Power outage strands El train passengers

NORTHEN LIBERTIES - December 15, 2009

That collision brought the morning commute to a screeching halt for some passengers.

They were riding the El around 5:30 a.m. when their ordeal began with a flash and a bang.

"I saw smoke and we stopped and we sat there for almost an hour," said Josepe Lockheart of Northeast Philadelphia.

"Just saw this big flash and that was it. We were up there for an hour," said Mary Rowe of Frankford.

SEPTA officials say the flash was the train hitting a barrel that somehow ended up on the tracks. The impact ignited a small fire, damaging the third rail and bringing travel along the line to a stop.

"They brought rescue people to help out. They couldn't figure nothing out so we ended up evacuating the train," said Abner Lopez of Northeast Philadelphia.

Passengers had to walk the catwalk along the tracks to the next stop about a half mile away.

The commuting issues didn't end when they finally got to the ground. Shuttle buses filled up fast, infuriating commuters forced to wait again.

Shuttle buses were running from the stop at Front and Girard up until about 8:30 while crews worked to make repairs.

The line is running as normal again now.

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