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Maryland MARC commuter trains.
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   Author  Topic: Maryland MARC commuter trains.  (Read 375 times)
wetmary
Railfan
Posts: 161
Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« on: Jul 3rd, 2010, 4:06pm »
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Recently a MARC commuter train stalled not long after leaving Union Station in Washington, D.C. stranding a load of passengers in the heat.  What happened exactly?  Was it an Amrak power failure?  MARC locomotive failure?  The focus in the news was on the plight of the passengers and not so much on the cause of the problem.

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Walt_C
Historian
Posts: 2934
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #1 on: Jul 3rd, 2010, 9:05pm »
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From what I have read, it appears that the problem originated in the MARC locomotive, which lost power and couldn't be restarted. When the emergency braking took hold and brought the train to a stop, the brakes locked and would not release, which made it impossible for a rescue locomotive which was dispatched to move the train and take it back to DC. The problem was exacerbated by the lack of communication to passengers about rescue efforts, and the fact that there was no relief for passengers stuck in the cars once the A/C shut down.
 
    I am coming to the conclusion that some of this "high tech" equipment is much less reliable than the old '30's era equipment like the GG1's and MP 54 MU cars.


« Last Edit: Jul 3rd, 2010, 9:08pm by Walt_C » Logged

Please move to the rear and speed your ride-Regards, Walt
ClydeDET
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Posts: 4794
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #2 on: Jul 4th, 2010, 9:48am »
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on Jul 3rd, 2010, 9:05pm, Walt_C wrote:       (Click here for original message)
From what I have read, it appears that the problem originated in the MARC locomotive, which lost power and couldn't be restarted. When the emergency braking took hold and brought the train to a stop, the brakes locked and would not release, which made it impossible for a rescue locomotive which was dispatched to move the train and take it back to DC. The problem was exacerbated by the lack of communication to passengers about rescue efforts, and the fact that there was no relief for passengers stuck in the cars once the A/C shut down.
 
   I am coming to the conclusion that some of this "high tech" equipment is much less reliable than the old '30's era equipment like the GG1's and MP 54 MU cars.

 
 
Are you just now noticing this?


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HwyHaulier
Historian
Posts: 3444
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #3 on: Jul 4th, 2010, 10:39am »
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Guys -  
 
Come on! Have a heart! I promised my doctor I wouldn't get excited about much of anything...
 
The MARC incident involved an aging "HHP" power unit (if I have that right). So, it all quickly reduced to a shouting match between  
MARC, and actual operator AMTK, about issues of aging equipment on the line on the Big Railroad...
 
This is squabbling between one public agency bickering with another. An ingenious local pol introducing legislation in some sort of  
(Surface Transit) "Passenger Bill Of Rights" silliness... The solution? Still another public agency with oversight of conduct of other  
public agencies!
 
This whole affair is truly (as the Italians say) a fiasco tutti fiasci... Much coverage, on convenient web sites, for: WBAL Radio,  
WBAL-TV, WJZ-TV, Baltimore Sunpapers...
 
.......................Vern.................


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NYC_Subway_Fan
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Posts: 1443
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #4 on: Jul 4th, 2010, 11:25am »
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Vern,
 
I believe that it was an AEM-7 loco that died on that train, not a newer HHP-8.  At least that's what I saw in the picture purported to be of the stranded train.
 
All,
 
In an interesting side note to this story, a week later some high level officials from the state and MARC rode the same train to apologize to all the passengers for the mis-handling of things.  During that journey, an engineer blew the Odentown stop, missing the platform by several car lengths.  He was unable to get permission to back up since there was another train directly behind him, so all those wanting Odentown were carried by.
 
The top official called Mr. Boardman from the train and all the pax who were unable to get off at their stop were taken off the train at BWI and picked up by a southbound Acela that then made a very rare stop at Odentown.
 
For those who are curious, you can find more on the missed stop story here.
 
And a video of the rare Acela stop at Odentown can be found here.  Note: The Acela stop is probably halfway through the video, as the photographer was just at Odentown shooting action in general, never expecting that he'd get to witness an unusual event.


« Last Edit: Jul 4th, 2010, 11:27am by NYC_Subway_Fan » Logged

Alan,

Take care and take trains!
HwyHaulier
Historian
Posts: 3444
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #5 on: Jul 4th, 2010, 11:45am »
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Alan -  
 
Many Thanks for correction in equipment spotting. In the era in which this entire "market distorting" service established  
and provided to a quite highly paid demographic: On a scale of 1 to 10, overall I am less than zero. I could care.  
 
Odenton? Past practice. The earlier P R R made the stop, on some of the trains some of the time, either ICC or MD-PSC  
mandate. The very few locals, WAS - BAL made the stop.
 
......................Vern..................


« Last Edit: Jul 4th, 2010, 1:17pm by HwyHaulier » Logged

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Walt_C
Historian
Posts: 2934
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #6 on: Jul 4th, 2010, 9:55pm »
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on Jul 4th, 2010, 9:48am, ClydeDET wrote:       (Click here for original message)

 
 
Are you just now noticing this?

  Actually no--- I've felt this way for quite some time-- though I am not ususally one to talk about the "good old days", in this case ( as well as the multiple fatality Metrorail accident of a year ago) it is obvious that reilability of equipment ( and systems) has been sacrificed in the name of "modernity".


« Last Edit: Jul 4th, 2010, 10:01pm by Walt_C » Logged

Please move to the rear and speed your ride-Regards, Walt
HwyHaulier
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Posts: 3444
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #7 on: Jul 5th, 2010, 7:30am »
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Recently, I heard an on air sage remark that one of the troubles with current day capital projects? Many want to buy,  
but few spend needed, subsequent downstream money on good and rigorous upkeep and repair budgets.  
 
There are other issues which serve to muddy the waters, when public ownership is introduced into the fact matrix, too...
 
.........................Vern.................


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ClydeDET
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Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #8 on: Jul 8th, 2010, 1:14pm »
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on Jul 5th, 2010, 7:30am, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Recently, I heard an on air sage remark that one of the troubles with current day capital projects? Many want to buy,  
but few spend needed, subsequent downstream money on good and rigorous upkeep and repair budgets.  
 
There are other issues which serve to muddy the waters, when public ownership is introduced into the fact matrix, too...
 
.........................Vern.................

 
Boy did whoever that was have it nailed.


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wetmary
Railfan
Posts: 161
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #9 on: Jul 9th, 2010, 4:07pm »
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Didn't MARC, within the last year or two, acquire some new diesel locomotives?  Weren't there some problems with them?

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HwyHaulier
Historian
Posts: 3444
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #10 on: Jul 9th, 2010, 4:15pm »
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wetmary -
 
Funny you shud ask! A: Yes.
 
It then proceeded to bickering with the builder. If I read the press releases right, the power finally getting to the ready line.  
I would have much preferred ESPEE Lima Super Power Daylights....
 
.........................Vern.......................


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ClydeDET
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Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #11 on: Jul 9th, 2010, 6:03pm »
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on Jul 9th, 2010, 4:15pm, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)
wetmary -
 
Funny you shud ask! A: Yes.
 
It then proceeded to bickering with the builder. If I read the press releases right, the power finally getting to the ready line.  
I would have much preferred ESPEE Lima Super Power Daylights....
 
.........................Vern.......................

 
Or N&W Js....


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HwyHaulier
Historian
Posts: 3444
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #12 on: Jul 9th, 2010, 6:13pm »
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Clyde -  
 
Meet you halfway, w/o either of us giving away anything! Mix 50/50 of ESPEE LIMAS and ROANOKE products. Neither were  
particularly noted for trim, elegant designs! Both were just, get the work done brutes. 'Cept your N&W power coal fired.
 
Wonder if current day rail standards could take it?  
 
.....................Vern.................


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ClydeDET
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Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #13 on: Jul 10th, 2010, 3:56pm »
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on Jul 9th, 2010, 6:13pm, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Clyde -  
 
Meet you halfway, w/o either of us giving away anything! Mix 50/50 of ESPEE LIMAS and ROANOKE products. Neither were  
particularly noted for trim, elegant designs! Both were just, get the work done brutes. 'Cept your N&W power coal fired.
 
Wonder if current day rail standards could take it?  
 
.....................Vern.................

 
The Js were indeed brutes, but very well-crafted ones, easlily capable (despite a rather small driver diameter of 70" - compare the 80" of a GS-4 or a Santa Fe 2900) of 90 to 100 mph. I understand that when the 611 was running as part of the NS steam program before it was cancelled, it had some problems with some curves, especially in yards. Rigid wheel-base too long it appears, and it seems to have spread some rail and derailed at low speeds. Beyond that, no track problems that i am aware of.  
 
The reason I suggested the Js was they had a lot of acceleration and high tractive effort. And - wouldn't be difficult to convert them to oil-firing  (a better idea these days). Which would have no effect on performance, just on ease of refueling and would eliminate cinders and requirements to dump ash-pans.
 
Of course my REAL first choice would be an ex-Santa Fe Heavy Mountain (as Chico called 4-8-4s)....


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Marty_Feldner
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Posts: 480
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #14 on: Jul 10th, 2010, 9:55pm »
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It is my understanding (reinforced by a Jim Boyd article in Railfan years ago) that the problem with the J wasn't the rigid wheelbase (lateral motion driving boxes had been around since at least the teens). It was more a matter of spring rates, and especially equalization; the J's were optimized for the N&W track standards of the time when they were built. With dieselization, curves were sharpened and super-elevation standards changed.
 
In effect, the weight carried by the lead and trailing trucks would literally 'pop' the drivers off the track on curves- curves sharper than the J was designed for.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #15 on: Jul 10th, 2010, 10:39pm »
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on Jul 10th, 2010, 9:55pm, Marty_Feldner wrote:       (Click here for original message)
It is my understanding (reinforced by a Jim Boyd article in Railfan years ago) that the problem with the J wasn't the rigid wheelbase (lateral motion driving boxes had been around since at least the teens). It was more a matter of spring rates, and especially equalization; the J's were optimized for the N&W track standards of the time when they were built. With dieselization, curves were sharpened and super-elevation standards changed.
 
In effect, the weight carried by the lead and trailing trucks would literally 'pop' the drivers off the track on curves- curves sharper than the J was designed for.

 
That could well be so - and if so, be hard to fix what with the expertise in rigging steamers being thin and suppliers of things like springs even thinner on the ground.


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George_Harris
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Posts: 3828
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #16 on: Jul 11th, 2010, 1:51am »
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We are getting way off topic from MARC, however here goes:
 
N&W J, and for that matter, other 4 driving axle steam locomotives on modern track:  Where to begin?
 
Most of the steamers were never interlined, and commonly worked very specific territories.  Employee timetables would list prohibitions for various classes of engines on certain yard tracks, industrial tracks, branch lines, etc.  It is highly likely that the J and the other big 4 driving axle steamers were not allowed on any industry track anywhere.  Therefore, these engines and the tracks they ran on were effectively married to each other.  
 
At the time these engines were the norm, tie conditions in yard tracks and branch lines were on average somewhere between better and much better than they are today.  How good a track is depends a lot on what is under the rail.  Without good ballast and good ties, you will not have good track, no matter what sort of rail you have in it.  
 
Small radius curves:  without good ties these are a derailment waiting to happen.  Also, when the large diameter driver 3 and 4 driving axle engines were common the track gauge was widened on these curves.  With the use of 4 axle diesels, gauge widening is unnecessary on any curve that will handle a 40 to 50 foot freight car.  Even with a 6 axle diesel less widening is needed than for a 3 driving axle steamer.  Therefore, you cannot get one of these large steamers to nicely travel though a curve that modern equipment will handle.  This said, I think if you looke into it, large steamer derailments on yard tracks and wye tracks had more to do with track condition than anything else, despite Boyd's statements to the contrary.  
 
Main lines:  I would see no problem there at all.  Remember, at the time of these engines, while they may have had 60,000 pounds to 72,000 pounds per driving axle, a heavy freight car was 220,000 pounds gross on 4 axles, or 55,000 pounds each axle, and many had much lighter gross weight limits.  Now, 286,000 pounds, or 71,500 pounds per axle is a common limit, so instead of only 2 to 3 percent of the axles being heavy, 50 percent plus of the axles will be up to the loads of these steamrs and applied through smaller diameter wheels at that.  
 
The N&W mains and PRR mains of the 1940's still had a lot of 131 lb/yd and lighter rail.  The 140PS rail did not come into use until 1946 or 47, and given the longevity of rail, until the end of their days, these big engines spent a lot of their lives on main tracks laid in 131 lb/yd and lighter rail.  Yes, I know about the Pennsy 152PS and 155PS sections, but there was never really that much of this big stuff.  
 
According to one source I have, the AT&SF main track standard at the time of these big steamers was 131RE for the transcontinental main and 112RE for most of their other main lines and 90ATSF, yes, a 90 lb/yd section of their own design, for almost everything else, including such lines as the Grand Canyon branch and San Diego line.  
 
All these were of course jointed rail, with 39 foot lengths the standard.  However, they did all have good timber under those rails.
 
Now most high traffic lines are in at least 132 lb/yd rail, with most of them in either 136RE or 141RE rail, continuously welded of course, and a fair amount on concrete ties.  If you see a line that allows any of their freight trains to run 70 mph, that means that is passes the FRA standards for Class 5 track, which, aside from the allowable speed, has a lot to say about tie conditions and other such issues.
 
Therefore, I see no problem at all with these engines being allowed to sturt their stuff to the maximum on a modern main line track.  They should be able to do even better now than they could on the good main line track of their own day.


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HwyHaulier
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Posts: 3444
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #17 on: Jul 11th, 2010, 8:14am »
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George - All -
 
Well, yes, discussions of now quite legendary 4-8-4 types have nothing to do with MARC. As the man says, "It's all tradeoffs!".  
So, as MARC is not on any lists of any of my enthusiasms, it is perfectly sensible to me to note hypothetical Big Power...
 
Many Thanks for the plant engineering realities, and its marriage to equipment design. The "J" types proved the N&W fellows at  
Roanoke knew what they were doing. Its railroad prime mission was some sort of highly refined, horizontal conveyor belt for very  
heavy and constant coal movements. This demanded a very high quality physical plant...
 
The "J" was an expected kind of beast for solid performance on passenger work, on that railroad. The "J" considered the challenges  
of the grade profiles, Norfolk, VA to Portsmouth, OH. It was very much the same problems confronted by B&O, Baltimore, MD  
to Mc Keesport, PA. (Spelling it out: What to do on the grades west of Cumberland?) N&W needed smaller drivers on the "J" class...
 
In the same era, C&O also had some noteworthy solutions to the similar sets of motive power problems. The East, "...doesn't  
get the respect..." in claims the Allegheny Range consists of "mountains". With that in mind, little wonder PRR had its own  
problems with its own "T-1" (4-4-4-4) types...
 
.........................Vern..........................


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WH
Former Member
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #18 on: Jul 11th, 2010, 9:36pm »
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In an attempt to get this back on topic, MARC is currently in the process of taking delivery of the units.  
 
Currently (from what I know), MP36s #10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 24, 26, 30, 33 are either in service or in testing prior to service. VRE just took delivery of their first MP36 recently as well.  
 
As someone who has grown up along MARC's Brunswick line (and still lives there), I have a very special place in my heart for MARC no matter the problems they may have. Occasionally I ride MARC - all most always for just a train ride. I take WMATA to US then the MARC home just for the sheer hell of it. Only once have I ever used MARC for a legitimate commute!
 
While it is nice to see MARC finally getting some new power, I will truly miss the old units. Something about those classic diesels and single level cars mixed with the fall color or winter snow mixed with B&O CPLs just does something for me that I just can't describe. Not mention the new units lack Gyralites and the GP39s that are being retired sport this unique feature.  
 
 
Would truly love to pic up some MARC models but unfortunately they are hard to find. MTH has done BUDD cars in MARC as well as AEM7s and Amfleet cars while ATLAS has produced some products. As a matter of fact, I could care less what scale it is, I'd love to have some MARC stuff.    
 
Thankfully the old GP40s will remains in service so not all hope is lost for the older units. Very sad to see them go and this now reminds me that I should go out and get my photos one evening (or morning)! I'd like to remember the classic units for years to come and hopefully them find homes elsewhere.  
 
 
 
FWIW, the boys over at Railroad.net have a terrific VRE/MARC forum. I recommend checking it out if you are interested. I'm a regular reader over there.


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HwyHaulier
Historian
Posts: 3444
Re: Maryland MARC commuter trains.
 
« Reply #19 on: Jul 12th, 2010, 9:43am »
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WH -  
 
Great recollections! It was all so much simpler when it was all done, B & O direct...
 
Before end of its own direct operation, much of it held down by pairs of its Budd RDC units. In addition, the longer, line haul, conventional trains.  
A favorite for later evening riders with 9:20 pm departure of Cleveland Night Express (# 17)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Night_Express
 
.....................Vern.................


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