NYC subway train loses power, stranding riders for 2 1/2 hours before being towed to station

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Rush-hour commuters were stranded Monday on a packed subway train that lost power for 2 1/2 hours before it could be towed to a station, and five other trains were stuck behind it.

The Manhattan-bound No. 7 train lost power above ground in Queens at about 9 a.m., said Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman Amanda Kwan. Ice buildup on the third rail was the suspected cause, but transit officials were still investigating the outage.

The train was pulled into Queensboro Plaza by a rescue car at around 11:30 a.m., Kwan said.

It was sleeting and about 30 degrees during the rush-hour commute when the power went out. Passengers heard a number of announcements over the loudspeaker from transit officials while they were stranded and once nearly evacuated, said Ashley Carr, 30, who was on the train.

“Everyone on the train was in decent spirits, since there was literally nothing we could do about it,” Carr said in an email. “Some people were upset that no one was offering their seats to those who stood the entire time.”

Five other No. 7 express trains were stuck behind the darkened car, but they didn’t lose power. They were later taken to a station in Woodside to let passengers off.

The power outage created a headache of a morning commute for Queens residents. Subway platforms were crowded with people waiting for trains, and many gave up and took the bus to work.

The No. 7 line had already been delayed once Monday morning. About 10 minutes before the outage, in a separate incident, an umbrella caught fire on the third rail at another Queens station, Kwan said.