On the coldest night of the year, 1000 riders on a packed rush-hour NJ Transit train from New York to New Brunswick got no farther than a little beyond Newark on Tuesday evening, January 7, after an overhead wire fell on the train. Heat and main lighting immediately failed, and the train sat from 6:15 p.m. until shortly after 8 p.m., according to reporting by Mike Frassinelli and Richard Havkine in the Star-Ledger (Jan. 8). Published photos suggest that the downed wire was part of the overhead catenary system that supplies electricity to electrically-operated trains. The long delay in pulling the disabled train back to Newark was apparently caused by the need to investigate the problem and deenergize any live wires. Commuters were cheered by frequent announcements by train crew, who tried their best to keep the riders informed. However, with only one working toilet for 1000 customers, patience wore thin as the evening progressed. Once passengers left the train, some reported a chaotic situation without clear instructions as to how to continue their journey. According to NJ Transit, passengers were transferred to another train to continue their travel—about 2 hours late.
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