Friday, May 30, 2014

Rethinking the Camden Line, Phase I

2002 Baltimore Rail Plan
The 2002 Baltimore Rail Plan, besides planning for brand new routes, also envisioned expansion and reimagining of current routes. One of which was the Camden Line. The 2002 plan proposed expanding service to include local, more frequent service between Dorsey and Camden Station, in addition to the current commuter service to Union Station. While the plan did not go into very much detail it did include infill stations, and presumably "light rail" style frequencies. As things go, this never made it past the drawing board as the Red Line got the priority and maybe the Green Line extension next.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't think about how to better use the Camden Line. In fact, with the infrastructure already there it really is a good option to provide better transit service to Baltimore. So let's say there is both funding and the full cooperation of CSX, with that in mind let me propose that we do exactly what the 2002 plan recommends, along with what the 2007 MARC growth and investment plan (plus 2013 revision), wanted to do with regards to the commuter service. This would include adding a third track between Dorsey and St. Denis to allow for better separation and flexibility between freight and passenger service.

This could be viewed as a two-phase plan. Phase One would include DMU service between Dorsey and Baltimore, but with new stations at Morrell Park, Landsdowne in the vicinity of Hammonds Ferry Road, and a return for a station in Elkridge. St. Denis would be expanded with better parking and either an overpass or underpass to cross the tracks. At Dorsey, a pocket track could be built to allow trains to wait for the return trip north without blocking MARC commuter or CSX freight trains.

At Camden Station, a proper station house should be built to replace the abomination currently in use.  A larger waiting room, more than one bathroom, and more than one ticket kiosk are essential. A newsstand or coffee shop would be a nice addition, wi-fi would be better. Platform canopies are also a must. Since all of the other stations are low floor, one of the current platforms here would be rebuilt for low-floor boarding.

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