ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved a $69 million Mass Transit Administration contract with CSX Transportation. Under the agreement, CSX will provide commuter rail service between Martinsburg, W.Va., Baltimore Camden Station and Washington, D.C., through Dec. 31, 1999.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening applauded the renewed contract and CSX, which is primarily dedicated to rail freight services, for responding to the needs of Maryland commuters.
“Freight haulers in other states have preferred to concentrate on their main business — hauling freight,” he said. It is a benefit to the state as a whole to have use of CSX’s freight lines for commuter traffic, he added.
CSX has operated the commuter rail service since October 1995. The new $69 million contract includes fees of $6.8 million accrued since that date.
The new contract also eliminates three of the Camden and Brunswick lines’ 40 trains, cutting total capacity on the MARC system by 2 percent beginning in November, said MTA spokesman Frank Foulton. The cuts, which will make room for more freight trains, will have only a minor effect on passenger convenience, Foulton said.
“We don’t think that it will be a big strain on the system,” he said. “In some cases, we may even be able to supplant some of the original trains’ capacity with a bus system, but some commuters will have to make other arrangements.”
The Penn line currently travels between Perryville, Md. and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The Camden line goes between Baltimore Camden Station and Union Station, while the Brunswick line runs between Martinsburg, W.Va., and Union Station.
The board also signed off on a $50 million pact with CSX to extend the MARC commuter rail service to downtown Frederick, Md. Four new MARC trains and two existing trains will serve the extension, which will carry a planned 1,600 passengers per day by 2005. The latter two trains formerly terminated at Brunswick station.
“It’s great news for commuters in the Frederick as well as on the entire (interstate highway) 270 corridor,” Glendening said. “It means 1,600 less people and — unfortunately, with the way people travel today — 1,600 less cars on [Interstate] 270.”
The $50 million extension will be 80 percent funded by the federal government, leaving $10 million in state responsibility. Glendening credited U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, both Maryland Democrats, for securing the project’s federal funding. CSX expects construction to begin next spring and finish up by 2000.
Finally, CSX committed to building a $25 million rail link between the Penn and Camden lines. The link, called the MARC Maintenance Project, should be completed in late 1999 and will allow CSX to juggle freight and commuter traffic more easily. It may also allow access to Camden Yards baseball stadium from the Penn line, said Anthony Brown, a second MTA spokesman. Under the agreements, CSX operates the trains, provides train crews, equipment maintenance and station support services. MTA provides locomotives and cars. -30-