Baltimore Central Light Rail Line

The Central Light Rail Line runs 30 miles and travels from Timonium in Baltimore County, through the heart of Baltimore City, past Oriole Park at Camden Yards, to the Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie area in Anne Arundel County. And, as part of the Central Light Rail Line, another line operates between Penn Station, through Baltimore City, and terminates at the Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport extension.

Light rail service between BWI and Penn Station operates as a line, providing an intermodal connection to airlines and commuter trains. The line intersects with current light rail service between the Mount Royal Stop in Baltimore City and the Linthicum Stop in Anne Arundel County. Customers traveling to BWI Airport or Penn Station may transfer at any point between the Mount Royal and Linthicum stops.

Service between the Hunt Valley and Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie operates every seventeen minutes, with trains to BWI Airport and Penn Station operating every thirty-four minutes between these stops. Free parking is available at many of the stops.

In addition, many MTA bus lines serve the light rail stations offering convenient connections to popular Baltimore area destinations.

The first 22.5 miles of the light rail line was opened in April 1992 at a cost of near $400 million. The three extensions totaling 7.5 miles opened in late 1997 at a cost of $106 million. The planning started back about 1980 with the North Corridor Transit Study, which studied three alternatives for the corridor from the downtown northward to the Hunt Valley/Timonium area. The three alternatives were busway, commuter rail, and light rail. The two-lane exclusive busway was a serious consideration, and it would have either followed the I-83 Jones Falls Expressway right-of-way, or followed its own right-of-way in the vicinity. It would have had "on-line" stations and it would have carried standard diesel transit busses. The decision was made to build the northerly route as a light rail transit line. A southerly busway was never seriously considered.

MDOT MTA photo

Construction on three new extensions to the Central Light Rail Line began in July 1995. The Hunt Valley line opened on September 9, 1997. This 4.5-mile long extension stems north from the existing Timonium Station and includes five stops in the heart of Hunt Valley's business and industrial community, representing 340 companies and 30,000 jobs. The 0.34-mile Penn Station extension opened December 6, 1997. The extensions connect Central Light Rail Line directly into the platform level of Penn Station. This produces a direct link to Amtrak and MARC's commuter rail service. MARC offers daily service to Washington D.C. while Amtrak offers service to many east coast cities including Philadelphia and New York. The 2.7-mile BWI extension opened December 6, 1997. The BWI extension stems from the Central Light Rail Line's North Linthicum station in Anne Arundel County directly into the International Terminal. This places travelers within walking distance of domestic and international flights.

This three-part expansion project cost $106 million, utilizing a single contractor, Whiting-Turner, who was responsible for the design and construction of the extensions, called a design-build project. This project was also one of five around the country being recognized by the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) in what is termed a "Turn-Key" Demonstration Program.

The opening of the extensions has increased light rail's daily ridership from its then 20,000 passengers to over 36,000 by the year 2002.


Barrier-free light rail stops have self-service ticket vending machines. Proof of payment is required on light rail. Tickets must be purchased before you board the train. You do not need to purchase a light rail ticket if you have a MTA weekly or monthly pass. MTA police officers randomly ride the trains and may ask you to show your proof of payment. Keep your ticket until you have completed your trip.


Monday through Friday 6:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.

Saturday 7:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.

Sunday and Holidays 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

MDOT MTA Light Rail Schedule

Maryland Transit Administration - Fares
The one-way light rail fare is $1.35.

Sources: Maryland Transit Administration website, current and past.


From the knowledgeable poster Bob "Access Systems" on the Usenet newsgroup "misc.transport.urban-transit" comes this detailed data (11-1-97) below about the Baltimore light rail vehicles and operations (blue text):
The Baltimore Light Rail vehicles are 6 axle single articulated vehicles that are high platform, 4 axle powered, and constructed by ABB Traction. They are fabricated from CorTen Steel and powered by trucks supplied by AAI traction. They are painted white with a blue belt rail (a few have gotten "wrapped"). The cars are numbered #5001-5035 (original order 1990) and #5036-5051 are now being delivered; the cars are essentially identical.

These buggers are BIG. They weigh 99,440 Lbs, are 95 ft long, are 9ft 6in wide, and have 4 sets of folding type doors. There is wheelchair access via a mini high level platform at the first set of doors. The seated passenger capacity is 85 (+4 Wheelchair users), and the crush passenger capacity is 176. The top speed is 52 MPH, and they are AC powered. They are the first production light rail vehicles to be routinely operated in trains up to 3 cars long.

Presently the route operates from the Hunt Valley Mall (Shawan Rd. near I-83) to Cromwell (MD 176 Dorsey Rd. and MD 648 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd.). The extensions are to open before the end of the year (presently projected 12-10-97); Mt. Royal Stop to Penn Station, about 1/4 mile; and Linthicum to BWI Airport (International Terminal). At this time the system will operate as two routes, Hunt Valley to Cromwell, and Penn Station to BWI Airport. The central core of the route (Linthicum to Mt. Royal) will alternate 7 & 8-minute headways, and the outer ends of the four sections will have 15-minute headways.

A total of 51 cars will be available (35 original, 16 being delivered now (#5001-5051). One additional extension is approved and funded, but construction has not yet started; that is a half mile extension on the South end from Cromwell to Glen Burnie.

In the long range plan, (not approved, designed or funded) are lines to Towson, from an undetermined connection with the existing line; from Johns Hopkins Hospital Subway station to White Marsh; from Lexington Market Subway Station to the Security Area; from near Camden Yards to Dundalk via Boston street; and from Owings Mills Subway Station to Westminster MD (interurban). There is some talk of a monorail to serve the inner harbor area, and there is a possibility of converting the Metro Subway line to Light Rail when the Subway cars wear out.


Baltimore Central Light Rail Double Tracking, Baltimore, MD, November 1998, Federal Transit Administration. The Maryland Mass Transit Administration proposes to construct 9.4 miles of track to upgrade designated areas of the Baltimore Central Light Rail Line (CLRL) that are currently single track. The CLRL is 29 miles long and operates from Hunt Valley in the north to Cromwell/Glen Burnie in the south, serving Baltimore City and Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties, with extensions providing service to Amtrak at Penn Station and the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Light Rail Double Track Project. This project will convert 9.4 miles of
single track sections of the Light Rail line to double track, by Maryland Transit Administration (blue text):
The Light Rail Double Track Project is a $150 million project which will include the design and construction necessary to double track almost the entire system. Funding for the project comes from both the United States government as well as from the State of Maryland. Eighty percent comes from Federal funds. Congress allocated this amount under the Federal Transit Administration's Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). The remaining 20% of the project is being funded by the Maryland Department of Transportation. Construction of the project will take an estimated 4 1/2 years to complete and includes:
- Double Tracking (9.4 miles) of eight sections including trackwork, signaling, electrification and communications.
- Building second platforms at four stops that, today, have only one in order to accommodate the second track.

Maryland Central Corridor Light Rail Line - Map, by Maryland State Archives, 2001.

Baltimore, Maryland: Light Rail, by Jon Bell. Descriptions and photos of the system. Jon Bell's (Mostly) Rail Transit Pages.

Baltimore Light Rail, Trip Report by Scott M. Kozel, December 26, 1997, on RailroadInfo.Com.

Governor Glendening Puts Light Rail on the Right Track. Double Tracking Will Maximize Potential of Baltimore System And Increase Ridership. (July 8, 2002) - Governor Parris N. Glendening today officially kicked off the start of construction of one of Maryland's top transit priorities, the double tracking of the Central Light Rail Line. This segment is the first of eight sections that will be double tracked as part of a $153 million upgrade of the Baltimore system.

Recommended Baltimore Region Rail System Plan, Recommended Plan Map Adopted March 19, 2002. Baltimore Region Rail System Plan.


Take a ride on the Central Light Rail Line! From Cromwell Station to downtown and back! 10 Photos.

Baltimore Central Light Rail Line - Photos 1-6
Baltimore Central Light Rail Line - Photos 7-10

Copyright 1997-2002 by Scott Kozel. All rights reserved. Reproduction, reuse, or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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By Scott M. Kozel, Roads to the Future

(Created 8-14-1997, updated 12-7-2002)