Pennsylvania Railroad

Elecrtrification History (to 1948)
Construction Dates
pages 113-115 300 dpi DjVu bitonal (20K@ page)

Electrified Territory Location Map (1945)
600 dpi DjVu bitonal (143K)

Electrified Lines Map (1947)
600 dpi DjVu bitonal (203K)

Labeled Photo of Typical Four Track Catenary Construction
150 dpi DjVu photo (188K)

from 1948 PRR Board of Directors Inspection


The Pennsylvania Railroad Company's initial electric operation was in the New York terminal area and was put in service in 1910 in connection with the tunnel and terminal development. This was a direct current, low voltage, third rail system, which, at that time appeared to be the most satisfactory for the tunnel operation.

Soon after the completion of the New York terminal it became apparent that the electrification of a part of the Philadelphia terminal area was necessary to relieve congestion and after extensive research and experimentation it was decided to adopt the overhead trolley, high voltage, alternating current system for this and future installations. The first electrification in the Philadelphia district was from Broad St. Station to Paoli, completed in 1915. This was followed by the Chestnut Hill Branch in 1918 and the line to White March in 1924, the main line to Wilmington and the branch to West Chester in 1928, and the main line to Trenton and the branch to Norristown in 1930. This completed the electrification of all Philadelphia suburban lines.

In the meantime studies had indicated the economic advantages of electrification in the dense traffic territory between New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Harrisburg and in 1928 President Atterbury publicly announced a program of electrification to include the lines in this area. The prosecution of the work was somewhat interfered with by the difficult financial situation following October, 1929, but the program was advanced continuously, and in 1933 electric operation of through passenger service was started between New York, Paoli and Wilmington. Up to this time the work had been financed by the usual methods. Desiring to co-operate with the Federal Government in providing employment and endeavoring to assist industrial recovery, as well as to obtain the full benefits of the work already done, the Railroad Company, in 1933, made arrangements with the Federal Administration to secure funds necessary to cemplete the electrification program south to Washington and Potomac Yard.

A construction force of 11,000 men was recruited from furloughed employes of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the electrified service from Wilmington to Washington and Potomac Yard was put in operation early in 1935. This completed electrification of the main route from New York to Washington and the South and the Philadelphia suburban district.

In 1937 work was started on electrification of the east and west lines between the Atlantic seaboard and the Harrisburg district, including the Low Grade Freight Line from Trenton to Enola, the ain Line from Paoli to Harrisburg, the Columbia and Port Deposit Branch and the branch lines between Lancaster and Columbia and between Columbia and Royalton. This part of the project was completed and in service in 1938, finishing the electrification program as set up for that part of the railroad east of Harrisburg.

The electric locomotives in general use are the GG1, of which there are 139, 95 normally assigned to passenger service and 44 to freight service, and the P5a, of which there are 92, all assigned to freight service.


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