Access by train/transit:
MARC Commuter Rail at Camden Station
MARC and Amtrak at Penn Station
Airplane service at BWI Airport
According to Wikipedia, the light rail system had its origins in a plan
drawn up in 1966, only 3 years after streetcars disappeared from the streets
of Baltimore City.
By 1983, the only thing that had been built is the Metro Subway that opened
from Charles St to Reisterstown Road Plaza.
The plan to open a light rail system got a push in the late 80's by
Governor William Donald Schaefer (also a former mayor of Baltimore), who
wanted to have a rail transit system opened in time to coincide with the
opening of a new Oriole's Baseball stadium being built at Camden Yards.
In order to expedite the construction of the system, he decided that the
state would bankroll the project on it's own, without federal funding, which
allowed them to sidestep the the whole painful environmental review process.
Station placement and design were intended to be flexible and change over time,
as stations could be built or closed at low cost. However, they were at times
dictated by politics rather planning: proposed stops in Ruxton, Riderwood, and
Village of Cross Keys were not built due to local opposition, while nearly-cut
Mt. Royal and Timonium Business Park stations were built because the University
of Baltimore and a local business group funded them. The Falls Road station was built
with less parking than ridership required because of community requests and a
fence, erected in response to a homeowner objecting to the visual impact of the
station which prevented riders from accessing a nearby commercial building
on the north side of the tracks.
Two things that irked me about the original design: One, they placed the
catenary support poles on the "outside" of the right-of-way, thus requiring
twice as many poles to be installed, costing us MORE (and taking up more
real estate), and two, they didn't look into the future enough to take into
consideration the eventual second track, and made the original R-O-W as if
it was only ever going to be a single track line, requiring a complete
tear-up of the R-O-W to install the second track and re-lay the first.
The Baltimore Light Rail System opened in stages over a 14-month period.
The initial segment from Timonium to Camden Yards opened for limited service for Orioles
baseball games on April 2, 1992. The system opened for full service on May 17, 1992.
A three-station extension to Patapsco opened on August 20, 1992.
That was followed by a four station extension to Linthicum on April 2, 1993.
And finally, an additional two station extension to Glen Burnie opened on May 20, 1993.
Three extensions to the system were added in 1997. On September 9, the line was extended
north 4.5 miles (7.2 km) to Hunt Valley, adding five stations that serve Hunt Valley
Industrial Park and the Hunt Valley Mall, with the line ending on the property of the mall.
On December 6, two short but important branches were added to the system: a 0.3-mile (0.48 km)
spur in Baltimore that provides a link to Penn Station for Amtrak's intercity
trains and MARC local commuter service.
The second extension is a 2.7-mile (4.3 km) spur to Terminal
E of BWI Airport, breaking off from the mainline just south of Camp Meade Rd.
Coming up from Washington DC, Virginia, and further south - I-95 to I-395
into downtown Baltimore, or parallel route the Baltimore-Washington Parkway
all the way into downtown Baltimore, and then taking a right turn onto Pratt
St (after you pass the two stadiums), which will soon cross the Light Rail.
Coming "down" from Philadelphia PA, Wilmington DE, New Jersey, etc -
I-95 south, thru the Ft McHenry Tunnel to I-395 into downtown Baltimore.
Coming "down" from Harrisburg, York, Scranton PA, Syracuse/Albany NY - I-81
to Harrisburg and then I-83 into downtown Baltimore.
Coming from the "west" as in Hagerstown/Frederick/Cumberland MD and I-70 at
Breezewood - use I-70 to the I-695 Beltway south to I-95 into Baltimore.
For stations on the north end of the system:
Take the Baltimore Beltway, I-695, around to I-83 and go north, take any of
the exits Timonium Rd (x16), Padonia Rd (x17), Warren Rd (x18) , or Shawan
For the Falls Road and Mt Washington Stations, take the exit
for Falls Road (x23), and find your way to Falls Road and head south.
Falls Rd heading south intersects "the end of 83" at Joppa Rd.
For stations on the south end of the system:
Take the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) to I-97 south (x5), and get off at exit
16, MD 648/B&A Blvd (Baltimore & Annapolis Blvd), and head south to the
Cromwell station, or north to the Ferndale station.
For the Linthicum, North Linthicum, Nursery Rd, and Baltimore Highlands
stations, use exit 6 from the Baltimore Beltway I-695. Go south on
Camp Meade Rd for the Linthicum station, or north for the other three,
taking a left onto B&A Blvd to reach Nursery Rd and Baltimore Highlands.
The Baltimore System has a collection of 53 cars, numbered in the 50xx
series. 5001 thru 5035 are the original cars of he system, having been
delivered in the 1991/1992 timeframe while work was being completed on the core
system between Camden and Timonium.
Cars 5036-5053 were delivered in 1997.
Please note: Despite what the Wikipedia page says that the second batch of cars were built by
AAI in Cockeysville MD, they WERE NOT. AAI built the trucks and the
shells. The cars were
built/assembled in Corning NY by ABB / ADtranz, same as the first batch.
I have pictures of the second batch being built in Corning somewhere....
The cars were assembled in Corning to meet the requirement of having 51% of their content
from the United States. There is a mix of Metric and SAE parts on both sets of cars
as a result of this.
The Baltimore LRV's were the first in the United States to utilize AC
propulsion instead of the more traditional DC traction motors. In
addition to being more efficient, it is also a boon for those in
maintenance, because DC motors (like the ones used on the Metro Subway
cars), require periodic replacement of the brushes, and require ventilation
ports on the motors, allowing the carbon dust to escape, creating a layer of
black soot on everything. The AC motors used in the LRV's are
permanently sealed, and hardly ever need to be opened. Because of
this, ET's from the "heavy rail side" coming to the light rail shops for the
first time are amazed to see how clean the place was!
The Baltimore cars were also the widest LRV's around at 9.5 feet wide, I
don't know if they still hold that title or not.
If you want to find out how the various systems on the LRV's work, check out
my technical section at:
https://railroadsignals.us/lrvtech/lrvchap1.htm . Keep in mind tho,
that this description is only good for the cars as originally delivered.
The cars in their mid-life upgrade have been completely re-fitted with all
sorts of new electronic contraptions! Here are the basic
specifications and details of the cars from my technical pages:
The only other LRV's in the United States built by ABB are the "single car" LRV's of the Norristown High Speed line of SEPTA.... They may not look the
same, but electrically, they are almost identical. In fact, with the
modernization program going on in the late 2010's and early 2020's, the
propulsion and auxiliary modules are being sent to SEPTA as replacements and
back-ups for their cars.
Norristown HSL LRV for comparison
Here is a picture of #5036, the night it was delivered sitting on Road A -
The "95's" (MTA police) didn't take kindly to me taking pictures of it for
some unknown reason, even tho I had my uniform on, and my ID with me.... go figure.
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.
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.... 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.
Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted. Screen captures are made
with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!
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! Please be NICE!!! Contact info is here
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly inaccurate, wrong, or not true.