NJ Transit and Amtrak commuters face Penn Station meltdown for 2nd time this week

NJ Transit and Amtrak commuters face Penn Station meltdown for 2nd time this week

For the second time this week, NJ Transit and Amtrak riders commuting into and out of New York’s Penn Station are scrambling to move through the region.

According to the transit agencies, overhead wire issues and a brush fire in northern New Jersey on Thursday temporarily halted Amtrak trains between New Haven and Philadelphia and NJ Transit trains that rely on Amtrak tracks to traverse Penn Station.

“Reports of a malfunctioning circuit breaker are said to be the cause of a widespread issue, resulting in a loss of power on the tracks between New York Penn Station and Newark Union Station,” Amtrak said in a statement posted at 4 p.m. on Thursday. “This issue will affect trains operating between Philadelphia 30th Street Station and New Haven Union Station.”

Power was restored by 5:20 p.m., Amtrak said in a subsequent statement. It added that the brush fire east of Newark Union Station had been extinguished and that trains could resume traveling at restricted speeds.

“Significant residual delays are expected on the Northeast Corridor as we work to restore normal operations,” Amtrak said.

NJ Transit said as of 6 p.m. its rail service into and out of Penn Station had resumed, though with delays of up to 90 minutes.

“Midtown Direct trains are being diverted to Hoboken,” the agency stated in an alert on its website. “NJ Transit rail tickets and passes are being crossed-honored by NJ Transit and private carrier buses and PATH at Newark Penn, Hoboken and 33rd Street, New York.”

The transit meltdown comes as residents throughout the region endure the first heat wave of the season. Forecasters say temperatures in the New York area could reach record highs this summer.

Penn Station commuter Cameron Manning was waiting for an Acela train to his hometown of Boston on Thursday afternoon so that he could see the Celtics championship parade on Friday. He said the trip usually takes about four hours but he wasn’t sure when he would finally board his train and get going.

“They’re doing the best they can,” Manning said of the efforts to restore normal service. “I’m just gonna keep my phone on me for alerts they have about the trains. It would stink if I had to wait four or five hours for a delay, but it is what it is, I mean [the delays] can only go so far.”

Anthony Hubbard, a resident of Washington, D.C., who was visiting New York for a conference held by Forbes magazine, said he was trying to head home when he found out about the service disruptions through a text message. He said his initial reaction was: “Ah jeez, great, that’s fantastic — sarcastically.”

“There’s always delays on Amtrak, so I’m used to it,” added Hubbard, who decided to buy a $186 ticket for a later train instead of waiting on a long line to change his original ticket.

Overhead wire issues and a disabled train created major delays on Tuesday for NJ Transit and Amtrak commuters traveling to and from New York’s Penn Station. The delays lasted for much of the day, including the evening rush hour.

Earlier on Thursday afternoon, Amtrak Northeast said high temperatures “may require trains to operate at lower speeds, resulting in delays of up to 60 minutes between the hours 12 noon and 7:30 p.m. for the remainder of the week.”

The rail service said customers with reserved seats would be issued tickets on trains with similar departure times on a different day. Passengers can call 1-800-USA-RAIL to reschedule their reservations.

Amtrak and NJ Transit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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