NEW YORK CITY — A Long Island Rail Road commuter train bound for Hempstead, Long Island went off the rails on Monday evening during rush hour and stranded possibly 1,000 in a tunnel that connects Manhattan and Queens, a spokesman said.
The 5:51 p.m. train was headed eastbound when it derailed just minutes after pulling out of Penn Station and into the East River tunnel, LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said.
"For the moment there is no westbound service into Manhattan," he told DNAinfo.com at 7 p.m.
The blocked tunnel shuts off one of only four to the city, he said, and all efforts were being diverted to get eastbound commuters out of Penn Station and to clear the currently overcrowded platforms, he said.
Dozens of commuters waited anxiously at Penn Station as trains were delayed, and some trying to get to the LIRR found themselves blocked by NYPD at terminal entrances as law enforcement waited for the dense crowds on the platforms to thin out.
Marianna, who declined to give her last name, said she had been waiting at the crowded station for about an hour, hoping to catch a train to her Far Rockaway home.
"It was a tremendous amount of people," she said. "It was shoulder-to-shoulder."
The commuter, who works at a social agency in New York, was waiting for the next train to Huntington after two other trains had been canceled, she said.
Anna Wroblewska, 28, had been waiting for about half an hour, first outside and later, inside the crowded, hot station, she said.
"I'm boiling," she said, adding that it would be at least an hour before she was able to take another train to her destination.
Garrett Edmunds, 53, was waiting at the station with his family when their Westbury-bound train was canceled, he said. "We lost our train," said Edmunds, who was with his wife, Theresa, 44, and son Jonathan, 9.
The family, who was visiting New York for the first time from Detroit, would have to wait another hour for the next train, said Edmunds. "If we're lucky," he added.
Amtrak announced via Twitter that all service in and out of Penn Station would see 45 to 60 minute delays "due to a commuter train with operational issues."
And eastbound LIRR service skipped Forest Hills and Kew Gardens stops on Monday, and only Port Washington-bound trains stopped at the Woodside station.
The MTA honored all LIRR fares in the meantime, and the authority suggested passengers take subway trains to the Jamaica LIRR station or the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn to catch a train there.
No injuries were reported by the FDNY immediately following the derailment. The tunnels are maintained by Amtrak, but a press officer could not be reached for comment.