Thousands of travelers were scrambling and commuters were re-thinking their work weeks Wednesday after a deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia shut down a critical section of the busiest railroad in North America.
The crash choked Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, which carries more than 750,000 passengers a day between eight states and the District of Columbia, on Amtrak and eight commuter rail lines.
Amtrak warned there would be no service until further notice between Philadelphia and New York, and that service elsewhere in the region would have to be modified. Most commuter railroads in the Northeast were operating normally, although many lacked the usual Amtrak connections. Four freight rail operators also share the railroad.
“There is no circumstance under which there would be any Amtrak service this week through Philadelphia,” the city’s mayor, Michael Nutter, said after viewing mangled tracks and downed wires at the crash scene.
Some 2,200 trains a day normally use the Northeast Corridor, according to the railroad’s Infrastructure Operations and Advisory Commission.
Amtrak said it alone carried 11.6 million passengers through the Northeast Corridor in fiscal year 2014, its highest ridership year yet.
Many travelers found themselves offloaded far from their destinations Wednesday morning. Airlines added flights and bus lines said they would honor Amtrak tickets, but some struggled to find seats.
Wednesday afternoon flights between New York and Washington quickly sold out on Delta Air Lines, which was considering adding flights and switching to larger jets in both directions, spokesman Anthony Black said. American Airlines, which normally flies the other shuttle route through its US Airways brand, was adding two roundtrip shuttle flights later Wednesday.
NJ Transit, Greyhound and Megabus were honoring Amtrak tickets. Greyhound said it added 16 more scheduled trips between New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Megabus said it was working to add trips on Wednesday and accommodate an increased demand in coming days.