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Metro-North Apologizes For Hours-Long Train Delay In Bitter Cold

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Metro-North Railroad issued an apology Tuesday, a day after hundreds of passengers were stranded for more than two hours in the dark with no heat on a New Haven Line train.

As CBS2's Emily Smith reported, the train was stalled just south of Pelham in Westchester County, after icy conditions on the tracks stopped the New Haven Line heading to Harrison.

"We apologize to the customers of Metro-North," said Metropolitan Transportation Authority deputy director of communications Aaron Donovan.

Donovan admitted wrongdoing in the train chaos Monday, after passengers flooded Twitter with stories of being stranded on the freezing cold train.

"We believed we could fix the problem very quickly based on the conditions our folks saw on the train. That obviously turned out not to be the case," Donovan said.

Stewart Aaron spent about two and a half hours on the broken-down train. He said it should have been a half hour ride.

"We felt helpless on the train," Aaron said.

The New Haven Line train left Grand Central Station at 5:57 p.m. Monday. It was somehow immobilized at 6:41 p.m. due to weather-related problems.

Passengers were told a rescue train would arrive by 7:15 p.m., but it was not until 8:57 p.m. that all passengers were transported to the new train.

The MTA said the major mistake was that instead of trying to repair the train while passengers sat in the cold, an empty train have dispatched immediately as a rescue vehicle.

Former MTA employee and train historian Peter Derrick said while he usually supports the MTA, something like the Monday night incident should never happen.

"You don't want to have people stuck on cold trains for more than two and a half to three hours. That's just unacceptable," Derrick said. "I'm surprised this happened at Metro-North, because Metro-North has a reputation -- until recently had a reputation -- for being the best run railroads in the United States."

As for the future of the train involved, an MTA representative said it was taken out of commission, repaired and inspected. The train, along with all of the others of its kind from the 1970s, will be retired in the spring.

The Federal Railroad Administration was also conducting an inquiry into the Monday night incident, and will determine if any FRA regulations were violated.

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