Posts Tagged ‘Maryland Area Regional Commuter 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.

Some 50 Years Later

July 10, 2019

As much as I like passenger trains, I’ve never been into studying and memorizing the history of individual cars.

I don’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of Dennis Tharp, for example, who has stored in his head a treasure trove of facts about rail passenger cars from the streamliner era.

Yet I was intrigued when Paul Woodring dug up some information about a Pennsylvania Railroad passenger car that showed up in a photograph made by Robert Farkas of the Fort Pitt in Canton in the late 1960s.

By the time Bob caught up with Train No. 53 it had shrunk to one coach and a handful of head-end cars trundling daily from Pittsburgh to Chicago.

Paul obtained the roster number of that lone passenger car in Bob’s photo, which turned out to be No. 1537, a converted PRR 21-roomette car known as Franklin Inn.

It had been built by Budd in 1949 for the Pennsy, which converted it to a coach in 1963 to serve in the Northeast Corridor.

At the time the PRR wanted more modern equipment to serve passengers traveling to the 1964 New York World’s Fair so it converted 50 Inn series cars into coach lounges.

The PRR became part of Penn Central in 1968 and after the formation of Amtrak the former Franklin Inn, now Penn Central 1537 was acquired by Southeast Michigan Transportation Authority in 1976 for use on its commuter trains on the Grand Trunk Western in Detroit.

SEMTA renamed the car Pleasant Ridge. Sometime after SEMTA rail commuter service ended in October 1983, the car was leased to Metro North.

Along the way ownership of the car and the lease to Metro North was transferred to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

After Metro North no longer needed the car, it wound up in the heritage fleet of Maryland Area Regional Commuter, which restored the Franklin Inn name and gave it roster number 142.

DCNRHS acquired Franklin Inn in November 2008. It had been retired from revenue service by MARC in 2001 when newer equipment arrived.

Although originally painted Tuscan red, the car now features the livery used by the PRR during the middle 1960s.

The website of the American Association of Private Rail Car Owners shows that Franklin Inn now carries roster number 800957 and reporting mark NRHX142. It is described as a high-capacity coach.

Paul’s interest in Franklin Inn stems from research he did on the consist of the 1968 Robert F. Kennedy funeral train that operated from New York to Washington on PC rails.

He was curious if any of the former MARC cars that were of PRR heritage that Akron Metro acquired and later conveyed to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad were in the RFK funeral train consist.

None of them were. For that matter the former Franklin Inn was not in the RFK funeral train, either, although 14 cars from former Inn series that had been converted to coaches for Congressional Service assignments.

The Congressional Service cars were normally idle on weekends.

The Franklin Inn has operated through Northeast Ohio on excursions pulled by Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

Paul reported that it also operated behind Norfolk & Western 611 during some of its excursions in the East and South.

That sent me digging into my archive to see if I had a photograph of the Franklin Inn behind the Berkshire-type steam locomotive.

I found it in the consist of a July 2015 excursion from Ashtabula to Youngstown.

It is shown in the bottom image above on Carson Hill just outside Ashtabula. Interestingly both images show the car from the same end.

I’m not sure if Franklin Inn ever ran on the CVSR, but a sister car, Collinsville Inn has operated there along with ex-PRR car Paul Revere.

It seems odd that a car whose normal assignment was between Washington and New York would find its way to the Fort Pitt.

I wondered if the assignment of Franklin Inn to the Fort Pitt was so that the lounge section could be used in snack-bar coach service.

But a check of my collection of copies of The Official Guide of the Railways published in the late 1960s found that from at least 1965 onward the Fort Pitt was shown as being a coach-only train with no food service.

I also found that the Fort Pitt name was removed early in the Penn Central era.

So perhaps it was assigned to PRR Lines West service for another reason.

On the day that Bob photographed No. 53, he probably viewed this coach as just another passenger car.

There was reason to believe that its future with the Pennsylvania and/or Penn Central was likely to be short given how railroads were lopping off passenger trains as quickly as regulatory officials would allow.

A lot of rail passenger cars would become surplus and many would be scrapped.

But who could have known 50 years ago in Canton what the future held for the Franklin Inn and that it would still be carrying passengers five decades later.

Society Seeks Funds to Repaint PRR Passenger Car

April 5, 2015
The Braddock Inn ride on the back of Amtrak's Cardinal at Charlottesville, Va., in June 2012. It is still wearing its MARC livery. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

The Braddock Inn rides on the back of Amtrak’s westbound Cardinal at Charlottesville, Va., in June 2012. It is still wearing its MARC livery. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

An artist rendering of what Braddock Inn will look like after being repainted into its original Pennsylvania Railroad livery.

An artist rendering of what Braddock Inn will look like after being repainted into its original Pennsylvania Railroad livery.

The West Virginia-based Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society is seeking to raise money to pay for repainting a passenger car that it owns into the livery of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The society, based in Huntington, W.Va., owns the Braddock Inn, which was once PRR No. 8246. The group wants to repaint the car into its original colors of Tuscan red, gold and black.

Although it has raised $12,000 in donations, it needs another $20,000. The fundraiser is currently online at

“We are hoping to generate $30,000 to repaint the car into its original Pennsylvania colors,” said Joe Rosenthal, the society’s assistant general manager. “We are thankful for the donations we have received so far, and hope to generate the remaining $20,000 to repaint this car for use on public and private passenger excursions.”

Built in 1949 as a roomette-sleeper, it was assigned to the Indianapolis Limited through the 1950s.

The Pennsy subsequently rebuilt the car into a 64-seat coach that it named Peter Schhoenberger. In 1963, the car was painted into a silver stainless steel livery and renumbered 1509.

The car would later run in commuter service for Penn Central, New Jersey Transit and Maryland Area Regional Commuter service. MARC restored the car in 1964 to first class service, operating it as a café-parlor car on commuter runs between Washington, D.C., and Martinsburg, W.Va.

The Huntington Society purchased the car in 2004 for use on its annual New River Train excursions and other trips on Amtrak trains.