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Investigation Underway In MARC Breakdown

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By Rebecca Sheir

An investigation is underway into why a Baltimore-bound MARC train broke down in last night's sweltering heat.

The Maryland Transit Administration says the probe will determine why, minutes after leaving D.C.'s Union Station, the engine failed and the brakes jammed, stranding passengers for more than two hours without air conditioning.

To understand how hot it got on MARC 538, passenger Anthony Washington says to imagine...a sauna.

"There was steam in our car, like on the windows," he says." Everybody was glistening. That's how hot it was."

Washington, the volunteer coordinator at WAMU 88.5, says the riders in his car seemed healthy - if frustrated. But fire-and-rescue officials say several passengers suffered heat-related illness; at least three were taken to the hospital.

MTA spokesman Terry Owens says the agency is teaming with Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration to figure out what happened, and why.

"Power could have been an issue, weather could have been an issue. We don't want to speculate," he says. "We want to come up with some answers that will allow us to better handle the situation should it present itself again."

If it does, Washington says he'll start commuting to and from northern Baltimore in the comfort of his air-conditioned car.

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