MARC on-time performance lags

Some trains arrived late nearly half the time in Nov.

December 01, 2010|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

The on-time performance of the MARC Penn and Camden lines hit 85 percent in November as three trains barely exceeded 50 percent for the month.

Those are not figures calculated to make riders happy.

"We consider 85 percent to be below the threshold of what we consider acceptable, and that's 90 percent on average," said Rafi Guroian, chairman of the MARC Riders Advisory Council.

On the Baltimore- Washington Camden Line, the afternoon Train 850 out of Washington was at the bottom with 53 percent on-time performance for the month, while just 55 percent of the runs of afternoon Trains 846 and 852 from the capital were on time.

No trains on the Perryville-Washington Penn Line scored in the 50s, but three afternoon trains fell below 70 percent — the 437 from Penn Station at 60 percent, the 530 from Washington at 65 percent and the 435 from Penn Station at 68 percent.

The lone bright spot was the performance of the Brunswick Line serving Western Maryland and West Virginia, where November's 92 percent figure was 10 percentage points above its year-to-date record. The Penn and Camden lines scored worse in November than their year-to-date records. Through November, the Penn Line was at 89 percent and the Camden Line at 88 percent.

MTA spokesman Terry Owens said most of the delays were relatively short, with only a few lasting more than 15 minutes. To be listed as late, a train must arrive six minutes behind schedule.

Owen said one factor in the Camden Line delays was track work being performed by CSX, which owns and operates the line, between Nov. 1 and Nov. 18. He said the work, which took place at midday, affected the Camden Line's afternoon schedule.

"The track work led to some backed-up freight traffic that would slow our trains down," he said. "That work is complete, and we expect those issues to go away."

Owens said the poor November performance on the Penn Line was the subject of a discussion Wednesday between Amtrak and MARC officials.

"We stressed our concerns then," he said. Owens added that MARC is continuing to work with Amtrak on schedule adjustments that could ease the problem.

Owens said breakdowns of locomotives, which are owned by MARC and have been a serious problem in the past, have not been a significant contributor to recent delays.

"Our people are extremely happy with the performance of our locomotives," he said.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

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