Overview: Bell Interlocking is located just north of Wilmington where the NEC serves Amtrak, SEPTA, and Norfolk Southern. The interlocking’s layout governs the converging movements of intercity, commuter, and freight traffic along a broad curve of the Delaware River. Its current configuration is a legacy of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s heavy freight service at this location and is now obsolete to support current operations.
The current layout moves all northbound freight and some SEPTA Wilmington/Newark Line trains via an underpass to the inner tracks of the NEC, which elsewhere serve express commuter and intercity trains. Conversely, the current layout moves all northbound Amtrak trains via a flyover to the outer track, which elsewhere serve freight and local commuter trains. Farther north, at nearby at-grade Holly Interlocking, local commuter trains switch back to the outer tracks so they can serve commuter stations and Amtrak trains switch to the inner express tracks. These necessary but conflicting movements lower speeds and make trains prone to delay. Investments in Bell would reconfigure the interlocking and the flyover to separate SEPTA and freight from Amtrak’s intercity operations.