Commuters, pols enraged as Amtrak service along Northeast Corridor snagged by downed wire in NJ

Amtrak train on Northeast Corridor
An Amtrak Acela train in Odenton, Maryland in 2018.
Ryan Stavely via Wikimedia Commons

Commuters and elected officials were left feeling extra wired Thursday after a power outage from a fallen power line disrupted Amtrak service along the Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest passenger rail line.

A signal wire came into contact with a catenary powering trains on the corridor near Kearny, New Jersey during the evening rush hour on Wednesday, an Amtrak spokesperson said, bringing the wire down and causing the railroad to lose power.

That forced the national rail carrier to suspend all train service on the NEC between New York and Philadelphia and stranding scores of commuters heading home. Service was also suspended along several New Jersey Transit lines that use the NEC tracks.

The incident caused cancellations or delays for 29 separate Amtrak trains, said the spokesperson, Jason Abrams. Full service had resumed on the corridor Thursday morning, and the incident remains under investigation.

NJ Transit, meanwhile, warned commuters that delays and cancellations could still occur Thursday owing to “residual impacts from crew availability and equipment that was out of position.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called the delays an “unmitigated disaster” in a letter to Amtrak Chair Anthony Coscia and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Murphy said Amtrak should “make immediate short-term and long-term investments to address infrastructure vulnerabilities” and called for a meeting with Amtrak leadership to devise a “comprehensive emergency management plan.”