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The Potential for

MARC/VRE
RUN- THROUGH SERVICES
A Summary Report Submitted to
The Honorable Eugene Conti
Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy
U.S.Department of Transportation

April 14, 1999

Prepared by
De Leuw, Cather & Company
For
INTRODUCTION

Intercity passenger, commuter, and freight rail services are projected to significantly expand in
the Baltimore- Washington-Richmond corridor. Providing sufficient capacity to deal with all of
the trains will become a critical issue. The improvements that would be necessary to permit
increased train frequencies, reduced trip times, and increased capacity have been identified in a
series of recent studies conducted by Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and
the Washington Board of Trade. These studies included:

• the New York to Washington Corridor Transportation Plan,


• the Washington to Richmond Corridor Transportation Plan, and
• the MARC/VRE Run-Through Service Study

In the Corridor Transportation Plan (CTP) studies, Amtrak and the FRA have been considering
the larger issues of reducing travel time and increasing capacity. Higher-speed trains will soon be
introduced in Amtrak's Boston-New York-Washington service, while the frequency of commuter
and freight trains increases. Amtrak's new effort to develop mail and express business stands to
greatly increase the level of switching activity, thus further taxing the already-limited capacity at
Washington Union Station and in other terminals. Freight train operations have been steadily
increasing, and this trend is expected to accelerate as a result of the Conrail Acquisition.
Capacity must be increased to reduce trip times and achieve service reliability. Improvements to
permit reduced trip times and improved capacity will enable the high-speed service to be
operated reliably without adversely affecting, or being delayed by, the increasing number of
frequently stopping commuter trains and the long freight trains.

In addition to the analysis of train operations in the New York-Washington and Washington-
Richmond Corridors, CTP studies included separate analyses of train operations and
improvement requirements at:

• Washington Union Station


• Between Washington Union Station and Alexandria, VA, and
• The approaches to, and through, Richmond’s Main Street Station

The CTPs are being prepared by Amtrak and the FRA, at the request of Congress, to consider
significant improvements necessary to raise speeds and expand capacity throughout the two
Corridors and at Washington Union Station. Computer simulations have identified the additional
facilities that the implementation of the projected increases in all of the services would require.

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Under the auspices of the City of Richmond, with the assistance of the Virginia Department of
Rail and Public Transportation (VDRPT), a plan is also underway for the development of an
extension of Amtrak service from Staples Mill to downtown Richmond, and the reopening of
Main Street Station. This extension of service also is discussed in the Washington-Richmond
CTP.

Freight enhancement requirements have been analyzed in the CTPs and independently evaluated
by CSX and Norfolk Southern (NS). Both carriers anticipate increased levels of freight traffic
following the completion of the Conrail Acquisition1. The Acquisition will bring an increase in
the number of freight trains operating over all of the lines where MARC and VRE operate,
including the Amtrak Northeast Corridor (Penn Line). CSX is planning to upgrade the critical
line segment connecting the Richmond Corridor to the former B&O main line between
Brunswick and Baltimore (Camden). This includes an upgrading of the Virginia Avenue
Tunnel, in Southeast Washington, D.C.; improving the connection between the former Conrail
and CSX freight lines at Anacostia; and possibly double-tracking the balance of the segment to
Hyattsville.

The results of the studies, the projected levels of traffic, and the recommended improvements are
described below. A summary of the major capital costs is shown in Table 2.

The MARC/VRE Run-Through Service Study

A recently completed study, Coordination of MARC/VRE Commuter Services, A


Conceptual Design, analyzed the possibility of implementing a run-through service for
commuters in the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area. The study was coordinated with the
other study efforts and identified significant benefits that the extension of Maryland's MARC and
Virginia's VRE trains, through Union Station to destinations in each other's service areas, would
provide. For the first time, a seamless ride would be offered, without the need to change trains,
when traveling from one part of the region to the other. The substantial benefits from integrating
commuter rail services include:

• Enhancing convenience by eliminating transfers between trains;


• Reducing travel time;
• Improving air quality and reducing highway congestion by reducing automobile-based trips;
• Improving utilization of each operator’s trains; and
• Strengthening the economic vitality of the region

Short and long-term solutions for integrating the service of MARC and VRE were evaluated.

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Norfolk Southern will gain Conrail's operating rights between Alexandria, VA and Baltimore

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The initial service revenues would cover 92 percent of the incremental costs. Cost recovery
would increase, as additional trains were added, at a greater rate than the increase in trains
operated. Long term expansion of the run-through service is estimated to generate a minimum of
5,200 daily riders. In addition, there is considerable potential for recreational ridership between
Maryland and Virginia stations, as well proposed commercial developments at certain stations,
e.g., Broad Run, near Manassas, and New Carrollton. Additional development also is planned at
Crystal City, and VRE is considering the possibility of moving the station southward, to better
serve the expanded development and provide a direct connection to National Airport.

COMMUTER RAIL SERVICE GROWTH IN THE WASHINGTON, D.C. -


BALTIMORE METROPOLITAN AREA

Service in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore Metropolitan Area has expanded significantly in the
last two decades. Penn Line service has expanded from 2 daily round trips in 1975, to 19 round trips, with
26 round trips projected for the Year 2015. VRE service was initiated in 1992 and expects to significantly
increase its number of trains by 2015. Union Station is the common terminus for both services. The
station includes 24 tracks on 2 levels. The upper level has stub-end tracks, where trains terminate
and must reverse direction, and a lower level with through tracks leading to the First Street Tunnel
and connecting to points south of the Potomac River. The lower level handles all VRE commuter
trains and Amtrak intercity trains to and from points south of Washington, D.C. MARC trains
normally use the upper level. All VRE trains must use the lower level, because they enter the station via
the tunnel. The MARC and VRE routes are shown in Figure 1, and the railroad network in the
Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is shown in Figure 2.

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MARC offers 78 weekday trains on three routes:

• the Penn Line from Perryville, MD and Baltimore, via Amtrak' 5 Northeast Corridor (NEC);
• the Brunswick Line in the Potomac Valley from Martinsburg, WV, via CSX; and
• the Camden Line, from Baltimore's Camden Station, via CSX.

Penn Line service is operated by Amtrak. Brunswick and Camden Line services are operated by
CSX. There are plans for new service to Frederick, MD in the year 2001, via the Brunswick Line
and Point of Rocks, MD.

VRE offers 24 weekday trains on two routes: from Manassas, via Norfolk Southern; and from
Fredericksburg, via CSX. Norfolk Southern's line diverges southwestward from CSXjust south
of the Alexandria Station. CSX continues north from Alexandria to the junction with Amtrak,
just north of the L'Enfant Station, then continues as a freight-only line to the north, passing
through the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, and connecting with the Northeast Corridor at Landover,
and with the CSX east-west main line at Hyattsville. All VRE trains are operated by Amtrak.

Amtrak trains are operated on all commuter train routes except the Camden Line.

Union Station is the primary destination of the vast majority of MARC's passengers. About
2,300 riders, nearly one half of MARC commuters, walk to work from Union Station, and the
rest continue their trips via public transportation. The final destinations for many MARC
passengers are in the vicinity of the VRE L'Enfant and Crystal City stations, but currently there
is no connecting VRE service available to serve these stations. Unlike MARC, 80 percent of
inbound VRE passengers, about 2,800, detrain before Union Station, at Alexandria, Crystal City,
or L'Enfant. L'Enfant provides convenient access to L'Enfant Plaza and Metrorail's Yellow,
Green, Orange, and Blue lines.

Union Station is the anchor at the south end of the Northeast Corridor, and the origin point for
Amtrak's Metroliner Service. It is a major stop for Northeast Direct services between Newport
News, Richmond, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, and a major stop for three trains to
Florida and one to Atlanta and New Orleans. One train to Charlotte, two to Chicago, and one to
points in Vermont also originate there. Amtrak's plans to introduce a new generation of high-
speed trains and extend high-speed rail service southward in cooperation with Virginia and North
Carolina will intensify the existing operating congestion on the approaches to Washington, D.C.,
and within the terminal.

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RAIL CORRIDOR ISSUES

The CTP for the Washington, D.C. to New York, NY segment of the Northeast Corridor is being
prepared in response to a mandate from Congress that details (1) the state of the rail line, (2) all
required capital improvements, (3) necessary improvements and recapitalization, and (4) a
projected time line for these expenditures over the next 15 years. The need for integrated
planning of the NEC and service south of Washington was identified, and Amtrak and FRA
jointly decided that a preliminary analysis should be made of the Washington - Richmond
Corridor to assess the existing capacity and identify the needs for projected year 2015 services.
Planning work on the reconfiguration of Washington Union Station showed that the projected
2015 Amtrak and VRE train operations at the lower level of Washington Union Station could be
handled only with significant reconfiguration of track, platforms, and several interlockings.

Baltimore - Washington This segment of the Northeast Corridor stretches 40 miles from Penn
Station, in Baltimore, to Washington Union Station. Significant increases in the numbers of
intercity passenger, commuter, and freight services are projected for the next 15 years. The
introduction of the new higher speed trains further complicates the increase in frequencies
because the dichotomy between the faster and slower trains will increase. Detailed operational
analysis has been performed to identify capacity "choke points" that restrict the movement of
trains and inhibit the reduction of trip times. Simulations have confirmed that the existing
railroad configuration cannot absorb the projected expansion in services. A "Target Plan" for the
Year 2015 is being developed to provide a basis for design and construction of the needed
additional facilities.

Simulations indicate the need for two independent passing sidings in the 31-mile distance
between West Baltimore and New Carrollton, the "open countryside" between the two
metropolitan areas, where the fastest running is most easily attained. The sidings would be a
minimum of 10 miles in length, and include at least three commuter stations. Locations of
sidings and configurations of interlockings must be arranged to minimize freight interference.
Given the length of the Baltimore-Washington segment, and the existing constraints, it was
determined that a three-track system, with two southbound passing locations would minimally
meet the needs to accommodate the Year 2015 level of intercity passenger, commuter, and
freight train movements. A full four-track network would be necessary to effectively resolve all
potential operating contingencies.

Washington Union Station Lack of capacity is a critical concern at Union Station, even with
today's level of traffic. The station was built to handle intercity trains that arrived and departed
from distant places at various times spread throughout the day. It is ill-equipped to handle today's
commuter trains concentrated in morning and evening peaks.

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The station's layout reflects a segregation of the trains operated by the original owners, the
Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) and the Pennsylvania (PRR). The B&O trains arrived on two routes,
from Brunswick and Baltimore (Camden), and were channeled into the station down the west
side of the viaduct. The PRR trains from Baltimore (Penn) were channeled into the east side of
the station, including the lower level, to the extreme east. Consequently, moving the Camden and
Brunswick trains across multiple tracks to get them to the lower level is time-consuming, and
would restrict the use of the most critical upper-level tracks at the most crucial times.

This dilemma is compounded by the reduction in facilities that occurred in the 1960s, when
passenger train service was in decline and the facility was rationalized. Critical running tracks
and crossovers were removed to reduce costs and accommodate the construction of Metro. The
expansion of service in the Richmond Corridor, and the need to change engines from electric to
diesel, and vice-versa, has significantly increased the number of extra, non-revenue movements
on. the lower level. The increasing growth of mail and express business threatens to further
exacerbate the problem.

Washington - Richmond Planning work on the reconfiguration of Washington Union Station as


part of the development of the Northeast Corridor CTP showed that the projected 2015 train
operations at the lower level of Washington Union Station could be managed only with
significant reconfiguration of track, platforms, and several interlockings. Consequently, the need
for integrated planning of the NEC and service south of Washington was identified.

The Washington - Richmond Corridor stretches 118 miles between Washington Union Station
and Main Street Station in Richmond. At present, Staples Mill Rd. Station, located eight miles
north of Main Street Station, serves as the Amtrak station in Richmond. Efforts are underway to
extend the service downtown, to Main Street Station. A recent VDRPT study developed various
scenarios culminating in a projected 90-minute trip time between Washington and Amtrak's
Staples Mill Rd. Station; hourly service between Washington and Richmond; and an annual
ridership of2.2 million in 2014.

Amtrak and FRA jointly decided that a preliminary analysis should be made of the Washington
Richmond rail line to assess the existing capacity of the line and determine its capability to
operate reliably the levels of rail service projected for the year 2015 by intercity, commuter, and
freight operators.

CTP planning for 2015 has identified corridor-wide improvements that would include a less than
two-hour trip time between Washington and Main Street Station in Richmond, with two
intermediate stops, on one-hour headways during peak periods and two-hour headways off peak.
Service between Washington and the existing Staples Mill Rd. Station would take less than 100
minutes. The computer simulations performed for this effort indicate that, with the
implementation of the projects recommended, less than 2-hour service, with two stops, could be
operated between Washington and Richmond while accommodating projected levels of
commuter and freight service. Providing this service on a frequent, reliable schedule requires

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that more than 25 minutes be eliminated from the current schedule of the fastest train. The results
also indicate that these schedules would be very tight with little margin for. error and that
coordinated scheduling and service with disciplined dispatching would be essential to ensure the
service goals are met.

The trip time analyses which were performed concluded that the travel time goals are achievable
using contemporary (non-tilting) equipment. Significant track realignments to increase speed are
not required, and electrification of the route is not necessary. A set of recommended
improvements have been developed to achieve these objectives.

CSX Freight Line Improvements CSX plans to upgrade the critical freight service link
connecting the Richmond Corridor to the former B&O main line between Brunswick and
Baltimore, at Hyattsville, thoroughly integrating the former Conrail segment between the
Potomac River and Landover. This will include major repair or replacement of the Virginia
Avenue tunnel, in Southeast Washington, D.C. Although not used by passenger trains, its
deteriorated condition and close proximity to L 'Enfant cause freight trains to operate at very
slow speeds through the L 'Enfant Station area, drastically reducing the time available to run
passenger trains into and out of Washington Union Station. CSX is currently developing plans to
improve the tunnel and increase freight train speeds. Expanding the tunnel to provide a double
track configuration is under consideration. New connections are planned to allow direct
movement between the former Conrail and CSX freight lines, at Anacostia, and a separate
interchange for coal trains at Benning. Eventual double-tracking of the Alexandria Extension, to
the connection with the CSX east-west main line, at Hyattsville, also is under consideration.
These improvements will measurably enhance the ability of freight trains to move rapidly
through the most critical segment of the Richmond Corridor, and result in a significant increase
in the capacity to move additional trains.

Another constraint exists that will limit the ability to operate the trains: the double track between
L 'Enfant and Crystal City. Given the prominent location through East Potomac Park, and the
cost to replace the bridge over the Potomac River, adding additional tracks south of 12th Street
might not be possible. Until recently the incompatibility of cab signal systems used by MARC
and VRE was a potential problem, but CSX has revised its system, which is now compatible with
the Northeast Corridor cab signal system.

RUN-THROUGH SERVICE

A study of the potential for operating MARC and VRE commuter trains through Washington
Union Station to each other's service area has found that there is a significant demand waiting to
be satisfied. The study envisions a seamless service that would attract substantial new ridership
by enabling many commuters to avoid changing trains to get to work. The level of participation
and cooperation between the passenger train operators and the freight railroads demonstrated in

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the preparation of this study indicates that they ready and willing to work together to provide the
necessary capacity to make run-through service a success. All carriers, both passenger and
freight, will monitor run-through service operations and cooperatively evaluate train scheduling
and funding requirements.

A limited run-through operation of MARC trains to VRE stations could, subject to completion of
the agreed-upon improvements, be implemented initially with three Brunswick Line trains and
two Camden Line trains. The MARC trains would run-through to Alexandria, stopping at
L'Enfant and Crystal City. Layover tracks would be needed in the Alexandria area, to hold four
trainsets. The third Brunswick Line trainset would operate to Manassas and return to Washington
as the last morning Manassas Line train. Very little ridership was estimated in Virginia beyond
Alexandria, and substantial mileage charges and operating costs would be incurred to continue
the trains to either Manassas or Fredericksburg. The expense saved by not running low-patronage
trains to and from Manassas will enable the capital cost of the layover tracks to be recovered in
five years.

Although the Penn Line constitutes 50 percent of MARC system ridership, the run-through of
MARC's Penn Line electric trains was found not to be viable due to the high cost of constructing
the extension of the electrification and the capacity limitations of the Potomac River Bridge.
While any diesel-powered Penn Line train could, of course, run through, the issues of diesel
locomotive operating cost and performance limitations are severe disadvantages in the electrified
territory. By the Year 2001, all Penn Line trains will be electrically powered, precluding through
operation without electrification.

Run-through ridership into Maryland from VRE stations is quite limited in the near-term because
there are few concentrated work destinations near MARC stations. The lack of projected
ridership does not, however, preclude the use of VRE equipment on some MARC schedules, to
achieve equipment utilization efficiencies for both operating entities.

Other services with potential would provide wider access to Oriole Park, Baltimore's lnner
Harbor, and other such locations for professional sports, major entertainment events and similar
recreational activities. Weekend excursion service to Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Harpers
Ferry is also a possibility. In the future, the trains could be extended to additional points in
Maryland and Virginia.

Ridership and Revenues

Approximately 700 run through trips per day are expected initially, increasing to more than 5,000
as the nunber of trains and the flexibility of the service increases. A large majority of initial run-
through service commuters will be new riders. Approximately sixty percent of the initial riders
will utilize L 'Enfant Station, indicating the importance of ease of access to both the immediate

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vicinity and Metro. This represents an exceedingly conservative forecast, excluding some classes
of riders that are difficult to identify and count, such as those without cars who could benefit
from greater access to suburban job opportunities. The summary of both long term and initial
ridership is shown in Table 1.

Table 1
Summary of Run-through Service Ridership
Rider Type Initial Year Year 2020 Increase (%)
New 460 2,680 583%

Existing 190 2,520 1326%


Total 650 5,200 800%

Revenue generated by the initial run-through service is estimated to be about $438,000, and the
incremental operating expenses, based upon the availability of mid-day layover tracks near
Alexandria, would be $473,579. If the mid-day layover tracks are constructed, the saving would
allow revenues to cover about 92 percent of incremental costs, excluding capital investment for
the layover tracks, as well as a c~nter platform at VRE's L'Enfant Station. The expense saved by
not running low-patronage trains to Manassas will recover the capital cost of the layover tracks
in five years. The service essentially breaks even and is projected to continue its favorable cost
recovery in the long term because ridership increases at a faster rate than run-through trains are
added to the schedule.

Initial Service Implementation Requirements

Initial run-through operations would require a center platform at L 'Enfant Station, mid-day
layover tracks near Alexandria, and some improvements at Union Station. The estimated cost to
construct these facilities is $48.1 million, including design and engineering work.

The center platform at VRE's L'Enfant Station is estimated to cost $26.2 million. The mid-day
layover tracks are estimated to cost $4.6 million, including the acquisition of necessary land.
Improvements on the lower level at Union Station is estimated to cost $17.3 million, including
electrification and signaling modifications. This work would contribute significantly to the
station capacity and efficient handling of all trains using the lower level, not just the run-through
servIce.

A center-island platform at L 'Enfant will serve to increase both freight and passenger capacity
on this critical segment. L 'Enfant will become a principal interchange station between commuter
rail and Metrorail, and the projected 29 freight trains per day will strain track capacity. A center-

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island platform would provide more efficient handling of passengers and flexibility in moving
commuter trains, while allowing space to install an additional track on which to move freight
trains.

Long-Term Run-Through Service

Once the viability and value of run-through service has been satisfactorily demonstrated,
increased levels of service may be added. Ultimately, the proposed 2015 MARC run-through
service would serve four Virginia destinations: Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Quantico, and
Manassas. There will be no increase in the total number of trips; train sets from each operator
would be used to fill the other's schedule, as required.

To improve passenger handling at L'Enfant, and make the service more attractive, the station
could be modified to include a direct connection to the Metro concourse. This is projected to cost
an additional $ 17.4 million dollars, for a total of $ 65.5 million dollars.

The capital requirements for long- and short-term operations are summarized in Table 2 below.
This table also indicates the costs of the other major capital improvements, discussed earlier, that
are projected to occur on the corridor between Baltimore and Fredericksburg.

Table 2
Summary of Capital Requirements
Baltimore- Washington-Fredericksburg Corridor
(Millions 1998 Dollars)
NEC Baltimore-Washington Improvements 583
NEC Union Station Interlocking and Station Improvements 346
NEC Union Station Yard and Shop Improvements 108
Initial Run-Through Service
Mid-day Layover Tracks- Alexandria 4.6
L 'Enfant Center-island Platfonn Station 26.2
Run- Through-Specific Union Station Capacity Improvements 17.3
Sub-total 48.1
Long Term Run-Through Service (L'Enfant Connection to Metro) 17.4
Long Term Run-Through Service Total 65.5
CSX Freight Line Improvements (Va Ave. Tunnel Area) 32
Washington-Fredericksburg Improvements 296.4
Total Capital Requirements 1430.9

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All estimates are preliminary and subject to revision. They include the cost of design and
engineering, maintenance of traffic during construction, and land acquisition, where necessary.

Long-Term Ridership and Revenues

In 1994, MARC concluded that the extension of service to Northern Virginia would achieve the
highest ridership gained per dollar of capital investment among eight service extension options
examined. Approximately forty percent of these riders were expected to use the L 'Enfant
Station. For the run-through study, patronage levels were developed for the initial run-through
service, and for long-term run-through service in 2020. Long-term ridership was estimated at
5,200 trips per day. Approximately 75 percent would utilize L 'Enfant Station. The core ridership
would continue to be regular daily commuters, using monthly tickets, primarily originating at
MARC stations and riding through to VRE destinations. Beginning with the initial run-through
service, incremental revenues are estimated to cover the incremental costs of such service,
excluding capital spending.

The annual revenue generated by long-term run-through service is estimated at $2.8 million in
1997 dollars, more than six times the revenue of the initial run-through service. Since the
revenue attributable to run-through service would increase at a rate 1.5 times the increase in the
level of train frequency, the service would cover its attributable costs and make a contribution to
overhead expenses.

Relationships with Freight Carriers and Amtrak

To implement run-through service, MARC and VRE must resolve many details, such as railroad
operating agreements, crew scheduling, capital spending responsibilities, and institutional issues,
such as cost sharing and ticketing arrangements. Neither MARC nor VRE owns or controls any
route mileage, and their continued operation and growth is dependent upon contracts negotiated
with CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Amtrak. These contracts also could define operating
constraints, such as the maximum number of trains operated and their times of operation. The
rail lines involved are critical links in primary Northeast and Southeast freight routes. Capacity
on these lines is limited and commuter rail operations could restrict the operation of freight
services. Nevertheless, it is assumed that such issues can be satisfactorily resolved by all parties
concerned.

Freight Growth The rail line between L 'Enfant and Alexandria is a critical segment of the sole
rail route along the Atlantic Coast between Boston and Miami. Norfolk Southern has operating
rights over CSX between Alexandria and the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. Both CSX and Norfolk
Southern view the Atlantic Coast corridor as a growth market. Together, they estimate that after
full implementation of the Conrail Acquisition there will be an average of 29 freight trains per
day using the congested segment between L 'Enfant and Alexandria, a sixty percent increase.
This will include many high-priority intermodal trains and important carload freight trains,
including the Tropicana "Juice Train".

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The center-island platform proposal at L'Enfant includes a track reconfiguration that would
maximize the flexibility needed for the movement of both freight and passenger trains through
this constrained station area. A freight train could move through at the same time that two
commuter trains are making station stops.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

A significant improvement in transportation mobility in the metropolitan Washington-Baltimore


area can be achieved by the MARC and VRE commuter trains extending their services beyond
Washington Union Station, as run-through trains. By the year 2020, over 5,000 trips per day are
projected for such a service. Maryland commuters would be able to reach employment centers in
southwest Washington, D. C. and Crystal City. VRE trains could provide single-seat service
north to Baltimore, MD. Run-through trains are estimated to cover the incremental operating
costs of such services with a relatively small capital investment of $65.5 million.

The substantial benefits to be derived from the coordination of commuter rail services include
improving air quality by reducing automobile-based trips and highway congestion, creating more
convenience by introducing a seamless service and eliminating transfers en route, reducing travel
time and improving the utilization of commuter rail assets. There also is the important practical
aspect of further cost savings and operating efficiencies which may be realized between the
MARC and VRE systems by further coordination, equipment sharing and joint repair and storage
yards.

The expanded service would serve to strengthen the economic vitality of the region. The national
economy would benefit as well, since the track configuration improvements at L’Enfant would
facilitate the flow of freight trains at a major choke point of the sole rail route along the Atlantic
Coast. These improvements have been identified as critical investments that must be made under
any circumstances to maintain sufficient capacity on the Richmond-Washington Corridor.

The expansion of commuter rail services serving the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area must
be considered within the larger context of Northeast Corridor rail operations. Significant
increases in both freight and intercity passenger train operations also are projected. Freight train
operations have been steadily increasing, and this trend is expected to accelerate as a result of the
Conrail Acquisition. A substantial increase in capacity and operating speeds for all trains will be
required. Amtrak and the FRA have been considering the larger issues of reducing travel time
and increasing capacity on the Northeast Corridor between New York and Richmond. Plans by
CSX to upgrade the critical connecting freight line segment will also serve to increase capacity.

If Greater Washington is to continue its economic growth, it must provide alternative


transportation options. The region should build on the commuter rail system that is in place and
make the system the best it can possibly be. That is the challenge and opportunity for the future
of commuter rail service.

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