Day of NJ Transit delays after overhead wire falls

Transit alert from Eyewitness News

November 8, 2011 4:09:34 PM PST
NJ Transit restored service for the evening commute after overhead wire problems caused lengthy delays Tuesday morning.

The downed wires in Metuchen forced the evacuation of several hundred people off one train and caused delays of up to an hour on the busy Northeast Corridor Line.

Approximately 700 passengers were evacuated from one commuter train. New Jersey Transit spokesman John Durso Jr. says the 11-car train came to a stop in Metuchen on its way to New York City around 7:40 a.m. Earlier reports that the wire fell onto the train were inaccurate.

The tracks are owned by Amtrak. An Amtrak spokesman says the last of four tracks affected by the problem has been put back into service.

Electrical problems, extreme weather and other mishaps have bedeviled New Jersey commuters recently. Since the end of June, nearly 20 service disruptions of varying severity on NJ Transit lines have been reported.

Among the disruptions were three major delays within a week in August - two due to switching problems and one caused by a train derailment near the Hudson River tunnel into New York. There was a power outage inside the tunnel in September and a disabled train outside the tunnel two weeks ago.

Hurricane Irene in late August and a freak late-October snowstorm also took their toll, forcing the suspension of service on some lines for days or even weeks in the case of the Port Jervis line. In nine reported instances since the beginning of July, trains struck and killed people on the tracks, leading to service delays.

Durso Jr. said that the agency's on-time performance rate has been nearly 95 percent over the past year "despite the impact of a devastating hurricane, a crippling October snowstorm and other incidents beyond NJ Transit's control."

NJ Transit operates the nation's largest statewide public transportation system with nearly 900,000 weekday trips on its rail and bus lines.