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Trains delayed after fire melts overhead lines MARC, Amtrak traffic jam affects thousands of riders


Train service north of Baltimore was slowed during both rush hours yesterday after an early morning fire in a diesel locomotive melted overhead power lines near Edgewood, an Amtrak spokesman said.

Limited rail service was restored on one of two Conrail tracks by about 7:30 a.m., more than four hours after the fire broke out in a Conrail freight engine traveling south across the Bush River bridge, said Cliff Black, the Amtrak spokesman.

Morning trains were delayed by about an hour and afternoon Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) and Amtrak trains were delayed by about 15 minutes, spokesmen for the two rail services said.

Full rail service was expected to be restored by 9 p.m. yesterday, said Chuck Blitzer, an Amtrak spokesman in Philadelphia.

MARC and Amtrak use those overhead lines to power their trains. Amtrak trains were blocked north of Baltimore and MARC service between Perryville and Aberdeen was cut off, Mr. Black said. Buses were used to carry MARC passengers between Perryville and Aberdeen to avoid the area without power, said Anthony Brown, a MARC spokesman. Amtrak did not use buses to move passengers.

"Altogether, about 10,000 travelers between New York and Washington probably were affected" by the morning rush-hour delays, Mr. Black said.

Some of the delays were caused while a company working for Conrail began cleaning up about 50 gallons of diesel fuel that leaked from the burning engine, Mr. Black said.

"The leak was contained to the track area and caused no environmental impact to nearby wetlands," Cpl. Clarence Ross of the Harford County Hazardous Materials Team said.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by Conrail officials, he said.

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