• Question and discussion of my MDOT Internship App

  • Discussion pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Discussion pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Moderator: therock

  by gprimr1
Is there an active or abandoned rail link directly between Baltimore-Frederick ? If it's abandoned, how much of the rail is still intact?
Last edited by gprimr1 on Sun Apr 01, 2007 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by charlie6017
(Moved to the DelMarVa forum)
  by RailVet
The B&O's Old Main Line, now part of CSX, runs from Baltimore west to a junction at Point of Rocks, MD. A short distance prior to PoR is Frederick Junction, where a branch line goes to Frederick. MARC service is offered from Frederick down the branch and onto the Old Main Line to PoR and from there down the Metropolitan Branch to Washington. Not counting the short length over which MARC trains runs, no passenger service is offered between PoR and Baltimore over the Old Main Line.

  by gprimr1
I'm appplying for an MDOT internship and they said "write an essay about the biggest transit problem in Maryland" and I was writting about train service and my points were:

1.) Begin MARC service to Waldorf on the Pope's Creek Sub

2.) Upgrade the Brunswick Line

3.) Study a direct Baltimore-Frederick Connection

4.) More rail in Baltimore.

  by BaltOhio
There are some problems with a Baltimore-Frederick commuter line. Operationally, there's little capacity. It's single track and used by CSXT as a coal route and as a general bypass for any freight traffic using the Washington Branch-Met Branch route -- especially in rush hours when MARC is operating on these lines. CSXT would be emphatically unhappy to see any form of passenger service on the route, especially in any kind of volume.

The other problem is location vis-a-vis the potential market. Although the I-70 corridor is developing rapidly -- too rapidly -- the former B&O Old Main line is located in rather remote river valleys (the Patapsco east of Mt. Airy and Bush Creek west of there) that are not conveniently accessible from the most populated areas.
  by RailVet
Be sure you don’t dig a hole for yourself. Anticipate what MDOT thinks is the biggest transit problem in Maryland, not what buffs considers it to be. (Invariably we want more trains, particularly over tracks that don’t currently have passenger service.) Starting new service is not necessarily a “problem” for them. In fact, MDOT may not want to do it at all. From what I’ve heard so far, there’s not enough potential passenger traffic to justify MARC service on the Pope’s Creek line or between Baltimore and Frederick. If this situation changes due to population growth, be sure you get into specifics, such as where stations should be that could best serve the public. Be sure you don’t recommend stations where the locals don’t want them. For example, Clifton, VA, on VRE’s Manassas line, is small and wants to stay that way. The people there don’t want increased vehicular traffic in their little town. VRE trains just roll right by and anyone who wants to ride must find a station in another town.

MARC puts out daily emails to riders on problems arising and how late trains might be running, if they’re not cancelled out of necessity (as they sometimes are). Look at some of these over the course of a few weeks and you’ll get an idea of where they see ongoing, current problems that need correction.

Talk to conductors and locomotive engineers, to customer service people, those involved with signal, track and structure maintenance. Where do they see problems in the performance of their duties? What could you recommend that would make a significant improvement, and how would you implement your recommendation?

Find out how well service is integrated between buses, light rail, the Baltimore subway, heavy rail and the DC subway. Can it be improved? How? Would it cost more? If so, what would you recommend as a way of paying for it? By reducing service or costs elsewhere or asking the state for more money?

Talk to those involved with locomotive and rail car maintenance. How quickly is that equipment wearing out, when will it need to be replaced, how much will it cost, how will it be phased in, how will it be financed (none of it will be cheap), and what will be done with retired equipment?

How can the problem of fitting commuter trains between freights be alleviated? If you can somehow completely satisfy all parties involved, you’ll be a star.

I hope I’ve given you a few ideas to consider. Good luck with the internship.

  by walt
RailVet's suggestions are all excellent. I would simply add that there should be some consideration of transit services outside of the core Baltimore and DC Metropolitan Areas. Areas like Columbia, which lies in between Baltimore and Washington, and is in dire need of effective local transit service ( there is some, but although it is the best it's ever been, it is still woefully inadequate). Additionally, though there is an increasing amount of commuter service into DC and Baltimore from areas outside the service areas of WMATA and MTA, the entire corridor could use "big city" type fixed route services. By necessity we're probably talking about bus service rather than rail service, although there is a very good Baltimore Rail Plan on the MTA web site which, if ever implemented, would address many of these concerns. You might want also to look at the Southern Maryland area ( Charles County in particular) and do an assessment of potential transit needs in that area as it is growing rapidly.

  by hutton_switch
Though the I-70 corridor between Baltimore and Frederick and the Charles County area are growing by leaps and bounds, the powers that be in these areas need to exercise care in planning their potential future public rail transportation solutions as well as the available and to-be-raised monies to bring these about. Don't let the issues balloon into the political football that currently exists for the Metrorail extension to Dulles Airport, especially in sensitive areas like that of the Tysons Corner, VA area.

  by CarterB
IMHO, the most needed commuter rail expansion is from New Carrolton on East to Bowie and Annapolis. The Rte 50 corridor is already a mess. Anne Arundel County has fought such for years on a NIMBY basis. There is also support for the Metro Purple line "outer belt"

  by BaltOhio
One thing to be aware of, if you're not a native in this area. The political climate changed with the last election (now Democratic again), and it still seems too early to judge the present administration's attitude toward mass transit, and especially rail transit. It has to be better than the last, however. The prior Republican administration was generally indifferent towards mass transit (Republicans don't ride buses) and actively hostile toward rail transit. For example, it had been pushing for a busway on a proposed east-west rapid transit trunk line that was originally contemplated as a light rail line.

Also be aware that any new rail commuter proposals most likely would involve CSXT which, although generally cooperative toward MARC, has been hostile to proposals for new services or service extensions on its lines. (CSXT owns the Popes Creek line, too, by the way, although it's beginning to look like its coal traffic may dry up on this line.)

  by gprimr1
So that's what that track is in the valley near the Patapsco River.

I actually live about 3 minutes from the Pope's Creek sub (I'm doing a college exchange in MA) so maybe I'm a little biased to seeing "Croom Station" actually be a station, but I have been hearing about the coal, and if they cut back on the coal, then they would be maintaining a track that exchanges with Amtrak to run one or two locals a week. At that point, I would be amazed if even CSX turned it down, especially since it exchanges with Amtrak.

My big topics were 1.) Better train service on the I-270 corridor 2.) Trains on the Pope's Creek sub 3.) Reducing Baltimore's reliance on buses

I really wish I had included the part on US-50 to Annapolis. I also talked about what I feel would be effective ways to market these trains, basically talking about the time saving benefits and the tracks are not affected by traffic congestion. We all know the Metro's fatal flaw is that every train makes every stop.

  by Aa3rt
Greg-a couple of others you may wish to consider:

1. The old Chesapeake Beach Railway ROW from Chesapeake Beach to DC. Much of the old right of way is still untouched. If this line were to be rebuilt it could alleviate a lot of traffic on Route 4 with many commuters from Calvert County headed to DC.

Do you recall this thread in the MARC & VRE forum?


2. Some folks in St. Mary's County are pointing at the old right of way for the Washington, Brandywine & Point Lookout Railroad that originally only ran to Mechanicsville but was extended to the Patuxent River base during WWII. With the buildup of Pax River, especially in the last 10-15 years, as more commands have been shifted to St. Mary's County, traffic in the Lexington Park area has also become very congested.

I would beg to differ with RailVet on the possibility of using the Pope's Creek line for commuter traffic. The Maryland Independent, in the issue of Wednesday, March 28th, reported that Charles County is the second fastest growing county in Maryland. (Only Cecil County is gaining more population.) There is currently a Park-N-Ride lot being built in La Plata on Washington Avenue. Just by coincidence, I went to softball practice Tuesday (27th) evening at Laurel Springs Park (near the La Plata High School) where the parking lot is currently serving as the Park-N-Ride lot until the construction in La Plata is finished. While we were practicing there was a constant parade of Keller & MTA buses dropping people off as they returned home in the evening. Remember, though, that these buses still have to contend with the same traffic on Route 301 or 210 on their same way to DC and environs. I believe that commuter rail on the Pope's Creek line could be a viable alternative.
  by RailVet
When I earlier wrote, “From what I’ve heard so far, there’s not enough potential passenger traffic to justify MARC service on the Pope’s Creek line,” I was describing the response I received from MARC when I last inquired about this possibility. While I’d certainly like to see passenger service on the line, MARC may not agree with me. Any study of passenger service potential would also have to include a look at just where people want to go and if the line would meet their needs. Unfortunately the Pope’s Creek line doesn’t offer a very direct route to DC, and just how quickly commuter trains could deliver passengers to Union Station would have to be compared to other means of transportation (i.e., autos, buses, driving to the nearest Metro station, etc.). If a trip takes too long to deliver passengers to their destinations, the only people who will ride will be buffs who are in no big hurry.

  by gprimr1
I have to ask you aa3rt, was there ever a "Croom Station" on the Pope's Creek sub or did they just make up the name?

What would Croom Rd be, in terms of MP on the Pope's Creek sub?

  by Aa3rt
Greg, Croome (to use the old English spelling) is MP 17.4 on the Pope's Creek sub. For other towns or mileposts, check out:


I'll have to check my book by Wearmouth on the Baltimore & Potomac to see if he has a list of stations that were built along the line. I know that the stations at Pope's Creek, Indian Head Junction and Waldorf were all dismantled within the last 30 years. These weren't stations in the traditional passenger waiting room/ticket counter sense but more like small buildings that were built mainly for the handling of freight.

I do know that the La Plata depot is the last surviving station on the line and has been preserved by the Town of La Plata.

The last passenger train (really a mixed train/peddler freight) ran in September 1948, about 5 years before I was born, so some of the stations along the line could have been torn down years before I was aware of the line.