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Frustration boils over after more NJ Transit delays, Amtrak cancels some trains Friday

Delays linger into Friday evening commute at New York Penn Station
Delays linger into Friday evening commute at New York Penn Station 02:00

NEW YORK -- NJ Transit was suspended into and out of New York Penn Station for a second straight day on Friday due to an Amtrak overhead wire problem, the commuter rail said

NJ Transit service resumed just before 10:30 a.m. with delays of up to 45 minutes and some trains being diverted to Hoboken. Amtrak said its service was also delayed or modified between New York City and Philadelphia.

By the start of the Friday evening commute, there were lingering delays of up to 30 minutes.

NJ Transit points finger at Amtrak

NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett released a statement claiming the agency is as frustrated as its riders. He also took aim at Amtrak. 

"We are as frustrated as our customers, and the frequency and impact these issues are having on our customers' quality of life is clearly unacceptable. Regarding today's incident specifically, we've had rail maintenance supervisors positioned at Newark Penn Station to inspect trains in light of the recent incidents. The train involved was inspected thoroughly before leaving Newark, including the pantograph, and no defects were found," Corbett said. "While we continue to work with Amtrak to identify the root cause of the recent spate of incidents affecting the Northeast Corridor (NEC), which include a range of issues. For instance, Amtrak reported that yesterday's incident was caused by one of their circuit breakers impacting power between Philadelphia and New Haven. What we can say is that we operate approximately 700 trains every weekday along hundreds of miles of track on 11 rail lines with the same equipment and these incidents are mainly occurring on just this one stretch of track on the NEC between Newark and New York. We continue to offer Amtrak our assistance to resolve the issue."

More chaos for commuters

It was utter chaos at Secaucus Junction as commuters scrambled to find alternatives. 

"I have no idea what happened, but I know they kept us on the train for 20, 25 minutes and they didn't know what they was going to do. I ran off the train, went back to Track 2, then I came back to Track 1. They pulled off," said Siincere Koffield. 

NJ Transit blamed an Amtrak overhead wire problem, but Amtrak said it arose from a disabled commuter train at Penn Station. 

A statement from Amtrak said, "Trains operating in and out of [New York Penn Station] may experience delays of 60 minutes this morning. In addition, Empire Service between New York and Yonkers is temporarily suspended. Crews are working to remove a disabled commuter train and repair any related infrastructure. We are working with our partners at [NJ Transit] to investigate the cause of this morning's disruption." 

Second suspension in under 24 hours

NJ Transit And Amtrak Leave NYC Commuters With 90-Minute Delays
Commuters wait for New Jersey Transit trains at Penn Station in New York, US, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. New Jersey Transit and Amtrak train service faced major delays in and out of New York Penn Station after overhead wire issues and a disabled train disrupted morning commutes. Photographer: Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The problems started less than 24 hours after a brush fire and overhead wire issues suspended NJ Transit and Amtrak service for hours during the evening rush Thursday. Amtrak trains along the Northeast Corridor were suspended from Philadelphia to New Haven, Connecticut

"It's getting bad, because before it used to be fine. Now, you just got headaches. It's slow or it's not running, or it's stuck on the tracks somewhere," said Gabriel Ruiz, who rides NJ Transit. 

"Like the past month, I would say it happens once a week," said Angel Ampil. 

Amtrak had already canceled some Acela and Northeast Regional trains Friday morning after residual delays lasted well into the night, but NJ Transit appeared to be running on schedule before service was halted again.

Not the first time in 2024

NJ Transit service has been disrupted at least three times this week. On Tuesday, overhead wires caused problems for morning commuters. Later in the afternoon, it was a disabled train.

The next day, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called the situation completely unacceptable and said, "I'm not happy and we're getting as deep into this as we can."  

In May, a power outage caused by overhead wires falling onto the tracks brought Amtrak and NJ Transit service to a halt for hours at the start of rush hour. Murphy called it "an unmitigated disaster" by Amtrak.  

Meanwhile, NJ Transit fares are scheduled to increase by 15% on July 1. 

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