MDOT Metro reorg ahead of $900M upgrades

Written by Railway Age Staff
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A southbound Cromwell train meets a northbound Hunt Valley local at the Warren Road station on the Maryland Transit Administration's Light RailLink, August 30, 2018. Railway Age photo by Stuart Chirls

A sweeping reorganization has been implemented at Baltimore's Metro subway and light rail ahead of nearly $1 billion in system improvements.

Spurred by a system shutdown of the Metro SubwayLink in February, the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) on August 30 announced the changes following a peer review by the American Public Transportation Administration (APTA).

The agency said the reorganization, which was ordered by Maryland Transportation Secretary and MTA Chairman Pete Rahn, will help it deliver more than $900 million in planned rail infrastructure improvements over the next several years including rail installation, interlocking renewals, tie replacement and vehicle overhauls.

“Safety is our first priority and this organizational restructuring will ensure that MDOT MTA continues operating efficiently and effectively for years to come,” said Administrator Kevin Quinn. “In accordance with Secretary Rahn’s directive, I have established a senior management-level task force that will take all necessary actions to execute the recommendations we received from APTA.”

The agency is investing $400 million in all-new Metro railcars and $150 million to overhaul its light rail fleet. Since February it has replaced more than 39,000 linear feet of rail on the Metro SubwayLink system, totaling in excess of $40 million in track maintenance, or $15 million more than the previous three-year period.

In a release MDOT MTA said it reorganized staff to move the Track and Structural Engineering department to directly report to the Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Rail. “Aligning both Engineering and Operations under the same managing director will allow for more executive oversight and accountability of MDOT MTA’s rail maintenance program including development of ongoing training schedules, procedures for evaluating rail testing data and formal process for specification review.” It said the change addresses the lack of communication and coordination between departments that was a significant contributing factor to the system shutdown in February.

The agency will also implement mobile technology to facilitate the completion of inspection reports at field level. “All staff have been retrained on the necessary software and ongoing training has been scheduled. The track inspection process has been restructured to create stronger oversight and ensure standardization of reporting. Directives for data backup and recovery have been issued.”

Planned Metro SubwayLink track maintenance will begin on September 14 and run through November 4. The maintenance work will be performed on weekends with single-tracking to maintain service for riders at all times. In addition, planned track maintenance and rail replacement for the five Light RailLink stations between Hunt Valley and Timonium Fairgrounds are scheduled for September 14 through October 4. Both the Light RailLink stations and track will be closed during this time, and MDOT MTA will increase service on the LocalLink 93 bus, which currently runs between affected stations.

The APTA peer review report can be found at mta.maryland.gov/inspections.

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