- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — An empty Amtrak train derailed and blocked an important route into Manhattan a day after a commuter train crash injured more than 30 people in New Jersey, tying up the Monday morning commute for thousands of travelers in the nation’s most crowded urban corridor.

Still, the headaches were minimal, with additional buses and ferries provided across the metro area’s patchwork of islands and most transit agencies honoring one another’s tickets.

“I probably got here 16 minutes later than I expected to,” said Nick Guldi, arriving at Penn Station in Manhattan from Bellmore, on Long Island. “That means I won’t be able to walk to work. I’ll have to take the subway.”

Any problem anywhere along the extensive New York-area rail network has the potential to disrupt the trains that shepherd hundreds of thousands of people daily to and from the city and connect them to the subway or other regional rail systems, often through Penn Station, the nation’s busiest train station.

But on Monday morning, things were surprisingly smooth. Some travelers were not even aware of the crash of a PATH train — short for Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. — a day before as it overshot the last station on its New York-to-New Jersey route and hit the bumpers at the end of the tracks in Hoboken.

Andrea Sanchez, 23, of New York’s Bronx borough read a newspaper while riding PATH into Hoboken on Monday. “I’m like … I hope nothing happens, but it was a smooth ride.”

City police said it appeared that a mechanical failure was to blame for the Hoboken accident, but the National Transportation Safety Board and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey were investigating.

All three tracks were up and running at the Hoboken station, west of Manhattan across the Hudson River, on Monday morning.

On the east side of Manhattan island, under the East River separating it from Long Island, the derailed Amtrak train caused a few commuting headaches.

A quarter of the trains that the Long Island Rail Road, the nation’s largest commuter railroad, normally operates into Penn Station were affected, it said. Customers experienced scattered 10-to-20 minute delays Monday morning. More than 20 trains were canceled or diverted.

No crew members were injured, Amtrak spokeswoman Danelle Hunter told the Daily News. A broken rail was to blame, according to the LIRR, which shares the tracks with Amtrak.

The PATH commuter train that crashed about 8:30 Sunday morning left 34 people with mostly minor injuries and shut down the tracks for hours. Crews worked through the night to repair damage, and three tracks were back in service by Monday morning.

Most of the people injured in the crash suffered cuts and bruises, though a few were taken away on stretchers or put in neck braces as a precaution, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said.

“People were stunned, but nobody was really going crazy or anything,” said Tom Gordon of Jersey City, N.J., who was riding in the train’s front car with about 15 other people. “I didn’t know what had happened at first.”

Mr. Gordon, who was headed home from his security job at a New York apartment building, said he was half-asleep as the train pulled into the station. But he was quickly awakened and jolted from his seat.

He was taken to a hospital with minor arm and rib injuries and left Sunday afternoon with his arm in a sling.

Officials said the train’s motorman would be tested for drugs and alcohol, standard policy in such crashes. They said there was no evidence to suggest that the motorman had been impaired at the time of the crash.

The PATH system is the main transit link between Manhattan and neighboring New Jersey urban communities and suburban commuter railroads. It handles almost 250,000 passenger trips each weekday, fewer on weekends.

About 30,000 people pass through the Hoboken PATH station daily, Mrs. Zimmer said.

Authorities said delays were likely for riders of Amtrak and NJ Transit, New Jersey’s commuter rail system, both of which are routed through Penn Station. The station serves a half-million passengers daily.

David Porter reported from Newark, N.J.

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