Amtrak train breaks down, disrupting evening commute

The locomotive pulling an Amtrak train came off its tracks in the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel in downtown Baltimore Monday, shutting down all local train activity on the Penn Line and disrupting the evening commute.

Train 97 was carrying 158 passengers en route from New York to Miami when the front wheels of its locomotive derailed in the tunnel around 7 p.m., an Amtrak release said.

No one was injured, and the passenger cars remained upright and on the tracks.

Around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, MARC officials said Amtrak had temporarily suspended service between Baltimore and Washington due to a crane in the tunnel towing the disabled train away. Trains were delayed by 30 minutes to an hour.

Delays on Monday night lasted hours for some commuters, and some were still sitting stopped in an Amtrak train northbound to Penn Station around midnight.

All MARC rail services between Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Martins, which were halted due to the Amtrak derailment, have resumed operations both north and southbound, the Maryland Transit Administration said soon afterward.

The Northeast Corridor was shut down between Washington and Baltimore, the release said. Electrical power to the train has been turned off as a precautionary measure, while Amtrak sends a rescue locomotive to bring the passengers back to Penn Station in Baltimore, the release said.

MARC sent buses to its West Baltimore and BWI stations to transport stranded commuters, the MTA said. The Washington Metro and the light rale are honoring MARC tickets, the MTA said.

David Robbins, a Hamden man who had boarded the 6:23 p.m. MARC Train 544 at Union Station, said the train was moving on schedule just outside of Odenton when an announcement came over the intercom that an "obstruction in the tunnel in Baltimore" would cause a delay.

"We sat there for about 45 minutes or so" at BWI, Robbins said, until the MTA sent four buses to pick up the stranded passengers.

He said the MARC conductors "were great about keeping us informed," and he caught a bus to West Baltimore, where his car was parked, with relative ease.

Baltimore Sun reporter Carrie Wells contributed to this report.

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