Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General


In General


This page is a mixture of "the truth" and my own personal opinion.  If you're tired of reading opinions on and of the Red Line, please leave now :-)

Baltimore's proposed Red Line light rail system was controversial from the very start.  It was proposed to go thru Canton when many there felt it wasn't needed.  It was proposed to go through downtown Baltimore in another tunnel, like the Metro Subway system, starting in Canton, and facing the same challenges that the Metro did when it extended the line from Charles Street to Hopkins.

No-one who knows me can deny that I am a big fan and supporter of Mass Transit, but there are some ideas and plans that we should just let go of.... this is one of them.  And yes, whenever I can, I do ride Mass Transit, even busses!  :-)

One reason I have a problem with the system is: What many people (read: supporters) of the system forget, is that to attract more than just the "poor", the system has to be integrated into the rest of the areas transit systems so that it makes it easy for everyone to get around.  One of the biggest problems with the rail transit in Baltimore is that other than Penn and Camden stations (with connections to regional and commuter rail), there is no connection between the light rail and the metro system.  Why is that?  Why did the MTA plan a system like that?  That one decision alone has prevented the two systems from attracting more riders, especially from the suburbs.  I'm all for "helping the poor, and the disadvantaged", but what does this system really do for these people?  Do we really need to spend almost 3 billion, just so the poor can brag about getting to work on a flashy new system?  The money would be better spent trying to directly help those people!

I know the U.S. is in the middle of a rail renaissance, but not every system is needed or will produce the results the planners think it will bring.  Northern Virginia just recently (June 2015) decided against spending the money on a light rail system, because enough people had the sense to realize the cost was just not worth the end result.  Hooray for them!

So here we go again, designing yet another (third) system that will have NO commonality with either of the two existing systems.  Again, how can the MTA be so stupid in their decisions and design choices?  How are we supposed to transfer between the three systems without getting exposed to the weather?  Why don't they design the system to use both high and low platforms, and then use part of the Metro Subway system's tunnel?  Run it down Security Blvd instead of down the middle of the end of I-70 - putting it in the middle of the interstates might be OK in some cities, but just like the Metro system running up I-795, it now becomes more of a commuter rail system that is not easy to get to.

One of the Sunpaper articles below states that with the decision to nix the Red Line, Maryland will lose $288 million from the Feds.  But has anyone considered where Maryland's portion of the outrageous $2.9 billion in construction costs would come from?  Do we really need to pay $2.6 billion just so we can get a measly 10% of the construction costs for free?  Would you buy a house if someone was going to give you 10% of its costs, but you really STILL couldn't afford to buy the house?  Doesn't make sense to me either. 

Suggestion: Build it the way DART built their light rail system in Dallas, and have the light rail go UP N OVER the roads, so you eliminate the possibility of grade crossing accidents, and you don't hold up vehicular traffic.  It would eventually pay for itself in the form of less maintenance costs, sending operators for a drug test every time they got into an accident, and paying the people off when there is an accident!

Another suggestion: Who says the tracks have to be built to standard gauge -- 4'-8 1/2"?  If you're going to build a system that has no connection to anything else, why not build it to, say, a six foot gauge?  The cars can be bigger and accommodate more people, thereby increasing the the through-put.  In the late 1800's and early 1900's, private transit companies were usually built to different gauges.  There is nothing saying that standard gauge has to be the norm.  Before the Civil War, the south had been building their railroads to six foot gauge, think of what our trains today could carry if we had used that instead of standard gauge!  Think outside the box people!

Around the middle of July, supporters want the Governor to prove to them that he went over the plans FULLY in order to reach his decision to nix the system.  Have these supporters come up with ANY alternatives on how to make the system cheaper to build?  Or is all they can do is criticize???  Anyone can do that!

In a related story, I think spending $58 mil on a Maglev study is a waste of time, the money could be better spent of helping the homeless, or building a better bus system.  Who is going to ride a line between Baltimore and Washington if it is still easier just to drive down to DC to get where you are going?  What do we gain from a mode of transportation that saves 20 minutes from the 30 (or less) commute between Penn Station and Union Station?  And then you are still at the mercy of another form of transportation to get you to your final destination.  There is NO advantage other than the "WOW" factor and the bragging rights.  Again, all at the expense of the taxpayers of Maryland.

Will the Red Line ever get built?  Maybe.  But not in its current form, for the plan is just too expensive for the potential gains we will benefit from its realization.

This page will highlight some of the proposals and discussions.









I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

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, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

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.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

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 07/12/2015
Last Modified 12-Jul-2015