Gov. Murphy calls Amtrak, NJ Transit suspensions 'an unmitigated disaster' in blistering letter

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Thursday, May 23, 2024
Murphy calls Amtrak, NJ Transit suspensions 'an unmitigated disaster'
Anthony Carlo has the latest from Penn Station.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Rail service in and out of Penn Station is back to operating close to schedule with residual delays following earlier Amtrak overhead wire issues.

Downed power lines put a stop to evening travel for both Amtrak and NJ Transit trains on Wednesday evening, leaving some commuters stranded for hours.

The power outage started at 5:05 p.m., and affected riders of both rail lines. Limited service was not restored until after 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night

Amtrak, which maintains the lines, said a signal wire came into contact with the catenary, causing a blowout. The signal line from the catenary wire fell to the ground.

The cause for what brought the wires down is still under investigation.

In a letter to Amtrak on Thursday morning, Gov. Phil Murphy called the train suspension "an unmitigated disaster during the rush hour commute ... these delays are not only an inconvenience - they are incredibly disruptive."

He also called for a meeting with Amtrak "within the next few days to work on next steps on a comprehensive emergency management plan."

He called for Amtrak to make "immediate short term and long term investments to address infrastructure vulnerabilities and updated emergency management plans to provide more robust alternate modes of transportation when equipment failure occurs."

Murphy said it was "the third infrastructure failure in two days from Amtrak ... I refuse to accept these Amtrak infrastructure challenges as an inevitable part of operating integrated mass transit systems."

Many Wednesday evening commuters were frustrated by the lack of information and said the NJ Transit website was acting up.

"They need to turn on the air conditioning cause it is hot in here. And they really need to communicate with us because we're standing around for the last hour and not one peep of what's going on," Toni Brenda said.

Another rider said there was no way to know whether he would be there for another 10 minutes or multiple hours.

Amtrak released a statement apologizing to its customers and NJ Transit riders on Thursday:

"We apologize to Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT customers for the impact yesterday's wire issues had on their travel. We hold ourselves to a high standard in terms of the reliable service we provide our customers and the customers of our commuter partners, who deserve better than their travel experience yesterday evening. Governor Murphy is one of the country's biggest champions of rail, and we appreciate his support and commitment to everything from the Gateway Program to advocating for New Jersey's residents and visitors who were disrupted by yesterday's incident. An investigation continues into the cause of yesterday's incident. We will implement any changes to avoid a similar incident like yesterday from happening again."


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