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Posted at 5:07 PM ET, 06/23/2010

O'Malley plans MARC train ride

By Washington Post Editors

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) will ride a MARC train from the Baltimore area to New Carrollton on Thursday morning to talk with passengers about improving the commuter rail line after a breakdown Monday evening that stranded 900 people in a train without air conditioning in the sweltering late afternoon heat, a spokesman said Wednesday.

O'Malley is scheduled to ride MARC train 417, leaving Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport at 8:35 a.m. and arriving at New Carrollton at 9 a.m. The media has been invited along for the ride. O'Malley has called Amtrak's handling of the breakdown "unacceptable." Amtrak operates MARC for the Maryland Transit Administration.

The electric locomotive on the Penn Line's train 538 broke down Monday at 6:23 p.m., shortly after it pulled out of Union Station, MARC officials said. The locomotive's jammed brakes prevented the train from being pulled by another locomotive, they said. Some passengers spent more than three hours on the train when outside temperatures hovered at 90 degrees, requiring passengers to remove windows via emergency latches when the heat inside became unbearable, passengers said.

Ten passengers were treated for heat-related symptoms, including dizziness, nausea and breathing problems. Three of them were taken to a nearby hospital.

Amtrak, MARC and the Federal Railroad Administration said Tuesday that they will investigate what happened and whether a federally required emergency preparedness plan was properly followed.

-- Katherine Shaver

By Washington Post Editors  | June 23, 2010; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, Maryland, Traffic and Transportation  
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BFD. He's riding a train that leaves Penn Station about 8:00am. The bulk of daily commuters take earlier trains. Perhaps he wants to minimized inconveniences to commuters. perhaps he doesn't really want to hear the truth. And why is this the first time he's riding the train, when the same incidents have happened during every heat wave over the last several summers?

Posted by: zizzy | June 23, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Zizzy. Governor give me a break and hop on the 405, 407, 509 or the 411 and you'll get hundreds of daily commuters on each train who will give you an earful of the daily issues with the MARC system.

Posted by: pegwaters | June 24, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

The phrase "unacceptable", which is so in vogue these days, is becoming super annoying, and overused to the point of being meaningless. It's an ominous indicator of the state of American "leadership" these days: just let bad things occur on your watch, run around Monday morning quarterbacking after the fact, saying how "unacceptable" the outcome is, and anoint yourself a hero. If the situation was truly so "unacceptable", it never should have occurred in the first place.

Posted by: six-ft-six | June 24, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

@six-ft-six: "If the situation was truly so "unacceptable", it never should have occurred in the first place." What does that mean? You may think the word "unacceptable" has been overused to the point of being meaningless, but this sentence is meaningless.

If O'Malley really wanted to send a message, he would've taken an evening train out of Union Station. During the peak of the day's heat, and with the characteristic routine of trying to find a car that isn't standing room only. And then hang out with all the passengers when the train breaks down minutes out of the station. That's good times.

Posted by: kgirl2 | June 24, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Can someone say "Photo Op in an Election Year?" BTW the Brunswick Line has not exactly been running swimmingly either. I guess those riders will have to settle for another apology.

Posted by: CubsFan | June 24, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

How about they bring CSX into the discussion of how this was handled seeing as they run the Camden and Brunswick Line for MARC. Amtrak only runs the one line!

Posted by: PrincessPolish | June 24, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

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