Effects of Storm Cause Lingering MARC Delays

Passengers reported rides of more than two hours Tuesday night, and trains were delayed by as much as an hour Wednesday morning.

Bad weather led to signal problems on the MARC Penn Line Tuesday, resulting in long delays that have continued through Wednesday morning.

MARC began experiencing minor delays at about 4 p.m. Tuesday and things got worse from there, with some passengers reporting commutes of nearly three hours. MARC reported signal issues on the Penn Line between Union Station and the BWI Airport rail station. 

Delays of between 30 and 60 minutes continued on Wednesday morning, and MARC announced that Metro would accept MARC tickets. 

MARC was operating a full schedule on Wednesday morning, but did cancel the 5 a.m. departure out of Penn Station. 

"We regret any inconvenience passengers experienced from the weather-related delays this evening," MARC said in an email to passengers Tuesday night. "Thank you for your patience this evening given the intense severe weather that affected our service."

MARC rider John Nolan of Severn called his Tuesday evening commute "the worst I have experienced in 13 years."

In a letter to MARC officials that was also forwarded to media outlets, Nolan said it took him 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach Odenton from Union Station. His train—the 4:35 p.m. departure from Washington—was forced to hook onto another train at New Carrollton about 90 minutes after it initially departed. He claimed that MARC officials should have known about the signal problems and not allowed the train to leave Union Station in the first place. 

"The level and accuracy of the communication could not have been worse and I can tell all your conductors need remedial training on the frequency, timeliness and accuracy of communications to passengers," Nolan wrote. 

MARC said service should be back to normal on Wednesday afternoon.

MARC is continuing to offer updates on trains through its email service and at mta.maryland.gov/marc-train/advisories

Read MARC's email to passengers regarding the delays here. 

How long was your commute last night and this morning? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. 

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Chris W September 19, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Three hours from DC to Odenton last night. Sitting motionless on the tracks as I type this. Looks like It will be two hours this morning. MARC is completely dysfunctional. One problem always snowballs into several others.
Alan Simpson September 19, 2012 at 01:01 PM
My wife got to Union Station between 5 and 6, got on the 5:50 scheduled train and arrived home after 8:30. I think it is ridiculous that DC/Baltimore mass transit system is such a mess.
Chris W September 19, 2012 at 01:02 PM
It's incompetence plain and simple.
Michael Wallace September 19, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Horrible, 4 hours last night, 2.5 this morning. Something has to be done, this isn't the 1920's. Everything about the commute last night and this morning was terrible, worst I've had in the 5 years I have been taking the Marc, all over a thunder storm?
Steph September 19, 2012 at 01:36 PM
3 hours to get home last night on the penn line. Gave up waiting this morning and took the day off because I didn't want to deal with a delay like that again
Tim Lemke (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 01:39 PM
What do you guys do to fill the time? Read? Play Words With Friends?
Steph September 19, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I read and called people to complain and chat, basically. Because I finished the book I had on my kindle.
Sharon Van Meter September 19, 2012 at 02:37 PM
I've been retired 3 years now and still have MARC nightmares. When it's working, it's great, but the one "Hell Train" ride that summer pushed me over the edge. Feeling your pain, all of you! I hope everyone made it home safely.
Andrea D September 19, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Read, nap, text and facebook when signal is available, but try not to do that to much or phone battery will die and won't be able to get in touch with people at home or work depending on which direction you are going.
Betsy September 19, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Ha ha ha.....that's if you can get a seat or have more than 6 inches of space to manuever in! I stood for 3 hours from Union Station to Bowie State. It was like a cattle trailer (and I grew up on cattle farm so I know what that's like) and we were stuck by the restroom so it smelled like one too. There wasn't enough space to even lift your leg or bend to stretch your back. I don't know many people who are used to standing for three straight hours without room to do any kind of twist/stretch! Additionally, nobody in our vicinity was willing to give up their seat to a lady with a broken foot and we finally convinced the people sitting on the stairs to squeeze themselves in a little more to make room for her to sit (which they eventually did with distict grumbles from one 30 something "gentleman" sitting at the top of the steps.) However, the bright spot was that most of the people standing in our area tried to make the best of it.....since there was not enough space to hold a kindle or any reading material (even trying to get a phone out of your purse caused at least 3 I'm sorries from bumping into people by lifting and bending your arm) we joked about MARC, shared commuting horror stories, discussed work, families, discovered that one woman's son owns a restaurant which another commuter frequented.....and devised our plan of how to share a container of Altoids, bottle of water and pack of tissues - especially since the TP ran out in the restroom about 1 hr into the commute!
Erin C. September 19, 2012 at 04:29 PM
MARC sucks balls! 3 hours last night....2 hours this morning to New Carrollton where I got off, waited another 1/2 hour for a northbound MARC, and came home. In Europe and the rest of the industrialized world if you have a timetable, you can set your watch by the train system. Here, I can't even set my calendar, by the MARC service. And the three guys that run the show in Union Station are complete jackasses. One only wants to talk about football. Ask him what time the next train is leaving, and he'll tell you who the Giants signed last week. The 2nd guy only cares about telling people to get back inside the station. The 3rd guy, it seems like he should be working security at the Bowie Baysox. And, I always love how the most crowded trains in the morning come in on track 13, which is the track with the 1/2 platform. You've got 27 tracks, 23 of which are vacant, and you've got to have a packed train come in on a structurally challenged platform?? Morons...from the top down...the managers, the engineers, the conductors. These guys shouldn't be running the toy train set at the mall, never mind a busy commuter rail.
Michael Wallace September 19, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Erin, I can't stand that either, it is always on the construction platform, always!!!
Michael Wallace September 19, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Usually I have a laptop to watch a movie, however that died quickly (would have lasted the whole normal express ride home), so I went to option #2, the phone, that died about 2.5 hours into the trip, so I went to option #3, magazines in my backpack, once I read them front to back, I went to the last thing I had, briefings from work
Girl4Him September 19, 2012 at 05:56 PM
We all have options for transportation to work. If you don't like MARC take another means of transportation. True, like everybody else who is commenting here, I spent 8 hours on public transportation last evening and this morning (Odenton to Union Station, Union Station to Tenleytown and the reverse this morning). MARC beats sitting in traffic (can't read, against the law to call or text, and you obviously can't sleep while driving). If an accident closes down the beltway, 295 or 95 and you are stuck between exits you sit ... plain and simple ... sit. I understand that many of you are extremely pissed off, but when "MARC rider John Nolan of Severn called his Tuesday evening commute 'the worst I have experienced in 13 years'" and when Michael Wallace commented "worst I've had in the 5 years I have been taking the Marc" I see that as a decent track record. This was the worst trip for me in almost 3 years. I do agree that something needs to be done to Union Station, but Union Station is in the process of undergoing a transformation. I also agree that something needs to be done about communication but that's just training. I further agree that something needs to be done to improve the rail service between Baltimore and DC. But when MARC Penn line and Amtrak share tracks it might not be as easy as everybody thinks it should. Don't blame the system as a whole. And like the wonderful strangers I shared the trips with-grumble silently & don't be rude to fellow passengers.
Chris W September 19, 2012 at 10:50 PM
These things happen regularly. When there is nothing wrong, the trains are fairly reliable. The problem is the slightest disruption brings the entire house of cards crumbling down.


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