Power Failure Brings Amtrak and N.J. Transit Trains to a Halt

Power Failure Brings Amtrak and N.J. Transit Trains to a Halt

A power failure shut down all train service along the Northeast Corridor between Philadelphia and New Haven, Conn., on Thursday afternoon, threatening to create a chaotic evening commute on one of the hottest days of the year.

Amtrak said a lack of electricity to power trains forced it to temporarily suspend all service along that 150-mile stretch of rails, which passes through New York City. One of Amtrak’s Acela trains was already running more than an hour late when it got stuck just east of Newark. Another of its trains was stranded in Queens, and Amtrak said it would send a diesel engine to haul that train back to Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan.

Amtrak cited “reports of a malfunctioning circuit-breaker” as a probable cause of the failure. It said the failure was not related to a brush fire in Secaucus, N.J., on Thursday afternoon that was burning near train tracks and the New Jersey Turnpike.

New Jersey Transit’s commuter service in and out of Penn Station was also suspended because its trains share the portion of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between New York City and Trenton, N.J.

New Jersey Transit began diverting trains bound for Penn Station to Hoboken Terminal and accepting train tickets on its buses. The PATH train between Manhattan and New Jersey was also cross-honoring rail tickets.

Just before 5 p.m., a large crowd of disgruntled Amtrak customers wheeling suitcases and carrying duffel bags were gathered outside the ticketing booth at the Moynihan Train Hall.

An Amtrak employee addressed the crowd, saying “nothing is running” and asked the people waiting to leave the line unless they were canceling their tickets for a refund or rebooking for another day.

The disruption was at least the fourth in the last two months to cause long delays for commuters in the metropolitan area.

On Tuesday morning, New Jersey Transit service into and out of New York’s Penn Station was suspended for about an hour and all Amtrak trains passing through the station were delayed because of overhead wire issues and a disabled commuter train on the tracks, train officials said.

That disruption ruined the morning commute for thousands of New Jersey residents as the delays rippled out along the various rail lines in the state.

The problems on Tuesday came on the heels of major rush-hour delays at Penn Station earlier this month, caused by an inspection of tracks owned by Amtrak. Service was significantly delayed for more than an hour.

Service was also disrupted in May when an overhead wire used for traffic signals fell and struck a cable in Kearny, N.J., that provides electrical power to trains on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Trains were halted on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit in both directions between Penn Station and Newark, and delays stretched to more than four hours.

Maia Coleman contributed reporting.

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