Squirrel Halts Septa

Posted: September 17, 1986

A squirrel fell onto an electrical line yesterday and the subsequent power failure stalled SEPTA's commuter rail service for more than 30 minutes during rush hour, delaying about 30,000 commuters.

SEPTA officials said the falling squirrel caused a power transformer in an Amtrak substation in the Powelton Yard near 30th Street Station to fail at 4:54 p.m., cutting off overhead electrical power to the rail systems.

SEPTA spokesman David Murdock said for about 30 minutes, all eight regional rail lines "were stopped cold." This was "enough to destroy the entire schedule and throw everything out of whack," he said.

He said that although repair crews were able to restore service by shifting power from other sources, delays continued throughout the rush hour.

With the exception of the Media line, trains resumed running again at 5:30 p.m. As the backup continued, SEPTA directed commuters, where possible, to city and suburban transit system lines.

Alternate electrical power was patched in from "other sources" and train service returned "pretty much back to normal" after the rush hour, he said.

All commuter rail lines were back at full service this morning, Murdock said.

An Amtrak spokeswoman said the power outage did not delay any Amtrak passenger service.

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