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Rail travel in Northeast halted by crash

Emergency personnel worked at the scene where two Metro-North commuter trains collided.

AP Photo/The Connecticut Post, Christian Abraham

Emergency personnel worked at the scene where two Metro-North commuter trains collided.

The collision of two commuter trains in Connecticut Friday evening left rail traffic in the busy Northeast Corridor at an indefinite standstill Saturday, causing delays and headaches for travelers headed south from Boston.

At South Station, where Amtrak trains depart for New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., passengers were instead booking bus tickets.

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“We looked at the board, and the board said ‘canceled, canceled, canceled,’ ” said Cambridge resident Ted Hansen, who had planned to catch a train to New York with his wife. “We don’t like to fly [because] it’s such a pain. So we said we’ll take the bus, even though it’s less . . . refined.”

The rush-hour crash, which occurred when a Metro-North Railroad train traveling through Bridgeport derailed and was struck by a train traveling on an adjacent track, injured at least 60 people, including five critically, authorities said at a news conference Friday night.

Amtrak and the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the Metro-North Railroad, said train service through the corridor would be suspended until further notice while the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the cause of the accident.

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In a press release, Amtrak said that there was no estimate on when service would resume, but trains would run on a limited basis between Boston and New Haven, Conn., and on a regular schedule between New York and Washington.

Those who already bought tickets can get a refund or a voucher for a future trip on Amtrak.com.

An update on the restoration of service is expected by Sunday evening, the railroad company said.

Helga Jorgensen of Hingham came to South Station Saturday morning expecting a “wonderful, leisurely trip to New York” for a family reunion. Instead, she arrived to find her train had been canceled, making it unlikely she would arrive in Manhattan by 4 p.m. as she planned.

Jorgensen said she was upset by a lack of customer service, as Amtrak employees were unable to help her make alternate arrangements by plane or bus.

“They’re all booked and filled, and nobody was helpful,” she said.

A spokesman for Greyhound Lines, a major intercity bus company operating out of South Station, said the company had not seen a major uptick in reservations, but was ready to assist displaced rail passengers.

Somerville resident Stephanie Huang, who was waiting in South Station’s bus terminal, said she got e-mail and phone alerts at 11 p.m. Friday saying the Saturday train she planned to take to New York to celebrate her sister’s medical school convocation had been canceled.

Huang bought a Bolt Bus ticket online; there were still plenty of open seats, and the prices were reasonable, she said. She was scheduled to get into New York about an hour later than she originally planned, but that overall it was not much of an ordeal.

“I’m probably like, the least stressed out person about this,” Huang said, calmly waiting in the terminal.

Huang said she switched to train travel after a bus she was taking to New York for the holidays last year filled with smoke.

“It’s just so much more comfortable,” she said of the train. “There are delays and stops, but then there’s traffic on the bus. You pick your battles.”

Dan Adams can be reached at dadams@globe.com. Find him on Twitter at @DanielAdams86. Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at gal.lotan@globe.com.
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