• Commuter rail report recommends integrating VRE, MARC under one brand

  • Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.
Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.

Moderators: mtuandrew, therock, Robert Paniagua

  by davinp
 
Creating a unified brand and fare policy for the Washington region's commuter rail systems could help reduce travel times and improve economic development opportunities over the next few decades, according to a new report released Thursday.

“Our rail system is fragmented, and that fragmentation limits our ability to connect residents to opportunities,” he added.

The key elements of the group's vision for commuter rail service are:

- Bidirectional run-through service, meaning a passenger can travel throughout the region without changing trains.
- Expanded service, including all-day service on MARC and VRE lines and increased frequency of trains.
- Seamless rider experience, with one brand and fare policy across the network.
- Superior operational coordination, with one operationally integrated network.

https://www.insidenova.com/headlines/co ... 5c7ec.html
  by mtuandrew
 
We won’t get a Chesapeake & Potomac Commuter Railroad until there’s high/low-level boarding, 125 mph-capable equipment serving Virginia. Gotta admit, it would be nice to have a Spotsy-Baltimore or even Spotsy-Newark express commuter train though.
  by STrRedWolf
 
20 years? Nothing. Run MARC equipment down to Virginia, right now. It'll do low platform. Run MARC IV's and you get the same passenger capacity.

"But you gotta have low-floor equipment for low-floor platforms!" Bull. All of MARC's fleet does both. Yeah, you gotta go up to board a train... at major places like Savage, Dorsey, and Laurel. They even did it at Camden Yards when the Grand Prix of Baltimore was in town for THREE STINKING YEARS and blocked the regular platform because IndyCar and F1.

The only restraints we have now are track capacity and flexibility. You can't through-run MARC from Martinsburg, WV down to Manassass, VA because you gotta cross several tracks worth of traffic just to get to the right one for the hand-off at CSX's QN Tower. Through running to Baltimore? Okay, all the areas that are two track wide? DOUBLE IT. That will take your 20 years.
  by Jeff Smith
 
I dunno, seems like a no-brainer to me. DC is kinda like the ATL, and why no one pushes CR here: no one works where they live.
  by scratchyX1
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Thu Dec 10, 2020 9:53 pm 20 years? Nothing. Run MARC equipment down to Virginia, right now. It'll do low platform. Run MARC IV's and you get the same passenger capacity.

"But you gotta have low-floor equipment for low-floor platforms!" Bull. All of MARC's fleet does both. Yeah, you gotta go up to board a train... at major places like Savage, Dorsey, and Laurel. They even did it at Camden Yards when the Grand Prix of Baltimore was in town for THREE STINKING YEARS and blocked the regular platform because IndyCar and F1.

The only restraints we have now are track capacity and flexibility. You can't through-run MARC from Martinsburg, WV down to Manassass, VA because you gotta cross several tracks worth of traffic just to get to the right one for the hand-off at CSX's QN Tower. Through running to Baltimore? Okay, all the areas that are two track wide? DOUBLE IT. That will take your 20 years.
Would the crew "time out" after 2 round trips between martinsburg and Manassas? That's a pretty long run for a commuter train.
And why wouldn't having three tracks at stations be enough to clear freight traffic? Laurel Station would require a new bridge, but Dorsey, Mirkirk and College park have the room, now. Long bridge slots are still a limiting factor, along with the first street tunnel.
OTOH, could having a cut under for brunswick line trains be part of the station rebuild plan, going through where the hopscotch bridge tunnel is now?
  by STrRedWolf
 
scratchyX1 wrote: Fri Dec 11, 2020 4:36 pm Would the crew "time out" after 2 round trips between martinsburg and Manassas? That's a pretty long run for a commuter train.
And why wouldn't having three tracks at stations be enough to clear freight traffic? Laurel Station would require a new bridge, but Dorsey, Mirkirk and College park have the room, now. Long bridge slots are still a limiting factor, along with the first street tunnel.
OTOH, could having a cut under for brunswick line trains be part of the station rebuild plan, going through where the hopscotch bridge tunnel is now?
On the crew time-out... I think they time out between Martinsburg and DC. I know they hand off at least one consist for a Penn line run or four.

The four tracking was Penn line/NEC. I can agree, the Camden line can use 3 tracks... but it's not so simple. From DC to Baltimore:
  • F-Tower has freight trains coming on from QN and heading up to JD... which requires going 2-1 and blocking traffic. There's room for three tracks but it really could use a flyover here... and there's no much room for one.
  • Rebuild Riverdale station.
  • Rebuild College Park station so it's not just a half-train platform on both sides, and that the Metro tunnel can be used by both sides.
  • Greenbelt is good! Could use a full interlock though.
  • Rebuild one side of Murikirk and add a pedestrian bridge
  • Rebuild Laurel completely, rebuilding the bridge tunnel and adding a bus stop for a shuttle to the racetrack.
  • Take Laurel Racetrack completely out. Nobody stops there and there's not even any round trips on the schedule. If they want service, they can put in a shuttle to Laurel.
  • At Savage: Add access to both platforms via bridge. Right now, only one can if the bypass track is blocked.
  • Jessup, rebuild.
  • Dorsey... well, you got Oconnor Drive running right besides it down a steep hill. The other side has a runoff basin or a swamp. To the immediate south is Dorsey Interlock.
  • St. Denis, no need to rebuild, but I'd put an interlock right as the Old Main starts running along side this Metroplitan division.
And that's just with me eyeballing it via Google Maps. Even better, find out where all the freight is going, and put in ways to get it where it needs to go and out of the way of blocking passenger traffic (on rail and on foot). Reducing those meets will help a lot with capacity.
  by mtuandrew
 
I’d definitely prefer low-boarding equipment over either gallery or MLV when boarding at Alexandria Union Station. Still waiting for the day when someone builds a BiLevel clone with both end high doors and center low doors.

Also, I think the easiest interline route is VRE Fredericksburg <-> MARC Penn Line. Perhaps we just flop VRE’s gallery cars over to MARC Brunswick and Camden service where their slow speed limit won’t matter (and install a high-boarding kit like the Metra Highliners use), and run all VRE Fredericksburg and Manassas Line trains with MARC equipment.

As for RedWolf’s points - I’m assuming MARC (Amtrak) and VRE (Keolis) crews will change at Washington until the states combine operations into one system. The trains themselves can continue through.
  by STrRedWolf
 
mtuandrew wrote: Sat Dec 12, 2020 2:02 pm I’d definitely prefer low-boarding equipment over either gallery or MLV when boarding at Alexandria Union Station. Still waiting for the day when someone builds a BiLevel clone with both end high doors and center low doors.
The thing with that is, how are you going to deal with the loss of seating as well as handicapped access?

The first part of that question I can see on a new iteration of the MARC IV's or a rebuild of the MARC III's where the center seats are taken out and the doors put there.

The second part? Not so easy. Take the gallery cars. Where do handicapped people ride, when going from VRE territory to MARC territory? If it's on the low side, then they can't go on the Penn Line nor can they go to Greenbelt or Camden Yards -- there's no way you can get a wheelchair back onto the high platform from the service/emergency low platform without conductors lifting the person and chair up the steps.

The easiest solution on that is ditch the gallery cars, buy more MARC IV's, and buy chair elevator lifts.... or design a MARC 5 with built-in lifts similar to buses.
  by mtuandrew
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Sat Dec 12, 2020 10:17 pmThe thing with that is, how are you going to deal with the loss of seating as well as handicapped access?

The first part of that question I can see on a new iteration of the MARC IV's or a rebuild of the MARC III's where the center seats are taken out and the doors put there.

The second part? Not so easy. Take the gallery cars. Where do handicapped people ride, when going from VRE territory to MARC territory? If it's on the low side, then they can't go on the Penn Line nor can they go to Greenbelt or Camden Yards -- there's no way you can get a wheelchair back onto the high platform from the service/emergency low platform without conductors lifting the person and chair up the steps.

The easiest solution on that is ditch the gallery cars, buy more MARC IV's, and buy chair elevator lifts.... or design a MARC 5 with built-in lifts similar to buses.
For your first part, I highly doubt the MARC III can be rebuilt with low center doors. Obviously I don’t have engineering diagrams, but the side panels must provide some structural support and you can’t just cut holes in those structural members.

For the second, the gallery cars do include on-board wheelchair lifts at least. Not preferable whatsoever, but it meets the letter of the ADA. I’d rather see a purpose-built design with high ends and end doors, bilevel center with lower doors, and internal stair-climber lifts from lower to middle decks to solve the high-to-low platform issue you brought up.

Regardless, VRE and MARC should be talking today about future rolling stock purchases and station upgrades, even if it takes 20 years to start construction on either one.
  by Literalman
 
Another obstacle is that numerous VRE stations have only one platform, serving only one of two tracks. The ones that matter most are L'Enfant Plaza and Crystal City, because those would be destinations for commuters from Maryland, but right now there's no room for southbound morning trains to serve those stations because the track serving the only platform is full with northbound trains. Crystal City might get a new two-platform station in the future, but I don't think there's anything in the works for L'Enfant Plaza.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Literalman wrote: Sun Dec 13, 2020 8:54 pm Another obstacle is that numerous VRE stations have only one platform, serving only one of two tracks. The ones that matter most are L'Enfant Plaza and Crystal City, because those would be destinations for commuters from Maryland, but right now there's no room for southbound morning trains to serve those stations because the track serving the only platform is full with northbound trains. Crystal City might get a new two-platform station in the future, but I don't think there's anything in the works for L'Enfant Plaza.
I remember an earlier "New L'enfant bridge" report where the idea was to expand it to add another platform there... but it looks like you'd have to reconstruct the area so it would be an island platform and the stairways (and elevator at 7th St SW, as we got a good opportunity here for connections to WMATA Metrorail).

You still need another bridge for two more tracks, though. It's a tight squeeze.
  by Jeff Smith
 
Regarding crews and distance: just change crews at WUS. This way TOS is not an issue, nor is qualification on "foreign" territory. They'd just have to qualify on equipment. A change of crews at DC shouldn't be a huge hurdle.

MNRR/SLE do the same; switch crews at New Haven. When they ran Game Day Meadowlands service, likewise, crews changed at NYP; MNRR only qualified on NJT equipment and the Hell Gate.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Jeff Smith wrote: Mon Dec 14, 2020 2:25 pm Regarding crews and distance: just change crews at WUS. This way TOS is not an issue, nor is qualification on "foreign" territory. They'd just have to qualify on equipment. A change of crews at DC shouldn't be a huge hurdle.

MNRR/SLE do the same; switch crews at New Haven. When they ran Game Day Meadowlands service, likewise, crews changed at NYP; MNRR only qualified on NJT equipment and the Hell Gate.
That's partly my thinking. MARC is Amtrak on the Penn Line and Bombardier on the CSX lines. With VRE being Kieolis, and I think Amtrak is qualified on those lines, it would be Amtrak on a unified run... but most likely the handoffs will occur.