Maryland, Delaware, Virginia to explore expanding MARC services

April 14, 2023
The framework agreements between MDOT MTA, Delaware Transit Corp. and the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority will examine expanding the rail service, which all agree, is critical to creating a streamlined regional transportation network.

The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) signed framework agreements with Delaware Transit Corp. and the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority in a first step toward expanding MARC train service and enhancing the region’s transportation network.

The agreements outline actions to advance discussions and explore opportunities for pilot service to link Newark, Del and Alexandria, Va., with MARC rail service.

“Maryland is committed to working with our neighbors to increase convenient and accessible transit across the entire region because we know an expanded transit network leads to expanded opportunities for everyone,” said Maryland Gov. Wes Moore. “The partnerships outlined in these agreements will help us bring greater options to thousands of potential transit riders.”

Maryland Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller noted the agreements “are critical to developing a regional streamlined transportation network that will connect communities across state lines.”

Creating a seamless continuation of MARC Train service both north and south of Maryland is a critical component to transforming MARC Train from a local, commuter rail to a regional rail provider. Expansion of MARC service is included in the MARC Cornerstone Plan, which is a strategic plan to deliver reliable transit across Maryland, and the Maryland State Rail Plan.

“We must take a regional approach to create a fully connected transportation network, and these agreements will help us deliver seamless transit service across state lines,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul J. Wiedefeld. “Maryland is working to create a transit network that expands opportunities and options for all customers. Collaboration with our partners in Virginia and Delaware is critical in that mission.”

MDOT MTA and Delaware Transit Corp. will engage with regional stakeholders and agencies to help determine operational and infrastructure needs to bring MARC service to Newark. The potential expansion of service will address a rail gap in Cecil County, Md., and create a connection between MARC and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority system.

Future service into Virginia depends on completion of the Long Bridge project. The current Long Bridge, which is owned by Class 1 railroad CSX, is the only railroad bridge connecting Virginia to the District of Columbia and is one of the most significant passenger and freight rail choke points along the entire East Coast. The Long Bridge project will see two new bridges constructed across the Potomac River to improve passenger and freight rail capacity and provide pedestrians and cyclists with their own bridge. MDOT MTA says it will continue to coordinate with Virginia Passenger Rail Authority, Virginia Railway Express, Amtrak and CSX on future run-through service to the commonwealth.

MDOT MTA says MARC run-through service would enable a direct, one-seat ride that would expand economic opportunities. In the short term, Maryland will coordinate with Virginia Railway Express on improvements to existing connections at Washington Union Station.

“This partnership on a framework agreement is an important first step forward for VPRA to further advance the Commonwealth's goal of reducing congestion on our roads and highways by providing more reliable, consistent and accessible passenger rail transportation options,” said Virginia Passenger Rail Authority Executive Director DJ Stadtler. “We look forward to continued coordination with the Maryland Transit Administration as we work to better connect people and communities across the region.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.