Penn Line
A Penn Line train at Odenton station
Overview
StatusOperating
OwnerAmtrak (tracks)
LocaleWashington, D.C., and Maryland suburbs east; Baltimore and suburbs northeast
TerminiWashington, D.C. Union Station
38°53′51″N 77°00′23″W / 38.8976°N 77.0063°W / 38.8976; -77.0063 (Washington D.C. Union Station)
Perryville, MD
39°33′29″N 76°04′26″W / 39.5581°N 76.0739°W / 39.5581; -76.0739 (Perryville station)
Stations13
Service
TypeCommuter rail
SystemMARC Train
Services1
Operator(s)Amtrak/Maryland Transit Administration
Daily ridership24,267[1]
History
Opened1881
Technical
Line length77 mi (124 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead Catenary
Operating speed125 mph (201 km/h)
Route map

Northeast Corridor
to New York and Boston
Newark (proposed) Amtrak SEPTA.svg
Elkton (proposed)
Perryville
Cecil Transit
Aberdeen
AmtrakHarford Transit
Edgewood
Martin State Airport
Martin State Airport
Route 59 (MTA Maryland LocalLink)
Penn Station
Amtrak Baltimore Light Rail
West Baltimore
Maryland Transit Administration
Frederick Road
closed 1984
Halethorpe
UMBC Transit.png Route 77 (MTA Maryland)
BWI Airport
Baltimore–Washington International Airport
AmtrakBWI Rail Station#Public transit services
Odenton
Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland
Bowie State
Bowie
Seabrook
Metrobus (Washington, D.C.)
Lanham
closed 1982
New Carrollton
WMATA Metro Logo small.svg AmtrakNew Carrollton station
Landover
closed 1982
Brunswick Line
to Martinsburg or Frederick
Union Station
Virginia Railway Express WMATA Metro Logo small.svg AmtrakWashington Union Station#Services

The Penn Line is a MARC commuter rail service running from Union Station in Washington, D.C., to Perryville, Maryland, along the far southern leg of the Northeast Corridor. However, the great majority of trains terminate at Baltimore's Penn Station. It is MARC's busiest and only electric line. With trains running at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour (201 km/h), it is the fastest commuter line in the United States.[2] The service is operated by Amtrak under contract to the Maryland Transit Administration. MARC sets the schedules, owns most of the stations, and controls fares, while Amtrak owns and maintains the right-of-way, supplies employees to operate trains, and maintains the rolling stock. It is by far the busiest of MARC's three lines, with twice as many trains and twice as many passengers as the Brunswick and Camden lines combined.

The Penn Line is the successor to commuter services between Washington and Baltimore provided by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), Penn Central, and Conrail dating back as early as 1881. Additionally, Amtrak operated a commuter service named the Chesapeake between 1978–1983.[3]

In 1983, Maryland, along with a number of other Northeastern states, took control of its commuter railroads. Amtrak, which had acquired the right-of-way from Penn Central, took over operation of the former PRR commuter line, which was rebranded as AMDOT (Amtrak/Maryland Department of Transportation).[4] The Chesapeake was discontinued later in 1983 due to low ridership and massive duplication with AMDOT. A year later, all commuter service in Maryland was merged under the MARC brand.

With fast and frequent MARC and Amtrak service, the Washington-Baltimore section of the Northeast Corridor is one of the busiest rail lines in the United States.

Rolling stock

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See also: MARC Train § Rolling stock

Electric MARC HHP-8 at Odenton station.
Electric MARC HHP-8 at Odenton station.

The Penn Line uses diesel as well as electric locomotives for powering trains. Most electric and rush hour diesel trains are 6-8 cars long, and are primarily made up of Kawasaki bi-levels. During the day, shorter 4-6 car MultiLevels or single level diesel trains from the Brunswick and Camden lines are used on the Penn Line. For the spring and summer months, weekend Penn Line trains also include a single-level Bike Car that is specially equipped to accommodate bicyclists.[5]

All trains are operated in push-pull configuration with the cab-car end towards Washington.

All of the stations from Washington Union Station up to Halethorpe have high-level platforms, and all of the subsequent stations from West Baltimore up to Perryville, with the exception of Penn Station, have low-level platforms. This precludes the use of MARC's ex-Metra low-level boarding gallery railroad cars on the Penn Line.

Service

MARC runs 58 Penn Line trains during a normal weekday. A majority of these trains (39 each day) operate along a 39 mi (63 km) stretch between Union Station in Washington and Penn Station in Baltimore. An additional 5 trains originate/terminate between Union Station and Martin State Airport, while 11 trains run along the entire 77 mi (124 km) corridor between Union Station and Perryville. A single morning train and a single evening train run between Perryville and Penn Station, and a single early morning train runs from Martin State Airport to Penn Station.[6] Unlike MARC's other two lines, the Penn Line operates all throughout the day and well into the night.

On December 7, 2013, the Penn Line also began offering limited weekend service.[7] Penn Line weekend service consists of 9 round trips on Saturday and 6 round trips on Sunday—primarily between Penn Station and Union Station. Several trains extend service to Martin State Airport, and all trains skip Seabrook.[5]

Beginning on December 13, 2014, a separate Bike Car was added to some weekend Penn Line trains.[8] Bike Cars are reconditioned Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo MARC IIA single-level commuter railcars. One side of each car's interior is lined with bicycle racks which are arranged to secure 23 full-sized, non-collapsible bicycles, and the other side provides seating for 40 passengers.[9] The Bike Car program was expanded during 2015 to include all weekend trains.[9] There is no extra charge for using the Bike Car, which is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Beginning in 2016, MARC began installing bike racks on its bi-level train cars and some of its single-level cars. Weekday service was intended to begin in summer 2018, however, this was delayed several times. Eventually, 35 Penn Line railcars had full-sized bicycle racks installed, and weekday use of the bike racks on the MARC Penn line officially began on January 21, 2019.[10] These railcars are available on most weekday rush-hour Penn Line trains and on all weekend trains. As with the former Bike Cars, these services are first-come, first served with no additional charge, and the bicyclist must make sure to be able to access the platform of the station they desire.

Amtrak's Acela Express, Northeast Regional, and long distance trains share tracks along the whole of the Penn Line. Washington Union and Baltimore Penn are the second and eighth busiest Amtrak stations in the country, respectively. Amtrak connections are also available at Aberdeen, BWI Airport (Amtrak's 12th busiest station) and New Carrollton. MARC passengers with monthly and weekly tickets can ride select Amtrak Northeast Regional trains during the week only, as part of their cross-honoring agreement.[6] Connections are also available to the Washington Metro's Orange Line at New Carrollton, Red Line at Washington Union Station, and to the MTA Light Rail at Baltimore Penn Station.[6]

The MTA has plans to extend the Penn Line to Newark station in Delaware to connect with the Wilmington/Newark Line of SEPTA or even further north to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. The PRR's commuter route had run as far north as Philadelphia until the early 1960s.

The MTA funds a local bus connection between Newark and Baltimore with a transfer at Elkton station.[11] A bill in Maryland awaiting the signature of Governor Larry Hogan would extend MARC service from Perryville to Newark. In 2020, Representative Edward Osienski and Senator Stephanie Hansen cosponsored a resolution to the Delaware General Assembly that will add commuter rail service between Newark and Perryville, involving an extension of MARC service to connect with SEPTA at Newark and provide an alternate to Amtrak for Delaware residents wanting to travel to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. This resolution will be introduced into the Delaware General Assembly in 2021.[12]

Longer-term plans include construction of new track and extending the line past Washington Union Station to L'Enfant Plaza station and into northern Virginia.[11] The planned Purple Line that will connect all three MARC lines will connect with the Penn Line at New Carrollton.

Stations

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (January 2020)

The following stations are served by Penn Line trains; not all trains stop at all stations.

State Town/City Station Connections
DC Washington Union Station Amtrak Amtrak: Acela, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter, Thruway Motorcoach to Charlottesville, Virginia
MARC train.svg MARC:  Brunswick Line,  Camden Line
Virginia Railway Express VRE:  Fredericksburg Line,  Manassas Line
WMATA Metro Logo small.svg Metrorail: WMATA Red.svg Red Line
BSicon TRAM1.svg DC Streetcar: H Street/Benning Road Line
Bus interchange Metrobus, DC Circulator, MTA Maryland, Loudoun County Transit, OmniRide
Bus interchange Intercity bus: Greyhound Lines Greyhound, Megabus (North America) Megabus, BoltBus, BestBus, Peter Pan, OurBus
MD New Carrollton New Carrollton Amtrak Amtrak: Northeast Regional, Vermonter
WMATA Metro Logo small.svg Metrorail: WMATA Orange.svg Orange Line
Bus interchange Metrobus, TheBus
Seabrook Seabrook
Bowie Bowie State
Odenton Odenton Bus interchange Anne Arundel County Bus
Hanover BWI Airport Amtrak Amtrak: Acela, Northeast Regional, Vermonter
Bus interchange BWI Marshall Airport Shuttle to Airport interchange Baltimore/Washington International Airport
Bus interchange MTA Maryland, UMBC Transit
Halethorpe Halethorpe MTA Maryland bus routes MTA Maryland, UMBC Transit
Baltimore West Baltimore MTA Maryland bus routes MTA Maryland
Penn Station Amtrak Amtrak: Acela, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
BSicon TRAM.svg Baltimore Light RailLink
Bus interchange MTA Maryland, Charm City Circulator
Middle River Martin State Airport Martin State Airport Martin State Airport
MTA Maryland bus routes MTA Maryland
Edgewood Edgewood
Aberdeen Aberdeen Amtrak Amtrak: Northeast Regional
Hartford Transit Harford Transit
Perryville Perryville Cecil Transit Cecil Transit

References

  1. ^ "MTA Average Weekday Ridership - by Month". Maryland Open Data Portal. June 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  2. ^ Van Hattem, Matt (June 30, 2006). "Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC)". Trains Magazine. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  3. ^ "1979 Amtrak Chesapeake timetable".
  4. ^ "MARC History". MTA. Archived from the original on January 17, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "MARC Penn Line Weekend Schedule" (PDF). MTA Maryland. March 2019. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "MARC Penn Line Weekday Schedule" (PDF). MTA Maryland. March 2019. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  7. ^ Sherman, Natalie; Wenger, Yvonne (December 7, 2013). "MARC train weekend service begins". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  8. ^ Rector, Kevin (December 12, 2014). "MTA to introduce bike car to weekend MARC service". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "MTA Rolls Out Bike Cars on All Weekend MARC Penn Line Trains". Mass Transit. 2015. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  10. ^ "MARC Penn Line Riders Can Now Bring Full-Size Bicycles On Most Rush-Hour Weekday Trains" (Press release). MTA Maryland. February 19, 2019. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  11. ^ a b "MARC Riders Advisory Council Meeting Summary Minutes" (PDF). MTA Maryland. January 18, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  12. ^ Irizarry, Joe (April 8, 2020). "Lawmakers seek to link regional rail at new Newark train station". Delaware Public Media. Retrieved April 18, 2020.

Route map:

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