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West Chester Railroad

For the former railroad, see West Chester Railroad (1831-1903).
West Chester Railroad
Locale Chester/Delaware counties, Pennsylvania, USA
Terminus West Chester, Pennsylvania
Commercial operations
Built by West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad
Original gauge
Preserved operations
Reporting mark WCRL
Length 7.7 mi (12.4 km)[1]
Preserved gauge
Commercial history
Opened November 1858
1858 West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad begins
Closed September 1986
Preservation history
1997 West Chester Railroad began operating
Headquarters West Chester, Pennsylvania

The West Chester Railroad is a privately owned and operated tourist railroad that runs between Market Street in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in Chester County, and the village of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, in Delaware County.

It operates on 7.7 miles (12.4 km)[1] of former Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) track on the West Chester Branch between mile post 27.5 and 20.6. It is owned by the for-profit 4 States Railway Service, Inc. and operated by the West Chester Railroad Heritage Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the railroad. All employees of the railroad are volunteers.[2]


The original West Chester Railroad Company was chartered in 1831 through an act of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and the company built its rail line to Malvern (later moved to Frazer). A quarter century later, West Chester got its second railroad, the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad, which opened on November 11, 1858 with a more direct connection to Philadelphia via Media, Pennsylvania. Both lines became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) system by 1881, when they were known as the "Frazer Branch" and "Media Branch," respectively.[3]

The station at Market Street was the city's primary railroad facility. At its height, the PRR operated 24 passenger trains to West Chester each day, plus three scheduled freights and additional special trains as required. The line was electrified by the PRR in 1928.[4] Although the Market Street Station was demolished in 1968, the Penn Central and SEPTA operated passenger trains until September 1986 when service was suspended due to low ridership and mediocre track conditions. For nearly a decade, the line remained derelict until a group of railroad enthusiasts approached the Borough of West Chester about restoring service.[5]

As of 2009, the West Chester Railroad Company is owned and operated by 4 States Railway Service Inc., a for-profit railroad management based in Yorklyn, Delaware. 4 States is maintenance and operations company dedicated to preserving the railroad line between Glen Mills and West Chester.[5]

Equipment roster

In service

  • #4230 is an ALCO C424. It was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway by the Montreal Locomotive Works in 1965. It was acquired by WCRR in 2005. It was repainted into a PRR paint scheme of Brunswick green and yellow lettering in late 2007 but has been recently repainted into a unique new paint scheme.
  • #1803 is an ALCO RS-18. It was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway by the Montreal Locomotive Works in 1960 and retired in 1998. It was bought in 1998 and was repainted into a Brunswick green with a yellow frame stripe. It has since been reapinted into a new paint scheme unique to the railroad.
  • #4213 is an ALCO C424. It was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway by the Montreal Locomotive Works in 1965. It was acquired by WCRR in 2010. It was repainted into a unique new paint scheme.
  • #6499 is an EMD GP9. It was built in 1957 for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as number 6499. It was owned by the Central Ohio Railroad when it was bought for the West Chester Railroad in 1997. It was repainted into a PRR scheme in 1998 with help from the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society Philadelphia Chapter and numbered 99. It has since been repainted into a unique WCRL paint scheme and renumbered back to its original number.
  • #7706 is an EMD GP38. It was built in 1969 for the Penn Central Railroad as number 7706. Following the bankruptcy of Penn Central, it was absorbed into Conrail in 1976. In the mid 1990s it was purchased by PECO Energy and later transferred to the Exelon Corporation to work in the Cromby Generating Station in Phoenixville, PA. In 2012 the unit was donated to the WCRR. Restoration is currently underway.
  • Ex-Reading Company (RDG) MUs # 9107, 9109, 9114, 9117 and 9124 were built between 1931 and 1932 by Harlan and Hollingsworth in Wilmington, Delaware. They were self-propelled commuter cars used by the RDG, then rebuilt and known as "Blueliners", and were used by SEPTA until 1990. All cars have had their traction motors and pantographs removed. #9107 has been made into a dining car and is painted a vintage RDG Green. The others are painted Tuscan red and are used for coaches. #9109 was recently restored back to its original "Blueliner" scheme and put into service on the WCRL trains.
  • Ex-PRR B60b "express messenger" Baggage car #9275 was built in the 1920s. It is used as a snack and crew quarters car.

Out of Service

  • Ex-US Army #9 is a GE 65-ton centercab switcher. It was built in 1941, and was later used on the Black River & Western Railroad and then the Octoraro Railroad. This locomotive operates, but is in need of a new prime mover. It is currently owned by the Heritage Association.
  • #1 is a 20 ton Plymouth switcher that was donated to the Heritage Association by the Glen Mills quarry where it worked. It was built in the 1940s and was gasoline powered but has been re-motored with a diesel. It has been repainted in a yellow paint scheme with WCRL markings and has been put on display at the WCRL Market Street station in West Chester.
  • Ex-New York Central Railroad #642 is a bay window N-7 type built in 1941. Its number was 20331 and renumbered to # 21642 by Conrail. It has been restored with new flooring and windows, and has been repainted a maroon color with yellow lettering. In September 2008 it was repainted bright red and re-lettered.
  • Ex-Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad boxcar, built in 1964. It is used for storage in the Adams Street yard.

See also


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