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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Baltimore’s Railroad Network: Analysis and Recommendations

Document Series
Other Reports
Subject High-Speed Passenger Rail, Passenger Rail
Baltimore's Railroad Network

This report is a feasibility study and the second part of a study requested by Congress following a fire from a derailment in the Howard Street Tunnel on July 18, 2001.  This fire essentially suspended commercial activity in downtown Baltimore for nearly a week and forced rail traffic to detour as far west as Cleveland, Ohio.  As a result of this event, in November 2001, Congress requested "a comprehensive study to assess problems in the freight and passenger rail infrastructure in the vicinity of Baltimore, Maryland."  The first study design report, Baltimore’s Railroad Network: Challenges and Alternatives, was submitted to Congress on November 4, 2005.  

Following the completion of the 2005 report, additional funds became available as a part of the SAFETEA-LU Act and the State of Maryland also became a financial participant to complete the study, with the final funding split as 80 percent share by Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and 20 percent share by Maryland Transit Administration.  It was the purpose of this Report to build on what was accomplished in the November 4, 2005 Report to Congress and complete the originally study work plan as requested by Congress. 

The Report focuses on the principal elements of Baltimore's network of passenger and freight rail lines extending from Perryville, northeast of Baltimore on the Susquehanna River – the junction of Amtrak' s Northeast Corridor (NEC) with the Norfolk Southern (NS) principal route from Harrisburg and points west – to Halethorpe, southeast of Baltimore, where the CSX Transportation (CSXT) and Amtrak lines from Washington cross.  This Report has been divided into two phases: Phase One (Sections 2-12) and Phase Two (Sections 13-16).

Phase One traces the development, current condition, and utilization levels of Baltimore's rail network (Sections 2-4) and characterizes the dissonance between the network as it has evolved and the demands have been placed upon it.  Sections 5-12 examine the potential for restructuring actions that could raise passenger and freight railway capabilities in the Baltimore region to a new level.  A number of passenger and freight alternative routes through Baltimore were developed and evaluated.  At the conclusion of Phase One, the alternatives were circulated to stakeholders and a selection was made of one freight and one passenger alternative to study further in Phase Two.

Phase Two activities further refined the engineering and cost aspects of the two selected alternatives, the Great Circle Passenger Tunnel and the Belt-Modified Freight Alternative (Sections 13-15).  Section 16 concludes the report by identifying various additional issues that need to be addressed before the projects can be implemented.

 In addition, a Graphics Supplement has been developed that provides route-of-line drawings and profiles for the six alternatives that survived the initial screening process in Phase One, and more detailed drawings and profiles for the two alternatives studied further in Phase Two.

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Last updated: Saturday, January 1, 2011