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Power Problems Leave Train Passengers Stranded

Hours after downed wires caused delays on Amtrak trains between New York and Washington D.C., hundreds of passenger on a train departing Newark Penn Station were stranded due to an overhead power problem.

NJ Transit posted the initial alert on its website just after 6:38 p.m., with updates at 7:25 p.m. reporting 20 to 45-minute delays. The extensive delays follow earlier problems that caused a slower commute for passengers as a result of downed wires near Trenton on the Northeast Corridor line.

According to a story on NJ.com, “The Northeast Corridor Line train that left New York Penn Station at 5:45 p.m. and was bound for New Brunswick was on Track 4 outside the station, and concerns about whether it was a live wire kept passengers on the train, officials said.”

NJ Transit spokesman John Durso Jr. also told NJ.com that the wire that fell on the train was “de-energized, the train was pulled back to the station platform by a rescue locomotive around 8 p.m. and passengers were transferred to another train to continue onward.”

Meredith Dzubina of Piscataway was on the train headed from Newark Penn Station to Metro Park when the problem occurred.

“We just pulled out of Newark and we felt a jolt and the power instantly went out,” Dzubina told Townsquare Media Tuesday during her commute home following the ordeal. “I was standing by a window and that’s when all the emergency vehicles started surrounding the tracks.”

Dzubina said after the power went out, the conductor made the following announcement: “Ummm ladies and gentlemen, we have a situation. A power line has just gone down in front of us and on top of us. As of right now there is no danger but we need to coordinate getting you off the train.”

With temperatures at or below the teens throughout the state Tuesday, Dzubina said it didn’t take long before passengers began to feel the temperature on the powerless train begin to drop.

“It took about an hour to feel the temperature drop. I know some news sources said the train was heated but no power equals no heat and the conductor even apologized for the drop in temp, “she said. “Nobody panicked, and the crew did a good job on the train. Once we got back into Newark it was a complete mess. No one knew what train to go to. I was going from NYC Penn to Metropark and I’m still on the train home.”

Dzubina said passenger were also told that “the original plan was to have us exit through the last car and walk the tracks back to Newark.”

“Since we were technically stuck on a bridge/overpass they sent a rescue engine to tow us back instead,” she said.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Amtrak reported in a press release that three of four tracks on 20 miles of railway between Trenton and northeast Philadelphia are now usable. Repairs were set to continue, according to the release, and the ongoing work was causing “congestion-related delays” for Amtrak trains on the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington D.C.

At About 10 p.m., NJ Transit reported the following delays and cancellations:

  • The Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coastline and Raritan Valley Line Trains were subject to 30 to 45-minute delays due to the ongoing power problems at Newark penn Station.
  • Northeast Corridor train #3984, the 10:08 p.m. from Newark Penn Station is cancelled tonight.
  • NJ Transit will offer systemwide cross-honoring on  Wednesday, Jan. 8 due to extreme cold weather conditions.


Dan Alexander contributed to this report.

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