(The Center Square) – Maryland is advancing discussions on potential plans to expand MARC commuter rail service into Delaware and Virginia – a move officials hope will expand access for transit riders across state lines.
The Maryland Department of Transportation has signed framework agreements with the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority and Delaware Transit Corp. for potential MARC Train Service expansions, Gov. Wes Moore announced Thursday. The possible future expansions could extend MARC service to Newark, Delaware, and to Alexandria, Virginia.
The agreements reached by the state transit agencies outlines “next steps” for advancing discussions about a possible expansion and explore pilot service opportunities, according to Moore’s office.
“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,” Moore said in a statement. “The partnerships outlined in these agreements will help us bring greater options to thousands of potential transit riders.”
MARC, which stands for Maryland Area Rail Commuter, provides service between Washington D.C. and Maryland along three lines – Penn, Camden and Brunswick. Lawmakers in the General Assembly last year overrode a veto by former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and passed legislation to expedite rail projects and expand train operations, as reported by The Washington Post.
To advance MARC service to Delaware, both Maryland and Delaware’s transit authorities plan to meet with stakeholders to determine operational and infrastructure needs. Officials hope to close an existing commuter rail gap in Cecil County and advance connections between MARC and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority system, according to the governor’s office.
As for expansions in Virginia, future service depends on the completion of the Long Bridge project, which includes construction of a two-track railroad bridge spanning the Potomac River from D.C. to Virginia.
“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,” Virginia Passenger Rail Authority Executive Director DJ Stadtler said in a statement. “We look forward to continued coordination with the Maryland Transit Administration as we work to better connect people and communities across the region.”