Amtrak and NJ Transit service in NYC disrupted again

June 21, 2024

NJ Transit hall in Penn Station. Photo by Chris Rycroft on Flickr.

It’s been a rough week for Northeast Corridor commuters. New Jersey Transit and Amtrak service in and out of New York City was disrupted this morning for a third time this week. On Friday, a disabled train at Penn Station caused NJ Transit to suspend service and led to delays in Amtrak service. The delays came just hours after Amtrak suspended service on Thursday evening for over three hours due to power outages. Rail service on both lines was halted earlier in the week because of overhead wire issues and a disabled train on the tracks. As of this morning, Amtrak service is expected to resume by 1 p.m., with delays. Some NJ Transit trains were diverted to Hoboken.

NJ Transit blamed Friday’s meltdown on “Amtrak overhead wire issues” in Penn Station. Amtrak blamed NJ Transit and a “disabled commuter train.”

Thursday’s power outages caused service delays across the northeast, delaying and canceling trains in Boston and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. According to Gary Williams, executive vice president of Service Delivery & Operations at Amtrak, the problem was caused by a “malfunctioning circuit-breaker” in New Jersey, located west of the rail tunnels under the Hudson River, which cut power to the overhead wires that power the trains, as reported by The New York Times.

That section of the tunnel has only two tracks and is the primary corridor for trains traveling through the northeast, meaning that any disruption to service affects thousands of riders.

The power outage was unrelated to a brush fire in Secaucus, NJ, according to Williams, but the fire did complicate repairs to the rail infrastructure.

An Amtrak train already running over an hour behind schedule got stuck east of Newark with no air conditioning. Those passengers were relocated to other trains. Another Amtrak train was stuck in Queens, also without air conditioning, forcing Amtrak to send a diesel engine to pull the train back to Penn Station, according to Williams.

Williams said he met with NJ Transit officials on Thursday to make plans for upgrading the rail infrastructure to prevent future disruptions, according to the Times.

NJ Transit’s Midtown Direct trains are diverting from Penn Station to Hoboken Terminal; train tickets will be cross-honored by NJ Transit buses and PATH.

Earlier this month, Penn Station experienced major rush-hour delays due to track inspections, impeding train service for over an hour. In May, service was disrupted after an overhead wire fell and damaged a cable that provides power to Amtrak trains, halting service for both Amtrak and NJ Transit in both directions for more than four hours, according to the Times.


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