MARC rider finds silver lining in outage
MARC riders on the Penn Line received a rude surprise this morning when the overhead electrical power system on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor failed, bringing commuter trains and interciity trains to a halt between New York and Washington as well as Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
AmTrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell said power in the cartenary system went out about 7:45 a.m. and was restored about 9 a,m. She said that after that it may have taken a while to get the trains running again. She said about 30 trains -- intercity and commuter -- were affected by the outage.
Penn Line rider Claudia Balohg managed to find some good news amid the adversity. According to Balog, Amtrak diid a much better job of handling this incident than it did during previous service interruptions.
I was on one of the delayed MARC trains impacted by this morning’s Amtrak catenary line failure. I am happy to report that there were many improvements in the MARC response. Passengers were provided with water on the trains, there were many announcements updating us on our status, and it appeared that the plan “B” – to dispatch a diesel engine to rescue our train – was smoothly implemented. Granted, it was getting warm and uncomfortable on the trains, but with 70 temps outside, few were complaining, and conductors made many announcements addressed to any one who might be suffering from asthma or similar issues who might need assistance. If MARC can continue/Amtrak can continue with responses like this to power and engine failures – including when the stakes are higher, say, a 90+ degree evening commute with more fatigued, crankier passengers – then I can say that finally, administrators have begun to listen to passengers and effectuate positive changes.
Some riders noticed more acting out on the part of passengers.
Chris Bingel, whho was aboard Penn Line Train 513 when it stopped on the tracks near Seabrook, reported that some of his fellow riders took out their frustrations by shouting at the conductors.
"The mood of the people got pretty ugly pretty quick," Bingel said "The conductors seemed to be acting very professionally."
Bingel said that as temperatures rose one woman demanded to know why the windows had to remain closed. When a conductor answered that the train couldn't get on its way as long as windows weren't sut, another rider interjecvted that the crew might as well open them because they weren't going anywhere anyway.
That brought a reply froom the woman who asked the origanal question, Bingel said.
"She said if you open my window, I would lose my job," he said.
Bingel said the power eventually came on about 9:30 a,m. and that his train made it to Union Station in Washington about 10 minutes later.
Connel said the cause of the failure in the catenary system has yet to be determined. She said traffic on the corridor was running about a half-hour late at midday but expressed hope that service would be back on schedule by the evening peak travel time.