Rail System in Washington DC, USA
1) the Metro (mostly underground), which as all of you know, had a tragic accident on June 22, when two trains collided and 9 people were killed. That actually happened on my line, the red line.
The Metro services DC and the surrounding suburbs of Maryland and Virginia, the neighboring states, which are densely interconnected. The Red and Orange lines are extremely congested; the high ridership is due to the huge professional job market in DC. It's not unusual to be stuck on the train or have delays. My boss from work was once on a train that had to wait in the middle of the tunnel for an hour--on the Orange Line. The Metro is extremely inefficient in DC. It closes early, has constant interruptions, and is poorly maintained.
2) In addition to Metro we also have a huge number of various trains, all serviced by the central Union Station
; something remarkably European. I'll explain what they are shortly.
- MARC: MARC trains connect DC with Maryland. There are 3 lines into MD, including Baltimore. MARC's tracks run parallel to some of the Red Line Metro tracks initially, and then beyond. Some cars are double-deck, depending on time of day:
- VRE: connects DC with Virginia. 2 Lines. This commuter train reaches some very rural places down South, because Virginia is a lot less urban than its neighbor up north.
- Amtrack Regional trains: to NYC, Boston, or any other point in the Northeastern Corridor. Also trains to Florida ("Silver Meteor") all the way up North to Vermont ("The Vermonter"). For a complete list, click here
- From here you can also take the Acela Train, the fastest train in the US (but still considerably slow compared to its European counterparts):
The Acela can take you anywhere on the Boston-NYC-DC corridor. In theory, it can attain speeds of up to 150 mph (240 km/h), but there are a lot of restrictions on railroads in the US. The tracks are old and can't support fast speeds. To compensate, Acela has a "tilting" of the cars which still can speed up travel. However, it's unlikely that the train will even reach 100mph anywhere on the railroad.
That's pretty much DC--one of the most connected places in America. In addition to Metro and the trains, there's also talk of streetcars which may appear here in 2012. I've read that some streetcars have already been bought from the Czech Republic, and their purpose will be to connect Metro stations horizontally.
Now it's your turn.