A strike by the nation's rail unions this week would halt trains on two of Maryland's three MARC commuter lines, Joe Nessel, the state's director of rail passenger services, said Friday.
The strike threatened for Wednesday morning probably would force the closing of the two routes -- the Brunswick and Camden lines -- that operate over CSX Transportation tracks, Mr. Nessel said. Those two lines daily carry about 5,200 and 2,800 passengers, respectively.
However, Penn line MARC trains that operate out of Pennsylvania Station in Baltimore over Amtrak tracks to Washington are expected to con
tinue to operate normally. About 9,000 passengers a day use the Penn line MARC trains.
The Camden line runs between Camden Station in Baltimore and Washington. Passengers who normally use this route could switch to trains on the Penn line. The state would add extra capacity to the Penn line, either in the form of extra cars or trains, to accommodate additional riders, Mr. Nessel said.
There would be no alternative trains for the users of the Brunswick line. Those who would normally use the line would be encouraged to drive or take the bus to the Shady Grove Metro station near Gaithersburg.
The 10 rail unions issued a statement last week saying they would not direct a strike at passenger operations. However, any strike by the rail unions would make it very difficult to continue operations of trains that run over tracks operated and maintained by freight railroads, according to Scott Leonard, assistant director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers.
Even if the passenger train crews reported for work, they might be unable to take the trains out of the station if the employees of the freight railroad who maintain and operate the tracks go on strike.
"They'll sit in the locomotives and not be able to move because you won't know if the signals will be operating properly," Mr. Leonard explained.