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MARC riders council opposes proposed Brunswick Line changes

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Passenger representatives to Maryland’s commuter rail service have objected to planned schedule changes on MARC’s Brunswick Line, saying they would cut trains to some Montgomery County stations, increase travel times between Union Station and Frederick, and leave riders to West Virginia with fewer options.

In a Dec. 6 letter to Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley, members of MARC’s Riders Advisory Council said the changes designed to make Brunswick Line trains more reliable should be delayed until public hearings are held. The council also asked that service at least remain at current levels.

“We believe that the proposed schedule will do little to improve reliability and on-time performance, while worsening service for a substantial proportion of MARC riders,” the letter said.

The plan calls for Metropolitan Grove to lose two of nine eastbound trains and one of eight westbound trains that stop there on weekdays. The Barnesville station would lose one of six eastbound trains, while Kensington would lose one of six eastbound trains and one of seven westbound trains. Garrett Park would lose two of six westbound trains.

The changes would increase scheduled travel times between Frederick and Union Station from a range of 92 to 100 minutes to 104 to 109 minutes, the group said.

The state also has proposed ending the Brunswick Line’s last westbound train of the day (Train 883) in Brunswick without continuing on to West Virginia.

Officials with the Maryland Transit Administration say the changes are designed to improve on-time performance by better spacing trains so they don’t have to slow down to follow one another. The trains are also adjusting to accommodate the additional time it takes to board passengers at stations, they said.

The new schedule would more accurately reflect the time that trains spend at stations, particularly due to increased ridership at Brunswick, Point of Rocks, Germantown and Gaithersburg, officials said.

The changes are scheduled to take effect Jan. 30.

MTA spokesman Terry Owens said public hearings aren’t required because MARC is not abandoning the line, closing any stations or increasing fares. However, he said, MARC will consider public feedback before implementing the changes. Passengers can send an e-mail to or speak to MARC managers during scheduled times at different stations until Jan. 7. The schedule of manager meetings and an online survey are available at mta.maryland.gov.

“We believe the proposed changes allow MARC to make the best use of its resources, to match the service with the current demand at each stations” and address the time trains spend at stations, Owens wrote in an e-mail.

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