RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
 


 

Todd's Railfan Guide to
the MTA Light Rail System
Baltimore MD

 

BALTIMORE RAILFAN GUIDE HOME
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CLICK HERE   Maps of the North Avenue and Cromwell facilities.
CLICK HERE  
Description and pictures of the signals on the Baltimore Light Rail system. 
CLICK HERE   Operating Rules
CLICK HERE   Station by Station Guide
CLICK HERE   Misc Light Rail pix from around the system
CLICK HERE   Pictures of trackwork, substations and catenary, wayside structures, etc
CLICK HERE   How the Baltimore LRV's work
CLICK HERE   The complaint department.  Don't go here unless you really want to, as I am not my usual reserved and clean speaking self.

These pages cover the light rail system that runs in Baltimore, Maryland.  It operates in Baltimore City, Baltimore County to the north, and Ann Arundel County to the south. 

MTA stands for "the Maryland Transit Administration", previously, it stood for "the Mass Transit Administration", not sure when the change took place, but it was somewhere around the 2005 timeframe.  They also changed the look of the cars, from the blue stripe running down the side of the cars, to the Maryland flag waving at you.

There are two shops:
The main shop is located of North Ave, next to I83 (the JFK), and is called the North Ave Shops.  Also located here is Light Rail Control, MOW, Systems and the operators.
The second shop is located at the end of the line at Cromwell in Ann Arundel County, and is called the Cromwell Shops.

The system has three "stations" with pocket tracks:
Camden Station


North Avenue Station (used chiefly for staging cars heading into and coming out of the yard)


The non-existent station at Texas Station Ct (where Lowe's & Sam's Club are) in Timonium, used for the turn-around of Cromwell trains.


The system opened in 1991 just in time for the baseball season, and originally had 35 cars numbered 5001 thru 5035.  A second batch of 18 was delivered starting in 1998, for a total of 53.  All cars are manufactured by ABB, now AdTranz.

The cars are 98 feet long over couplers, 12.5 feet high with a lowered pan, 8.5 feet wide (one of the wider cars running around), and weigh 54 tons empty.  They were the first LRVs in America to use AC traction power  (the 750VDC is converted to AC to power the three phase motors using things called Propulsion Modules (see the TECH section to find out how this is done)).  Surprisingly enough, despite the weight, the bearings are good enough so that one person can push an LRV on straight and level track - yes, I've done it when I used to work there.


A southbound "2 pack" running alongside Howard St, stopped at the Convention Center.  The Bromo-Seltzer tower is in the background, and Camden station is behind me to my left.  The tracks just left the middle of Howard St in the background.
 




During the week:
Most trains run on a 20 minute schedule during rush hours, 30 minutes otherwise, HOWEVER,
Check the schedule for Cromwell trains, sometimes they leaves only 7min apart, sometimes 30 minutes......
The last trains of the day leave Hunt Valley (HV) at 12:45am, Cromwell at 12:28am, and BWI at 12:40am, all with a destination of North Ave.
The last train out of Penn Station is at 11:44pm, but don't forget, they only go as far as Camden station!
Trains leaving HV on the hour and at 30 after head to Cromwell.
Trains leaving HV at :15 and :45 head to BWI Airport.

On Saturdays:
Trains run every 20 minutes.
Cromwell trains before the 7:28am train, stop at Timonium.
Cromwell trains starting at 11:28pm only go as far as North Avenue.
The last HV train to do the whole system is at 11:15pm.

On Sundays and HOLIDAYS:
Trains run every 30 minutes.
Even tho trains only run every 30 minutes, there is still a train every 15 minutes from HV, alternating between Cromwell and BWI as destinations.
The last train from HV to Cromwell leaves at 7:30pm.
The 7:45pm train from HV only goes to Camden Station.
The 8:00pm thru 9:30pm trains (every 15min) from HV only go as far as North Avenue.
The last Cromwell train to go to HV leaves at 07:58pm.

Trains are either single cars or "two-packs" (two cars), except for Ravens football games and special events happening downtown or at the fairgrounds,
when they run three car trains (the most the platforms can accommodate).

During the rush hours, Cromwell trains only go to Timonium, turning around at Texas Station.
The website image (where I got the above from, severely edited) shows that trains stop running at midnight:






Fares as of election day, 2016 (Nov 8th).





My map of the Light Rail System, integrated with the heavy rail metro subway.
Below, the  MTA's version of the map from 2009.





Since the Baltimore Light Rail system is the only system I've worked for, I only have technical information and rulebook for them.

However, while I worked for them, I also used it as an excuse to visit a couple of other systems: the Portland OR L/R shops (when there was only one line and one shop, and I was in town for a job interview to leave the MTA), and the heavy rail system in Los Angeles (my wife even went on that tour)  I additionally had the opportunity to visit the Minneapolis / Hiawatha system as a guest of a personal friend (thanks Mike), one of the MARTA shops in suburban Atlanta, and the Charlotte NC light rail shops (by chance when I was coming back from Atlanta).

As a side note and time for my personal opinion, I got the general feeling that the majority of maintenance personnel felt the same way most of "us" did here in Baltimore towards "the company": generally lousy.  I guess in part it is due to the union work environment.  Everybody complains, yet few really do anything about it (like changing jobs so they quit complaining about how awful their jobs are).  Soon after I left the MTA for better pastures, about two dozen ET's quit to go work in the (then) rapidly expanding communications and internet explosion (1998 timeframe).  A number of them wanted to get back in after the field went bust, but the MTA wouldn't rehire them.



Disclaimers:

I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert. 

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps....

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.

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New 9/5/2005
Last Updated: 11/08/2016