- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

The derailment of an Amtrak train yesterday morning north of Union Station delayed rail service and inconvenienced passengers, including a few who almost missed the Presidential Inauguration ceremonies.

“We were supposed to be here by 10 or 10:15,” said Jessica Jones, 57, of New York City. “We got up at 5 o’clock this morning to catch the 7 o’clock train.”

However, the derailment just north of Union Station at 9:08 a.m. put Mrs. Jones and three traveling companions on Capitol Hill at about noon. The delay also put them far from the stage and caused them to miss the pre-inauguration ceremonies and the swearing-in of Vice President Dick Cheney.

“We are very disappointed,” Mrs. Jones said. “We had prime, front-row-seat tickets.”

Frank Kelly, 64, said the group arrived just before President Bush was being sworn in for his second term.

Amtrak officials have yet to determine the cause of the minor, low-speed derailment but suspect a mechanical-switch malfunction. Investigators said one set of wheels on two cars of Amtrak Train 132, bound for New York, jumped the rails as it was leaving Union Station.

The train, behind a 6-feet-high security fences, remained upright yesterday afternoon near Second and M streets NE.

No injuries were reported, and the 86 passengers were taken by minivans to the New Carrollton station to catch another Amtrak train to New York.

The derailment shut down northbound service out of Union Station for nearly three hours before service was partially restored for the remainder of the day and evening. Most southbound Amtrak and MARC trains were arriving and departing out of the station by 3 p.m., though many were late.

Service is expected to be normal this morning.

Amtrak passengers coming to Washington yesterday from the north exited trains at the New Carrollton station, then took the Orange Line subway to Union Station. Amtrak and MARC train commuter tickets were accepted for the rides on Metro.

Virginia Railway Express trains were not affected because they run only from Union Station to the south.

Carol White, of Montgomery County, was among those who came to New Carrollton unaware of the delays.

“I didn’t know about it,” said Mrs. White, who arrived midafternoon with son Jeremy, a 17-year-old Walt Whitman High School student who was going to visit Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Seated nearby, also waiting for a New York train, was Paul Jones, 57, another member of the New York group.

Mr. Jones said he had attended a previous inauguration and that the group decided not to fly to Washington because they thought the train would be more convenient.

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