Penn Line

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MARC train.svg
Penn Line
MP-36 17 (4861248909).jpg
A Penn Line train at Odenton station
Type Commuter rail, Higher-speed rail
System MARC Train
Status Operational
Locale Washington D.C. and Maryland suburbs east; Baltimore, MD and suburbs northeast
Termini Washington D.C. Union Station
38°53′51″N 77°00′23″W / 38.8976°N 77.0063°W / 38.8976; -77.0063 (Washington D.C. Union Station)
Perryville, MD
39°33′29″N 76°04′26″W / 39.5581°N 76.0739°W / 39.5581; -76.0739 (Perryville station)
Stations 13
Services 1
Daily ridership 26,046[1]
Opened 1834
Owner Amtrak (tracks)
Operator(s) Amtrak/Maryland Transit Administration
Line length 77 mi (124 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification Overhead Catenary
Operating speed 125 mph (201 km/h)
Route map
Perryville Bus interchange
Aberdeen Harford TransitAmtrak
Martin State Airport Martin State AirportBus interchange
Penn Station Baltimore Light Rail Amtrak
West Baltimore Bus interchange
Frederick Road
Halethorpe Bus interchange
BWI Airport Baltimore–Washington International AirportBus interchangeAmtrak
Odenton Bus interchange
Bowie State
Capital Beltway
New Carrollton Bus interchange WMATA Metro Logo.svg Amtrak

The Penn Line is a MARC commuter rail line running from Union Station, Washington D.C. to Perryville, Maryland via Penn Station, Baltimore, Maryland on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. It is MARC's busiest and only electric line. Currently the line is the fastest commuter rail line in the country, with trains running at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour (201 km/h).[2] The service is operated under contract by Amtrak which supplies employees to operate trains, and maintains the right-of-way and MARC's electric locomotives and passenger cars. The line is administered by MARC, a service of the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).

The Penn Line is the successor to commuter services provided by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), Penn Central, and Conrail as long ago as the mid-19th century. Additionally, Amtrak operated a commuter service named the Chesapeake between 1978–1983.[3] In 1983, Maryland, along with a number of other Northeastern states, took control of its commuter railroads and the "MARC" (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) service name was established.[4] The Penn Line became the replacement for Amtrak's Chesapeake as well as the minimal former PRR commuter service between Washington and Baltimore.

Rolling stock[edit]

Electric MARC HHP-8 at Penn Station, Baltimore

The Penn Line uses diesel as well as electric locomotives for powering trains. Most electric trains are 5-7 cars long (usually made up of all or mostly Kawasaki bilevels). Rush hour diesel trains are usually 5 cars long (usually made up of all or mostly Kawasaki bilevels). During the day, shorter 3-5 car single level diesel trains from the Brunswick and Camden lines are used on the Penn Line. All weekend Penn Line trains also include a single-level Bike Car that is specially equipped to accommodate bicyclists.

All trains are operated in push-pull configuration (with the cab-car end towards Union Station).

All of the stations from Union Station up to Halethorpe have high-level platforms, and all of the subsequent stations from West Baltimore up to Perryville, with the exception of Penn Station, have low-level platforms. This precludes the use of MARC's ex-Metra low-level boarding gallery railroad cars on the Penn Line.


The Penn Line runs 57 trains during a normal weekday. A majority of these trains (39 each day) originate/terminate from Union Station in Washington and Penn Station in Baltimore. An additional 11 trains originate/terminate from Union Station and Perryville, MD, and another 5 originate/terminate from Union Station and Martin State Airport. A single morning train and a single evening train runs between Perryville and Penn Station.[5] Unlike MARC's other two lines, the Penn Line operates all throughout the day and well into the night.

On December 7, 2013 the Penn Line also began offering limited weekend service.[6] Penn Line weekend service consists of 9 round trips on Saturday and 6 round trips on Sunday—primarily between Penn Station and Union Station, but with some runs extending from/to Martin State Airport.[7] All Penn Line weekend trains include a separate, specially-designed Bike Car which is designed to accommodate bicyclists. Bike Cars are reconditioned Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo MARC IIA single-level commuter rail cars. One side of each car's interior is lined with bicycle racks which are arranged to secure 23 full-sized, non-collapsible bicycles, and the other side provides seating for 40 passengers.[8] There is no extra charge for using the Bike Car and the bicycle racks on the Bike Car are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The first Bike Car was added to select weekend trains on December 13, 2014.[9] The Bike Car program was expanded in 2015, and since October 31, 2015 all Penn Line weekend trains have offered a Bike Car.

Amtrak's Acela Express, Northeast Regional, and long distance trains share the tracks with the Penn Line and share stations with MARC at Aberdeen, Penn Station, BWI Rail Station, New Carrollton, and Union Station. Currently, MARC passengers with monthly and weekly tickets can ride select Amtrak Northeast Regional trains during the week only. Connections are also available to the Washington Metro Orange Line at New Carrollton, Washington Metro Red Line at Union Station, and to MTA Light Rail at Baltimore Penn Station.

The MTA has plans to extend the Penn Line to Newark, Delaware to connect with the Wilmington/Newark Line of SEPTA, and to also extend the line past Union Station into northern Virginia.[10] The planned Purple Line that will connect all three MARC lines will connect with the Penn Line at New Carrollton.


The following stations are served by Penn Line trains; not all trains stop at all stations.

Town/City Station Connections
Washington, DC Union Station Amtrak: Acela Express, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter, Thruway Motorcoach to Charlottesville, Virginia
MARC: Brunswick Line, Camden Line
Metrorail: Red Line
Metrobus, Loudoun, OmniRide
VRE: Manassas Line, Fredericksburg Line
MTA Commuter Bus: 915, 929
New Carrollton, Maryland New Carrollton Amtrak: Northeast Regional, Vermonter
Metrorail: Orange Line
Metrobus: 84, 88, B21, B22, B24, B25, B27, B29, B31, C28, F12, F13, F14, F4, F6, R12, G16, G12, G14, G13, T18
Prince George's "The Bus"; 15, 16, 21, 21X
Seabrook, Maryland Seabrook
Bowie, Maryland Bowie State Bowie State University
Odenton, Maryland Odenton Connect-a-Ride K
BWI Airport BWI Airport Amtrak: Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Vermonter
Baltimore Light Rail via BWI Marshall Airport Shuttle (see BWI Airport Light Rail Stop)
BWI Airport via BWI Marshall Airport Shuttle
MTA Maryland: 17, 99, 201
Howard Transit Silver
Halethorpe, Maryland Halethorpe MTA Maryland: 77
University of Maryland, Baltimore County Halethorpe Line
Baltimore, Maryland West Baltimore MTA Maryland: 23, 40, 47, 51 (1 block east)
Baltimore, Maryland Penn Station Amtrak: Acela Express, Cardinal, Carolinian, Crescent, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Vermonter
MTA Maryland: 3, 11, 61, 64
Baltimore Light Rail: Penn/Camden Shuttle
Charm City Circulator: Purple Route
Middle River, Maryland Martin State Airport Martin State Airport, MTA Maryland: 24, 160
Edgewood, Maryland Edgewood
Aberdeen, Maryland Aberdeen Amtrak: Northeast Regional
Harford Transit: 1, 1A, 4, 6, and 6A
Perryville, Maryland Perryville Cecil County "The Bus" Perryville Connection


  1. ^ MTA Average Weekday Ridership - by Month Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  2. ^ Matt Van Hattem (June 30, 2006). "Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC)". Trains Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  3. ^ 1979 Amtrak Chesapeake timetable
  4. ^ MARC History on MTA website
  5. ^ "MARC Penn Line Weekday Schedule" (PDF). MTA Maryland. November 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-29. 
  6. ^ Sherman, Natalie; Wenger, Yvonne (2013-12-07). "MARC train weekend service begins". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2015-12-06. 
  7. ^ "MARC Penn Line Weekend Schedule" (PDF). MTA Maryland. November 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-29. 
  8. ^ "MTA Rolls Out Bike Cars on All Weekend Trains" (Press release). MTA Maryland. 2015-10-29. Retrieved 2015-12-06. 
  9. ^ Rector, Kevin (2014-12-11). "MTA to introduce bike car to weekend MARC service". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2015-12-06. 
  10. ^ MARC Growth & Investment Plan MTA Maryland (September 2007). Retrieved 2010-2-16

External links[edit]

Route map: Google

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