As severe weather struck the Philadelphia region midday Wednesday, the journey for Amtrak passengers on three trains came to a screeching halt.
Amtrak Acela Express Train 2155, Northeast Corridor Train 95 and another train stopped due to a downed wires in the area of the North Philadelphia Station, said Amtrak spokesman Craig Schultz.
Ken Boulden was headed home in the quiet car after a noisy night in New York celebrating the 77th birthday for friend and rock and roller Gary U.S. Bonds.
“And I’m looking out the window. All the sudden all the cars went dark and we slowed to a stop,” Boulden said.
The conductor came through and told passengers the train may have been hit by lightning because the pantograph – that contraption that gets electricity from the wire to the engine, was fried. Boulden knew there was no way he’d get to his Clerk of the Peace job in New Castle, Delaware by noon.
“They opened up the Café car in the front but ran out of food pretty fast,” Boulden said, noting people were in good spirits taking pictures, naps and passing the time on their phones.
“So I’m hoping that they start passing out wine and alcoholic beverages, but I’m not really counting on that,” Boulden said, interrupted by the conductor who passed back through around 1 p.m. to let everyone know another diesel car was rolling out to tow them into 30th Street Station. From there, they’d figure out how to get everyone home.
Amtrak later said the problem didn't appear to be caused by a lightning strike.
All other Northeast Corridor trains were held at Philadelphia and New York Penn Station until the power problem was resolved.
Boulden's train got towed in around 3:30, the engine replaced and after more than four hours, rolled south toward its D.C. destination.