramp. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Looking at the station from the Parking Garage. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Looking at the station from the Parking Garage. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Service began Sunday, August 21st, 2022. To highlight the transformation of this formerly abandoned rail line, check out these images:

Wawa Station in 2018. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Wawa Station in 2018. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Wawa Station in 2018. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

Wawa Station in 2018. Credit: Colin LeStourgeon.

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3 Comments on "SEPTA Opens Regional Rail Extension To Wawa In Middletown Township"

  1. Gd Day. I’d like to visit the area.im from the North East Pennsylvania. Glad to hear of these Developments. U can get to places easily if u are not driving. I love train rides. Looking forward to take a RIDE TO WAWA. IS THEY ANY ACTIVITIES NEARBY IN THE AREA. PLA LET ME KNOW ASAP. THANK YOU.

  2. Fantastic article. Great to read this news.

  3. West Chester is not the same as it was in 1986 when SEPTA discontinued it’s rail service as people are moving to live there. PENNDOT has considered financing the extended rehabbed segment to West Chester which would be only 15 minutes away from the WAWA station.

    People would love to be able to take the West Chester train to Philadelphia and this would be a viable project to consider funding using both State and Federal funds.

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