Eighty-one MARC passengers headed northbound toward Baltimore were stranded in a tunnel near Penn Station for nearly two hours Monday night, during which several cars were evacuated because of a a diesel odor, according to people on board.
Train 448 was expected to arrive in the city around 9 p.m. but instead pulled into Penn Station around 11 p.m.
Matt Simon of Pikesville said the most frustrating aspect was the lack of communication while passengers were stranded. Engineers told them at first that there was a crew issue, then later that there was a problem with the engine, Simon said. On Twitter, the Maryland Transit Administration attributed the delay to “signal issues.” An MTA spokesman said the delay was due to a mechanical problem.
“At some point they were evacuating for a diesel smell,” Simon said. Passengers from the front of the train were told to move to the cars in the rear. Eventually, Simon said, another crew was brought on to bring the train back into Penn Station. “It seemed like there’s more than just a mechanical issue.”
MTA apologized on Twitter for the lengthy delay.
Ensuing northbound MARC trains were canceled Monday as the result of the train being stranded. Earlier in the day, approximately 13 other MARC trains experienced unrelated delays, according to the MTA’s Twitter account.
MARC delays regularly vex commuters.
“I’ve lost a day of my life to MARC delays,” commuter Michael Collins told The Baltimore Sun earlier this year.
Penn Line service has improved this fall, as Amtrak has completed some track work and addressed repeated flooding in the 145-year-old Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel under the city. But one of the railroad’s three tracks between Baltimore and Washington remains out of service, riders still are complaining and the Penn Line continues to fall short of the agency’s on-time goals for MARC service.
“The entire summer has been awful,” June Brandt, a member of the MARC Riders Advisory Commission who’s seen numerous delays and schedule changes on her daily commute from Perryville to Washington’s Union Station, said this month.
After arriving on time just 63 percent of the time in July and about 77 percent of the time in August, the Penn Line was on time nearly 83 percent of the time in September.
Baltimore Sun reporters Colin Campbell and Talia Richman contributed to this article.