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2,300 NJ Transit Passengers Trapped for Hours After Power Outage

By Nicole Bode | September 22, 2011 10:40am | Updated on September 22, 2011 11:03am

MANHATTAN — Four NJ Transit trains with 2,300 passengers aboard became stalled between New Jersey and New York Penn Station for hours, after a power outage stranded four passenger trains during the morning rush, NJ Transit officials said.

The trains became stalled at 9 a.m., when power on the Amtrak-run train track went out, reportedly because of a transformer problem.

"It's not a good day for our customers," said a NJ Transit spokeswoman.

Mae Texiera boarded the 8:21 a.m. train from Montclair to Penn Station, and was surprised when the train stalled at 9:02 a.m. She wasn't able to get off of the train at Penn Station until about 11:30 a.m.

"I said 'oh, I feel like I'm going to faint. It was really hot. There was no air circulating," said Texiera, an HR rep. "It's been a crazy day so far."

"We've had the earthquake, the hurricane, and now we've been stuck in a tunnel," she added.

She said one man went around inside the trapped train handing out Jolly Ranchers to his fellow passengers. She said other passengers were pacing up and down the aisles, with growing frustration as the train conductor made announcements about the continued delays.

Texeira was among the 1,500 passengers trapped aboard two trains inside a Hudson River tunnel from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. NJ Transit officials said there were also other two trains stalled outside of the tunnel, with 800 aboard. Those passengers were evacuated before 11 a.m., NJ Transit said.

Amtrak dispatched a diesel engine to the stranded trains to pull them off the track, a NJ Transit spokeswoman said.

FDNY and EMS crews were standing by in case of any injuries, a fire department spokesman said.

The outage triggered a series of delays throughout NJ Transit and Amtrak service, leaving one track running in and out of Penn Station, officials said.

“Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line trains are subject to 45-60 minute delays due to single tracking into New York due to power problems,” NJ Transit wrote on its website Thursday morning.

A statement on Amtrak's website said, "Amtrak personnel are utlizing availble rescue diesel engine equipment to remove trains from the tunnel to inside the Penn Station platform locations.

"Amtrak is working to restore the power, with no estimate for restoration available."

Irate passengers took to Twitter to express their frustration.

"Amtrak is delayed & kicked us off in Newark. I'm fielding requests on how to use PATH. I haven't used path in 10 yrs. Good luck, strangers!" @canarymason wrote.

"Amtrak bit it... waiting to get the path. This sucks," @opium747 wrote.