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I am beyond frustrated at this point. We even called SEPTA's support number, and the person outright lied and said that they have no information about which platform a train will arrive at. (This is a lie because there are signs at the platforms which give this information - if you're already at the station, that is.)

My mom wants to take SEPTA Regional Rail from Yardley to the airport. This involves changing trains in center city. My mom has trouble walking and cannot use escalators. Thus, the 15 minutes between the Yardley train's arrival and the airport train's departure is enough only if either the two trains arrive/depart from the same platform (or rather, from either side of the same platform level), or if both trains stop nearest the end where the elevators (NOT escalators) are.

I simply cannot seem to find any information about which tracks/platforms any given train will use. I've looked at TrainView - it's useless for scheduled trains, and doesn't seem to give useful information for already-in-motion trains, either. I've seen something called "Next To Arrive" mentioned, but I can't find an actual website for it.

Is there a way to find out which platform a train will use at a specific station? (Jefferson Station, in particular - both of the other center city options are problematic even without the accessibility concerns.)

(SEPTA = SouthEastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, a.k.a. Philadelphia area.)

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    I'm sorry you're frustrated with this, and I'm not familiar with SEPTA. It's worth noting, however, that platform assignments in many rail systems are the responsibility of the station operator, which is often (but of course not always) the same entity as operates the train. Thus, platform assignments sometimes change as trains arrive at delayed times, and are shunted to different platforms. Stations I've seen in the UK display signs that direct passengers to specific platforms, but the signs are electronic so their content can be - and is - changed with adjustments to train arrival times. – David May 6 '18 at 16:26
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    At least some of the searches I did on Google suggested making the transfer at Temple University, which has only two platforms that would normally be for trains in opposite directions, nearly guaranteeing that the change would be on the same platform. I suspect that your best bet would be to ask a conductor if you can. – phoog May 6 '18 at 20:02
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    You sure are rough on SEPTA. The phone person can't tell you because it's not planned in advance. They need to be able to change tracks in use, or they would never be able to make repairs or deal with problem s. – Harper May 6 '18 at 22:01
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    @Harper: there are literally permanent signs affixed to the columns on the platforms that say which trains usually leave from there. Therefore, it's a total and complete lie to say that they have "no information" about what platforms will be used: they 100% know which platforms are usually used. That's all the SEPTA person needed to tell us. – Martha May 6 '18 at 23:24
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    In the U.K. my father and I would travel across London. I remember frequently when our train back was cancelled we would stand in the Kings Cross concourse staring at the screen. Sometimes the platform number would appear as little as 4 minutes before the train was due to depart. There would be a large crowd start running for the platform! I’m not surprised a company don’t give out information like this - the chance of it changing is too great. How would you feel if they were wrong, and you’d planned your journey around this? – Tim May 7 '18 at 1:42
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At Jefferson Station you should be fine, because there are only two platforms, one for trains going east (tracks 1 and 2) and one for trains going west (tracks 3 and 4). The train from Yardley to Jefferson goes the same direction as the train from Jefferson to Airport (west), so you shouldn't have to change platforms if you change trains at Jefferson. (See station diagram thanks to skifans' answer.)

The reason SEPTA can't give you the information ahead of time is probably that they sometimes change tracks and platforms at the last minute. This is at the discretion of the train dispatcher and gives them the flexibility to move trains as needed; for example, a delayed train could be moved to a different track if the track it usually takes is occupied by another train. So even if you know which track the train usually takes, it might take a different track occasionally. At Jefferson this usually just means moving trains to the other side of the same platform. It would be quite unusual for them to run a westbound train on the eastbound tracks.

Lastly, beware that SEPTA trains are often delayed. If you're planning on a 15 minute transfer, leave enough time so you won't miss your plane just because there is a train delay and you miss the transfer.

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    Yes, that's a pretty bulletproof answer because when stations are 4-track center platform like that, the 2 tracks on a platform are usually going the same direction. Even if they shut a track for maintenance, they put all trains on the other one. – Harper May 6 '18 at 22:12
  • This is a very helpful answer, thank you! I don't know why I never really noticed that the trains on either side of the platform go in the same direction, but it makes sense. – Martha May 7 '18 at 22:14
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This is Kevin from SEPTA Customer Service. We are sorry to hear of your experience. Please know that it can be difficult to accurately predict the correct track number for every single train. TrainView at SEPTA.org (http://trainview.septa.org/ ) does list the track numbers for Jefferson, Suburban and 30th Street stations for trains if you select the train number. However, please know that these track numbers are subject to change. As a result, we always recommend checking the monitors at the station before heading to the platform as track changes can occur shortly before the departure time. We are aware that the signs at the Center City stations do indicate which lines arrive at which tracks. Please know that these signs are in a general sense and not all trains on each line follows this due to multiple factors. Also, these signs do not take into account any last minute changes. Again, this is why we always recommend checking the monitors before approaching the platforms.

In regards to the “Next To Arrive” feature that you mentioned, this is a feature found on the Official SEPTA app (Link: http://www.septa.org/service/new-app.html ). This feature does not typically provide track information for trains. We do recommend using the app for alerts and to track status information for all of our services.

We would like to look more into the call you made to us. Please send us an email at cservice@septa.org with your name and phone number.

If you ever need assistance online you can always reach out to us on Twitter (@SEPTA_SOCIAL), Facebook (Link: https://www.facebook.com/septaphilly/ ) or send us an email.

Kevin G.

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    Welcome Kevin. Thanks for coming in and helping out here. – Willeke May 7 '18 at 19:17
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    Kevin, the thing is, checking the monitors at the station is of absolutely no help with figuring out whether that particular journey will be possible for someone with mobility (read: accessibility) issues. Conversely, telling us what platforms are usually used would have been very helpful. Yes, I know, things happen, but you don't stop publishing a timetable just because trains can be late or early. – Martha May 7 '18 at 22:10
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I don't know how accurate it is but Wikipedia shows a track layout for most major stations: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Station_(SEPTA) showing which routes call at which platform, unfortunately I'm not familiar enough with the question to answer if it would be suitable, do edit if you have more familiarity with the system and can work it out.

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