Crew Is Out Of Work Until They Can Be Debriefed And Retrained

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — How does an entire Amtrak train get lost?

Last Thursday, a train was supposed to leave Philadelphia and end up in Penn Station, but there was a turn onto a wrong track, and it ended up lost in the Philly suburb of Cynwyd Line, Pa.

Almost all the passengers at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, where the lost train started its journey, and at Penn Station were shocked after hearing the story.

“With technology today, it’s hard to believe something like that could get lost,” Amtrak passenger David Chan said.

“I’m glad it wasn’t mine,” one woman said.

“Wow, that’s crazy. That’s not professional at all. How could that happen?” said Mike Roberts of Coatesville, Pa.

Amtrak apologized Wednesday, adding that there was a mechanical problem on the train and that the engine pushing from the back needed to be in the front so that it could continue traveling into New York. Shortly after leaving Philadelphia, trying to reposition to turn the locomotive around, somehow the train ended up on tracks for regional trains that are rarely used.

“The crew was instructed to basically take the train out to a point on the railroad where they could turn around,” Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz told CBS 2’s Alice Gainer. “They’ve never made this move before. It’s rare that we need to do that. In executing that move, they inadvertently went past where they were supposed to go.

“The crew made a mistake. There was never any danger to anybody on the train or otherwise.”

Eventually, all 130 passengers aboard the lost train were sent back to Philadelphia, were put on a different train and made it safely to New York, CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported.

“I think mistakes happen,” said Peter Menendez of Princeton, N.J. “I come from that industry and the utilities, and it’s hard to coordinate systems like that. I feel bad for those folks.”

“I would want absolutely my money back and something over and above that,” said Nicole Mallon, of Albany. “It just can’t be an inconvenience. That could mess up someone’s holiday travel plans.”

“Amtrak is usually pretty nifty with routing,” said Amtrak rider Emma Ferrie. “I’ve never had a delay or anything, so it’s always been great. So I’ve never really heard of that.”

Train passengers CBS 2 spoke with want Amtrak to take decisive action against the employees responsible to make sure something like this never happens again.

“I’m not a proponent of firing anybody. I just think more controls need to be in place,” said Amtrak passenger Christopher Talley.

“I think that they should be investigated for sure and get to the bottom of it and find out what’s going on and certainly be suspended if nothing else,” said Meryl Migdal of Bellmore, N.Y.

Amtrak is keeping the crew responsible out of work until they can be fully debriefed and retrained.

In the days just before and after Thanksgiving, Amtrak always sees a surge in ridership. The company will be adding more trains for the nearly 750,000 passengers expected next week.

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