NEW YORK – Commuters inched homeward by bus, hitched rides with friends and waved down taxis Tuesday after a derailed train earlier in the day disrupted rail traffic across Northeast.
The accident forced authorities to shut down one of the two rail tunnels used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains between Manhattan and New Jersey. Both inbound and outbound trains were sharing the remaining tunnel.
The New Jersey Transit train was leaving New York's Pennsylvania Station for Trenton, N.J., when the last two cars of the 10-car train jumped their rails as they headed under the Hudson River at around 8 a.m., transit spokeswoman Courtney Carroll said. The cars were unoccupied and remained upright, and no one was injured, she said.
The 300 passengers were transferred to another train by 9:18 a.m., she said. The accident happened before the rail lines narrow to one track to enter the tunnel, so the second train was able to pull alongside the disabled train on a parallel track. The rescue train then continued on toward Trenton.
One of the derailed cars was moved out of the way by 6 p.m. Tuesday. New Jersey Transit said a crane to remove the second derailed car would be brought in after 8 p.m.
Both New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road warned its passengers that delays would last through the evening. The LIRR has a terminal inside Penn Station and uses tracks under the station to move its trains from a storage yard on the west side of Manhattan.
At Penn Station, passengers crowded onto the remaining trains or studied bus timetables, looking for creative ways home.
Marie Mazz, 26, was trying to get to Morristown, N.J., normally an hour's train ride from Manhattan. But after her train was canceled, she decided to catch one of the remaining trains to Newark and ask a friend to pick her up.
"I have no idea how long this is going to take me," she said. "It's going to be a nightmare because there are lots of people who have exactly the same plan as me."
Thousands of commuters were taking the Port Authority Trans Hudson trains to Hoboken, N.J. Others were riding ferries across the river, then waiting for buses in a pounding rain.
At the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, stock trader Peter Coleman of Red Bank, N.J., stood in line at a ticket window with other commuters who normally ride the train.
"It's been a long day," he said. "You've got the volatility of the stock market, and now the volatility of the commute."
New Jersey Transit said its Midtown Direct trains would run from Hoboken instead of Penn Station on Tuesday evening. The Northeast Corridor and New Jersey Coast Lines were operating on limited service to and from Penn Station with delays of up to 90 minutes.
Amtrak was reporting delays of up to 30 minutes on its routes between Boston and Washington. It said its Keystone service through Pennsylvania would temporarily operate only between Philadelphia and Harrisburg as it tried to work out the delays.
The LIRR warned its passengers to expect train cancellations, track changes and delays at Penn Station. Service from the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens were unaffected, it said.
High school student Jackson Scalera, 17, said he was holding out hope that New Jersey Transit officials would add a train to get him home to South Orange, N.J.
"They've got to do something," he said, as he worked to debug a computer game on his laptop computer at Penn Station. In the meantime, he said, "It's perfect time to get work done."
Transportation officials have long complained that more tunnels under the Hudson are needed to avoid delays when something goes wrong.
In October, a plan to dig another tunnel was shelved after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie balked at the $9 billion to $14 billion price tag.