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Heat restrictions for MARC, VRE

100 degrees on Metrorail | Riding the rails
Photos: Coping with the heat | Video: Memories of the snow

The extreme heat Friday will cause delays for commuter rail passengers who ride the Fredricksburg Line on Virginia Railway Express and MARC passengers on the Brunswick and Camden lines.

VRE officials said CSX has issued heat orders for all Fredericksburg Line trains. Riders can expect delays of 10 to 15 minutes.Passengers can expected delays anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes, VRE spokesman Mark Roeber said.

The Maryland Transit Administration said CSX had also issued heat orders for the Brunswick and Camden lines. Delays on those lines may also run 10 to 15 minutes.

Trains must slow during extreme heat because the steel rails will expand, VRE officials have said. Although this expansion is taken into consideration during construction, there are occasions when the expansion can cause a "sun kink," or a shift in the track that causes a curve in an otherwise straight pair of rails.

-- Staff reports

By Michael Bolden  | July 23, 2010; 1:49 PM ET
Categories:  Commuter Rail, MARC, Virginia Railway Express  
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Next: Delays at 50 & 495 in P.G.


Viewing VRE's Daily Download, I see that they always have a "reason" for delays--almost always the fault of someone or something else (CSX, Amtrak/Norfolk Southern, God).

With their on-time performance of late in the twenties and even teens, I examined their excuses to find constant mentions of "extended dwell time at stations" and "equipment problems" being blamed. That's the failure of VRE to properly operate and maintain its trains.

VRE 311 broke down at Brooke last night for nearly a half hour, not only delaying its own passengers, but those on the following Amtrak train and VRE 313. This had nothing to do with CSX's "heat restrictions". VRE's employees simply didn't have a clue. And this is becoming more frequent.

Not to beat an old horse to death (because it's now water over the dam and too late to do anything about it but) when Amtrak crews were in charge, they apparently knew how to handle balky engines, quirky doors and such, in order to nurse troublesome trains over the road. From what I've seen so far, the new operator's "experienced" employees don't appear to be very knowledgeable or experienced.

Nor have I seen anything that even remotely resembles the "great improvements in service" VRE management touted that the new Keolis employees were supposed to bring with them. New uniforms, new faces, old problems.

I don't know what "substantial improvements" we were supposed to see when VRE kicked Amtrak to the curb and brought in the French, but for the skeptics among us who have been suspicious of VRE mangement for a long time, we expected nothing, and so far, haven't been disappointed.

Posted by: ANonEMuss | July 24, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

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