Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Union Station designated storage area to be built for MARC trains

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For Maryland Area Regional Commuter Train Service patrons, boarding and exiting trains at Union Station in Washington, D.C., has often meant long hikes, uncertainty and occasional delays as MARC train platforms were switched around from day to day to accommodate Amtrak trains.

At least part of the reason has been that MARC trains spent their layover time between morning and evening rush hours parked inside or far outside Union Station, requiring multiple re-configurations of rails and platforms in the course of a day. That's about to change.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and the Maryland Board of Public Works has approved a $21.33 million contract to construct a designated storage area for MARC trains that are currently stored at Union Station during mid-day layovers. The facility for MARC electric and diesel-hauled trains will consist of three tracks constructed exclusively for the use of MARC trains, with capacity for three additional tracks for future expansion.

The new arrangement, planned to be in full operation by 2014, is intended to shorten the long walks to and from trains arriving and departing from Union Station that have characterized travel on MARC service, as well as minimize arrival and departure delays. Union Station itself is also expecting to enjoy smoother operation as a result of it being fully utilized as a traditional train station, instead of a combination train station and storage yard.

With more than eight million boardings every year, MARC trains are a vital link between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, as well as their far-flung suburbs. Not all MARC patrons travel to Union Station, but it is the busiest of all MARC stations, with approximately 15,000 daily riders. The new layover facility (officially designated the "Wedge Storage Yard at Union Station") will be located along New York Avenue near Amtrak's Ivy City yard, east of Union Station.

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