UPDATED 04/04/17 12:15 a.m.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — NJ TRANSIT and Long Island Rail Road riders were hit with delays during the evening rush Monday, following a minor derailment in Penn Station during the morning commute.
Delays on some rail services were expected to go on into Tuesday, and the LIRR said it would be canceling 10 trains for the Tuesday morning rush.
At least five people were hurt when an NJ TRANSIT train derailed as it was pulling into Penn Station during the morning rush. At least one person on a stretcher was seen being taken out of the station, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, the injuries in the accident were minor. But the derailment was causing plenty of headaches hours later.
NJ TRANSIT said Northeast Corridor train 3926 from Trenton was approaching the station when it had a “minor derailment” on track 9 just after 9 a.m. Amtrak, which owns and maintains Penn’s tracks and infrastructure, said three cars of the NJ TRANSIT train derailed.
“It was literally like an amusement ride,” Michael Biondo told CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “Bodies everywhere piling up.”
“I got thrown into the next person,” said commuter Carol Carloa. “I was sitting on the side, not a regular seat.”
Another passenger said, “It just felt like a movie earthquake scene” inside the train.
“It was pretty wild,” he said. “Everyone just started jumping up and down, falling on the floor. Luckily after a couple of seconds, the whole thing just stopped, was calm and people checked to make sure there were no injuries.”
Many passengers waited and waited on board for direction as crews worked outside their windows on the track and by the train, Bauman reported.
The rescue operation was complicated, said FDNY Commander Roger Sakowich, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
“The biggest part of the issue was that the trains that derailed in a way that it pinched the cars so doors of the cars did not line up,” he said.
NJ TRANSIT said all 1,200 passengers on board were offloaded. It said some of the cars did not make the platform, so those passengers were walked through the cars to the platform.
It took about two hours to evacuate the 1,200 passengers.
For some riders, the lack of communication was even more frustrating than the wait.
“They didn’t make one comment on the intercom; didn’t say, ‘Stay calm, everything’s OK,’” Biondo said. “It just did not happen, which I thought was appalling.”
“We actually found out through Twitter, that’s how passengers found out what happened,” said passenger Erica Dienes.
Hours later, commuters were facing a difficult commute in the wake of the derailment.
And with fewer tracks available in the afternoon, morning delays were echoing to the evening.
Twitter user Megan Angelastro tweeted a video at 7 p.m. of an NJ TRANSIT Northeast Corridor train that was still in the tunnel. It was supposed to have left at 5:30 p.m.
Later Monday night, rail customers were still standing around starring at a schedule screen that says nothing but “stand by,” CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported.
“I came in and saw this huge mess of people,” said Steven Zang of Garfield, New Jersey. “Oh my God, I freaked out. I got to be home in a half hour, my whole night is thrown off because of it.”
A full 10 hours after the accident, Bina Davidson was using up a lot of her cell phone battery up trying to figure out how to get home to her family in Elizabeth.
“My sister actually is going out of the country,” she said. “I’m trying to get home to see her.”
Chris Giuseppini got caught in both the evening and morning mess.
“It was pretty chaotic,” he said. “Thousands of people confused as to what was happening.”
But NJ TRANSIT riders are used to such inconveniences by now – as this was the second train to derail at Penn Station in two weeks. The earlier incident involved an NJ TRANSIT train and an Amtrak train.
In that incident, an Amtrak Acela Express train from Boston was pulling out of Penn on its way to Washington D.C. when it had “a minor derailment while moving at a slow speed.”
The wheel of the train slipped off the tracks, causing the Acela to sideswipe a NJ TRANSIT train in the adjoining lane. No injuries were reported in that incident.
“Awful, second time in less than two weeks, crowded train, I’ve been on train almost two hours to go six miles,” said commuter Mary Ellen Cusumano.
“Everything’s on standby and canceled, and you’re just waiting; hoping your train’s on time and you get where you need to go,” said NJ TRANSIT rider Victoria Markarova.
“The condition at Penn affects everybody,” said Metropolitan Transportation Authority Acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer. “We all dwell in that same place and travel over that same track.”
“I want to know, what are we paying for?” one commuter said.
Indeed, many commuters said something must be done.
“Welcome to Amtrak. American infrastructure is in terrible shape,” said commuter Noel Maurer.
“It’s pretty concerning because you would think in a city like New York, they would be more on top of these things,” said Lea Forgic.
CBS2 also wanted to know how it could happen again, and tried asking Amtrak for answers. Amtrak owns and operates the tracks at Penn Station – including those used by the LIRR and NJ TRANSIT.
An Amtrak representative would only say the agency is investigating the cause of the derailment Monday, and added, “At this time, this incident does not appear to be related” to the last one.
Many Tri-State Area lawmakers said a solution to all the travel problems is the $23 billion Gateway Project – a big plan for railway improvements, including a new Hudson River tunnel.
The current tunnels are more than 100 years old.
Some local lawmakers, including U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) are concerned that President Donald Trump’s current proposed budget cuts funding to projects such as Gateway.
In a statement Monday, Menendez mentioned the “insufferable delays and service disruptions” and added, “Delay in getting Gateway done is not an option for the thousands of riders who depend on safe, reliable rail service in and out of New York City.”
Schumer also released a statement calling Gateway the most important infrastructure project in the country. Trump has promised an infrastructure bill – it is unclear when that will be introduced or what will be in it.
Following the latest incident, NJ TRANSIT said Raritan Valley Line service would remain suspended between Newark and New York for the rest of the day. MidTown Direct trains were being diverted in and out of Hoboken.
NJ TRANSIT said it would also operate the Northeast Corridor and New Jersey Coast lines on a holiday schedule with some additional service through Tuesday as a result of the current track constraints.
The LIRR said it will need to cancel 10 morning rush hour trains to Penn Station on Tuesday, terminate four others at Jamaica, and divert one other to Hunters Point Avenue in Queens. The remaining trains to LIRR are expected to be delayed and crowded.
At train terminals in Brooklyn and Queens, the subway system will cross-honor LIRR tickets for continuing service to Midtown. At Jamaica, LIRR tickets will be cross-honored on the E Train, at Atlantic Terminal on the No. 2 and 3 trains, and at Hunters Point Avenue on the No. 7 Train.
The following LIRR trains will be canceled or rerouted Tuesday morning:
• The 6:13 a.m. train from Massapequa Park due into Penn Station at 7:08 a.m. is canceled. Customers can take the 6:12 a.m. train from Babylon, due into Penn Station at 7:14 a.m.
• The 6:31 a.m. train from Lindenhurst due into Penn Station at 7:33 a.m. is canceled. Customers can take the 6:32 a.m. from Babylon, due into Penn Station at 7:37 a.m., which will add stops at Massapequa Park, Massapequa and Seaford.
• The 7:10 a.m. train from Babylon due into Penn Station at 8:20 a.m. is canceled. Customers can take the 7:29 a.m. train from Babylon due into Atlantic Terminal at 8:43 a.m. Change at Jamaica for service to Penn Station.
• The 7:48 a.m. train from Wantagh due into Penn Station at 8:40 a.m. will terminate at Jamaica. Customers can change at Jamaica for service to Penn.
• The 8:10 a.m. train from Freeport due into Penn Station at 8:50 a.m. is canceled. Customers can take the 7:45 a.m. train from Babylon due into Penn Station at 8:56 a.m., which will add stops at Freeport, Baldwin and Rockville Centre.
• The 8:35 a.m. train from Babylon due into Penn Station at 9:37 a.m. will terminate at Jamaica. Customers transfer at Jamaica for service to Penn.
The 7:12 a.m. train from Hempstead due into Penn Station at 8:03 a.m. will terminate at Jamaica. Customers can change at Jamaica for service to Penn Station.
Long Beach Branch
The 7:04 a.m. train from Long Beach due into Penn Station at 7:57 a.m. is canceled. Customers can take the 7:23 a.m. from Long Beach due into Penn Station at 8:22 a.m.
The 7:23 a.m. train from Long Beach due into Penn Station at 8:22 a.m. will terminate at Jamaica. Customers can change at Jamaica for service to Penn Station.
The 8:08 a.m. train from Long Beach due into Penn Station at 9:02 a.m. is canceled. Customers can take the 8:03 a.m. from Long Beach due into Penn Station at 8:54 a.m. and the 8:38 a.m. train from Long Beach due into Atlantic Terminal at 9:26 a.m. Customers can change at Jamaica for service to Penn Station.
Port Jefferson Branch
The 7:28 a.m. train from Cold Spring Harbor due into Penn Station at 8:25 a.m. is canceled. Customers can take the 7:37 a.m. train from Huntington due into Penn Station at 8:37 a.m., which will add a stop at Hicksville.
Port Washington Branch
The 8:04 a.m. train from Great Neck due into Penn Station at 8:38 a.m. is canceled. Customers can take the 8:19 a.m. train from Great Neck due into Penn Station at 8:44 a.m., which will add stops at Little Neck and Douglaston, and the 8:24 a.m. train from Great Neck, which will add a stop at Woodside.
The 6:54 a.m. train from Central Islip due into Penn Station at 8:06 a.m. is canceled. Customers can take the 6:56 a.m. train from Ronkonkoma, due into Atlantic Terminal at 8:17 a.m. Customers can change at Jamaica for service to Penn Station.
The 6:57 a.m. train from Farmingdale due into Penn Station at 7:48 a.m. is canceled. Customers can take the 6:39 a.m. from Ronkonkoma due into Penn Station at 8:00 a.m.
West Hempstead Branch
The 7:36 a.m. train from West Hempstead due into Penn Station at 8:29 a.m. will be diverted to Hunterspoint Avenue. Customers can change at Jamaica for service to Penn Station.
The MTA also noted that Metro-North Railroad West-of-Hudson customers on the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines will see regular service to Hoboken on Tuesday, but train service from Secaucus will be reduced. Commuters coming to New York City are advised to get off at Hoboken and pick up a PATH train for service to Manhattan.
Meanwhile, Amtrak said it will operate a modified schedule on the Northeast Corridor Tuesday. Customers on trains arriving at and departing from Penn Station may be delayed by up to an hour during rush hours and half an hour the rest of the day.
Northeast regional service will also operate on a modified schedule with reduced service between Washington, D.C. and New York. To accommodate passengers, Amtrak is providing additional stops in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Tuesday.
Empire and Keystone service will also run on modified schedules with reduced frequencies.