Posts Tagged ‘MARC’

MARC West Virginia Service Again Threatened

May 3, 2021

Commuter rail service between Washington and West Virginia is again in jeopardy due to funding cuts.

West Virginia lawmakers failed to appropriate funding for MARC commuter service in the state’s 2021-22 budget.

Senate President Craig Blair reportedly removed the funding due to low ridership.

Blair is said to have cited an anecdote in which he said ridership had increased to 12 passengers from five.

However, ridership numbers show the trains carried 60,000 riders in West Virginia in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is not the first time that funding issues have threatened to end the service.

In late 2019 the West Virginia legislature approved just $1.1 million of the $3.4 million sought by MARC.

The service continued only because a consortium of local governments and Gov. Jim Justice provided the remainder of the funding.

SEPTA to Serve Newark, MARC Suspends Service for Inauguration

January 16, 2021

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will resume weekday service at Newark, Delaware on Jan. 25.

SEPTA had suspended service to two stations on its Wilmington/Newark regional rail line due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Delaware service is being underwritten by the state at the Newark and Churchmans Crossing stations to provide travel options during an Interstate 95 construction project scheduled to start in February and last through 2023.

In an unrelated development, MARC will suspend commuter train service on all three of its routes starting Jan. 17 in advance of the presidential inauguration set for Jan. 20 in Washington.

Affected will be service to West Virginia on the Brunswick Line.

MARC said trains are expected to resume operating on Jan. 21 but it advised riders to check the Maryland Transit Administration Twitter feed or the MTA Transit app for more information.

The transit agency said the service suspensions are part of tightened security surrounding the inauguration.

Unions Seek Protection for Trains in Washington

January 13, 2021

Two railroad labor unions have asked the Federal Railroad Administration and Department of Homeland Security to protect passengers and railroad workers of Amtrak, MARC and Virginia Railway Express services in and around Washington.

The Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Transportation Division and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said they are seeking additional security measures in the wake of rioting that occurred in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6.

The unions have asked federal authorities for a minimal standard that any regulation granted to prohibit the interference of a train crew’s duty be in line with that of aviation statutes and regulations.

The letter to the FRA and Homeland Security sent by the unions cited  “the very real risk and potential for additional violence and riots.” It noted that Washington remains on high alert.

MARC Service to W.Va. Continues Unchanged After Nov. 30 Deadline Passes for Additional Funding to be Made

December 13, 2019

No change has occurred in MARC commuter rail service to West Virginia despite a Nov. 30 deadline for the state to increase its funding to continue the existing level of service.

A West Virginia legislator said negotiations continue over MARC’s demand for $3.4 million to fund service at existing levels.

The West Virginia legislature provided just $1.1 million, which led MARC to say it would trim service from three weekday roundtrips between Washington and Martinsburg, West Virginia, to one roundtrip.

West Virginia legislator John Doyle said the parties continue to discuss funding and an agreement appears to be near.

Some local West Virginia communities have agreed to provide funding for the service.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has said the state will pay the difference between what local governments agree to pay and what MARC is seeking.

MARC has said it will not reduce the level of service without issuing a 30 day notice, which it has yet to do.

W.Va. Gets More Time to Find MARC Funding

November 13, 2019

The Maryland Department of Transportation has given West Virginia interests additional time to come up with additional funding to preserve the existing level of MARC commuter rail service.

MdDOT had planned to reduce MARC service between Washington and Martinsburg, West Virginia, to one roundtrip on weekdays in late November.

That deadline has now been pushed back with MdDOT agreeing to provide 30 days notice before making any service changes.

MARC also serves the West Virginia communities of Harpers Ferry and Duffields.

In the meantime, negotiations continue in West Virginia for local funding that will supplement what the state pays for MARC service.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s administration has been pressuring West Virginia to pay another $3.5 million a year that Maryland says its taxpayers spend to provide that service to the Mountain State.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and the communities served by MARC are scrambling to find that money.

West Virginia state Delegate John Doyle said a top aide to the governor said recently that if the communities served by MARC service could come up with $300,000 among them, the state would provide the rest.

Doyle said having the communities pick up 10 percent of Maryland’s reimbursement and the state of West Virginia the rest, is a one-year fix.

He said there needs to be a discussion to hammer out a longer-term solution next year.

“We sat down and we parceled it out by population,” Doyle said. “Berkeley County has come up with their allotted $170,000.

“The city of Martinsburg has come up with its allowed $25,000. Charles Town has come up with its allotted $8,800. Ranson, it’s allotted $7,700. Bolivar its allotted $1,500. And Harper’s Ferry, which was allotted $410, has come up with $2,500.”

Thus far Jefferson County has yet to agree to pay its share although at a meeting last week, members of the County Commission voted to come up with $40,000 to keep MARC trains running, less than half of the $82,500 it was due to pay under the formula.

“I do think we’re almost there,” Doyle said.

MARC service to West Virginia is used by residents of the state who work in more prosperous Montgomery County and the District of Columbia.

The currently level of service is three trains eastbound in the morning and three westbound trains in the event.

These trains carry approximately 250 West Virginia passengers a day.



What an Interesting History This Unit Has Had

October 29, 2019

EMD E units and F units were once commonly assigned to passenger and freight trains in Northeast Ohio.

Even in the early Conrail era of the late 1970s F units were standard motive power.

But today those units largely have been scrapped or relegated to museums or tourist railroads.

Shown is a Chessie System freight headed by Baltimore & Ohio F7A No. 4553 near Voris Street in Akron in mid-1973. It is passing beneath the Thornton Street Bridge.

B&O/Chesapeake & Ohio F units were becoming unusual by the time that this image was made.

This particular unit has had an interesting history. It was built in 1951 as No. 293A before being renumbered 4553 in 1957.

It continued to work for the B&O/C&O for more than another decade before being sold on May 5, 1975, to Morrison-Knudsen.

No. 4553 sat idle in Boise, Idaho, for a few years before being rebuilt into an all purpose control unit for push-pull service.

In the process its prime mover was removed and replaced by a 6 cylinder  Cummins Diesel engine connected to a generator to create 480 volts of electricity for head-end power to passenger cars.

The traction motors were removed and replaced with idler wheel sets. Most of the unit’ accessories, including the control stand, toilet, sand boxes and lights, were left intact.

The car body received repairs and was painted orange and silver in the livery of its next operator, Maryland Area Rail Commuter. MARC gave the unit roster No. 7100.

Now a passenger unit, No. 7100 was released from the M-K shops on April 10, 1981, and delivered to Washington for revenue service.

M-K also rebuilt four other F7A units for the Maryland Department of Transportation for MARC service, but those locomotives retained their original prime movers.

Those four MARC units were later traded back to M-K for credit on an order for five rebuilt GP39-W locomotives in the 1990s.

No. 7100 in the meantime was removed from service in late 1998 due to deterioration. By that time it had been relegated to backup service.

But it wasn’t done yet. MARC management decided to rebuild No. 7100 yet again so back to Boise it went. By then M-K had been renamed Boise Locomotive.

The rebuild took place over the next year and cost $900,000, a sum that raised a few eyebrows as to whether it was a worthwhile investment to make on a locomotive that had been built in the early 1950s.

The rebuilding involved replacing components with their modern counterparts, including a Cummins KTA19G4 6-cylinder diesel engine to drive the generator creating HEP.

No. 7100 received cab signals so it could operate on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor if needed.

Also installed was a PULSE III event recorder and idler wheels with “self adjusting single head brakes.”

A new Q-TRON computer controlled wheel slip\slide system managed the braking effectiveness with individual censors on each wheel.

The traditional control stand was replaced with a newer model EMD control stand.

The 7100 arrived in Baltimore in August 1999 ready for revenue service.

It was donated to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore in 2010 where it sits today.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

W.Va. Communities Get ‘Bill’ to Maintain MARC Service

October 28, 2019

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has outlined how much each of the counties and towns served by MARC rail commuter service will need to kick in to keep service at its existing level.

MARC has said it will reduce service between Washington and Martinsville, West Virginia, to one roundtrip a day from the current three if it doesn’t receive additional funding.

The state has agreed to spend $1.1 million for MARC service, which means another $2.4 million is needed to maintain the existing service levels.

The funding levels listed in the letter are: Berkeley County: $177,023; Jefferson County, $82,810; Martinsburg: $25,458; Charles Town: $8,839; Ranson: $7,553; Harpers Ferry: $410; Bolivar: $1,496; and Shepherdstown: $2,711

“If your local governments choose to support this service and contribute a minimum of $300,000 the Governor will commit to identifying and providing the remaining funding for this current fiscal year and will work to secure a multiyear agreement with Maryland based upon Maryland’s actual cost and other factors,” the letter said.

The $300,000 figure refers to the total funding from the counties and communities.

The letter also said the governor would work with state and local leaders to identify sustainable methods of funding for MARC service including through potential varying increases and from local governments on a timeline that will allow for local budgets to account for a local share on a graduated basis.

Funding Plan Proposed to Save W.Va. MARC Service

October 21, 2019

A funding plan may have been reached to preserve the existing level of MARC service to West Virginia.

Communities in the state served by MARC have tentatively agreed to pay an additional $300,000 to preserve the service.

The pledges were made after a representative of Gov Jim Justice said the state is willing to increase its funding to continue the six-trains-per-day operations, if the communities involved make a serious financial commitment to the service.

MARC had earlier said it would cut service to West Virginia from Washington to just one roundtrip per day without additional funding.

Berkeley and Jefferson counties along with the cities of Martinsburg, Charles Town, Ranson, Harpers Ferry, Bolivar and Shepherdstown have proposed a funding formula based on population.

Contributions would range from $170,000 for Berkeley County to $410 for Harpers Ferry, whose town council has already pledged $2,500 to maintain MARC service.

W.Va. May Lose Some Passenger Service

July 17, 2019

West Virginia is expected to lose some rail passenger service because the money appropriated by the state legislature may not be enough to maintain the existing service.

The West Virginia cities of Martinsburg, Harpers Ferry and Duffields are served by three weekday roundtrips operated by Maryland Area Regional Commuter.

The trains operate between Martinsburg and Washington.

The legislature approved $1.1 million for the 2020 fiscal year, but MARC had demanded $3.2 million to maintain service at its existing level.

West Virginia Transportation Secretary Byrd White said Maryland Transportation Pete Rahn has indicated that at $1.1 million MARC could only afford to provide one round trip a day, going east in the morning and west in the evening.

The West Virginia legislature appropriated $1.5 million for MARC service in FY2019.

A memorandum of understanding between West Virginia and Maryland expired on July 7, but it is unlikely that service would be curtailed until fall due to the need to provide public notice and hold public hearings before service is cut.

MARC West Virginia Service Saved

March 20, 2018

Commuter trains operated by Maryland Rail Commuter will continue to serve West Virginia after that state’s governor signed the fiscal year 2019 budget.

The $4.38 billion budget contains authority to allow the transfer of $1.5 million from the securities division in the state auditor’s office to the West Virginia Commuter Rail Access Fund.

MARC had threatened to end the service between Washington and Harpers Ferry and Martinsville, West Virginia, as early as summer if a new funding arrangement was not worked out. The new funding agreement will last for a year.

MARC trains to West Virginia use the same CSX (former Baltimore & Ohio) route used by Amtrak’s Capitol Limited.