News & Reviews News Wire Baltimore light rail line shut down indefinitely

Baltimore light rail line shut down indefinitely

By Trains Staff | December 8, 2023

Concern over wiring follows fire, smoke incidents

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Red, yellow, and white light rail trainset
The Maryland Transit Administration has suspended Baltimore light rail operations for emergency equpment repairs. MTA

BALTIMORE — The Maryland Transit Administration is halting service on its light rail line in Baltimore because of mechanical issues requiring immediate repairs, officials said at a Thursday press conference. The service suspension is effective today (Friday, Dec. 8) and will be in effect indefinitely.

The Baltimore Sun reports that MTA Administrator Holly Arnold said the agency would provide free shuttle buses along the light rail route for the duration of the shutdown. The line serves about 10,000 passengers per day.

Arnold said she could not provide a timeline for the return of service, but limited service will begin when eight cars of the 53-car fleet are available and full service will return when 19 railcars have been repaired. Connecting cables between cars have led to three “smoke events” in the past four months, injuring a rider and a police officer.

“We discovered that high-voltage conduits on our vehicles have been punctured” following an Oct. 21 fire, Arnold said. “We had initially anticipated that would just be the one car from the inspections we’ve been doing. We did some visual inspections and have determined over that weekend it is a more systemic issue.”

The railcars were built by European manufacturer ABB in 1991-92 or Maryland aerospace firm AAI Corp. in 1997. Alstom has been overhauling the vehicles under a contract awarded in 2013.

“This is a critical transit service, and this is not a decision that we’ve taken lightly,” Arnold said, according to the Baltimore Banner. “We understand what a significant impact this will have, and we’re going to work to mitigate those impacts where possible. The safety of our riders is paramount and we must act with that in mind.” About 30 buses will be pulled from their regular routes to privde the shuttle service for light rail riders

The 30-mile, 32-station north-south light rail line runs from Hunt Valley, Md., in the north to BWI Airport and Glen Burnie in the south.

14 thoughts on “Baltimore light rail line shut down indefinitely

  1. Regrettably, Baltimore isn’t a city known for its efficient public transportation system. However, there are 4 major options; bus, MARC train, Light Rail, and Metro subway.

    Dr. Güntürk Üstün

    1. It makes no difference if public transportation is functional in Baltimore Gun gerck, the natives are adept a stealing any private vehicle occupied or not.

  2. The repairs and inspections will be covered under the $130 million light-rail overhaul that is currently underway with Alstom, said the administrator Holly Arnold.

    Dr. Güntürk Üstün

  3. Seeing the photo makes me wish I were colorblind.

    I didn’t know that the light rail served BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, so I dialed up the airport’s website. The website notes that Light Rail is “temporarily suspended”, not quite the same language as in this article. What I was looking for was some sort of map which would show whether or not the light rail actually serves the terminal. or else is remote requiring a bus shuttle. I was unable to find this information. Thinking about airports that I’ve been to which are “served” by light rail, subway, or intercity trains, this can and does mean different set-ups with different degrees of convenient access.

    1. Actually it does provide a fairly good location at the airport being about 1,000 feet north of the terminal just outside the Frontier gates. Much closer than the Amtrak / MARC terminal. Being a light rail service it’s running speed is probably slower and makes more frequent stops. Having looked at the route on Google Maps I would not like to be tasked with designing a bus route to replace the tram as it doesn’t necessarily follow streets never mind major thoroughfares.

  4. Huh? They can restore full service when 19 cars out of 53 are available? And why do they need a full maintenance shop at each end of the 20 mile or so line? A lot of funny money here folks.

  5. When I was on assignment in Charm City in 2018 the motormen saw my ID and we talked about their trials and travails with the rebuilt rolling stock. I don’t know a thing about “trolly cars” but a quick search shows Alstom doesn’t manufacture anything like these, so why give them a contract to rebuild them?

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