MARC Moving to Fix Problems
Paul J. Wiedefeld, head of the Maryland Transit Administration, today outlined steps being taken to improve the MARC trains' performance. It's been a difficult summer for the Maryland commuter railroad, despite increasing ridership.
You deserve better, he said.
"For the past six weeks, on-time performance for MARC train service has fallen far below what customers expect or deserve," Wiedefeld said in a statement. "Although some service disruptions are unavoidable, there were instances where we could have taken actions to reduce the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience that you and your family, friends and colleagues experienced."
He said he has directed MARC managers to review each recent problem with CSX and Amtark, owners of the three lines, and reduce the chances that the problems will recur.
For Penn Line riders, he said: MARC is talking daily with Amtrak to address delays and improve the reliability of the electric locomotives. The overhaul of four locomotives is nearly complete, and the first of those will be back in service in early August. The second is due back in mid-August.
For Brunswick and Camden Line riders, he said: CSX dispatchers have been relocated from Jacksonville to Baltimore to improve communication and service. He noted that the diesels are being replaced, with 26 new ones coming in at the rate of two a month starting early next year. Meanwhile, maintenance on the old ones will be improved.
There's a lot to improve: During June, Penn Line trains were on schedule 81 percent of the time. For Camden Line trains, it was 63 percent and for the Brunswick Line, it was 63 percent.
At this rate, people are going to decide that $5 gas is a bargain.
Summer always stresses MARC's very old equipment, as well as its riders. Breakdowns have been frequent. But the electric locomotives on the Penn Line have been out of service for overhaul, so MARC has been using older diesels in their place. The diesels are 40 years old and not aging gracefully. Plus, there are reliability problems with the new electrics, the MTA says.
See Lena Sun's story on this week's train problems across the region.
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