New Jersey Transit Service Disrupted for Fifth Time in Two Months

New Jersey Transit service was disrupted once again on Monday evening, with travel suspended in and out of Pennsylvania Station for nearly an hour because of a report of a problem with Amtrak overhead wires in one of the Hudson River tunnels.

Service was suspended at 6:37 p.m. and resumed shortly before 7:30 p.m., but trains were still subject to delays of up to 60 minutes, a New Jersey Transit spokesman said.

It was at least the fifth disruption for New Jersey commuters in the last two months, and the third in less than a week. Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains share the portion of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between New York City and Trenton, N.J., so issues with Amtrak tracks or wires immediately affect New Jersey Transit service.

Trains were held in place for about 25 minutes, or in some cases pulled back to Penn Station, according to a New Jersey Transit customer service representative.

An Amtrak spokesman said service had been suspended as a precautionary measure after a report of trouble with the overhead wires that provide the electricity that powers trains moving in and out of Penn Station. The inspection turned up no problems, he said, so service resumed after about half an hour.

During the shutdown, trains were diverted to Hoboken, N.J., and New Jersey Transit rail tickets were accepted for rides by private bus companies and PATH trains in Newark, Hoboken, N.J., and Midtown Manhattan.

Inside Penn Station, about a hundred travelers set their backpacks and bags on the ground and looked up at the screens.

“We’re sorry for the inconvenience,” a robotic voice called out over the speakers.

Amanda Marvin and her three children had just arrived in New York from Kansas City and after a day in Manhattan were heading to their Airbnb in Newark.

But the family was temporarily stranded at Penn Station. “I have no idea what plan B is,” Ms. Marvin said. Still, she was in good spirits, giving New York City “two thumbs up.”

But for some commuters who rely on the service every day, the latest delays were hugely frustrating. “On days like this when everything shuts down, things become exceedingly exhausting,” said Kurt Switala, who works in finance in Manhattan and lives in Montclair, N.J. He said Amtrak had to fix the system. “There’s a long need to do long-postponed repairs.”

Rishi Alok, who commutes into the city from Middlesex County, said the delays occurred frequently, usually a couple of times a week. Each delay adds about an hour and a half to his commute. But the delays happen so frequently that Mr. Alok said he didn’t get angry anymore. “You get used to it,” he said.

The disruption on Monday evening came on the heels of other major rush-hour delays at Penn Station in the past month.

On Thursday, one of the hottest days of this year, an afternoon power failure left thousands of commuters stuck at Penn Station and on trains that had no air-conditioning. On Friday morning, a disabled train caused delays of as much as an hour in and out of Penn Station.

Last Tuesday morning, New Jersey Transit service into and out of Penn Station was suspended for about an hour and all Amtrak trains passing through the station were delayed because of overhead wire issues and a disabled commuter train on the tracks, train officials said.

That disruption ruined the morning commute for thousands of New Jersey residents as the delays rippled out along the various rail lines in the state.

Service was also disrupted in May when an overhead wire used for traffic signals fell and struck a cable in Kearny, N.J., that provides electrical power to trains on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains were halted in both directions between Penn Station and Newark, and delays stretched to more than four hours.

Roger Harris, president of Amtrak, addressed the problem of unrelenting disruptions and delays in a letter to customers last week in which he apologized and said a “unique combination of events” had caused the major interruptions along the Northeast corridor.

“Regardless of the causes that led to these delays, you deserve better service and we are committed to providing it,” he stated. “We are reviewing each incident with the goal of improving your future travel, while continuing to advance unprecedented investments that are modernizing and strengthening the Northeast corridor.”

Patrick McGeehan contributed reporting.

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