Well, that sucked.

Today Kathy and I spent 6 hours on a train – 5 of those stuck in the tunnel between NJ and NYC. Apparently the entire Amtrak system from DC to Boston lost power. We were about 5 minutes from the city when it happened.

I don’t blame the conductors obviously, but NJ Transit / Amtrak / whoever was completely unprepared and the situation was a constant flow of misinformation. After several hours they told us that diesel trains were being used to tow the disabled trains out. There were 2 trains ahead of us. They announced that the first train had been towed. About an hour after that they told us the second train had been towed and a separate diesel was standing by to tow us as soon as the second train was cleared. Then…. nothing. For a loooooong time.

By now even the emergency lights had died so we were sitting there in pitch blackness. Still no announcements.

At this point it turned out that the power had been restored… but since our emergency battery was dead we could not re-raise the pantograph to the electric wires. The manual system failed. Yep, you need to have power to be able to reach the power.

No one ever told us what happend to the diesel that was supposed to tow us but it never arrived.

Eventually they pulled up another train behind us. At one point a very pregnant lady came through, breathing hard and attended by a doctor and a nurse. Some firefighters came through to ask if everyone was OK. Lots of time went by. We all walked back through the disabled train to the new train. Then we backed up to Secaucus station.

There, the train doors opened and they said something along the lines of “You can get off here but we don’t know what trains are running. Stay on the train if you want to go to New York.” At this point it was about 1:30 (we had gotten on the train at 7:18). While we were sitting there, a Trenton-bound train pulled up on the other side of the platform. I was looking at the NJ Transit website on my Treo and the latest news (from about 10 minutes earlier) said that Northeast Corridor train service was suspended. That was good enough for us – no point in continuing to the city just to get stuck there. We finally got home a little after 2pm.

3 Responses to “Well, that sucked.”

  1. dan says:

    Wow! You kept it together pretty well considering the lack of communication. Hope you had several beers afterwards to try and begin to forget it all.. at least tomorrow is Friday.

  2. oda says:

    I thought the 7 train was bad, but I’ve never been stranded underground. Sorry to hear about your horrible commute.

  3. Srini says:

    I was extremely lucky. Was in the train at metropart station when the failure happened. I immediately got of the train and went home.