Felled Tree in NJ Causes Major Delays

Thousands of NJ Transit and Amtrak riders are facing delays because of signal problems. An Amtrak spokesman says a tree brought down overhead electric wires and knocked out signals near Hamilton, N.J., early Wednesday morning.

Trains are moving at slower speeds between New York City and Philadelphia while repairs continue. Check here for the latest updates on NJ Transit delays.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole says there’s a five mile stretch of track still without any electronic signaling around Princeton Junction, N.J.  Trains are going through slowly, guided by New York dispatch on a radio and an engineer looking ahead of the train. They are no longer walking trains through the signals in affected areas.

The tree, which fell on a main signal box and overhead wires around Princeton Junction, tripped other signals up and down a 20 mile stretch of track. In some cases, a switch can be thrown, restoring service, but in this case crews must travel that long stretch of track replacing fuses, trying to get signals back manually.

They’ve completed all but five miles of that work as of 3 p.m.

Cole says the fallen tree isn’t necessarily unusual.  Amtrak currently has a $30 million project to remove trees along this corridor to avoid these types of incidents.  “It is kind of weird that it did happen on a day when we don’t have any storms or wind,” Cole says.

The tree that caused all of the damage was removed around 1 or 2 p.m.

Updated at 6:00 p.m.