It was a bad day for thousands of train passengers Wednesday as power outages halted train service between Philadelphia and New York, stranding and delaying Amtrak and New Jersey Transit travelers.
The outage shut down train service in and out of New York’s Penn Station, which is the nation’s busiest rail station, stopping trains in their tracks and even stranding three in an underground tunnel. Philadelphia’s SEPTA commuter trains were also affected.
Trouble began around 10:30 a.m., when Amtrak said it experienced overhead wire issues that caused trains to abruptly stop. Power was restored 15 minutes later, though trains traveling east from Philadelphia were held until about 11 a.m., an Amtrak spokesman said. Passengers were reportedly stuck on trains without restrooms and air conditioning until things began moving again.
At 11:30 a.m. NJ Transit said that Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line rail service was suspended in both directions, and Midtown Direct service was diverted to Hoboken.
Later, at 12:15 p.m., Amtrak reported that service was once again suspended — this time between New Rochelle, New York, and Philadelphia. Thirty minutes later, Amtrak said residual rail congestion was causing delays of up to 90 and 120 minutes. Those disruptions lasted well into the evening commute.
Needless to say, passengers were unimpressed.
“How are you going to compensate the riders that are currently stranded on your trains? I’m 2hrs from my destination and should have been there 15min ago!” tweeted traveler Conni Creelman.
Passengers also complained of stifling heat, with reports of fainting and panic attacks. One passenger, Nichole Dobo, said on Twitter that the cafe car of her train was closed, so passengers had no access to food or water, and they were told not to use the bathrooms.
During the first outage, three disabled trains were pulled from the Hudson River tunnels at Penn Station by a rescue engine, NorthJersey.com reported.
An Amtrak spokesman told media that crews were investigating the exact cause of the power issues. It was not clear whether delays would continue into the Thursday morning commute.