I will note once more, however, that this plan is constrained by a sense of feasibility and political palatability. At the same time, it is clearly beyond the current resources of the region. Yet, in my opinion, it represents a possible and desired outcome which could be achieved. I chose the segments of the rail system based on today’s circumstances and tomorrow’s potential. That is to say that I limited my proposal to what could be supported today rather than what will be needed two decades from now.
Under my plan, I make no assumptions about operating agencies, but I do propose that a unified system will be created with cross-system fares and a common naming/numbering system.
The system’s main function is to bring commuters into the central business districts in both Washington and Baltimore. The system also has a major role in linking the cities themselves. Additionally, service to
For the most part, existing services are not drastically changed. I’ve done away with the names for the existing lines because with overlapping routes, it is clearer to define routes in the same fashion as
New Regional Services
In order to maximize capacity and destinations two new SEPTA-like regional lines will be created. I have dubbed these services M1 (to
To reduce demand on
North of Union Station, both Regional Rail Tunnel services operate along the Northeast Corridor to New Carrollton, where M2 services to
At the Camden Line overcrossing, M1 services curve to the northeast to run with M4 services into Camden Station. Along the Penn Line, M3 services continue toward Penn Station, using improved tunnels. These tunnels are a major bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor, and are in need of replacement. As part of that project, an infill station would be constructed at
Along the Camden Line, additional tracks could be constructed as needed to allow for additional commuter services. North of the Penn Line crossing, new tracks would need to be constructed to accommodate increased passenger service on the M1 routes which would join and run concurrently into
At Camden Station, new high-level platforms could be constructed under the existing light rail station. Further north, a new subway station for commuter trains would be constructed at Lexington Market, for convenient transfer to both MTA Metro and Light Rail. At the northern end of the tunnel, trains would serve a reopened Mount Royal Station. Trains on the M1 route would then use new tracks to reach Penn Station before continuing along the Northeast Corridor to a new station at North Broadway and along a spur route to Johns Hopkins Bayview.
In order to connect
A New Concourse
Services operating along the Virginia Lines (V1, V2) still remain mainly commuter-based. Some reverse commute trains are operated, but the population and job density south of
In order to free up space on Union Station’s lower level for
Over the River
While the Regional Rail Terminal allows commuter services to access the major office district downtown, but run-through service through the First Street Tunnel gives similar access to the major job centers at L’Enfant Plaza,
Between Union Station and
From the First Street Tunnel to
Along the way, new island platforms would be constructed at L’Enfant Plaza and
South of Alexandria commuter and regional trains can access a storage facility to be constructed near the existing Metro Alexandria yard. This storage yard will relieve the overburdened Ivy City Yard near Union Station.
Existing Routes and Expansion
In addition to the new routes operating to through the Regional Rail Tunnel, I propose a series of improvements to existing routes. I have already talked about the routings of M3 and M4 (Penn and Camden Lines). In my plan, these services would see an increase in frequencies, although for the M3, that is mainly in the form of limited stop and express service since the M1 will dramatically decrease headways. In addition, infill stations will be constructed on the Penn Line at
As is the current practice, some M3 trains (one-half to one-third) continue north of Penn Station. My plan calls for a further expansion of the Penn Line, by extending it north of Perryville. Trains would operate to
The Old Line
I also propose connecting Frederick and Baltimore with limited bi-directional commuter service along CSX’s Old Main Line Subdivision. This rail line would have several stops along the line that marked the beginning of railroading in
I’d love to hear what you think about my plans. I hope that Track Twenty-Nine can become a forum for discussions like this. As I mentioned before, further plans are forthcoming, but this is my first blush attempt at a regional rail plan.
One of the elements that leaves a bit to be desired, though, is a name. I haven’t come up with a catchy name for this proposal yet, but I suppose it’s not absolutely necessary to do so. As far as I’m concerned, this plan is achievable without changing the organizational structure of the region’s commuter rail system.
Whether my proposal proves feasible or otherwise, I have achieved my goal: to contribute to the discussion. I've done my part. Now it's time for you to do yours. So tell me what you think (and tell your elected representatives too).