Local/State

Amtrak train to NYC ends up at SEPTA station in Bala Cynwyd

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Amtrak officials are looking into how a New York-bound train took a wrong turn and ended up at a SEPTA station in Montgomery County.

There is an investigation underway, and it does appear to be a case of operator error. Both Amtrak and SEPTA officials assert that while this was highly unusual, no passengers on this train or any others were ever unsafe.

130 passengers were onboard Amtrak Train 644 at 11:45 a.m. last Thursday when the train departed 30th Street Station, bound for New York's Penn Station, but the train was experiencing mechanical problems.

The front car had lost power so the locomotive at the rear pushed the train out to a point where the conductor was supposed to make a rare maneuver and turn the train around, then proceed on to New York City. But it didn't happen that way.

Amtrak Spokesperson Craig Schulz explains, "They operated out to the point where they were going to make the turn and they went a little further than they needed to go and that's how they ended up in the spot where they did."

Essentially, the engineer and conductor weren't communicating properly and missed their turn.

Instead of New York City, those 130 passengers ended up traveling along SEPTA's Regional Rail tracks and ended up at Bala Station at the end of the Cynwyd line in Bala Cynwyd, Pa.

"This was an inconvenience and obviously not something we intended to happen," Schulz said.

Amtrak and SEPTA maintain that the signals were all green out to the Bala Station and no SEPTA trains were scheduled to be on the same tracks at that time.

Amtrak train 644 was sent back to 30th Street Station and passengers were then put on a different train en route to New York.

The crew was removed from the scene and tested for alcohol, which is standard protocol. They were debriefed and will undergo some additional training.

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