Transit Adventures

An Hour Late ES Train #284 Points Run From Yonkers Breaking Down Upon Arrival into NYP, Missing the Newark Leg (and getting the $12.13 refunded instead of waiting)

Yesterday I road 4 segments, technically only using 3 of the multi-city segments out of four that Amtrak’s website has. The reason is that the Lake Shore skips Hudson and Rhinecliff so it offers a directly ticketed connection to train 244 that I rode the 1 stop. With my remaining segment I decided to be as ridiculous as possible and booked a trip between YNY to NWK for not one but two extra segments 200 TQPs as I try and maintain Select+ Status. I have stuff I need to do in the morning but know a 4:16pm departure from Yonkers will work. I am scheduled to have a 50 minute layover (that I can spend in the ClubAcela) and then will be in Newark at 5:50, plenty of time before evening plans. Adding Newark does add a bit more with my full Syracuse to Newark ticket (with the 10% NARP discount) costing $58.50 instead of $54.90. $3.60 is as cheap as 100 AGR TQP points come.

This morning, I do what I need to do and notice the signals north of Poughkeepsie still need to be fixed and trains are losing 20-25 minutes. That should just minimize the layover in NYP. I leisurely head up to Yonkers knowing this and tracking my train Empire Service #284 (the same train I began yesterday with leaving Syracuse), discovering it has left Rhinecliff 22 minutes late. I keep tracking the train and it just can’t seem to arrive in Poughkeepsie, it finally gets there at 4:08, 53 minutes late. I take the 1 train up to the Bee-Line 2 Bus and am walking down to the unstaffed but impressive Yonkers station at about 4:30. I have a very good layover delay enjoying another nice warm fall day. I spend some time exploring the area of the Yonkers station, finding this just north of the station, neat building in a similar but simpler style as the train station:

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I then walk under the tracks and walk up to the Kawasaki Shops. I end up finding a trainset of the new R188 cars quite visible through a fence and a gate with this strange device attached to it clearly designed so power can be received from the Kawasaki Shops catenary system.

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I head up to the platforms and enjoy getting Metro-North photos during the evening rush hour, plus Empire Service Train #237 zooming through the station that is the evening super express train (there is a morning counterpart) running non-stop from Penn Station to Rhinecliff (I later learn it gets through the hold-up area quickly, getting to Rhinecliff 8 minutes late, and Albany only 2 minutes late).


My train slowly keeps getting later and later, at 5:10 the boards flash about the next train, #242 (due at 5:15) and is operating 10-15 late.


At 5:13 Train 284 finally arrives nearly an hour (57 minutes) late. I get scanned on the platform, board and notice someone else has a ticket connecting to 193 to Newark, his ticket visible on his seat. No time for the ClubAcela on this connection if I even make it.

  • 5:20 – We come to a stop just before the swing bridge on a siding. We then slowly move.
  • 5:23 – We enter Manhattan
  • 5:28 – 145 Street. I check NJTs departure vision it’s on stand by for Train #193, my connection. I ask the conductor about the connection but he knows nothing as we go under riverside park.
  • 5:32 – I refresh departure vision and get Track 12 , no cross platform transfer. At least Penn doesn’t lock gates 2 or 5 minutes in advance like some stations.

At 5:38 we stop short of a platform with the power out. I assume a third rail gap. We hear all aboard for a NJT train to Trenton at 5:41. I see Train #193 leaving on time at 5:39 out the window that I’m ticketed on. The power is out and I realize that we might have stopped on a third rail gap. We don’t regain power. In a few minutes they announce that the front of the train is at a platform and the train will be discharging us only through the front set of doors of the train. There is a collective grown as we slowly walk through the length of the train to the second car from the front at the extreme end of the platform (where construction is going on) for Track 6. We arrive across from Train #239 waiting to leave (passengers aboard), the 5:47 departure to Albany.

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I walk upstairs and debate what I’m going to do. At this point I need to be somewhere at 7:00 with dinner plans. I head to the customer service office (no announcements were made for the missed connection). I enter and tell them I just got off Train #284, just missing Train #193. They clearly know about the connection and the two employees ask each other if the tickets have been delivered yet. They make a phone call and almost immediately another agent walks in with a stack of tickets. I’m asked by last name, apologized for the delay and am handed two eTickets together. I’ve been automatically rebooked on Train #137 at 6:25pm. Attached to the back of it is an Exchange Receipt with an amount of $12.13 on it, the value of the NYP-NWK segment on my multi-city trip. I notice this amount and tell the agents I just want to take New Jersey Transit (a ticket to Newark is $5) and ask if I can get the $12.13 refunded, they say yes and to go to window 8. Window 8 is the priority window that has a “Special Needs Passengers Only” sign on it. An agent is right there to help me and she says that I can have the full $12.13 refunded. I hand over my tickets, she prints up a refund receipt (a ticket) that I sign, rips up the stub and I get $12.13 refunded to my credit card.

$12.13 isn’t worth it for 100 points and I’ve had enough train riding for this trip. Adding Newark to me itinerary saved me money! compared to a normal Syracuse to New York ticket. My total net savings is $8.53. I got back from Syracuse for $46.37!

I later learn via Amtrak Status Maps tracking other Empire Service Trains that our train’s locomotive must have somehow died entering the platform I assume by an unfortunate stop over a third rail gap. We stopped in a place that also blocked the switches to all the four tracks that can accommodate Empire Service Trains, and it took about an hour to finally gather to do whatever needed to be done to tow our train (I assume by a couple of AEM7s or HHP8 electric locomotives) out of Penn Station, through the East River Tunnels and into Sunnyside yard to fix whatever went wrong with at least the third rail of Dual-Mode P32AC-DM #705.

The evidence of Empire Service Train #284 breaking down entering Penn Station (luckily at a platform so we could all disembark):

  • Train #239 that was scheduled to leave at 5:47 (less than ten minutes after we arrived, with passengers already boarded from Track 5 across from our train) was delayed 50 minutes finally leaving at 6:37
  • Train #242, the 5:16 train from Yonkers indeed stopped in Yonkers at 5:32, 16 minutes late but didn’t arrive in Penn Station until 6:37 (the same time as #239’s departure) 51 minutes late. That must have been one frustrating stop somewhere along the West Side Line or within the Empire Connection
  • The Southbound Lake Shore Limited #48 (that between ALB and NYP is discharge only) managed to be running early south of Albany (they sent it out of Albany 26 minutes early at 3:19), it only lost some time and stopped in Croton-Harmon 4 minutes early at 5:34 but managed to use up all of its recovery time (about 33 minutes) and lose some time finally arriving into Penn Station at 6:53 clearly shortly  behind #242 also stuck waiting somewhere along the Empire Connection.
  • The next Southbound Empire Service Train #244 scheduled for 6:50 only arrived 10 minutes late at 7:00, probably waiting for a platform (it left Croton-Harmon 8 minutes late)
  • Train #241 (the next northbound, scheduled 7:15 departure) clearly is what Train #284 or #242 is scheduled to turn into, didn’t leave until 8:23, 1 hour and 8 minutes late.

Well it was an interesting and late running two days of Points Runs along the normally quite reliable Empire Corridor because of the thunderstorm and then my final train breaking down but luckily already at a platform so we could all get off!