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NJ Transit Train Carrying 180 Passengers Derails at Penn Station

NY Daily News - July 07, 2017

by DAN RIVOLI, THOMAS TRACY, DENIS SLATTERY

Forget catching a train, commuters at Penn Station can’t catch a break.

Days before massive repairs are set to snarl commutes at the transit hub, an NJ Transit train carrying approximately 180 people derailed Thursday around 9:10 p.m., officials and witnesses said.

One car on the Penn-bound train came off the tracks as it neared the hub, according to NJ Transit spokeswoman Lisa Torbic.

There were no immediate reports of injuries according to FDNY officials.

It was the third derailment at Penn in the past three months.

Kate Malloy, who tweeted pictures of the heavy FDNY and NYPD response outside of the station, said the situation was “mayhem.”

“Another train derailment. Mayhem at NY Penn right now. Hope everything is ok, this looks more serious than the others...” she wrote.

Officials sought to downplay the disruption.

“Train service is suspended in and out of Penn Station New York due to a minor NJ Transit train derailment,” NJ Transit officials said.

Regardless of how ‘minor’ the incident was, commuters were not pleased to be dealing with yet another painful situation at Penn.

“This is kind of just an everyday occurrence at this point,” said Luke Uttaro, 31, a video producer from Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, who works in New Jersey. “We roll our eyes, we groan, and we settle in for a long haul.”

The train lurched before coming to a stop, Uttaro said.

Passengers were not immediately told what had happened.

Instead, announcements indicated that there was an issue with switches.

“It felt like a jolt. everything kind of ground to a halt,” Uttaro said. “They told us there was switch problems, but I put together that there was a derailment on my own.”

Passenger Sherif Ahmed, 28, said the train car he was riding in shook violently and lifted up in a 45 degree angle before it came to a sudden stop. “It was rumbling, then it went to an extreme angle and settled back down,” he said.

The lights and air conditioning remained on throughout the ordeal and “the vibe was good, the spirits were high,” Ahmed said.

The nine-car train originated in Long Branch, N.J., at 7:20 p.m.

Most of the passengers finally arrived at Penn around 11 p.m.

Penn-bound NJ Transit trains are being rerouted to Hoboken Terminal.

While the MTA is reporting regular service on Long Island Rail Road, Amtrak warned that the “slow speed derailment” would lead to “extensive delays.”

The episode comes just days before massive repairs are set to start at Penn.

Amtrak, which owns and operates the busy hub, will spend eight long weeks making extensive repairs to the tracks on the western side of the aging complex.

WITH ANDY MAI, ELIZABETH ELIZALDE