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Evening Delays Cause Commuter Chaos After Penn Station Derailment

By DNAinfo Staff on August 9, 2011 1:15pm  | Updated on August 9, 2011 9:09pm

A derailed train snarled travel at Penn Station during the morning commute on Tues., Aug. 9, 2011.
A derailed train snarled travel at Penn Station during the morning commute on Tues., Aug. 9, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Olivia Scheck

By Patrick Hedlund and Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo Staff

PENN STATION — Train delays that snarled Tuesday's morning commute also wreaked havoc on the evening rush.

The disruption was caused by a train that derailed at Penn Station, officials said. The rear two cars of an NJ Transit train bound for Trenton went off the tracks shortly before 8 a.m.

No injuries were reported because no passengers were in the cars, the agency said. The agency sent another train to transfer the 300 passengers on board.

Tuesday evening's hold-ups affected NJ Transit, Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road services, officials said.

The derailment was still causing up to 90-minute delays on Northeast Corridor Line and North Jersey trains in and out of Penn Station throughout the day., according to NJ Transit.

The NJ Transit also cut off trains out of Penn Station from approximately 12:45 p.m. to 3 a.m. Wednesday, they said in a statement.

"Following this morning’s minor derailment, crews will work overnight to clear the remaining equipment from the tracks.  Because it is necessary to shut down the overhead catenary power in the affected area to accommodate the work, there will be no train service to and from New York Penn Station between approximately 12:45 a.m. and 3 a.m."

Officials said the service changes would affect six overnight trains.

"Expect crowding conditions onboard trains," a statement from officials said. "NJ TRANSIT apologizes for the delays and inconvenience.  We are conducting a joint investigation with Amtrak into the cause of the derailment."

Delays up to 60 minutes continued on all Amtrak Northeast Corridor service between New York, Boston and Washington, DC, as of noon on Tuesday, Amtrak officials said.

Because of the incident, only one track was available in each direction for all service into and out of Penn Station "until further notice."

"Crews continue to work to clear the affected equipment from the tracks, with no estimate for full restoration of service at this time," Amtrak officials said.

For the evening rush, LIRR customers should anticipate some cancellations, track changes and delays, MTA officials said.

Five Babylon Branch trains and four Port Washington Branch trains will be canceled for the evening rush and other trains would likely be running on tracks different from their usual schedules, the MTA said

The tranist agency also said that NJ Transit and Amtrak will be sharing Penn Station's tracks 15 and 16 — which the LIRR normally uses — as part of an effort to route their trains around the derailment.

The LIRR will provide regular service from Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens, MTA officials noted.

Commuters expressed their frustration with Tuesday morning's delay.

"We deal with this torture every day," joked Rachel Benjamin, 36, who commutes to work in Midtown from her home in Maplewood, N.J., and was delayed about an hour.

"Every week there's something — not always as bad as this — but it's always failed equipment or, 'We've got to go somewhere to get a part.'"

Another commuter said changing addresses may be the only way to avoid the problem.

"It only takes 10 minutes once you're on the train... [but] this happens once a month," said Iris Baria, 46, who commutes from her home in Queens to Secaucus, and was delayed for up to an hour Tuesday.

"I think I'm gonna have to look for a job in Manhattan."