On Tuesday afternoon, June 30, 1981, commuters gathered at the Franklin Street Station to board one of the last trains making a run from Pottsville through Reading to Philadelphia waited patiently for the diesel to arrive. The trip would be their last on the passenger rail line operated by Conrail for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
Below: All aboard for the final trip of the Reading to Philadelphia run on June 30, 1981.
When the train arrived in Reading, shortly after 3 p.m., the passengers boarded quickly.
Within minutes the train was moving.
Below: Pulling away from the station and heading away from center city on the final trip to Philadelphia.
The conductor walked down the aisle checking tickets.
The train moved into Norristown’s DeKalb station where passengers had to board another train to complete the last leg of the trip to Philadelphia.
As the second train pulled out of the station to continue the trip to the City of Brotherly Love, many of the passengers who had completed the transfer sat quietly in their seats, reflecting on the memories of a train they will see no more.
Below: Passenger seated on the last train ride to Philadelphia from Reading, June 30, 1981.
There were no tears, there were no sighs, only cameras clicking Tuesday evening shortly before 8 o’clock as the final commuter train providing service on the Pottsville-Reading-Norristown line inched slowly into the Franklin Street Station on its last scheduled run.
The train left the Reading Terminal at 12th and Market in Philadelphia at 5:59 p.m. Approximately 70 commuters boarded the two-car train for the journey through the Philadelphia suburbs to Norristown’s DeKalb station where travelers continuing on the line had to debark and board another train headed for Pottstown and finally Reading.
Scheduled arrival time at Reading was 7:40. A small crowd had gathered to greet the train as it eased into the station at 10 mph. At 7:55, cars 9166 and 9167 came into the station and about 25 people descended from the train. At 8:01, spectators gazed at the smoke gray two-car diesel, getting one last glimpse of the empty train before it moved off on its final journey to Conrail’s shops on North Sixth Street.
SEPTA took over the rail service in April 1976 from the bankrupt Reading Co. and authorized Conrail to continue day-to-day passenger operations. At 12:01 a.m., July 1, 1981, Conrail’s contract with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority to operate the commuter service was formally terminated because the authority claimed it was losing an average of $2 million dollars a year. The end of a great era for the city of Reading, made famous by a railroad, had actually come to pass.
Passenger rail service to Reading and its coal-region neighbor Pottsville, was gone. The train had reached the END OF THE LINE!