Commuters purchase tickets at the Metro-North ticket counter, Friday, Aug. 27, 2010 at Grand Central Station in New York. Thousands of Metro-North Railroad riders were stranded for nearly two hours during the Friday morning rush hour while police investigated a suspicious package near tracks in suburban Westchester County.
Thousands of Metro-North Railroad riders were stranded for nearly two hours during the Friday morning rush hour while police investigated a suspicious package on the tracks in suburban Westchester County.
Police halted trains on the Hudson Line near Irvington around 8:30 a.m. Friday. Trains started moving again around 10:15 a.m., but with residual delays of up to an hour.
Railroad spokesman Dan Brucker estimated that "well over 10,000" customers were either stuck on trains or could not get train service during the nearly two-hour shutdown. The line serves about 25,000 customers on an average weekday.
Steve Conner, assistant chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority police, said the package was visible from the platform. He told The Journal News it was slightly bigger than a champagne bottle, in aluminum-type packaging with wires coming out of it.
The Westchester County Bomb Squad destroyed it on the tracks using a water cannon. It was not an explosive device; Conner said authorities may never determine exactly what it was.
"A train heading to New York City was passing by the Irvington station when the engineer saw a suspicious package on the tracks," said Brucker. "He correctly and immediately stopped his train and radioed in to the operations control center."
The engineer was ordered to back up. Police stopped other trains in the area and also evacuated the Irvington station.
A few trains were able to make it to stations north and south of Irvington so that those passengers could get off if they wished, said Brucker. There are restrooms aboard the trains, and many people used cell phones to let their bosses know they would be late for work.