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Md. official on troubled MARC train

Monday MARC delays anger passengers

Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley released the following statement about Monday night's MARC troubles.

Monday evening, the Amtrak crew in command of MARC Train 538 to Baltimore failed to stop at Odenton Station as scheduled. I was aboard MARC 538 and experienced first-hand the severe frustration of my fellow passengers at the failure of Amtrak to carry out even this very basic task of stopping at a scheduled station. Additionally, two trains experienced extended delays because of mechanical problems. Last night, I contacted the highest levels of Amtrak senior management and demanded a full accounting of these issues. These fundamental failures come on the heels of last Monday's incident when passengers aboard MARC 538 were stranded for over two hours after the locomotive suffered a power failure. The inadequate response that evening is under investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak and the Maryland Transit Administration.

Amtrak is contracted by the state of Maryland to operate and maintain MARC. Taxpayer dollars are paid to Amtrak with the full expectation of safe, reliable service in return. It is understood that machines, and the equipment that supports them, will break down at times. However, these most recent incidents reflect a failure of Amtrak rather than simply the failure of equipment. The system Amtrak has in place to operate MARC is proving to be inadequate. I am asking Amtrak to conduct a top to bottom review of its operation of MARC and to aggressively initiate the changes necessary to see that similar incidents do not occur again. The status quo with Amtrak is simply unacceptable. We will continue to keep the pressure on Amtrak's senior management team to resolve these issues and improve the reliability of the system.

Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman and MTA Administrator Ralign Wells met passengers at Odenton station early this morning to address last night's incident. To maintain an open dialogue with our passengers, Mr. Boardman and I will be at Union Station tomorrow evening (June 30) from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m., where we will be available to talk directly with customers and receive their input. MTA Administrator Ralign Wells will also be available at Union Station beginning at 4:30 p.m

By Michael Bolden  | June 29, 2010; 3:06 PM ET
Categories:  Commuter Rail, MARC, Maryland  
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Been riding MARC since 1993 - service is as it is. Inadequate funding, poor track conditions despite efforts to maintain it, old, old cars many w/o A/C in summer, rickety ride especially when at normal speeds, generally friendly conductors, rarely if ever on schedule. Part of the schedule delays are late or inconsiderate passengers waiting in their cars then running to the train as it pulls in, and passengers thinking it should wait for them. So delays are not entirely due to the MARC train. Why do I still ride? There is no other option than MARC or van pool, and van pools are not the answer. The trains themselves beat the Metro for comfort hands down. My grade: C

Posted by: bfjam | June 30, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

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