Breakdown snarls Northeast corridor trains

Monday, November 19, 2007

NEW YORK -- An electrical breakdown snarled train traffic on the Northeast rail corridor for hours Sunday, delaying trains arriving at New York's Penn Station from Philadelphia and Boston.

Damage to overhead electrical wires halted a passenger train about 8:30 a.m., initially blocking New Jersey Transit service and stranding passengers on one northbound train for nearly 2 1/2 hours.

Amtrak trains from Boston got backed up at New York's Penn Station, and northbound trains from Philadelphia and points south got as far as Newark before they, too, were forced to halt.

Service was restored not long after 3 p.m., but the delays extended into the afternoon. By 4 p.m., trains were moving to and from Penn Station.

Dan Stessel, a New Jersey Transit spokesman, said its northbound service resumed about 2:30 p.m. after the failure stalled more than 24 trains with an estimated 17,000 riders.

Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell said that she did not know how many Amtrak trains or passengers were affected but that Amtrak normally carries about 36,000 passengers a day in the Northeast corridor, fewer on weekends, she said.

The Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are traditionally the rail system's heaviest travel days of the year, but the Sunday before the holiday is not noticeably busier than other Sundays, Connell said.

Amtrak carries about 69,000 customers a day nationwide, about half of those in the Northeast corridor.

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