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Delays, problems on MARC

5:15 p.m. Update: Camden 848 is on the move but operating 25 to 30 minutes late.

Bad news for Brunswick Line commuters. Marc Train 881, which is scheduled to leave Union Station at 6 p.m. will be operating one car short and won't have a restroom on board.

There are problems on the Camden Line, too. Train 848 is delayed at Union Station due to a mechanical problem. It was scheduled to leave at 4:39.

By Michael Bolden  | July 19, 2010; 5:06 PM ET
Categories:  Commuter Rail, MARC, Maryland  
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Lots of Penn line delays and confusion as well for trains 450 and 534. And conflicting excuses from everyone in charge. Search twitter for #marcfail to see updates.

Posted by: zizzy | July 19, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

What a comedy of errors @ Union Station this evening. I just missed the 4:40pm Penn train. Next train is gate (B) for the 450 (5:15 DEP), right next to the MARC desk.

I noticed MTA Administrator Ralign Wells wandering through the track and Gate areas. You could also hear the discussion for trains & track #'s, particularly the 450, and 534, both express trains, which depart w/in minutes of each other. This was a half-hour before either train's scheduled departure. Saw the 450 conductors walk down track 9. A few minutes later some special needs passengers were escorted out of Gate B, presumably toward track 8 but they are stopped outside the gate.

Then the trouble began.

About 5:00pm. a MARC person made an announcement that the 450 & 534 were being delayed, & the 450 train hadn't arrived yet (really? where exactly did those conductors go, then?) We noticed a VIP looking van sitting outside of Gate A. Sure enough VIPs were there, but only held the gates very briefly (less than a minute) - didn't even bother closing doors or using barricades, much less forcing everyone inside.

Now a lone Amtrak cops tries to force people back into the gate area. (it's getting quite crowded now that at least 2 trains' worth of passenger are waiting for a track assignment). Where is Mr. Wells? gabbing w/other MARC personnel & perhaps a customer. No seeming concern, or desire to alleviate what was becoming a bad situation.

About 5:11: 534 is leaving on Track 8. People who take the 450 want to know if that train will be leaving, otherwise they can hop on the 534. No answer, no info. So everyone mobs the area approaching Track 8 for the 534. I can hear somebody (who?) yelling that the 450 is on track 9. Many of us ditch the 534 and go for the the 450. It *should* be leaving at 5:15, and only makes 2 stops (New Carrollton & Penn), so it seems like the right choice. Wrong.

We leave after the 534. Conductors apologize about the VIP/Biden delay (really? nobody in the Gate area mentioned it, & it was hardly noticeable) We leave about 10 minutes late. Very crowded train. Engine dies near New Carrollton but is restarted quickly (apparently this is one Penn train that doesn't get a spare engine). We proceed normally then crawl from BWI to Penn because we are following the 534 which makes all stops after BWI. We arrive at Penn about 25 minutes late.

Why so long to post track numbers?
Why no *truthful* announcements?
Why is a train that makes only 2 stops forced to follow a train that makes several?
What did Mr. Wells observe about this?
Will he do anything about it?

MARC/Amtrak really need to get their act together. There are several times each day when Penn trains depart w/in minutes of each other. Plans should be in place to minimize delays when one or more of these trains is delayed. It shouldn't be Russian Roulette over which train will leave first or be delayed/canceled.

Delays happen; we just want accurate, timely information instead of being left in the dark.

Posted by: zizzy | July 19, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Are there any rules that mandate that they need to have a bathroom on every train?

Posted by: DOEJN | July 20, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

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