Published: April 22, 2023
By: Adam Burns
The information presented on this page briefly highlights currently active short line railroads, listed by the Association of American Railroads as "Class 3" carriers. These are the smallest freight railroads in operation.
Despite the state's historical importance with railroads, today there are only a handful of short lines providing service throughout Maryland.
(reporting mark, BCR), (Closed): This coastal railroad operated a 70-mile system connecting Pocomoke City, Maryland with Norfolk, Virginia. The route's history traces back to the PRR's former Delmarva Lines. It also handled a 26-mile carfloat service between Cape Charles and Little Creek, Virginia. Lack of business resulted in operations ending on May 18, 2018.
(reporting mark, CTN): This historic terminal road was first chartered in 1906 and provides switching services for industries in East Baltimore as well as the Port of Baltimore. It is owned by the Maryland Transportation Authority.
(reporting mark, DCR): See Delaware.
(reporting mark, GCK), (Closed): This short line has been in service since late 2007 operating former Western Maryland Railway trackage in the western part of the state. Operations were discontinued following the Luke Papermill's closing in May, 2019.
(reporting mark, MDDE): The Maryland & Delaware has been in service since 1977 when it acquired former PRR branches in Maryland and Delaware (more of the Delmarva Lines) soon after Conrail was formed.
The road currently operates 120 miles of track on four different branches (the Seafood Line, Centreville Line, Chestertown Line, and Snow Hill Line) moving such freight as agriculture, food products, steel, petroleum products, fertilizer, and forest products.
(reporting mark, MMID): This railroad is part of Genesee & Wyoming's large family of short lines and operates a 70 mile system running roughly east-west between Reisterstown and Fort Ritchie.
It also owns a north-south corridor between Woodsboro and Taneytown. It began service in 1980 as an independent and was acquired by G&W in 2007. The road handles aggregates, brick/cement, chemicals, and forest products.
(reporting mark, TPR): This industrial/terminal railroad gained its current name in 2016 but has carried out switching services at Sparrows Point, Maryland since 1889 when it was known as the Baltimore & Sparrows Point Railroad (later the Patapsco & Back Rivers Railroad).
It currently operates around 70 miles of yard track and has connections with both CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern.
(reporting mark, WE): The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway is a privately owned Class II, regional which has been in operation since 1990 carrying the name of the original W&LE.
It operates an extensive system stretching across northern Ohio, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania with trackage rights reaching Cumberland and Hagerstown.
It operates about 575 miles of its own lines as well as an additional 265 via trackage rights. The road carries more than 130,000 carloads annually with a highly diversified freight base.
(reporting mark, WW): The W&W's primary line runs from Gore, Virginia to Hagerstown, Maryland although the company also has New Jersey operations.
The company was chartered in 1916 to haul forest products and connect with the B&O at Winchester. At its peak it ran from that point to Wardensville, West Virginia but by the 1940s operated no further than Gore, its current western end-of-track.
In 1986 it acquired the former PRR between Winchester and Williamsport, Maryland allowing it to reach Hagerstown (54 miles in all). Soon after it picked up former Central Railroad of New Jersey property in southern New Jersey. These two segments currently make up the W&W as its "Virginia Division" and "New Jersey Division."