Trains to Harpers Ferry, Duffields and Martinsburg Could End
RPA Urges MD and WV Lawmakers To Fund MARC Service
February 12, 2018
For Immediate Release (17-24)
February 12, 2018
Contact: Xenophon Strategies - (202) 289-4001
Washington, D.C. - Maryland commuter-rail service to Harpers Ferry, Duffields and Martinsburg could stop as soon as this July, thanks to a funding dispute between Maryland and West Virginia. Should service end, approximately 500 additional cars per day could swarm I-270 and towns in Frederick County, as the interstate is the only alternative to the MARC service. The Rail Passengers Association is organizing community members, especially those who use MARC trains to commute to and from West Virginia, to contact local representative to urge them to fund a new agreement.
MARC service to the three stations has been operating daily on a month-to-month basis since October, following the expiration of a 2012 agreement between the states.
Now, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is telling West Virginia state leaders and transportation officials that continued MARC service depends on getting a new agreement that includes a financial contribution by West Virginia of up to $3.8 million a year. If West Virginia doesn’t pay for Eastern Panhandle MARC operations, the Maryland Mass Transit Administration will curtail MARC service to the Brunswick station, and end all service at Harpers Ferry, Duffields and Martinsburg.
“Hundreds of people rely on MARC trains every day to commute between West Virginia and Maryland,” said RPA President and CEO Jim Mathews. “Losing this service would not only put additional cars on the roads, but it would create more congestion, pollution and a loss of productivity for employers who have employees stuck in traffic. We urge lawmakers in Maryland and West Virginia to come to a new funding agreement.”
Maryland's position is that the current situation cannot go on much longer. In the absence of a new bilateral agreement, MARC service to West Virginia may cease as soon as this coming July, and very likely no later than this coming November. Further, CSX Railway will not welcome commuter trains back to the line if service ends.
“In other words, if the trains are left unfunded, they will not return” Mathews said.
RPA is organizing community members to take immediate action as West Virginia's part-time legislature, in session now, will soon conclude its business for the year. Budget adjustments by the state legislature to include funding for West Virginia MARC service must be decided this month, or else the service will end, perhaps permanently.
“It is crucial that West Virginia legislators and officials hear from everyone who supports continued operation of Eastern Panhandle MARC service right away,” said Mathews.
RPA is urging constituents to contact the following offices via telephone or email to advocate for sufficient funding in the West Virginia budget to support MARC operations:
Governor Jim Justice
Secretary of Transportation Thomas J. Smith, P.E.
Senator Patricia Rucker
(16th District, Jefferson County
and part of Berkeley County)
Senator Craig Blair
(15th District, part of Berkeley County and Morgan, Hampshire and Mineral Counties)
Members of the House of Delegates
To determine your Delegate, visit http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Districts/maps.cfm#HD01
About the Rail Passengers Association
The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.