Penn Station Delays on Thanksgiving Eve Frustrate Commuters

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    NEWSLETTERS

    LIRR, NJ Transit and Amtrak trains are running again but halted critical rail traffic for more than an hour on one of the busiest traveling days of the year. Checkey Beckford reports from Penn Station. (Published Wednesday, Nov 21, 2012)

    The trains are running again at Penn Station after a switching problem halted all traffic through the critical rail hub for more than an hour.

    Amtrak, the Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit all suspended service after a power problem crippled the switching system at around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

    Service was restored at around 6:45 p.m., but thousands of holiday commuters were expected to experience residual delays of 60 to 90 minutes.

    The disruption happened as the transit system in New York City is still recovering from severe damage caused by Sandy, but it's unclear whether the switching problem is related.

    On the busiest travel night of the year as thousands of commuters and visitors tried to make their way to to Long Island and New Jersey, the fury and frustration was felt immediately.

    "Right now I'm missing dinner with my family," said Brian Larkin. "Everyone's there already, and it's a 7:00 reservation." 

    "It's frustrating," said Prabep Kumar. "It's Thanksgiving, so everybody wants to be home as soon as possible." 

    When police briefly shut down the entrance to Penn Station to control the crowds, it was an unpleasant surprise to many of the commuters just arriving.

    "It was a bad situation," according to Larkin. "It was ugly."

    "You've got hundreds of people coming out of the subway, crushed against barriers," said one commuter. 

    The frustration was apparent on social media, too. 

    "Oh my!!! #lirr NJT and Penn station SHUT DOWN on the busiest travel night of the year. Enough is enough for us!," said Leslie on Twitter.

    But there was also some humor.

    "Good thing New Yorkers and New Jerseyans are a famously calm people who always handle unexpected delays with tact. #njt #lirr," wrote Chris Heller on Twitter.