At present, MARC, short for Maryland Rail Commuter, operates three lines, all terminating in the south at Washington's Union Station. The Brunswick Line operates peak direction service during rush hours between Martinsburg, West Virginia and Washington and between Frederick, Maryland and Washington. The other two lines, the Camden and Penn Lines, operate along different routes between Washington and Baltimore, with the Penn Line continuing northward to Perryville, Maryland. Bidirectional service is offered on both lines, although the Camden Line has peak-hour service only. Service is only offered on weekdays throughout the system. Demand has grown faster than supply for the past several years, and many trains operate with standing passengers. Already, MARC operates America's fastest commuter rail service, with trains on the Penn Line able to achieve 125 mph.
The proposed service increases are estimated to cost several billion dollars over the next 28 years, but offer a cost-effective way of improving travel throughout the Washington and Baltimore regions.
The plan calls for the following:
- All lines would be extended south of Union Station and across the Potomac River into Virgina. Likely stops include: L'Enfant Plaza, Pentagon, and Crystal City by 2020.
- Bidirectional (reverse commute) service will be introduced on the Brunswick Line by 2020.
- Weekend service will be initiated on the Penn Line by 2010, and will include additional weekday service in the afternoon and late-night service.
- Extension of the Penn Line to Newark, Delaware by 2015. In Newark, connections are available to Philadelphia's regional rail service, SEPTA. This extension will make it possible to travel from Fredericksburg, Virgina to New London, Connecticut entirely on commuter rail systems (in order: Virgina Railway Express, MARC, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, New Jersey Transit, Metro-North, and Shore Line East) with one exception: passengers would have to exit New York's Penn Station, transfer to the 1, 2, or 3 Subway trains to the 7, to Grand Central in order to transfer between NJ Transit and Metro-North.
- By 2020, a new four-track Amtrak tunnel would be provided to replace the current two-track, 133 year-old tunnel (yes, I did type 133) south of Penn Station in Baltimore.
- By 2035, a new CSX freight tunnel will be built through downtown Baltimore, allowing passenger trains on the Camden Line to travel northward from Camden station to the historic Mount Royal Station (which currently has no passenger trains) and on to Charles Village and Clifton Park, north of Baltimore.
- In addition to these programs, additional stations will be constructed, renovated, or expanded. Much of the Northeast Corridor will be four-tracked between Washington and Newark, Delaware.