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Penn Line (MARC)

     MARC Penn Line
Type Commuter rail line
System MARC Commuter Rail
Status Operational
Locale Washington D.C. and Maryland suburbs east; Baltimore, MD and suburbs northeast
Termini Washington D.C. Union Station
Perryville, MD
Stations 13
Daily ridership 26,046[1]
Owner Amtrak (tracks)
Operator(s) Amtrak/Maryland Transit Administration
Track gauge
Electrification Overhead Catenary
Operating speed 125 mph (201 km/h)
Route map

The Penn Line is a MARC commuter rail line running from Union Station, Washington D.C. to Perryville, Maryland via Penn Station, Baltimore, Maryland on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. It is MARC's busiest and only electric line. Currently the line is the fastest commuter rail line in the country, with trains running at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour (201 km/h).[2] The service is operated under contract by Amtrak which supplies employees to operate trains, and maintains the right-of-way and MARC's electric locomotives and passenger cars. The line is administered by MARC, a service of the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).

The Penn Line is the successor to commuter services provided by the Pennsylvania Railroad, Penn Central, and Conrail as long ago as the mid-19th century. Additionally, when Amtrak took over passenger service in 1971, the Chesapeake was installed between Washington D.C., and New York City between 1973 and 1977 and revived between Washington and Philadelphia in 1978.[3] In 1983, Maryland, along with a number of other Northeastern states, took control of its commuter railroads and the "MARC" (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) service name was established.[4] The Penn Line became the replacement for Amtrak's Chesapeake as well as the minimal former PRR commuter service between Washington and Baltimore.

Rolling stock

The Penn Line uses diesel as well as electric locomotives for powering trains. Most electric trains are 5-7 cars long (usually made up of all or mostly Kawasaki bilevels). When the AEM-7s are used, they are usually used in pairs with 5-7 cars because they are a lot older and weaker then the newer HHP-8s. However, when there are only 3-5 cars, there will be only one AEM-7. Rush hour diesel trains are usually 5 cars long (usually made up of all or mostly Kawasaki bilevels). During the day, shorter 3-5 car single level diesel trains from the Brunswick and Camden lines are used on the Penn Line. All trains are operated in push-pull configuration (with cab-car end towards Union Station). All stations from Halethorpe to Union Station have high-level platforms, and all stations from Perryville to West Baltimore, with the exception of Penn Station, have low-level platforms. This precludes the use of MARC's ex-Metra low-level boarding gallery cars on the Penn Line.


The majority (39) of Penn Line trains run between Union Station in Washington and Penn Station in Baltimore with 12 trains running between Union Station and Perryville and another 5 terminating/originating at Martin State Airport. Unlike MARC's other two lines, the Penn Line operates all day and well into the night. Service is currently operated on weekdays only, although limited weekend service is scheduled to start in December 2013.[5]

Amtrak's Acela Express, Northeast Regional, and long distance trains share the tracks with the Penn Line and share stations with MARC at Aberdeen, Penn Station, BWI Rail Station, New Carrollton, and Union Station. Currently, MARC passengers with monthly and weekly tickets can ride most Amtrak Northeast Regional trains on weekends and select Amtrak Northeast Regional trains during the week. Connections are also available to the Washington Metro Orange Line at New Carrollton, Washington Metro Red Line at Union Station, and to MTA Light Rail at Baltimore Penn Station.

The MTA has plans to extend the Penn Line to Newark, Delaware to connect with the Wilmington/Newark Line of SEPTA, and to also extend the line past Union Station into northern Virginia.[6] The planned Purple Line which will connect all three MARC lines will connect with the Penn Line at New Carrollton.

Station stops

The following station stops are made by Penn Line trains; not all trains make all stops.

Town/City Station Connections
Washington DC Union Station Amtrak: Acela Express, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter, Thruway Motorcoach to Charlottesville, Virginia
MARC: Brunswick Line, Camden Line
Metrorail: Red Line
Metrobus, Loudoun, OmniRide
VRE: Manassas Line, Fredericksburg Line
MTA Commuter Bus: 915, 929
New Carrollton, Maryland New Carrollton Amtrak: Northeast Regional, Vermonter
Metrorail: Orange Line
Metrobus: 84, 88, B21, B22, B24, B25, B27, B29, B31, C28, F12, F13, F14, F4, F6, R12, G16, G12, G14, G13, T18
Prince George's "The Bus"; 15, 16, 21, 21X
Seabrook, Maryland Seabrook
Bowie, Maryland Bowie State Bowie State University
Odenton, Maryland Odenton Connect-a-Ride K
BWI Airport BWI Airport Amtrak: Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Vermonter
Baltimore Light Rail via shuttle bus (see BWI Airport Light Rail Stop)
BWI Airport via shuttle bus
MTA Maryland: 17, 99, 201
Howard Transit Silver
Halethorpe, Maryland Halethorpe MTA Maryland: 77
Baltimore, Maryland West Baltimore MTA Maryland: 23, 40, 47, 51 (1 block east)
Baltimore, Maryland Penn Station Amtrak: Acela Express, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
MTA Maryland: 3, 11, 61, 64
Light Rail: Penn/Camden Shuttle
Charm City Circulator: Purple Route
Middle River, Maryland Martin State Airport Martin State Airport, MTA Maryland: 24, 160
Edgewood, Maryland Edgewood
Aberdeen, Maryland Aberdeen Amtrak: Northeast Regional
Harford Transit: 1, 1A, 4, 6, and 6A
Perryville, Maryland Perryville Cecil County "The Bus" Perryville Connection


External links

  • MTA MARC Penn Line
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