The Maryland Transit Administration has been awarded a federal grant up to $9.44 million from the Federal Railroad Administration for the installation of crash-avoidance systems on the MARC line. The safety systems will be installed between Union Station in Perryville and Washington.
The “positive train control” systems are capable of preventing speed-related derailments, routing of trains to the wrong tracks, incursions into work zones and train-to-train collisions by automatically stopping the trains.A total of 11 MARC trains that run along the Penn Line will be installed with the technology. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Penn Line is a 77-mile stretch that serves approximately 272,000 riders daily.
As part of a $197 million initiative to help intercity and passenger railroad operation install positive control systems by December 31, 2018, the grant will jumpstart the process.
Seventeen projects, including the MTA award, in 13 states are being funded through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015.
“The number of passengers depending on rail has increased drastically, which means [positive train control] is needed now more than ever,” said Patrick Warren, executive director of the Federal Railroad Administration, in the announcement.
As a tenant of Amtrak and CSX Transportation, MARC runs the Penn Line, Brunswick Line and Camden Line.
MARC will partner with another railroad to install the same safety systems on the Amtrak line that is being utilized on the CSX lines.
“This is a boon to MARC because it saves the state millions of dollars in not having to equipped MARC trains with two different onboard systems or to do what is called fleet segregation, meaning to have to divide the fleet into trains that can only run on one line or the other,” said Erich Kolig, MTA deputy chief operating officer.
MARC is responsible for providing the controlling computer system and equipping its railcars with the safety system, Kolig said. However, since MARC is a commuter rail system, it is not required to install equipment on the railroad tracks. The installation will be completed by the 2018 deadline, Kolig said.
Positive train control is capable of slowing the trains to prevent derailments and head-on collisions between trains.