More than 1,200 passengers on five different Amtrak trains traveling between Wilmington and Perryville were delayed for hours or forced to transfer trains on Monday night after a line of thunderstorms damaged the railroad's signaling system, according to an Amtrak spokesman.
Among them were 287 passengers on train 165 who were transferred to a different train after about four hours struck on the tracks, said Craig Schulz, the spokesman.
The storms took down trees and wires along the railroad's Northeast corridor beginning at 9:49 p.m., forcing Amtrak officials to respond to stations in Baltimore, Wilmington and Washington to assist passengers as the system was brought back online, Schulz said.
The disruptions came at a particularly inopportune time — the tail end of a busy Labor Day weekend, Schulz said.
"Obviously at the end of a holiday weekend this is not the kind of thing we want to have happen," he said. "Unfortunately, Mother Nature does not exactly work on our schedule."
Train 66, which had 214 passengers, was delayed for about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Trains 139, with 178 passengers, and 198, with 318 passengers, were delayed about 2 hours.
The 287 passengers on train 165 and the 241 passengers on train 123, who were eventually transferred to other trains, had the longest delays. Train 165 passengers weren't transferred until 1:49 a.m., four hours after the system failed, Schulz said. Train 123 passengers weren't transferred until 1:29 a.m.
Schulz said transfers were made when possible, but depended on the locations of the trains and other factors, including the number of passengers and the capacity of other trains in the area.
Affected customers can call 800-USA-RAIL and talk to a customer service representative to "explore what options are possible in terms of vouchers or other remedies" for their inconvenience, he said.