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More MARC delays anger passengers

Maryland official on troubled MARC train

Amtrak apologizes to MARC riders

2:05 p.m. Update: The MARC news just keeps coming in. The Riders Advisory Council just announced a special meeting for 4 p.m. Wednesday "to specifically address the recent service disruptions on the Penn Line." Beverley K. Swaim-Staley is scheduled to speak to the council about the recent problems and the investigation.

1:55 p.m. Update: Amtrak and the Maryland Transit Administration will hold a special session of the "Meet the MARC Managers" at Union Station on Wednesday from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m., according to the MTA. The officials who plan to be present are Amtrak CEO Joseph H. Boardman, Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley and MTA Administrator Ralign T. Wells, MTA said.

A previously planned Meet the MARC Managers event will be Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Union Station.

Original post:

By Liz F. Kay and Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

Trouble continued to dog the MARC commuter system Monday as trains were delayed for problems ranging from brake failure to malfunctioning traffic signals to downed trees.

In the morning, a southbound MARC train experienced mechanical trouble, delaying Washington-bound commuters on the Penn Line, according to the Maryland Transit Administration.

In the afternoon, at least one Washington-bound Camden Line train was running more than an hour late, while a northbound train on the same line was reported 37 minutes late as it approached Dorsey station after being delayed by signal problems and a downed tree.

In the evening, several riders reported train No. 538 on the Penn Line, without prior notice, missed the Odenton stop. Passengers who were expecting to get off there instead disembarked at the BWI station and had to take a train back to Odenton. The crew said the stop was skipped because of track conditions.

MARC passenger Danielle Brinkley was on the last train from Washington to Baltimore, which was supposed to leave the capital at 10:30 p.m., but as of midnight it was still awaiting a different engine. Officials told passengers they could wait in the station because the air conditioning had to be turned off to switch out the engine, Brinkley said.

"The train should have arrived in Baltimore at 11:30, and we haven't even left D.C. yet," she said after midnight.

About 8 a.m., Train No. 411 stopped at the New Carrollton station with problems with its air brakes and passengers were let off, said MTA spokesman Terry Owens.

Some were picked up by other trains after about 30 to 40 minutes, he said, while others chose to continue on the Washington Metro.

Owens said all passengers were able to continue on their way before 9.a.m.

Other trains ran about 30 minutes behind schedule as a result of the problem, he said. A rescue locomotive was sent out to recover the stalled train and push it to Washington.

Metro honored MARC tickets, Owens said.

The spokesman said the air-conditioning continued to work while the train was stalled.

A week before, the air-conditioning on a northbound Penn Line train malfunctioned after the train stalled near Cheverly, and nearly 1,000 passengers were stranded for two hours in sweltering conditions.

That incident, which remains under investigation, prompted apologies from the chief executives of the MTA and Amtrak. It also became a topic in the political clash between Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who took a ride on a MARC train later in the week to talk with riders, and former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., his expected re-election rival.

Owens said Monday that the cause of last week's malfunction had not yet been determined.

Officials investigating MARC problems

Has your commute been complicated by the MARC troubles? Post a comment below.

By Michael Bolden  | June 29, 2010; 12:43 PM ET
Categories:  Commuter Rail, MARC, Maryland  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Can parking be 'green'?
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Wow! MARC can't even keep there meetings straight. Here are two emails I've received within minutes of each other:

"Attention MARC Riders: Amtrak and MTA will host a special "Meet the MARC Managers" event with the CEO of Amtrak, Secretary of MDOT and MTA Administrator at Union Station on Wednesday, June 30 from 4:30 until 6:30 PM. Our previously scheduled "Meet the MARC Managers" event will take place at Union Station on Thursday, July 1 from 4 PM until 7 PM."

And a few minutes later ...

"Attention MARC riders: The MARC Riders Advisory Council has called a special meeting for tomorrow, Wednesday, June 30, at 4:00 PM to specifically address the recent service disruptions on the Penn Line. Maryland Secretary of Transportation, Beverley K. Swaim-Staley will speak to the Council regarding the recent events on the Penn Line as well as MTA's/MDOT's investigation. The 4:00 PM meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Hall of States, 444 North Capitol Street, Washington, DC in room 337."

Too bad concerned commuters can't be in two places at once!

Regardless of what is going on, I hope they have planned on enough room to accommodate the many disgruntled commuters that will surely attend one (or both?) of these meetings.

Posted by: zizzy | June 29, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I saw O'Malley boasting about some new engines last year and then here we go again with problems, in fact more problems then last year! We're the forgotten few.

Posted by: chesapeaketerp | June 29, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

It is crazy. I've been on 3 trains within the last month alone with major delays, including the 9PM MARC train on the Penn Line yesterday. I actually drove in to work today,because I felt the want to get home at a semi-decent time! It is a terrible inconvenience to the commuters who come from as far out as Perryville.

Posted by: lchittams | June 29, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

From a personal correspondence with the MTA's Office of External Affairs:

the 'Meet the Managers' event tomorrow (with h the CEO of Amtrak, Administrator Wells, and Secretary Swaim-Staley) "is a totally separate event from the MARC Council meeting" that Secretary Swaim-Staley will be at.

Posted by: emasten | June 29, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

crimestopper tip - wipe with your left.

Posted by: OldSalt8 | June 29, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

1st - That's ridiculous that they are having the "Meet the Managers" meeting at the same time as the Riders Advisory Council - the fact that anyone there sees this as separate events just shows how out of touch they are.

2nd - I've seen news reports of various officials riding the trains, at the stations apologizing to the riders, etc. While I have seen various officials at these locations, they are always clustered together chatting, checking blackberries and looking around nervously at the regular passengers or talking to other Amtrak or MARC employees. I haven't seen a single one of them talk to a passenger, let alone apologize to one.

Posted by: KathrynMaryland | June 29, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Gotta give MARC credit for trying to get ahead of the curve on this, unlike MetroFAIL, for which delays are close to the norm these days.

"It is crazy. I've been on 3 trains within the last month alone with major delays, including the 9PM MARC train on the Penn Line yesterday."

If you were riding MetroFAIL, 3 late trains in a WEEK would be more typical.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | June 29, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I never mind getting stuck on the train. The crazy people always keep me entertained . Thats prob why someone created peopleofthemta. com

Posted by: DCMIKE718 | June 29, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

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